Wyoming wildlife is getting a little help from the governor. Last week, Gov. Mark Gordon issued a draft executive order aimed at protecting the state’s three existing migration corridors: the Baggs, Platte Valley and Sublette (Red Desert-to-Hoback). The draft order would also help “develop guidelines for identifying additional routes” while also protecting “vital energy development for the state,” the Casper Star Tribune reports.
“My goal with this Executive Order is to identify solutions that would both protect our wildlife and support our economy through the multiple-use of public and state lands,” Gordon said in a statement. “I want to thank the advisory group for working collaboratively to deliver a strong and balanced set of recommendations which have been incorporated into this draft.”
The draft order is a balance between maintaining healthy herds that use these migration corridors and not hindering any economic growth. It incorporated recommendations from the Migration Corridor Advisory Group, which was established last May. Those recommendations included modifying “how the state formally designates a corridor for protection” and “launching local working groups” before a route was officially labeled as a migration corridor, according to the Casper Star Tribune. Based upon the draft language, the Wyoming Game and Fish Department would be responsible for gathering scientific data for prospective migration corridors before an “in-depth evaluation and risk assessment” was completed. Then, Gordon would work with local residents and stakeholders to gather additional insight before deciding to designate an official migration corridor.
“I think that the governor and his team did a really good job at trying to capture the intent of our recommendations,” said Marissa Taylor, who served on Gordon’s advisory group. “From a rancher’s perspective, I was happy to see that Wyoming is taking a leadership role in putting language to ... recognizing (landowners for) housing the corridor.”
According to the Casper Star Tribune, landowners interested in voluntarily working with the state to help “sustain identified corridors” will receive recognition as well as some financial support.
Of course, oil and gas development and how it will be handled is also part of the draft order. According to the draft language, “activities existing or permitted in designated migration corridors before Feb. 1, 2020 … will not be required to be managed under this Executive Order.” These “activities” include oil and gas, mining, wind energy, agriculture, highway development and more. Members of The Petroleum Association of Wyoming hope to find “a healthy compromise through the set of guidelines proposed in the draft order,” according to the Casper Star Tribune.
“While we carefully review all of the potential impacts of the Executive Order, we appreciate that Governor Gordon understands the need for balanced, multiple-use policies,” Pete Obermueller, president of the association, said in a statement. “Wyoming can support big game health and at the same time encourage the development that supports Wyoming. Case-by-case analysis that invites input and fairly accounts for all impacts to wildlife, from human recreation to subdivision development to oil and gas, is an honest approach and we thank Governor Gordon for his leadership.”
The full draft executive order is available HERE.
A final executive order will be released early next year.
If you’d like to comment on the order, click HERE.