28 Sportsmen groups signed onto a letter asking the Forest Service to use their authority to withdraw 35 parcels covering more than 44-thousand acres of oil and gas leases in the Wyoming Range.

According to a press release by Shauna Sherard, the letter which was signed by 28 sporting organizations was sent Tuesday to Intermountain Region Regional Forester Nora Rasure in connection with an attempt to conserve and protect critical wildlife habitat. The release goes onto say the letter is also to help prevent oil and gas development in the recreational site.

Steven Brutger, a Wyoming Energy Coordinator for Trout Unlimited says "as the gateway to the range, the 44 thousand acres are the reason sportsmen originally became engaged in the Wyoming Range, and protecting it will bring the effort full circle."

The release says the letter expresses the biggest concern in this regard for the sportsmen and the actions taken from local corporations in keeping the Wyoming Range a popular destination for sportsmen and the public.

According to the release, the letter said the following: "“These leases overlay the eastern gateway to the Wyoming Range—land that is extremely popular with hunters, anglers, and outdoor enthusiasts of all kinds. “When the Forest Service first offered these leases for sale in 2005 and 2006, it ignited a backlash from a broad cross-section of Wyoming interests, spurring a unified grassroots campaign that culminated in the passage of the Wyoming Range Legacy Act in 2009—­federal legislation that declared 1.2 million acres of national forest land off limits to future oil and gas leasing. Ironically, these very leases that resulted in the creation of the Wyoming Range Legacy Act are still unresolved some eight years later.”

Steve Kilpatrick, Executive Director of the Wyoming Wildlife Foundation  says there was an $8 million buyout of leases from Plain Energy and Exploration Company by the Trust for Public Lands which will help protect wildlife. Kilpatrick adds, “For starters the parcels in question comprise critical mule deer migration routes associated with a declining mule deer herd, a stressed moose herd with low pregnancy rates, critical habitat for sensitive cutthroat trout species. They generate $5.2 million of revenue within the state per year just from hunting and fishing. There’s no doubt, these 44 thousand acres are deserving of special treatment.”  

Josh Coursey, Executive Director of the Muley Fanatics says "The responsibility of stewardship and balance must be a priority. The protection of the Wyoming Range goes beyond hunters, it's about so many users.”