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The “Other” Wyoming Checkerboard Comment Period (pipeline corridors)

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The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) released  the draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the Wyoming Pipeline Corridor Initiative (WPCI). This EIS is intended to fast track environmental analysis for future developers laying the boundaries for the corridor; in other words the first step in creating a pipeline.

Open for public comment through July 16. You can view documents here: https://eplanning.blm.gov/epl-front-office/eplanning/planAndProjectSite.do?methodName=dispatchToPatternPage&currentPageId=200006422

UPDATE May 26, 2020: BLM has scheduled two virtual meetings on the corridor proposal (including the section effecting the wild horse HMAs BLM plans to zero out). If you want more information on how to participate you can click the BLM Press Release: https://www.blm.gov/press-release/blm-announces-virtual-public-meetings-wyoming-pipeline-corridor-initiative-draft-eis

Wild horse advocates concerned about the Rock Springs and Rawlins  field office of Wyoming Draft ResourceManagement Plan (RMP) and  Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) that is open for comment through April 30th  should become familiar with this pipeline scoping as well.

Last year we notified you that we were invited to participate in a scoping forum on energy corridors.  (you can see the article HERE)

It was no surprise to us that boundary lines for wild horse and burro Herd Management Areas (HMA) were not even including in the planning document/maps presented at the forum. Our initial comments included that omission and an a reiteration of the the law that mandates management. Sage grouse leks, antelope and elk migration routes, hunting areas, were all noted; Wild horses and burros were vacant (there has been  no follow up from the organizers with our organization).

We added the HMAs in the Rock Springs/Rawlins EIS to a partial map of the area covered in the Wyoming Pipeline Corridor Initiative (WPCI) below:

WyHMACorridorMap

Please note the proposed changes to the land use plan reflected in the EIS for wild horses in this area, in the “wild horse” EIS open for comment, include the following (notation from WHE referencing the above map, in italics)

•       Change the Salt Wells Creek Herd Management Area (HMA) to a Herd Area (HA), which would be managed for zero wild horses, and if the BLM determines there are more than 200 wild horses within the herd area, the area would be re-gathered to zero wild horses; (please note the location of Salt Wells Creek on the map, added by WHE, that include corridors for the Wyoming Pipeline Corridor Initiative.)

• Change the Great Divide Basin HMA to a HA, which would be managed for zero wild horses, and if BLM determines there are more than 100 wild horses within the Herd Area, the area will be re-gathered to zero wild horses; (please note the location for the Great Divide Basin HMA on the map, added by WHE, that include corridors for the Wyoming Pipeline Corridor Initiative.)

• Change the Adobe Town HMA appropriate management level (AML) to 225-450 wild horses or lower, and that gathered wild horses will not be returned to the Salt Wells Creek area; and (please note the location of Adobe Town HMA on the map, added by WHE, that only  includes utility corridors for the Wyoming Pipeline Corridor Initiative.)

• Manage the White Mountain HMA as a non-reproducing herd by utilizing fertility control and sterilization methods to maintain a population of 205 wild horses and to initiate gathers if the population exceeds 205 wild horses. (please note the location of White Mountain HMA on the map, added by WHE, that include corridors for the Wyoming Pipeline Corridor Initiative.)

It should be noted that corridors are often negotiated with local governments officials and high stakes players prior to any EIS being written. When companies lay pipelines there is often large sums of money that change hands with private landowners, often the same individuals consulted on the initial corridor mapping (example: NV legislator former NV Senator Dean Rhodes and the compensation for the Ruby pipeline).

The initial proposals for a pipeline corridor began in 2012. The Rock Springs Grazing Association (RSGA) cancelled their agreement with BLM to allow wild horses on the unfenced areas of private property that are scattered (checkerboard) with the public lands utilized by private livestock.  In 2013 BLM entered into a settlement agreement with RSGA. They began work on the pipeline corridor EIS as well as the EIS to revise the land use plan to zero out two herd areas and severely impact two others.

The RSGA (members) own private land, and lease public lands, traversed by the Wyoming Pipeline Corridor Initiative.

2018_RSHFCC_505 - 1

Rock Springs wild horse holding facility

We will have more information for you on the Wyoming Pipeline Corridor Initiative, and other such initiatives, moving throughout the West, soon. 

We are providing this article to give you a larger view as you craft your comments for the “Wild Horse EIS” due April 30th: https://wildhorseeducation.org/2020/04/15/rock-springs-wyoming-comments-on-eis-due-april-30th/

The April 30th deadline for the “zero out two HMAs, drastically reduce another, and turn the fourth into a sterilized on range holding facility” are due April 30th. The comments from this proposed EIS will have been tallied and finalized prior to compilation of the pipeline comments in July.  It will make it a lot easier to fast track the pipeline corridor after BLM finalizes their proposed options for the effected herds.

We thought you should know.

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A roundup begins long before a chopper flies. Most often it begins when a lot of money can be made by ignoring anything else but the profit line deals. Wild horses always pay a very steep price.

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Categories: Lead, Wild Horse Education