FEBRUARY 2011 UPDATE
Just a note to those of you concerned American citizens who love the wide open land of the West. As we mentioned in earlier newsletters, Wyoming is losing its battle. There could be 136 new natural gas wells before it's over...where are the environ- mentalists when you need them?!?! Please read this and spread the word.
The wild, pristine, rugged country west of Pinedale, Wyoming, the Wyoming range of the Bridger Teton National Forest, is now being opened to drilling for natural gas. As we mentioned in our Fall 2008 newsletter, Wyoming is a state where land owners don't own the mineral rights, the state does (unless grandfathered in). The state allows drilling everywhere except the Tetons and Yellowstone.
The Wyoming range is personal to us; we ride and cowboy on a ranch at its base every summer. It is some of the most beautiful and majestic country in Wyoming. There are few mountainous areas in the state, probably only a half-dozen, and they could all be threatened in this way. Now the Bridger Teton Forest Service leases, which the oil companies have occupied for years, are being opened to drilling as they act on these leases. The Environmental Impact Statement that they submitted is unbelievable. They will be plowing right through the ranch we cowboy on, even though it was put into the largest landmark Conservation Easement in the state of Wyoming just this last year, preserving over 20,000 acres from development and designating the land for ranching and wildlife migration for generations to come.
The oil companies have all but drilled up much of the Pinedale Sublette County area, but there is still a lot more country left to drill south of this area with much easier access on flatter desert rangeland instead of mountainous wild backcountry at elevations between 8-10,000 feet. It will require monumental efforts to build access roads which will then have to be kept plowed year 'round. This will tear up the Wyoming Range backcountry and decimate the wilderness. Gas drilling rigs will be everywhere, turning a once-quiet, country road that meanders through the historic Green River country into a freeway of construction trucks and heavy equipment. Where are the outraged environmentalists??? If I could afford a full-page ad in the Wall Street Journal or New York Times to get the word out, I would, but e-mail will have to do instead.
The only hope we have is to push for further impact statements and studies to be done to keep things tied up for the time being, preventing the oil companies from moving forward while efforts are organized to either stop them outright or raise enough money to buy the Forest Service leases, and that is in the millions.
With all the demands for natural resources in the headlines, many have just looked the other way while our West is drilled into devastation. Look at these pictures; this is the country we are talking about...think about this and let your conscience urge you to tell everyone you know, especially those of you who know people in high places. Everyone knows someone, so please help our dear state. Don't let Wyoming become the state "where the deer and the antelope once played". Our rancher friends in Daniel and Pinedale have been getting the squeeze from the oil companies for years, and now this takes the Academy Award for an environmental assault.
Please join Wil and I, Maggie Miller's Grindstone Land & Livestock Company, and our friends and neighbors of West Sublette County, Wyoming, in expressing our strongest concern.
Thank you for your support,
Beverly & Wil Howe
Here is how you can help--
To have your voice heard, submit your comments on PXP's drilling plan by March 11. They should be sent to:
Jacqueline A. Buchanan
P.O. Box 1888
Jackson, WY 83001
You can also e-mail your comments to Commentsfirstname.lastname@example.org
For the latest information, visit Citizens for the Wyoming Range, the support organization of local outfitters, hunters, and ranchers. They also have samples of comment letters for your reference.
Wyoming Newsletter from 2008...
Working in Wyoming. . . the Cowboy Ways. . . and Making Some Great Horses!
We are finally back from Wyoming where we hid out for seven weeks, cowboying with our good friends at the Grindstone Land & Cattle Company of Daniel, Wyoming. It was a great time for us and our five head we took with us. We had been planning this since last year--to be able to spend some intense and quality time on our horses, using them in a working situation where long days & wet saddle blankets really makes a lasting impression.
We rode the ranch's 40,000 acres and tended to 3,000 head of cattle with the ranch crew. Many days were twenty-mile days that started early. We moved mother cows & calves and rotated the yearlings and replacement heifers, helping mainly with the cow work, handling all the separating & sorting--our favorite team work--and occasional doctoring, which is done strictly by roping them in the field at this outfit. No squeeze chutes here.
Endless Mountain Views & Wildlife . . .
The hours in the saddle moving cattle from pasture to pasture were spent in beautiful expansive allotments of sub-irrigated pastureland, flanked by rolling sagebrush hills painted with quaking aspen groves. The upper country was like riding through a sea of wildflowers amongst the firs, pines, and spruce--timber country with elk trails as wide and worn as a mountain horse trail. Creeks carve the lush valley's pastures, bringing snowmelt down from the Wyoming Range to the west of us. Miles of these meandering creek beds were lined by willow thickets and beaver dams, and make perfect hiding places for stubborn bulls to hang out in during the annual 75-head bull gather. This is where a good horse earns his keep!
The ranch was laden with wildlife rearing their young during the summer months. Most prevalent were the daily encounters with herds of antelope, badgers, and their holes. Sage hens, sand hill cranes, blue herons, hawks, and bald eagles were also attracted to the water there, as were moose, elk, and deer. As the weeks went by, the bucks' racks grew, as did the ranch's 1,200 calves and our love of the area, the work, and the people. For Wil, it was like coming home, as it was in Wyoming where he first starting cowboying some 40 years ago.
Changing Times . . .
This is big country, truly God's country, and...a changing country. A place where the last of the west's cattlemen and cowboys are trying to hang on to their way of life and their heritage. As the United States grows in its energy needs, so do the oil and gas well fields of western Wyoming, making it a state destined to be consumed for the good of us all. One wonders. The economic & environmental impact of the oil & natural gas boom is incredible in that neck of the woods. The mesa sagebrush ground is increasing its production from one well on forty acres to one well per 5 acres now! And before long, they'll be start to drill on Forest Service ground in the mountains. It is unbelievable that the nation hasn't a clue of what is going on in western Wyoming. It is scary to watch an avalanche coming, knowing you can't outrun it. This is our changing time.
We want to be part of this before it is gone forever.