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The following opinion was written and submitted by Carmel Kail of Pinedale, WY.
In July 2017, Interior Secretary Zinke signed Order 3354, directing the BLM to streamline their oil & gas leasing process.
Five months later, the BLM Washington Office issued Instruction Memo 2018-34 in partial fulfillment of that Order. The BLM Memo, among other things, instructs that “the BLM
will not routinely defer leasing when waiting for an RMP amendment or revision to be signed.”
That phrase of the Instruction Memo opened the floodgates which had been holding back numerous parcels in the BLM Rock Springs Field Office (who is supposed to be
finishing up a revised Resource Management Plan (RMP).
Parcels which had been on hold because they overlap the Sublette Mule Deer Migration Corridor would no longer be deferred waiting for the Rock Springs RMP.
So, the BLM offered several dozen lease parcels overlapping the Sublette Mule Deer Migration Corridor in their October 2018 sale.
More Migration Corridor Parcels Announced
More migration corridor parcels have been advertised for the BLM December lease sale coming up a month from now, and reportedly still more Migration Corridor leases will be made available in the BLM March 2019 sale.
What comes on these leases is a “notice” requiring the leasees “to work with the BLM and Wyoming Game and Fish Department to take reasonable measures” to avoid and
minimize impacts to maintain big game migration corridor functionality.
What does not appear is a “No Surface Occupancy”; stipulation which is ROUTINELY applied around hawk and burrowing owl nests, sage grouse strutting grounds and the like. “No Surface Occupancy” is a lot stronger and clearer statement than directions to “work with” agencies “to take reasonable measures”.
There are many ways to more strongly protect migration corridors than this measly lease notice. If nothing else, Governor Mead could request adding a plain English sentence to the Notice, like, “It is our intent that no above- ground facilities be built in or within 500 ft of the mapped corridor.”
Do this right.