In 2009, The Conservation Alliance funded Wyoming Outdoor Council's Wyoming Range Campaign, to halt energy leases issued on 100,000 acres of public land in the Wyoming Range, safeguarding a haven for outdoor adventure and wildlife. Leases on 44,720 acres of this land have been successfully halted and an additional 58,000 acres are one step closer to protection.
Plains Exploration and Production, a Houston-based company, has agreed to sell approximately 58,000 acres of valid oil and gas leases in the Upper Hoback area of the Bridger-Teton National Forest, along the Eastern Front of the Wyoming Range, just south of Jackson Hole and Yellowstone National Park.
The company had planned to develop a 136-well gas field in this priceless wildlife, hunting and recreation area. The landscape where this full-field development would have taken place is one of Wyoming's treasured places — an area, in fact, that just about nobody in Wyoming wanted to see developed.
This lease buyout — with a willing buyer and a willing seller — is the culmination of years of work by the Wyoming Outdoor Council its partners, including The Conservation Alliance.
When the historic buyout was announced earlier this month, Wyoming Governor Matt Mead, former Governor Dave Freudenthal, Wyoming State Legislators, and more than 100 local residents, including hunters, anglers, ranchers, and mineral industry workers all celebrated.
"This is an outstanding outcome for the people of Wyoming-a true ‘win-win' resolution. It respects both the wishes of local residents and the legal rights of leaseholders," Governor Mead said.
Thanks to the Wyoming Range Legacy Act, passed by Congress in 2009, these leases underlying the Bridger-Teton National Forest can never be leased again.
Citizens for the Wyoming Range, a group of local hunters and residents, also endorsed the deal.
"We always felt like a lease buyout was the cleanest, and a win-win, solution. It's a Wyoming solution to a Wyoming problem," group spokesman Dan Smitherman told The Associated Press.
This $8.75 million buyout is the culmination of years of work by a truly diverse group of Wyoming citizens who came together to prevent the development of this major gas field — a field that nearly everyone agreed would have been a bad idea for western Wyoming's wildlife, air quality, and one of its most special places — near the southern approach to Jackson Hole and Grand Teton National Park.
About half of the $8.75 million needed for the buyout has been raised.
To learn more about the Wyoming Outdoor Council and their work in the Wyoming Range, please click here.