From the pages of
Sublette Examiner
Volume 5, Number 11 - June 9, 2005
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

$2 million to Sublette County from Shell

by Casey Dean

The Wyoming Community Foundation, Shell Oil Co., local and state officials and members of the Sublette County community convened Tuesday afternoon for the announcement of the establishment of two funds through generous donations of Shell through the WYCF. Shell donated the initial $1 million per trust for community support and sage grouse research in Sublette County.

WYCF is a “non-governmental, publicly supported community foundation, governed by a board of citizens, making grants from funds contributed or bequeathed by individuals, families, corporations, non-profit organizations and other sources,” according to a WYCF handout.

The Shell Exploration and Production Company website describes the company as “a global group of energy and petro-chemicals companies, operating in over 140 countries and territories and employing more than 112,000 people.”

Tad Daly, WYCF board chairman, opened the announcement luncheon by commending Shell for its demonstrated initiative and vision. “This is an extremely exciting day, not only for the community fund, but for Wyoming in general.”

Governor Dave Freudenthal spoke at the momentous luncheon, stating, “one of the delights of being Governor is to be there when there is a big change in the way of doing business in the state ... I commend Shell for taking what I hope is the first of many steps,” he said of the $2 million donations Shell has made for this and future generations. “Credit should go to Shell for the donation ... willing to get involved,” he said.

Two funds will be introduced by means of million-dollar WYCF funds. The first, the Upper Green River Sustainable Communities Endowment Fund, will be a partnership between Shell and the community to “respond to development impacts in the near future and implement longer-term action plans for sustainable communities,” according to the WYCF handout. This fund will be “driven by the people” to benefit the communities of Boulder, Daniel, Pinedale, Marbleton and Big Piney through a permanent source of funding.

The WYCF handout listed early childhood development, youth initiatives, arts and local history, drug prevention and anti-domestic violence education, entrepreneurship training and strategic planning as only a sliver of the potential for the Upper Green River Sustainable Communities Endowment fund.

Ali Guio, a Big Piney High School senior who was asked to speak on behalf of the county’s youth, stressed the importance of the Upper Green River Sustainable Communities Endowment fund in aiding the fight against drug and alcohol use in students.

Wyoming State Representative Monte Olsen commented on the sustainability of the community, stressing that this fund is part of the larger picture of Wyoming as a state. He urged community members to extend the direction of the fund to a statewide vision of cooperation between the public and private sectors in sustaining Wyoming communities. Olsen also commended and thanked Shell for its purpose, stating, “They came in wanting to be partners, not just to take the riches from beneath the soil.”

Olsen went on to explain the value of the two funds to all members of the community, as they are not anti-development and that the sustainability is not directed toward a single entity.

The second $1 million was placed in the Tom Thorne Sage Grouse Conservation fund directed toward “research on behalf of sage grouse ... wildlife is a large concern for the community,” Daly said. Dr. Tom Thorne began developing a fund through which resources for analyzing sage grouse, sagebrush habitats, development impacts and habitat enhancements in order to protect and improve sage grouse survival. Unfortunately, Thorne died in a car accident before the fund was created. With respect to this dream, Shell created the Tom Thorne SGCF.

The WYCF handout explains the process through which the resources will be utilized: “T WYCF will disburse grants recommended by a local Sage Grouse Advisory Committee and approved by the WYCF board. Where appropriate, money from the Sage Grouse Conservation Fund will be applied under the concept of adaptive management. ... to step up with a commitment to the health and success of a special species. This fund will be a legacy of action and benefit to wildlife.”

Prill Mecham, Bureau of Land Management field office manager, pointed out that the Sublette County area is home to one of the largest remaining sage-grouse populations in the West.

She added, “This is a wonderful example of the type of partnerships we are looking for in developing the Jonah Field” in a positive, responsible manner and thanked Shell for “giving back to the local people and to the land.”

The WYCF endowment funds welcome participation of partners and individuals or companies to “follow Shell’s lead,” Daly said of contribution to by community members and companies alike, which would increase the approximately $50,000 that could be spent each year from the endowment fund.

Pinedale Mayor Rose Skinner attended the luncheon and spoke in thanks for the funds for the betterment of the community, expressing her “sincere support” for the endowment.

Senator Craig Thomas wrote that he views the funds as catalysts for similar action across the state to progress cooperation between communities and corporations.

A WYCF flyer concludes, “With an initial contribution of $1 million in each fund from Shell Exploration and Production Company, we can turn energy development into a tool for healthy, vibrant communities.”

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