Groups ask G&F to suspend corridor process

File photo

Eight state

associations – from county commissioners

to livestock and energy interests –

are asking Wyoming Game and Fish to

suspend its big-game migration corridor

designation process until they are more

involved at an earlier stage.

Wyoming Game and Fish has two

proposed migration corridors in the designation

stage of its process – the Wyoming

Range Mule Deer Corridor and

Sublette Pronghorn Migration Corridor.

Requests

The March 21 letter to Game and Fish

Deputy Director Scott Smith is signed

by the Wyoming County Commissioners

Association, Wyoming Association

of Conservation Districts, Wyoming

Stock Growers Association, Wyoming

Wool Growers Association, Wyoming

Farm Bureau Federation, Wyoming

Mining Association and Petroleum Association

of Wyoming.

“(We) request that the (Game and

Fish) suspend the designation of ungulate

migration corridors until the oil and

gas lease deferral process is clarified and

counties and landowners are involved in

the development of management strategies,”

the letter states.

“… We request (that) the Game and

Fish include local boards of county commissioners

along with affected landowners

early and throughout the process” to

designate corridors, recommend oil and

gas lease sale deferrals and design management

strategies.

It adds, “We believe coordination

and outreach has been lacking throughout

the process to develop a strategy for

conserving ungulate migration corridors,

including the designation of corridors

and recommendations to defer

leases.”

Positions

Sublette County commissioners were

asked for their thoughts on the March 21

letter and each were sent a copy. They

have not yet discussed or taken a stance

on migration corridor proposals.

“I do concur with the points made by

the organizations that signed on to the

letter, including WCCA,” said Commissioner

Joel Bousman. “It is not accurate

to comment that WCCA is protesting

any designations of corridors. The point

of the letter is that communication needs

to occur with all the affected entities involved,

including private landowners

and counties.”

He and commissioners Doug Vickrey

and Mack Rawhouser attended the

February Game and Fish meeting in

Pinedale. After, each commissioner including

chairman David Burnett said.

they needed more information. Commissioner

Tom Noble has not responded.

Bousman again was the only one to

respond to additional questions by press

time.

“I have not spoken to anyone here locally

in Game and Fish since the public

meeting in Pinedale,” Bousman said.

“This is an evolving issue as far as any

restrictions in the corridors and needs to

involve private landowners, the county

and multiple users of the public land.

“I do think that at some point, it would

be good to invite Game and Fish to a commission

meeting to have more specific

discussion. I believe we can do this in a

way that provides for continued multiple

use activities, including energy development,

and still allow for the wildlife to

continue to migrate. We still have a lot to

learn about migration as well. My opinion

only of course.”

Responses

“The Game and Fish Department is not

suspending its migration corridor designation

process but we want to ensure our

stakeholders are being heard so we are

taking the time to evaluate stakeholder

feedback,” said Game and Fish Habitat

Supervisor Angi Bruce. “The Department

will consider all feedback we receive as

we continue the designation process.”

Jim Magagna, executive vice president

of the Wyoming Stock Growers Association,

is another party to the letter, saying

its purpose is not to “protest corridor designations.”

“We, together with others, are requesting

more dialogue on the potential

impacts of more designations before the

G&F takes final action,” Magagna said.

Deputy Chief of Wildlife Doug

Brimeyer further explained in a phone interview

Wednesday that the state agency

would continue its ongoing process to

designate and protect wildlife migration

corridors with more opportunity for public

feedback.

“The Wyoming Range Mule Deer and

Sublette County Pronghorn (migration

corridors) have been through the protocols

we established … since the 1980s,”

he said.

At public meetings in February, including

one in Pinedale, the public was invited

to come for information and provide input

by April 1. Those followed an earlier

get-together in Casper where Game and

Fish announced its proposal to designate

the two migration corridors.

“The community meetings were meant

to open up the conversations,” Brimeyer

said. “We asked people for comments by

April 1 and we are evaluating the ones

we received … to understand stakeholders’

concerns. That’s where we’re at right

now.”

He disagreed that they did not try hard

enough to involve stakeholders in issues

raised now by the statewide government

and interest groups.

“We made an extensive effort to reach

out to stakeholders in February to take

input,” Brimeyer said, adding there is

“room for improvement. We called a number

of parties on that letter to … come to

the meetings.”

The letter also asks Game and Fish to

make sure “private landowners and private

mineral interest owners” have a “full

G&F

Continued from 1A

COUNCIL

Continued from 1A

opportunity” for input.

Brimeyer responded, “We are not trying

to impact landowners in any way. No

way have we meant to impede what people

are doing. We are trying to benefit their

operations. We have gone to bat for these

improvements.”

He noted that cheatgrass and other invasive

weeds are moving along migration

corridors and Game and Fish can help

landowners find federal funds to control

them on their adjacent properties.

In the meantime, Game and Fish is “always

willing” to hear feedback.

Processes

The agency’s Ungulate Migration Corridor

Strategy and policy follow years of

local Game and Fish regional managers

updating wildlife herd maps and talking

to nearby landowners, Brimeyer said.

Designating a migration corridor is

just the first of several steps, he said. The

1980s’ protocol and 2016 policy do not require

approval from the Wyoming Game

and Fish Commission. Instead, wildlife

staff update and inform the Commission

about migration corridors.

The next step is the “risk assessment,

which provides a whole new level of engagement

for the public to be involved,

with more specifics.”

After that, a migration corridor parcel

would be managed on a case-by-case

basis, for example regarding oil and gas

lease sales and multiple use issues.

Sublette stakeholders with questions

can contact Pinedale Region Supervisor

John Lund or habitat supervisor Brandon

Scurlock at the Pinedale office, 432 E.

Mill St. or call 307-367-4352. They can

ask to be added to an email contact list as

parties interested in updates.

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