Our campaign to save greater Yellowstone lands from gas fracking has succeeded!

Natural gas drilling does not belong here.
Photo by Scott Bosse
After a seven-year pitched battle, The Wilderness Society helped Wyoming citizens save the scenic Hoback region of greater Yellowstone from imminent natural gas fracking and development.

Greater Yellowstone’s wilderness threatened by fracking

Dan Bailey loves to fly fish on the Hoback River in the Bridger-Teton National Forest of rugged northwestern Wyoming.  It’s where he takes his family to escape the rigors of work life and enjoy the peace and quiet of the Greater Yellowstone region.

All that was threatened when a Texas energy giant announced plans to drill for natural gas right in the Upper Hoback Basin of the Bridger-Teton in Dan’s backyard.  Dan and other local citizens were suddenly thrown into the fight of their lives in order to protect the beauty and health of their treasured Upper Hoback Basin. 

The Wilderness Society joined in the struggle helping local outfitters, hunters and landowners like Dan Bailey to become effective advocates for the Upper Hoback, while pulling in our supporters and members to send letters and support to decision makers at various milestones in the struggle.

Now, seven years later, Dan and other locals are celebrating a victory. On Oct. 5, the Plains Exploration and Production (PXP) oil and gas company agreed to sell the development rights to the Hoback to our friends at Trust for Public Lands. The sale means the Upper Hoback will remain wild!

This win will prevent gas fields from being developed in 58,000 acres of the Wyoming Range. 

What could have happened to the Hoback

In 2009, we helped the people of northwestern Wyoming pass the Wyoming Range Legacy Act which put 1.2 million acres of land off-limits to future leasing and development. But leases already bought by oil and gas companies, including those in the Hoback, were to be honored. We knew if we could get the company to voluntarily give-up their energy leases the Legacy Act would ensure the Hoback could never be threatened again.

Failure was not an option because the stakes were too high:  

• The crystal clear waters of a wild and scenic river would have been polluted by hydraulic fracking chemicals and road dust.
• Abundant elk, deer, moose and bear populations would be displaced by drill pads and pump stations proposed in roadless lands.
• Local sportsmen and residents would have forever lost a special place to take their families.

Our supporters helped achieve this victory for wilderness

When local communities needed a strong voice to stand up to big energy we gave them a bullhorn. By helping sportsmen, ranchers, and local landowners find their voice they were empowered to elevate this into an issue the PXP oil and gas company could no longer ignore, setting the table for the sale negotiation.  

Support from our members was crucial  in achieving this win for Wyoming’s wilderness.

Our members: 

• applied crucial pressure by flooding the Forest Service with comments when it was needed most,
• helped to get the company to the table by generating over 30,000 comments asking the company to do the right thing,
• gave donations that kept the lights on in our Wyoming office and funded our staff’s time to see this victory through till the end.

Thanks from Dan

When Dan Bailey first learned the Hoback was saved he was elated and wanted to thank the Wilderness Society for all of our hard work.

“So many people said we did not have a chance at all.  The Wilderness Society has truly worked wonders.”

Dan Bailey’s family and many others will be able to continue to renew themselves in the wild mountains of the Upper Hoback Basin for generations to come.

Money still needs to be raised to complete the deal and there are still drilling leases in the Wyoming Range that need to be retired.  But what we accomplished today is testament to what citizens can do when we put our minds to it.

“So many people said we did not have a chance at all.  The Wilderness Society has truly worked wonders.”