Volume 5, Number 24 - September 8, 2005
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Controlled access discussed
The Pinedale Anticline Working Group Wildlife Task Force met Tuesday at the Pinedale Bureau of Land Management office to review projects under way and to discuss new proposals regarding mule deer on the Mesa winter range.
Group Chairman Rollin Sparrowe first reviewed the Aug. 9 meeting for those who did not attend. At that meeting, BLM Pinedale Manager Prill Mecham advised the group of the need for a "mid-course correction," to consider only post-decisional matters involving monitoring and mitigation. Many group members had been involved and concerned with ongoing requests for exceptions to the drilling plan as originally approved and wanted to continue to look at those items.
A proposal by Hall Sawyer to expand the current mule deer study was reviewed and discussed Tuesday. The study would gather more data over a five-year period to better determine the differences in activity on well sites being drilled, those being completed, those in production and those that have been abandoned. Additional information would also be gathered to determine the effect of current winter drilling operations. This expanded study is supported by Questar, with an estimated cost of $75,000.
Sage grouse study work was discussed and new proposed work will look at the effects of enhanced habitat as a means of sustaining grouse populations in disturbed areas. Concerns about continuity of studies were expressed due to changes in personnel doing the ground work. Members did note that sage grouse populations were seeing good increases this year due to favorable weather conditions. High numbers will make monitoring work easier.
Steve Belinda of the BLM reported on plans for controlling access to winter range this winter. New gates and improved signage will be installed and a public outreach program will be used to better educate the public about the need to control activity on the winter range.
Enforcement of the closure is primarily the responsibility of the BLM, but they have only two officers in western Wyoming based in Rock Springs and Kemmerer. Efforts to include the Wyoming Game and Fish Department and the Sublette County Sheriff as additional enforcement help will be ongoing.
Belinda also advised the group that the monitoring plan written in 2001 by the BLM is being revised and the new plan should be completed by year end.
The group discussed the possibility of establishing some threshold levels of impact on mule deer and sage grouse populations which would trigger action or recommendations for action by the BLM.
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