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Kemmerer Field Office

Oil & Gas Project - Wildlife FAQs

When is the best time to construct projects in the Kemmerer Field Office?

The best time to construct projects is between August 1 and November 14.

Why is this the best time to construct projects?

There are no wildlife stipulations in effect between August 1 and November 14.  Constructing projects during this time minimizes disturbance to wildlife because most birds are done nesting by August 1, and the big game crucial winter range closure starts on November 15 in designated areas. 

(Note: there are many other reasons, besides wildlife, to plan construction in the summer and fall.  Some examples include: avoiding frozen soils and potential hazardous weather complications in the winter, as well as preventing road damage or soil erosion caused by vehicle traffic on muddy roads in the spring.)

What if I can’t get my project done in this time frame?

If your project falls within a wildlife stipulation area and you are unable to complete it in this time frame, exceptions may be granted on a case-by-case basis.

What is an exception to a stipulation/condition of approval?

An exception involves a biological assessment of the wildlife concern and the potential effects of the project.  If an exception is granted, then work can proceed during the stipulation dates.

What information is needed in my application to expedite the approval process?

For most routine smaller projects it is important to include the amount of water that will be used and the source of that water.  The BLM biologist will do the analysis for the rest of species.  For other large projects, such as long pipelines, it may be useful to hire a biological consultant and include data on issues concerning mountain plover, sage grouse, raptors, prairie dogs, riparian/wetland areas, and other species of concern within the project area.

Why do I need to identify the source and amount of any water use?

The USFWS requires water usage to be tracked for the Colorado River basin because of impacts to Endangered fish species including bonytail, Colorado pikeminnow, humpback chub, and razorback sucker.

When does the mountain plover stipulation apply?

The mountain plover restriction dates are from April 10 - July 10.  This stipulation is to protect destruction of mountain plover nests in potential habitat during nesting season.  Potential mountain plover habitat is generally flat, dry and sparsely vegetated.

What do I need to do to get an exception for the mountain plover stipulation?

You will need to apply for an exception in writing to the Kemmerer Field Manager before May 1 of the year you wish to start the project.  The request will need to include the project name, location, justification for the exception and a detailed description of the activity including number of personnel, equipment and length of project. 

Be sure to consider in your planning that exceptions to the mountain plover stipulation can only be granted if a survey is completed and no mountain plovers are observed. The standard survey protocol is from the Fish and Wildlife Service. It involves three survey dates, two weeks apart, between May 1 and June 15.  Even if the surveys are completed at the earliest possible dates, the soonest an exception can be granted is the first week of June.

When does the raptor stipulation apply?

The raptor restriction dates are between February 1 and July 31.  This stipulation is to prevent disturbance to raptors during nesting season.  The raptor restriction applies if a project is within ½ mile of a raptor nest for the Moxa Arch, otherwise it is within ¾ mile of any raptor nest (excluding bald eagle and ferruginous hawks).  Ferruginous hawks are more susceptible to disturbance and require a mile restriction buffer.  Bald eagles are protected under the Endangered Species Act and are handled differently (see questions below).

What do I need to do to get an exception for the raptor stipulation?

If you wish to construct a project during the raptor stipulation dates, a field survey of raptor nest activity in the area is required.  If an active nest is within the disturbance buffer, and it is determined that the project could cause significant disturbance to the success of that nest, then the exception request is denied. If no active nest is found in the project area, then the exception can be granted.

When does the black-footed ferret stipulation apply?

The black-footed ferret stipulation applies whenever there are prairie dog holes within the project area.

What do I need to do to get an exception for the black-footed ferret stipulation?

There is no BLM exception to the black-footed ferret survey requirements.  The black-footed ferret is an Endangered species and therefore is under strict protection by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS). The BLM has to consult with (USFWS) on all projects where prairie dog colonies occur. The official survey protocol must be followed to prevent legal action for violation of the Endangered Species Act.

When does the big game winter range stipulation apply?

Crucial big game winter range restriction dates are November 15 - April 30 in designated areas.  BLM biologists work with the Wyoming Game and Fish to delineate winter range areas.

What do I need to do to get an exception for a big game crucial winter range stipulation?

You will need to apply for an exception in writing to the Kemmerer Field Manager.  The request will need to include the project name, location, justification for the exception, and a detailed description of the activity including number of personnel, equipment, and length of project.

A BLM biologist will then analyze the potential impact of the project to wintering big game animals.  Considerations include animal presence, animal condition, weather severity, site location, timing of project, habitat condition, and habitat availability.

Due to the unpredictability of weather and wildlife, the exception analysis cannot be completed until shortly before the requested time frame, and will granted for two weeks only.  If the project extends longer than two weeks, another request and analysis is required.

When does the sage grouse stipulation apply?

The sage grouse lek stipulation dates are from February 1 - May 15 for areas within ¼ mile of  the lek center.

The sage grouse nesting stipulation is from April 1 - July 1 for areas within 2 miles of the lek center.

What do I need to do to get an exception for a sage grouse stipulation?

You will need to apply for an exception in writing to the Kemmerer Field Manager.  The request will need to include the project name, location, justification for the exception, and a detailed description of the activity including number of personnel, equipment, and length of project.

A BLM biologist will then analyze the potential impact of the project on sage grouse leks or nesting.  Considerations include lek occupancy, site location, timing of project, extent of project, sage grouse sign, presence of nesting birds, and suitability of habitat.  For large projects, it is possible to arrange for a biological contractor to assist with sage grouse surveys to provide data for the exception request.

When does BLM have to consult with the US Fish and Wildlife Service?

BLM has to consult with the USFWS whenever an endangered species may be affected by a project.  Kemmerer BLM is required to determine the effects on the following species: black-footed ferret, Ute ladies’-tresses, gray wolf, Canada lynx, grizzly bear, Colorado Rvier fishes, and bald eagle.

Some examples of when the BLM will determine that a project may affect an endangered species are:

Bald eagle - if it falls within a mile buffer of a nest or roost site
Ute ladies’- tresses -if it will impact a riparian area
Canada lynx -if it is located in forest habitat 
How long does this consultation take?

If a project determination is “may affect - not likely to adversely affect,” the USFWS usually replies within 30 days.   If a project is very complex and results in a “may affect - likely to adversely affect” determination, then the USFWS has 90 day to respond.

What can I do to minimize the time a consultation takes?

When planning a project it is better to avoid affecting an Endangered species, then no consultation is necessary. If no avoidance alternatives can be found, be sure to plan your projects and submit the necessary documents to the BLM far in advance of anticipated construction dates.  Also, ensure that your documents are accurate and complete.  If necessary, hire a competent and experienced biological consultant to help gather data and meet the wildlife requirements. BLM biologists will verify all data, make the proper determinations, and consult with UFSWS.

Who do I call to get other wildlife questions answered?

If you have any questions about the wildlife program, call the Kemmerer Office at 307-828-4500 and ask for a biologist.  We can help you plan your projects to avoid complications and delays concerning wildlife issues.