Bridger-Teton Forest Plan Revision Workshop
Wyoming Range Gas
Map showing oil and gas leasing management areas in the Wyoming Range.
Forest Plan Workshop
Forest Service representatives and members of the public attended a workshop to give input into the forest plan revision process.
Recreation and Oil & Gas primary topic focuses
by Dawn Ballou, Pinedale Online!
November 29, 2006
The Bridger-Teton National Forest held a workshop in Pinedale on Tuesday, November 28, for the public to provide input into the forest plan revision process. This was one of a series of workshops the forest is hosting to gather public input on current conditions and needs for change. The main focus centered on needs for change in recreations settings and oil and gas development. Ultimately, these comments will be incorporated into the Draft Forest Plan which will again be brought before the public. The draft plan is still 18 months to two years away, according to spokesmen at the meeting. Other public workshops are being held in November in Kemmerer, Jackson and Thayne.
In this round of workshops, the Forest Service would like to learn the publicís perspectives about what needs to change on the Bridger-Teton National Forest with respect to energy development and recreation. Where is oil and gas development appropriate? What areas should be managed for motorized recreation and what areas should remain backcountry or roadless areas? Using a variety of maps and workstations, Forest personnel and the public work together to review current conditions on the ground and explore what needs to change, where and how.
These workshops will also briefly touch on current conditions with respect to special areas such as Inventoried Roadless Areas, Wilderness and Wild & Scenic Rivers, as a precursor to a later workshop focused more specifically on these issues that is tentatively planned for mid-winter. Another set of workshops, planned for early March, will focus on current conditions with respect to ecological sustainability, including issues such as ecosystem diversity, forest health and wildlife.
The Forest Service had information available on the Bridger-Teton National Forest Air Quality Program and long-term air quality monitoring data, lake chemistry trends from 1984 to 2004 and Bridger Wilderness Visibility Trends from 1989 to 2004. The Forest Service is preparing a supplemental Environmental Impact Study that reviews air quality issues in the Pinedale Anticline and is expected to be available for public review and comment shortly. EIS documents are also being conducted to analyze the impacts of the Moxa Arch, Continental Divide, Hiawatha Project, Riley Ridge and South Piney projects. For those who are unable to attend the workshops, there will also be an on-line opportunity to provide input on the Bridger-Teton National Forest website.
In the previous two rounds of Forest Plan Revision workshops, held in July and December 2005, the BTNF worked with the public to develop and refine a framework of Desired Conditions. These have since been publicized as a draft Chapter 1 of the Revised Plan, available on the internet at:
. More information on the Bridger-Tetonís plan revision process can be found on the Plan Revision website at
www.fs.fed.us/r4/btnf/news/forest_plan_revision/ or from Rick Fox, ForestPlanner, at 307-739-5563.
Below are some of the public comments that came out of the Pinedale meeting:
Oil & Gas:
- In the Hoback area of the Wyoming Range, specifically Management Area 21, would like to see lease suspensions lifted on leases that have been bought but not issued so companies can begin drilling. Would like to see additional leases offered. Would like to see less restrictions on drilling and more flexibility for oil and gas companies to develop their leases. Allow for exchanges so leasees can protect themselves when they drill. Allow combining leases for more efficiency. Reduce amount of wilderness and roadless areas that are administratively set aside and allow leasing to take place in those areas.
- Monitor local air quality and act on that monitoring.
- Do an EIS for this planning structure.
- We canít mitigate all the gas leasing we already have, why add more and make it worse?
- Have standard protection stipulations for winter range, water quality, habitat fragmentation, and year-round full protection for resources.
- Pay more attention to the New Fork Lakes/Green River Lakes areas to protect wildlife use, wildlife migration, unique geology and public use for recreation experiences.
- Revisit decisions to close many of the roads in the Upper Green River area to allow access for the public back into those areas.
- Donít destroy natural resources in the name of conservation and prevention (ie. Dropping big trees across roads and trails to prevent vehicle access).
- Sagebrush areas can tolerate higher road density and roads should be allowed through those areas.
- Implement rules that make sense so the public will respect those rules and not disobey them (wilderness boundaries, road closures)
- Road closures block access for Veterans to many areas for hunting, fishing and recreation.
- ďRoadless AreasĒ is a misnomer. Many areas shown as Roadless on maps really have many historic roads all through them. The name doesnít make sense to describe the reality of the situation on the ground and it creates confusion with people who arenít familiar with the area who think it is pristine, untouched ground.
- Fremont Lake watershed is Pinedaleís water supply and the should be better protected with more restrictions. People doing unsupervised camping and dispersed campsites are resulting in debris and garbage impacting the area. More restrictions are needed for protection. Not everyone in the public is a good steward of the land. Maintain pristine character of the lake and watershed. Restrict what development occurs on lakeshore and put more protections on recreation use around and on the lake.
- Control boating on lower Green River Lakes and donít allow motorized boats on that lake.
Additional public comments can be sent to the following address:
Bridger-Teton National Forest
c/o Rick Fox
PO Box 1888
Jackson, WY 83001