From the pages of
Sublette Examiner
Volume 8, Number 28 - October 2, 2008
brought to you online by Pinedale Online

Dozen Protests Filed Against Pinedale RMP

by Joy Ufford

At least a dozen formal protests of the Pinedale Resource Management Plan are headed to Washington, D.C., where top-level Bureau of Land Management officials will analyze the documents and decide to make changes or stand firm.

Protests against the BLM’s Pinedale RMP have to be postmarked by Monday, Sept. 22, but Pinedale Field Office Manager Chuck Otto said this week they are allowing several extra days to make sure none were delayed in delivery.

Those groups filing protests range from conservation groups to energy companies, who are often seen as being on opposite ends of the spectrum.

“They are all protesting different points,” Otto said. “We got way fewer than I thought we were going to,” he added.

Protestors include Stop Drilling-Save Bridger-Teton, Biodiversity Conservation Alliance, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership, Trout Unlimited, Western Resource Advocates, Western Watersheds, Coalition of Local Governments, EnCana and Independent Petroleum Association of Mountain States. Protest was also filed by R. Perry Walker, representing himself.

One joint protest was filed by the National and Wyoming Wildlife Federations; another lists the Upper Green River Valley Coalition with Wyoming Outdoor Council, Greater Yellowstone Coalition and the Wilderness Society.

Once the documents are in Washington, they will be checked to make sure the groups filing protests actually participated in the previous public comment periods, Otto said.

Next, the protests are read and studied to separate comments fromactual protest points, he said. After analyzing the protest points alleged to be in error in the RMP, officialsmight change their minds about the Pinedale RMP.

“If they decide, ‘no, the BLM looked at all relevant information to make this decision’ they’ll stand by (the RMP),” Otto said.

In a Sept. 24 press release, the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership stated it also is formally protesting the upcoming Oct. 7 BLM oil and gas sale.

“Both actions continue the group’s advocacy for common-sense fish and wildlife management and hunting and fishing traditions on America’s public lands,” it said.

“Similar concerns for Wyoming’s game populations and sporting traditions spurred the TRCP protest of one of the largest BLMenergy lease sales in the state’s history. Approximately 190,000 acres of sage grouse habitat and big-game migration corridors and winter range comprise the sportsmen’s protest. Energy development in these areas would affect public lands and hunting and fishing throughout the state.”

Sublette County’s Dr. Rollie Sparrowe, TRCP board member and past president of The Wildlife Society, spoke about the RMP protest.

“Federally prescribed management actions for wildlife fail to conform to current, peer-reviewed science in the Pinedale plan,” he said. “The ramifications of this failure are twofold – one, important habitat for big game and sage grouse will suffer and these species’ populations will decline and, two, the multiple-use mandate that the BLM is required to adhere to is being ignored.”

“Based on this plan, wildlife in the Upper Green River Basin are afforded no assurances for the future,” he continued. “Large blocks of habitat and wildlife are protected only if no oil and gas are discovered, and criteria for reducing habitat protections are not identified. … Overall, the Pinedale plan ignores a wealth of scientific information and a range of state and federal guidelines for fish and wildlife management. President Bush’s executive order on hunting? The Wyoming governor’s sagegrouse implementation strategy? The Wyoming Game and Fish Department’s mule deer plan? U.S. Forest Service planning documents? None are mentioned in this plan, and all should influence how the BLM manages the public’s lands and resources.”

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