Sportsmen unite to save the Wyoming Range
And yes, they are heavily armed
January 26, 2007
A new group has formed to lend their support for efforts to protect the Wyoming Range from further oil and gas development. The group is a coalition of high-profile sporting organizations and sportsmen who have joined forces hoping their combined voice will be strong enough to effectively lobby against further energy leases in the Wyoming and Salt River ranges of western Wyoming.
The group, Sportsmen for the Wyoming Range, is using the slogan, “We are Mother Nature’s Bodyguards. And yes, we are heavily armed.”
SWR has launched a website as part of their public relations efforts, www.WyomingRangeSportsmen.org.
Trophy mule deer hunter, author and cinematographer Mike Eastman is serving as co-chairman and one of the high-profile spokespersons for the coalition. Retired Wyoming Game Warden Duane Hyde is the other Co-Chairman. U.S. Senator Craig Thomas from Wyoming is shown prominently as a “friend of the Wyoming Range’.
In bold letters, the group states its position as: There are places that should be saved for the hunting and fishing future of our children and off-limits to development. This mountain country is one of those places.
“The Wyoming Range hunting and fishing is under attack” proclaims the lead movie presentation on their flashy website. The group calls the Wyoming Range the “Best of the Backcountry” with Wyoming’s best trophy mule deer hunting; the last stand for three of four native cutthroat trout species; world-class elk and Shiras moose hunting
Over 150,000 acres have been leased to oil companies since the 1970s. Last year, the Bridger-Teton National Forest allowed 44,600 acres to be sold for lease options. Originally, oil and gas companies sought 175,000 acres for lease, but the acreage was pared down due to strong opposition and vocal public outcry.
Sportsmen for the Wyoming Range is afraid that sportsmen’s rights will be sacrificed and some of the best fishing, hunting and recreation in the country will be lost forever. They cite a quote by Theodore Rosevelt, “Leave it as it is. The ages have been at work at it and man can only mar it.”
There are 13 major outdoor and sportsmen groups who have partnered as members in Sportsmen for the Wyoming Range:
Mule Deer Foundation
Wyoming Wildlife Federation
Wyoming Backcountry Horsemen of America
Backcountry Hunters and Anglers
Orion - The Hunter’s Institute
The Izaak Walton League, Travelle Chapter
National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS)
Snowy Range Fly Casters
Bowhunters of Wyoming
Wyoming Outfitters and Guides Association
Sublette County Outfitters & Guide Association
Wyoming Game Wardens Association
The SWR website states, “Mineral extraction is an important part of Wyoming’s economy and its continued benefits to the state cannot be ignored. It is possible, however, to conduct balanced and responsible energy development in areas that will not negatively impact other Wyoming businesses, including tourism, ranching, outfitting and recreation.”
The group is asking for volunteers to help in a variety of ways: Helping with fundraising, hosting a fundraising reception in their community, placing a sign at their place of business, writing letters to the local newspaper, writing e-mails to friends to spread the word about the new website, displaying a bumper sticker, and giving permission to be name-mentioned in an endorsement.
A similar group, Citizens Protecting the Wyoming Range, headed by Daniel rancher and outfitter Gary Amerine, is a collection of diverse voices and interests taking a stand together to stop new energy development in the Wyoming Range. CPWR is comprised of local landowners, anglers, outfitters, hunters, business owners, and ranchers, united in the belief that rampant drilling in Sublette County should not be allowed to spread into this special part of Bridger-Teton National Forest. Their lobbying efforts have been centered on the concept of, “Enough is enough!” Amerine has lent his support to the new SWR coalition.