Jackson Hole, Wyo. – Secretary of the Interior Dirk Kempthorne today formally recognized the Pronghorn Migration Corridor from the Bridger-Teton National Forest to Sublette County, Wyo. His announcement recognized a disbursement of $1 million from the Jonah Compensation Mitigation Fund to the Green River Valley Land Trust. The funds will be used to examine the impact of and make improvements to fencing along the corridor, which, if improperly constructed, can impede the natural migration of species like pronghorn antelope, mule-deer, elk, and white tailed deer along seasonal routes from their summer range in Jackson Hole, Wyo. to their winter range in Sublette County, Wyo. – a distance of more than 75 miles.
“The West and this stretch of Wyoming, in particular, are home to world-class energy resources sitting right below world-class wildlife habitat, but the two are not mutually exclusive,” said Secretary Kempthorne. “By taking a holistic, ridge-top to ridge-top view, today we are demonstrating that, through the power of partnership, we can protect that world-class wildlife, while still developing the energy resources this country needs.”
"We applaud these efforts to protect wildlife corridors in Wyoming and we hope it is just the beginning," said Gov. Dave Freudenthal of Wyoming. "This effort is an example of the right way to approach this challenge, by sitting down with landowners and negotiating with them on how best to protect corridors that border or cross their land. An important ingredient here is the recognition of the paramount nature of private property rights as we work with our federal partners."
"The chance to offer landowners tools to conserve the things they love about their land is why the Green River Valley Land Trust was founded,” said Lara Ryan, Executive Director of the Green River Valley Land Trust. “Thanks to the support of the BLM, through the Jonah Interagency Office and partners at USDA and the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, we are now able to offer the tool of wildlife-friendly fencing to agricultural and other interested landowners. We look forward to providing a tangible, on-the-ground and immediate opportunity to work with landowners to conserve wildlife corridors.”
Secretary Kempthorne’s announcement, made while he attended the Western Governors’ Association meeting in Jackson Hole, Wyo., included a commitment to defer oil and gas leasing on critical land within the corridor controlled by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), a bureau of the Department of the Interior. The deferment will continue until a final Pinedale Resource Management Plan is completed.
The Secretary’s commitment to the Pronghorn Migration Corridor further included an assurance that BLM resource management objectives are consistent with the management of the corridor.
Finally, the Secretary announced the Department’s intention to manage Trapper’s Point just northwest of Pinedale (a natural choke point in the corridor) through special management requirements in the Management Plan.
The $1 million commitment to the Green River Valley Land Trust for a fencing inventory and improvement effort along the corridor comes from the Jonah Interagency Mitigation and Reclamation Office, jointly managed by the BLM and the state of Wyoming and funded by industry -- Encana and BP. The improvements to fencing will generally consist of ensuring a smooth bottom wire to allow wildlife to move under the fence as well as ensuring that the top two wires include a sufficient space to avoid wildlife becoming entrapped.
Managing this migration corridor is in keeping with Secretary Kempthorne’s Healthy Land’s Initiative, announced in February, 2007. The Healthy Lands Initiative involves a new approach to meeting emerging challenges in resource management with broad, landscape-scale restoration and conservation work designed to achieve results at an accelerated pace.