On July 31, U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke and Governors Sportsmen’s Caucus (GSC) Co-Chair Governor Matt Mead (WY) announced the Department of the Interior will prioritize the conservation of a mule deer migration corridor in southwest Wyoming through deferred lease sales and lease stipulations.
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) will defer almost 5,000 surface acres of land from potential oil and gas developments in southwest Wyoming that cross the Red Desert to Hoback big game migration corridor. Secretarial Order 3362 requires collaboration with states to improve habitat quality in western big game migration corridors.
”Some North American big game travel over a hundred miles on their migration routes every year, and more often than not, those routes traverse Federal, State, and private lands. This is why it’s important that the Federal government work with the State to adjust management and development plans where necessary if they overlap migratory corridors or winter range,” said Secretary Zinke. “By combining lease deferrals, and lease stipulations, we can achieve the right balance on Federal lands. Thanks to innovations in technology, many times resource development can be done with little to no surface occupancy. Balancing the conservation of habitat and the responsible development of resources ensures the best outcome for the people and wildlife that rely on our Federal lands. I’m thankful to Governor Mead for his commitment to my vision for protecting big game corridors and multiple use of Federal lands.”
"I thank Secretary Zinke for working with me and the Wyoming Game and Fish Department to defer these parcels and to develop a special notice to companies leasing the remaining parcels that intersect the migration corridor," said Gov. Mead. "This decision gives the public and those involved in the Rock Springs Resource Management Plan Revision time to work on steps that balance wildlife needs with energy development needs. Wyoming will continue to work with the Department of the Interior to strike that balance."
The Wyoming Game and Fish Department has worked with the BLM to defer lands with parcels of 90 percent or more within identified big game corridors. Three parcels nominated for the September 2018 oil and gas lease sale fall into this category and will be postponed until the BLM completes its Rock Springs Resource Management Plan Revision next year. BLM will continue to work with the state of Wyoming before allowing oil and gas leases on Federal lands that coincide with big game habitats and migration corridors.
In 2017, Wyoming sportsmen and women contributed over $49 million to state fish and wildlife conservation through the American System of Conservation Funding.
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