At least one of the 15 plans released this week by the Bureau of Land Management has environmentalists concerned. The plan—covering Wyoming’s Bighorn Basin—is drawing criticism from some environmental groups that say it doesn’t do enough to protect three especially wild regions in the basin. Wyoming Outdoor Council spokeswoman Julia Stuble says the plan needs to adopt a stronger “look before leasing” approach to make energy development decisions on a case-by-case basis.
“What’s been designed so far is not adequate to actually ensure these places receive the protections for the values they have,” Stuble says. “Crucial big game winter range along the mountain fronts, migration corridors that will stretch for miles from the desert basins into the national parks. And then just those arid wild places in the center.”
She says while these wild areas do receive special management rules, they still don’t receive enough to monitor oil and gas leasing there. The plan now goes into a 30 day comment period before it’s adopted. After that, she says the Bighorn BLM plan can’t be altered for many years.
“BLM designs them to be in place for 20 years,” she says. “And so students that are in elementary school right now across Cody and Worland will be graduated from college and starting their careers by the time we look at this again. And that’s far too long to let these places be managed in a way that’s not going to be fully protective of the values we want to see for future generations.”
Struble says she encourages the public to weigh in on the value of such wild places to the state. To view the Bighorn BLM plan, click here.