December 13, 2002
Contact: Rey Adame
BLM Pinedale Considers Energy Companies Big Game
Crucial Winter Range Requests
The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Pinedale Field Office has received 39 requests to date from energy development companies for consideration of exceptions to the big game crucial winter range restriction for elk, mule deer, antelope and moose that began on November 15th and continues through April 30, 2003. The Pinedale Resource Management Plan and other National Environmental Policy Act documents authorize this exception process under the Wyoming BLM Standard Mitigation Guidelines For Surface-Disturbing Activities. The BLM gives serious consideration to all winter range restrictions and exception requests while at the same time recognizing the national demands for fossil-fuels energy. The BLM is committed to a process of coordinated review with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department (WGFD) when considering each request for an activity in designated crucial winter range. A consultation is held with a WGFD biologist to assess the current big game status and to determine potential impacts. Some of the criteria to consider in this process include: animal presence or absence, animal condition, weather severity, habitat condition and availability, and the specific site location and requested action. Following is a comparison between the numbers of requests received this year with the winter range season in 2001 (during a comparable time-period) and a break-out of the determinations.
Pursuant to the 39 requests currently received, 2 requests have been withdrawn by the requesting company, 2 requests are pending a determination, 1 request was formally "denied" and 34 requests have been approved. Of the "approved" requests, 20 were granted for less than 1 week (2 of which were for operational safety issues), 11 were granted for less than 2 weeks (9 of which were for safety issues and 1 for an environmental protection issue), 2 were granted for approximately 4 weeks during the 6-week period through December 22nd in consideration of private landowners' concerns and the determination of minimal wildlife impacts, and 1 was granted for the entire winter range season for inclusion in a winter range drilling program to study potential impacts on mule deer.
In 2001, 47 requests were received during the same time period. Five requests were withdrawn by the requesting company, 16 were "denied," 8 were granted for 1-week or less (1 of which was for a safety issue), 10 were granted for 2-weeks or less, 5 were granted for 15 days, 1 was approved for a period of 2 ½ months with a restriction on the types of activities, and 2 were granted for an undesignated time-period for safety issues.
BLM expects to receive additional requests for big game winter range restriction exceptions before the conclusion of the 2002-2003 winter season. Each request will be evaluated on its own merits against the previously mentioned criteria. For more information about these requests please see the BLM Wyoming wildlife exceptions page or contact Pauline Schuette at 307-367-5317.