The April 13 article "Drilling where the antelope play" captured the challenges Americans face in accessing energy while protecting wildlife spectacles for future generations. In this case, pronghorn - America's only indigenous hoofed species - migrate more than 250 miles round-trip between Sublette County gas fields and Grand Teton National Park in Wyoming. Throughout the Western Hemisphere, the only mammal that migrates farther is the Arctic caribou. If we wish to conserve this valuable icon of Wyoming and Western history for future generations and to prevent antelope extinction from an American national park, corridor protection is urgent.
However, it is also critical to address human concerns, which include private property rights. Protecting the "Path of the Pronghorn" should involve federal land, not private property, which comprises less than 10 percent of the 90-mile route. Landowners can then decide what they want to do about these benign, lithe creatures on their own property.
Joel Berger, PhD
Wildlife Conservation Society
Teton Valley, Idaho
Finally, a (dare I say) fair and balanced report on the nexus between the oil and gas industry in the West and conservation efforts for sage grouse and other wildlife. As this and other recent Monitor articles show, oil and gas development and wildlife conservation can and do coexist. And contrary to some in the doom-and-gloom "enviro" camp, efforts to conserve the sage grouse did not cease once the US Fish and Wildlife Service decided that the sage grouse was not warranted for listing under the Endangered Species Act.
Since November, sage grouse conservation measures have been included in all permits issued by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) for activities in BLM areas that include sage grouse habitat. States like Colorado and Wyoming have set aside millions of dollars to spend on wildlife conservation efforts, and a significant portion of that is being spent on sage grouse conservation.
Some of the best efforts, however, are being implemented by private landowners, including mining and oil and gas companies. These efforts are often implemented in partnership with federal or state agencies, or local working groups. These landowners live not only off their land, but in concert with it, putting them in the best position to conserve natural resources like the sage grouse.
The writer works for the US Department of the Interior; however, the views expressed in this letter are his own.
I have been here off and on for only about a year. Oil companies such as Questar, EnCana, Shell, and BP are working very hard to keep the enviroment clean and friendly. I work on many of their locations. No one gets in a hurry and everyone wants to protect the enviroment.
The migration of the animals is not in danger; they are just as curious about us as we are about them. The pronghorn antelope just go around the drilling rigs and watch as the trucks go by. I know the businesses in Pinedale are glad the oilfield is here; it just means more money in their pockets. We spend lots of money in the local stores.
I have never seen [city manager] Ward Wise in a cowboy hat. But you guys colorcode it how you want. Ever been to Pinedale? I was born here in 1960 - third generation ranching family. I grew up in town. Don't try to save us. We will be all right. Go help tsunami victims or help wipe out the wolves. Something useful.
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