From the pages of
Sublette Examiner
Volume 4, Number 19 - August 5, 2004
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

Upper Green used in political ploy

by Cat Urbigkit

Looking at the webpage, you might wonder, "Is this a John Kerry-sponsored site?" But it's not - not officially. The page is actually the pressroom portion of the Sierra Club's website.

It begins with the group's endorsement of Democrat Kerry for president, proceeds to tout a new site lambasting the Bush Administration's policies, includes a press release about the club's activities at the National Democratic Convention, a link to "RAW: Uncooked Facts of the Bush Assault on the Environment" and then goes on to press releases including the titles, "Sierra Club joins with broad coalition to run ads about President Bush's extreme judicial nominees," President Bush turns his back on women, families and the environment" and "Edwards praised by Sierra Club for environmental leadership."

Passing by the release called "Sierra Club Calls Bush Administration's wolf delisting ill-advised," the Examiner was drawn to the recently released "Wildlands at Risk: Report details Bush Administration's unprecedented assault on America's wild places."

WOW! This was gonna be good.

"The stories in this report show the scope and magnitude of the Bush Administration's assault on America's wild heritage," said Carl Pope, Sierra Club executive director, in a press release.

"The administration's policies are reversing decades of progress on public-lands protection and could destroy forever some of our most cherished hiking, hunting, fishing and camping spots."

The release complained: "Just last week, the Bush Administration revoked critical protections for America's last remaining wild forests, replacing the landmark Roadless Area Conservation Rule with a convoluted system that forces governors to petition the Forest Service to not construct roads in, or otherwise develop, inventoried wild roadless forest areas. The administration also indicated that it intends to permanently exempt the national forests in Alaska from the wild forest protections. The administration has also moved forward with tens of thousands of new oil and gas leases, many of them in once 'protected' and environmentally sensitive places, as part of a departure from the traditional 'multiple use' principle which formerly guided public land management."

"Wildlands at Risk" highlights 25 "endangered" places, including two in Wyoming: the Upper Green River Valley and Yellowstone National Park.

What's the threat to the Upper Green? Oil and gas drilling, of course. Described as nestled between Yellowstone and the Red Desert, "the Upper Green River Valley is the longest big-game migration route in the lower 48 states and a crucial link that ties the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem together ... With more than 100,000 big-game animals dependent on the valley for their survival. ... It is the largest publicly owned big game winter range in the region.

"Unfortunately for the wildlife and wild places of the Upper Green River Valley, this spectacular area sits atop one of the largest natural gas reserves in the country. Energy corporations are vying for virtually unrestricted access to the oil and gas deposits that lie beneath this ecologically rich landscape," said the report.

The report continues: "If industry prevails in its push to open up the entire valley to natural gas exploration and development, these southern reaches of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem will be transformed from vast open spaces with free-roaming wildlife herds, critical big-game migration corridors, clean air and water, and outstanding recreational opportunities, into a sprawling industrial zone."

The report incorrectly asserts that the major focus of energy development here is coalbed methane development. It stated: "The Bush Administration energy plan will not work for the Upper Green River Valley because it makes the wrong choices. Rather then balancing the needs of conservation, recreation and resource development, the BLM's plan focuses almost exclusively on destructive coalbed methane development.

"The administration's energy plans ignore high-tech, energy-efficient solutions in favor of increased oil and gas development, even in our most wild places, like the Upper Green River Valley. We can't drill, dig or destroy our way out of our energy problems," the report stated.

Yellowstone National Park is beset by many woes caused by the Bush Administration, according to the Sierra Club report, not the least of which is inadequate funding, snowmobiles and the failure to protect species.

The report complained about the failure to protect the park's bison, noting: "Every winter hundreds of these animals are slaughtered at the request of livestock producers when they wander outside the park in search of food."

The report failed to acknowledge that the bison are infected with brucellosis and are ordered destroyed by animal health officials, not livestock producers.

Apparently wolves and grizzlies in Yellowstone National Park are also in jeopardy: "Unfortunately, the Bush Administration announced its intention to eliminate federal conservation measures for these species, threatening the future health of these populations."

Wolves and grizzlies are completely protected within the park's boundaries, regardless of their classification, a fact the report failed to mention.

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