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Date: Feb. 9, 2007
Contact: Steven Hall, BLM, 307-775-6015
Rob Black, Governor’s Press Secretary, 307-777-7437
Dave Ozman, USGS, 303-202-4744
Pat Deibert, FWS, 307-772-2374
Rey Adame, BLM, 307-352-0399
Eric Keszler, Wyoming Game & Fish Dept., 307-777-4594

DOI and State of Wyoming Announce Landscape Conservation
Initiative for Southwest Wyoming

The U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) and the State of Wyoming today announced the Wyoming Landscape Conservation Initiative (WLCI). DOI has proposed $11.5 million in federal funding for the wildlife habitat conservation effort in Southwest Wyoming as part of the national Healthy Lands Initiative. DOI funding in the proposed 2008 budget includes $2 million for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, $4.5 million for the Bureau of Land Management, and $5 million for the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).

"Historically, we have looked at each development proposal and its effects on habitat, grazing and other surface uses individually,” Governor Dave Freudenthal said. “While each proposal will continue to be evaluated on its own merits, this initiative provides an opportunity to better plan and choreograph future development and any resulting reclamation, monitoring, wildlife habitat mitigation and grazing planning. In addition, WLCI will provide a strategic approach for overall habitat enhancement work in southwest Wyoming.”

“We hope local governments, non-profit organizations, the conservation community, ranchers, landowners and industry will help us identify the right questions and the right answers,” said BLM’s Acting Director Jim Hughes. “Partnerships – especially at the local level – will be the key to success. Local interests will work together to make local decisions, and local BLM managers will be given the flexibility needed to implement these decisions.”

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Regional Director Mitch King added: "The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is proud to be a partner in this landmark effort. We believe that conservation works best when it is pursued through partnerships and on a landscape scale, which is precisely what the Initiative is all about. We look forward to working together with our public and private partners in Wyoming to ensure the successful conservation of sensitive species and to preclude the need for federal protection under the Endangered Species Act."

“The U.S. Geological Survey is pleased to be a part of this important conservation partnership,” said USGS Central Region Director Thomas Casadevall. “We look forward to applying new and existing scientific research to protect and enhance habitat in the southwest Wyoming wildlife-energy interface.”

The Green River Basin, 15 million acres roughly the size of Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts and New Hampshire combined, contains an estimated 83 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, or enough to fuel the United States for three years. The same landscape is home to 100,000 deer, 40,000 elk, 100,000 pronghorn antelope, 8,000 moose, 1,200 bighorn sheep, and the highest density of greater sage grouse within their western range.

In order to conserve this world-class wildlife and facilitate the responsible development of national energy resources, the BLM, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, USGS, U.S. Forest Service, Wyoming Game and Fish Department, Bureau of Reclamation, National Park Service, and Wyoming Department of Agriculture developed the WLCI.

The WLCI is a long-term, science-based effort that will identify, evaluate, and implement on-the-ground conservation projects that are most needed in Southwest Wyoming. The inter-agency approach will help ensure that projects designed to benefit wildlife habitat achieve tangible, on-the-ground results. WLCI conservation efforts will enhance existing requirements for energy development reclamation and mitigation. With approximately 28 percent of the land in the area privately owned, improved habitat will also benefit livestock grazing to help sustain the local economy.

Funding for the project will be provided by a variety of sources, including federal, state, and non-governmental organizations. The Jonah Interagency Office (JIO), funded by industry to improve off-site wildlife habitat, currently funds projects in the Upper Green River Basin that align with the WLCI effort.

WLCI Open House will be held in Southwest Wyoming’s BLM field offices on the following dates:

  • Rawlins – Thursday, Feb. 15
  • Kemmerer – Tuesday, Feb. 20
  • Rock Springs – Wednesday, Feb. 21
  • Pinedale – Sublette County Library – Thursday, Feb. 22

For more information, please visit www.wlci.gov or call Renee Dana of the BLM Rock Springs Field Office at (307) 352-0227.