From the pages of
Sublette Examiner
Volume 5, Number 1 - March 31, 2005
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

Jonah proposal topic of BLM open house

by Isabel Rucker

Wednesday, March 23, the Bureau of Land Management hosted an open house to discuss the draft environmental impact statement for the Jonah infill drilling project proposal. Carol Kruse, planning and environmental coordinator for the Pinedale BLM field office, presented slides and fielded questions. Due to the comment period coming to an end midnight, Tuesday April 12, the BLM hoped to clarify citizens' questions.

Maps of the Jonah Field diagrammed the possibilities of the various EIS proposals' effects. The full draft EIS was available in print and on computer CDs for people to take home and read. Comment sheets were provided for people to fill out and mail in.

Kruse explained the main aspects being considered by the BLM: gas recovery, greater sage grouse habitat, hydrology and air quality.

BLM hopes to approve up to 214 acres of new surface disturbance per 640-acre section. Major changes in the topography will require BLM to set up water retainers and hydraulic structures in the field to prevent too much sediment and salt shedding into the Green River.

The sage grouse is a concern to the BLM. The Jonah area habitat is the "largest intact landscape for the sage grouse," Kruse said. Sand Draw is its prime winter habitat. Due to these delicate issues, several areas of the Jonah, including Sand Draw, are protected from drilling. BLM is encouraging the continued use of directional drilling, which lessens habitat disturbance. The grouse has had a 43 percent decline from 1996 to 2003 in the Jonah II area.

Kruse said the BLM, "hopes to bring them back quickly." They will "protect as big of as a patch as possible with interim reclamation." She reminded attendees that the BLM doesn't address the grouse population because the agency doesn't manage the grouse, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department does.

Concerning air quality, BLM hopes emissions will be maintained below levels that would exceed standards. Kruse pointed out: "Air quality we cannot regulate, although we are required to disclose the impact of activity." Air quality standards are enforced by the Department of Environmental Quality; however BLM can "commit to mitigation." She briefly mentioned there could potentially be acidification of the high mountain lakes if air quality is not controlled.

Finally Kruse said that reclamation is key. Establishing viable plant growth within two years of initial reclamation, 50 percent of indigenous vegetative cover within five years and 80 percent within eight years of reclamation.

A few questions were asked concerning the sage grouse, air quality studies and water. Also, antelope winter ranges were brought up and Kruse said that they know the antelope winter above and below the Jonah Field but she does not know whether the Jonah Field is part of their migration route.

Comments are encouraged on all aspects of the proposed BLM draft EIS. They can be e-mailed to or mailed to P.O. Box 768, Pinedale, WY 82941. Comments must be submitted by April 12.

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