Wyoming Public Media - Irina Zhorov
A new report released today by the Wilderness Society says Wyoming’s Red Desert and the Wyoming Range are too special to drill for oil and gas. The report – titled Too Wild to Drill – lists a dozen locations across the U.S.
The Wyoming Range was initially opened for leasing in 2005, but the Forest Service canceled those leases in 2011. Appeals by operators have left the leases in limbo since then, but the U-S Forest Service is expected to decide later this year whether they will allow energy development.
Citizens for the Wyoming Range member Dan Smitherman says the Range should be left alone, for one, because it is so remote.
“Secondly,” he says, “it’s a heavily used wildlife area. It’s in the middle of critical moose habitat as designated by Wyoming Game and Fish. There’s the elk, deer, antelope and wolves, bears, all the major ungulates and wildlife species of Wyoming. And thirdly, it’s a heavily used recreation area. It has a lot of scenic vistas, it has a lot of camping, it’s also used for winter back country skiing and snowmobiling.”
Smitherman says his organization is not against energy development altogether, and adds that conservation of areas like the Wyoming Range is in line with Wyoming values.