Lander, Wyo.—Today the Bridger-Teton National Forest announced almost 40,000 acres in the Wyoming Range are not available for oil and gas development. Many of these acres overlay a key NOLS operating area where 14- and 15-year-old students learn technical backcountry skills and develop leadership on two-week backpacking courses.
“This decision from the Bridger-Teton National Forest to protect the Wyoming Range from oil and gas development is great news for our state and the future of the sustainable recreation economy,” said Jen Sall, NOLS Rocky Mountain Director. “Numerous outdoor organizations like NOLS have expressed their desire to retain this natural landscape for years. We applaud the Forest Service for respecting the desire of local stakeholders who overwhelmingly stated their support for a pristine recreation destination.”
The impacts on NOLS from oil and gas development would have been real and direct. One potential project planned to develop 200 wells on eight separate 50-acre well pads in the eastern gateway to the Wyoming Range. Many of these well pads overlaid NOLS course routes and campsites.
“The Forest Service has honored the intent of the Wyoming Range Legacy Act, a signature achievement sponsored by Senator John Barrasso, which closed 1.2 million acres in these mountains from future oil and gas leasing,” said Sall. “Now, we can move forward with certainty that this landscape can continue to inspire visitors for generations to come.”
In 2008, the Bridger-Teton initiated an Environmental Impact Statement process to assess whether 40,000 acres, which had been offered for oil and gas leasing but protested by many parties including NOLS, were appropriate for development. These leases, which predated the Wyoming Range Legacy Act, remained in suspended status pending the completion of the EIS. With this decision the federal government can move forward with canceling these leases.
NOLS is the world’s most comprehensive wilderness school. Students of any age learn communication, good judgment, and grit through developing outdoor skills, risk management, and wilderness medicine expertise in a hands-on environment. Students graduate from their courses prepared to step forward and lead their communities in a changing world. To discover the NOLS experience or to bring a course to your business or organization, call (800) 710-NOLS (6657) or visit www.nols.edu.