For the past several years, Sweetwater County has requested that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) manage our federal lands in a balanced manner that supports our mineral economy while protecting the open spaces, wildlife and outdoor recreational opportunities that help sustain our high quality of life.Currently, this balance may be threatened by potential BLM oil and gas lease sales within the Greater Little Mountain Area (GLMA) and the Hoback to Red Desert Migration Corridor (Migration Corridor). This is especially true if these lease sales occur prior to the BLM Draft Rock Springs Resource Management Plan (Draft RMP) and Record of Decision (ROD). If these sales occur prior to the publishing of the Draft RMP and ROD, the development of these leases may compromise the valuable open spaces and wildlife resources of the Greater Little Mountain Area and the Hoback to Red Desert Migration Corridor.
On March 20, Sweetwater County sent a letter to Governor Mead requesting that he consider asking the BLM to delay these proposed GLMA and Migration Corridor oil and gas sales until the public has had an opportunity to provide comment on the Draft RMP. Also, that letter was sent to the Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke, the Wyoming congressional delegation and the BLM.
Since sending this letter, the county has learned that Secretary of Interior Ryan Zinke recently intervened and removed several leases from a New Mexico and Montana oil and gas lease sale after hearing concerns from local officials and landowners. On behalf of the citizens of Sweetwater County, we ask that he do the same by delaying the proposed oil and gas lease sales for the Greater Little Mountain and the Hoback to Red Desert Migration Corridor until the public has had time to digest and comment on the Draft RMP.
These areas are just too important to our residents and our way of life to have the BLM rush ahead with oil and gas sales before the BLM Rock Springs Resource Management Plan can be completed with the benefit of full public review and comment.
Wally J. Johnson is the Sweetwater County Commissioner. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.