Backcountry Hunters and Anglers would like to thank Governor Mead for his efforts to help conserve the Red Desert to Hoback Mule Deer Migration Corridor. Through the use of SO 3362 Governor Mead and Secretary Zinke slowed development that would have occurred within the heart of this important landscape. Nearly 5,000 acres in leases have been deferred outright with stipulations being placed on remaining leases within the corridor itself.
This is a positive step towards the conservation of the Red Desert to Hoback Mule Deer Migration Corridor. This decision gives the BLM’s Rock Springs Field Office time to develop an updated Resource Management Plan and the public more time to help shape the future of their public lands to better balance energy development with wildlife values. The big picture however, is that we have a long way to go before this corridor has the protection it deserves.
It's important to note that these deferrals aren’t permanent and these stipulations only mitigate impacts, they don't prevent them. The Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA) recently signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the BLM to enhance communication and collaboration regarding fish and wildlife habitat management on public lands in the West. WAFWA needs time to update recommendations to the BLM regarding energy development, the specific lease stipulations necessary, and deferrals needed to adequately protect the functionality of this corridor long term.
There are a lot of moving parts to protecting this critical landscape. The BLM, WAFWA, Wyoming Game and Fish, and the State of Wyoming all need to be on the same page to make this happen. Governor Mead worked hard to convince Secretary Zinke, the Department of Interior, and the BLM to recognize the importance of the Red Desert to Hoback Migration Corridor. He identified a path forward in that instance, striking a balance between energy development and wildlife values, helping to conserve this important corridor and giving the residents of Wyoming the time they need to shape the future management of this landscape. BHA urge's Governor Mead to demonstrate this same leadership moving forward.
Conserving this corridor so that it can continue to serve its important purpose, and so that future generations can continue to benefit from this landscape and the wildlife it supports will require all stakeholders involved to work together in coordination. We need to see collaborative conservation efforts play out so that the Red Desert to Hoback Mule Deer Migration Corridor gets the protection it deserves.