TRCP Protests Plans to Lease 34,000 Acres of Public Lands for Oil and Gas Drilling

Sportsmen’s Group Says Federal Agency Not Considering Impacts to Mule Deer; Calls for Immediate Removal of 28 Parcels from Auction Block WASHINGTON – The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership this week filed a formal protest of Bureau of Land Management plans to offer for lease 28 parcels of federal minerals that could significantly impact important habitats for mule deer. “These lease parcels include designated crucial mule deer winter range and migration routes, which are essential to the future of mule deer populations within Wyoming,” said Dr. Rollin Sparrowe of the Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership. “The BLM has failed to properly consider the likely impacts from development if these leases are sold and developed in the manner that is currently being used.” “Leasing would irretrievably and unlawfully commit these priceless Wyoming wildlands to oil and gas development,” the TRCP writes in its protest. The group also contends: • The most recent update of designated winter ranges and migration routes by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department (WGF) gave the BLM significant new information establishing the important characteristics of these and other special surface values of these areas. • Recent research conducted on the impacts of oil and gas development on crucial winter range has concluded that development has an immediate and significant effect on mule deer use of winter ranges and adds to population declines. • Current stipulations and conditions-of-approval are not adequate to protect and manage crucial winter ranges and migration routes and have a history of being waived in many BLM field offices. • The BLM is not following the recommendations from the WGF on how development should proceed within crucial and important habitats like crucial winter ranges and migration routes to prevent undue and unnecessary degradation. • BLM has not conducted new on-the-ground inventories or environmental analysis required by the National Environmental Policy Act and the Federal Lands Policy and Management Act. “Absent comprehensive habitat management planning for mule deer populations, leasing and subsequent development and road construction will render these lands unsuitable as winter range for mule deer,” said TRCP Energy Policy Initiative Manager Steve Belinda. “If we’re to conserve healthy mule deer populations and opportunities for sportsmen to hunt mule deer, the BLM must recognize the impacts to the essential habitats for mule deer survival and pull these parcels from its auction. Wyoming’s mule deer populations are too important to lose, and leasing these 28 tracts places them at an undue risk. The Theodore Roosevelt Conservation Partnership is a coalition of leading hunting, fishing and conservation organizations and individual partners working together to guarantee access to places to hunt and fish, conserve fish and wildlife habitat, and increase funding for conservation.