First-quarter sales delete, defer Sublette parcels

Wyoming BLM graphic

– In the Wyoming Bureau of

Land Management’s just-announced first-quarter lease sale

for March 2020, 55 statewide parcels are now deleted or

deferred.

This includes five of the nine Sublette County parcels

that were nominated by the Wyoming BLM. The remaining

four have controlled or no surface occupancy and timing

restrictions for wildlife, greater sage-grouse, hawks, bald

eagles, burrowing owls, mountain plovers and yellow-billed

cuckoos.

Reasons are “unique characteristics” of historical and

cultural resources like the Oregon Trail and Indian sites,

crucial wildlife winter ranges, a sage-grouse winter concentration

area and wildlife migration corridors.

Of 160 parcels initially listed for sale across Wyoming,

the BLM now offers 105 lease parcels of 118,219 acres.

The sale’s Environmental Assessment and Finding of No

Significant Impact is open for a comment period through

Dec. 13.

Sublette deleted, deferred

In the BLM’s draft EA, the nine Sublette County lease

packages are Parcel 102 through Parcel 110.

• Parcel 102 of 1,440 acres is entirely deleted “as unavailable

for leasing” per the Pinedale Field Office’s 2008

resource management plan. It contains sage-grouse priority

habitat and winter concentration area.

• Parcel 103 with 1,942.74 acres also had 1,893 acres

deleted as unavailable for leasing according to the Pinedale

RMP. The remainder – 49 acres – is deferred with a Wyoming

Game and Fish recommendation for its proximity to a

designated or considered mule deer migration corridor. This

parcel started out with a special lease notice for the migration

corridor, no surface or conditional occupancy and timing

restrictions for big game, nesting raptors, hawks, bald

eagles and yellow-billed cuckoos.

• Parcel 104 has 2,386.5 acres, of which about 954 acres

were deleted as “unavailable” for leasing, and deferred “in

part” for tribal consultations on eligible or listed historic

big-game kill sites, Oregon Trail markings, rock art, burials

and other resources. The parcel lists “no surface occupancy”

to buffer no-lease areas and to protect National Registereligible

sites and listed Cultural Resource Site 48SU362.

The Game and Fish would protect a migration corridor and

timing restrictions would be in place for big game winter

range, bald eagle roosts and nests of raptors, bald eagles

and yellow-billed cuckoos. The rest of the parcel is also

deferred.

• Parcel 105 with 2,560 acres has 2,233 acres that are

“unavailable” for leasing and part is deferred at the request

of Game and Fish to protect the Red Desert to Hoback Mule

Deer Migration Corridor. The remainder is also deferred –

for tribal consultations. This parcel would have had timing

restrictions for wintering sage-grouse, crucial winter range

and visual resource protections. It also had distance and timing

restrictions for nesting raptors, hawks, bald eagles and

yellow-billed cuckoos.

• Parcel 106 contains 1,280 acres that hold sage-grouse

priority and winter concentration habitats, big game crucial

winter range and nesting raptors, hawks and bald eagles.

Of this, 1,234 acres are deleted as “unavailable” for leasing,

leaving about 55 acres available with restrictions for

big game winter range and nesting hawks, raptors and bald

eagles.

Offered in full

• Parcel 107 at 2,298.76 acres is the first lease parcel to

be offered in its entirety in March, with no surface occupancy

to protect Historic Register-eligible or listed cultural

resources 48SU266, 48SU1240 and 48SU4335. Restrictions

also protect big game winter range, nesting raptors, hawk

and bald eagle nests. This piece also has burrowing owl,

bald eagle and yellow-billed cuckoo nests, bald eagle winter

roosts and nesting mountain plover.

• Parcel 108 with 1,160 acres is also not deferred or deleted

at this time, with no surface occupancy for Cultural

Resource Site 48SU7520. It has restrictions for big game

crucial winter range, raptor and bald eagle nests, bald eagle

winter roosts and yellow-billed cuckoo nests

• Parcel 109 is the smallest at 75.7 acres with timing restrictions

for big game winter range, bald eagle nests and

roosts, hawks’ nests and yellow-billed cuckoo nests.

• Parcel 110, with 280.65 acres, is also not deferred or

deleted at this time. Surface occupancy or use will be restricted

or prohibited “unless an operator and the BLM

reach acceptable plan to mitigate anticipated impacts.” Restrictions

are in place to protect visual resources, nests of

raptors, hawks and bald eagles and their winter roosts. It

also carries timing restrictions for crucial big game winter

range, big game parturition (calving) area and yellow-billed

cuckoo nesting habitat.

EA language

The EA notes: “Again, our ability to analyze many of the

potential site-specific drilling and completion impacts (is)

limited, if not impossible, at the leasing stage and therefore,

are not ripe for review in the EA beyond what has been analyzed.

It is more appropriate to analyze drilling and completion

operations and anticipated impacts, at the site-specific

level, when an application to drill has been submitted.”

Regarding Sublette County and Wyoming historic and

prehistoric sites’ protections, the EA says, “If the leases

enter into a development stage, National Register of Historic

Places resources would be further addressed through

site-specific NEPA analysis. Significant known sites in any

of the parcels that would be offered for sale are protected

by either a controlled surface use or no surface occupancy

stipulation.

“All future projects are required to comply with the federal

law and regulation regarding the protection of eligible

historic properties. Where tribal consultation has not been

completed, those parcels have been deferred until that process

is complete.”

Operators must perform baseline and continuing groundwater

samples, due to the large amounts of water projected

for hydraulic fracturing or fracking: “The BLM recognizes

there is a concern regarding (fracking) operations, specifically

the potential to impact drinking water supplies either

from downhole migration, from spills on the surface or the

perceived potential for induced seismic activity. … This

EA, (with) an attached White Paper, has disclosed that there

are adequate water supplies available in Wyoming to meet

the reasonably foreseeable development scenarios described

in each of the subject resource management plans.”

It continues, “There is still doubt whether (fracking)

results in induced seismic activity. Seismic activity in oil

and gas development areas has repeatedly been shown to be

associated with the reinjection of waste waters in disposal

wells and/or through heavy pumping of groundwater combined

with drought effects and not related to (fracking).”

As for air quality, the EA states, “These calculations support

the conclusion that development of these leases would

represent only a small fraction of the potential emissions at

the state, regional, national and global scales and would be

expected to have little to no impact on total greenhouse gas

levels, the rate of climate change or the magnitude of effects

from climate change.”

For more

To see Wyoming BLM’s first-quarter 2020 environmental

assessment, unsigned “finding of no significant impact,”

associated maps and to comment, go to https://go.usa.gov/

xpYGJ.

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