After lengthy discussions, Jonah Energy has agreed to hold off on plans to drill some 3500 gas wells near Pinedale until an environmental impact statement is complete.
Governor Mead’s Sage Grouse Implementation Team could not reach a consensus on Tuesday on whether to include the area—known as the NPL or Normally Pressurized Lance—as protected habitat. Wyoming Game and Fish sage grouse coordinator Tom Christiansen says, the team didn't agree on whether or not to adopt the area into the grouse's core area habitat.
“The subgroup of that did not reach consensus. I think it was a six to four vote. The six were in favor of adding that to core. But the SGIT will take that information under advisement and advise the governor who will ultimately make the decision.”
Christiansen says, winter habitat is critical because that’s when sage grouse are fattening up for the breeding season.
“Winter for sage grouse in general is a good time,” Christiansen says. “Grouse actually gain weight over the winter by eating sage brush. They’re preparing over winter for the breeding season.”
Christiansen says there’s still little science on how much buffer zone from energy development grouse need during winter.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife will make a decision about whether to protect the greater sage grouse as an endangered species September 30 of this year.