Volume 6, Number 47 - February 15, 2007
brought to you online by Pinedale Online
New new conservation initiative announced
Last week the U.S. Department of the Interior and state of Wyoming formally announced the creation of the Wyoming Landscape Conservation Initiative. DOI has proposed $11.5 million in federal funding for the wildlife habitat conservation effort in southwest Wyoming as part of the national Healthy Lands Initiative.
The goal of the program is to protect wildlife while developing mineral resources throughout western Wyoming.
“Historically, we have looked at each development proposal and its effects on habitat, grazing and other surface uses individually,” Governor Dave Freudenthal said. “While each proposal will continue to be evaluated on its own merits, this initiative provides an opportunity to better plan and choreograph future development and any resulting reclamation, monitoring, wildlife habitat mitigation and grazing planning. In addition, WLCI will provide a strategic approach for overall habitat enhancement work in southwest Wyoming.”
“We hope local governments, non-profit organizations, the conservation community, ranchers, landowners and industry will help us identify the right questions and the right answers,” said BLM’s Acting Director Jim Hughes. “Partnerships - especially at the local level - will be the key to success. Local interests will work together to make local decisions, and local BLM managers will be given the flexibility needed to implement these decisions.”
FWS Regional Director Mitch King added: “The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proud to be a partner in this landmark effort. We believe that conservation works best when it is pursued through partnerships and on a landscape scale, which is precisely what the Initiative is all about. We look forward to working together with our public and private partners in Wyoming to ensure the successful conservation of sensitive species and to preclude the need for federal protection under the Endangered Species Act.”
The importance of public participation will soon be evident, since plans are in place for various working groups to be formed that will develop lists of “best management practices” for various land uses, among other tasks.
The Green River Basin, 15 million acres roughly the size of Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts and New Hampshire combined, contains an estimated 83 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, or enough to fuel the United States for three years. The same landscape is home to 100,000 deer, 40,000 elk, 100,000 pronghorn antelope, 8,000 moose, 1,200 bighorn sheep, and the highest density of greater sage grouse within their western range.
In order to conserve this world-class wildlife and facilitate the responsible development of national energy resources, the BLM, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, USGS, U.S. Forest Service, Wyoming Game and Fish
Department, Bureau of Reclamation, National Park Service, and Wyoming
Department of Agriculture developed the WLCI.
The WLCI is a long-term, science-based effort that will identify, evaluate, and implement on-the-ground conservation projects that are most needed in Southwest Wyoming. The inter-agency approach will help ensure that projects designed to benefit wildlife habitat achieve tangible, on-the-ground results. WLCI conservation efforts will enhance existing requirements for energy development reclamation and mitigation.
With approximately 28 percent of the land in the area privately owned, improved habitat will also benefit livestock grazing to help sustain the local economy.
Funding for the project will be provided by a variety of sources, including federal, state, and non-governmental organizations. The Jonah Interagency Office (JIO), funded by industry to improve off-site wildlife habitat, currently funds projects in the Upper Green River Basin that align with the WLCI effort.
WLCI Open House will be held in southwest Wyoming’s BLM field offices on the following dates:
• Rawlins - Thursday, Feb. 15
• Kemmerer - Tuesday, Feb. 20
• Rock Springs - Wednesday, Feb. 21
• Pinedale - Sublette County Library - Thursday, Feb. 22
For more information, please visit www.wlci.gov or call Renee Dana of the BLM Rock Springs Field Office at (307) 352-0227.
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