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Rawlins Pilot Office

The Rawlins Pilot Office is responsible for 3.5 million acres of BLM-administered surface acres and 4.5 million acres of BLM-administered mineral estate, encompassing all or portions of Sweetwater, Carbon, Albany, and Laramie counties in southern Wyoming.

High mountains, high plains, and high desert landscapes are habitat for a variety of wildlife, including rare mammals, fish, and birds. The Rawlins Pilot Office is home to the only known wild population of black-footed ferrets in Wyoming.  The black-footed ferret is an endangered species, and protection of its habitat is a major factor affecting land use decisions. 

Large federal grazing allotments in the office area are used extensively. Gas and oil wells dot the landscape and coal lies underneath. The ever-present wind is also being harnessed for energy — the largest commercial wind energy project in the intermountain West lies within the Rawlins Pilot Office boundaries. The historic Overland and Cherokee Trails cross the southern part of the area. Where prehistoric mammals and dinosaurs once roamed (some sites in the pilot office have yielded the only fossil record of several extinct species), wild horses share the range with livestock and wildlife. The Continental Divide National Scenic Trail crosses the pilot office area and offers opportunities for day hikes or a 3,000-mile trek. Other recreational activities include hunting, fishing, camping, river floating, rock hounding, mountain biking, off-highway vehicle use and sightseeing. 

The Rawlins Pilot Office is seeing a significant increase in natural gas development, both conventional and coalbed natural gas (CBNG), and to a lesser extent, oil development in the central and eastern portions of the Green River Basin. Reasonable foreseeable development scenarios project 8,000–9,000 wells. The office is currently processing right-of-way applications and completing environmental impact statements for three proposed large-diameter natural gas pipelines.  Growing interest in alternative energy sources is resulting in applications for authorized-use permits for wind energy and uranium development.

The Rawlins Pilot Office completed 42 percent more environmental inspections last year than in 2005, while recording fewer environmental violations in the second year of the project than in the first year.

The office is also leading efforts to improve interagency collaboration, a key goal of the Pilot Project. The Rawlins office participates with other federal and state agencies in the Monitoring without Borders program to track and map occurrences of wildlife species without respect to political or land-ownership boundaries. Recent work under this program showed a larger-than-expected mountain plover population in the area, helping avert the need to list the species as threatened or endangered.

Last updated: 10-20-2009