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The following opinion was written and submitted by Nick Dobric, Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership.
The BLM and the Office of State Lands (OSLI) are both planning to auction off more oil and gas leases that conflict with state-recognized big-game migration corridors, including the Red Desert to Hoback, the longest mule deer migration corridor in the world. Wyoming’s migration corridors promote abundance for big-game populations that provide world-class hunting and wildlife viewing opportunities.
Sportsmen groups are concerned about these leases moving forward before adequate stipulations can be put in place to ensure the corridors remain intact and functioning. Seven sportsmen groups submitted comments to the BLM and plan to do the same for the OSLI sale. Sweetwater County also submitted comments to the BLM asking for the leases overlapping with Red Desert to Hoback migration corridor be deferred till the Rock Springs RMP is finalized.
Muley Fanatic Foundation’s Josh Coursey, “it’s critical to our wildlife and hunting future that we get this right. Wyoming has been blessed with incredible wildlife and energy resources and we need to take the time to ensure we strike the right balance for both to prosper. Mule deer have been on the decline statewide for years, and we shouldn’t be rushing these decisions that have longstanding implications.”
Wyoming Wildlife Federation’s Joy Bannon, “we need to maintain the decision space that we have now. Governor Gordon’s advisory group on migration corridors has been announced and meetings are scheduled. The deferment of these leases is the right thing to do until adequate policy can be put in place. Let’s allow the state collaborative process to work.”
The OSLI stipulation for migration corridors creates uncertainty for how much development would be allowed and does not allow for no surface disturbance, even in the most critical portions of the corridors. The WGFD and sportsmen groups have been asking for improvements for months to the stipulation but OSLI has yet to make any changes.