By Mike Koshmrl, Jackson Hole Daily via Wyoming News Exchange

 

JACKSON — Environmental attorneys have their sights set on a 3,500-well gas field that overlaps with the state of Wyoming’s only recognized sage grouse winter concentration area and a migration path that’s used by pronghorn that dwell in Jackson Hole. A lawsuit filed Wednesday in the U.S. District Court of Wyoming targets the Bureau of Land Management for allegedly violating the National Environmental Policy Act when the agency approved Jonah Energy’s potentially $18 billion Normally Pressured Lance gas field. While reviewing effects of the gas field with an environmental impact statement, the BLM allegedly failed to take a “hard look” — which NEPA requires — at impacts to pronghorn and sage grouse, Center for Biological Diversity senior attorney Wendy Park contended.

“We’re very concerned that the government, in reviewing this project, failed to include any concrete measures to protect the pronghorn migration route,” Park told the Jackson Hole Daily.

The northern half of the 100-plus-mile route she alludes to, known as the “Path of the Pronghorn,” is protected where it cuts through the Bridger-Teton National Forest on the way to Grand Teton National Park and National Elk Refuge summer grounds.

But the southern reaches of that migration — including through the Anticline and Jonah gas fields — have escaped recognition and protective designation for years, although a corridor was proposed by the Wyoming Game and Fish Department. The southern extent of the ancient route figures to be one of the first migrations to be assessed through the new process.