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Bush attacking the Great Divide in Wyoming-- Comments due April 7

The BLM lands are public lands... The Bush administration has put into motion legal ways to trash Wyoming by mining incredibly intensively over the next decade. This will be the priority for the BLM, and mining claims are now waiting for this plan to be finalized. Not many people live in Wyoming, so it is doubtful many comments will come from there. Hopefully we who care about the future of public lands will speak out by April 7-- sample letter below.
Your Letter is Needed by April 7-- Sample letter to cut at past is at the end.

(If you've already sent a postcard, please send a letter as well.)
The Great Divide - Southern Wyoming's Vast Desert Lands
The BLM's Great Divide area takes in 3.5 million acres of public land stretching across southern Wyoming, a vast and windswept landscape that includes half of the Red Desert. Wildlands with sculpted badlands, an island mountain range with untouched lodgepole pine forests, and the largest active sand dune field in North America all fall within the Great Divide. The area also holds important habitats for wild horses, elk and rare or sensitive animals such as ferruginous hawks, mountain plovers, and black-footed ferrets.

Wyoming's Natural Heritage Under Siege
Historically, the BLM has managed the Great Divide almost entirely for oil, gas, and coal extraction - and has done next to nothing to protect its natural wonders. Now the oil-and-gas-hungry Bush Administration would like to revise the region's Resource Management Plan to allow for even more drilling - to, in effect, swallow up the Great Divide's last remaining wild places and critical wildlife habitat. For instance, crucial elk winter ranges near Rawlins have been targeted for a huge 3,880 coalbed methane well field, including wilderness-quality lands in Wild Cow Creek.

We Have a Chance to Save these Wild Wide-Open Desert Lands
The Bush Administration and the BLM are revising the Great Divide's Management Plan. While the administration's goal is to ramp up drilling, they have a responsibility to protect the region's irreplaceable wildlife and landscapes. So each of us, as American citizens and partial owners of these lands, now has a job to pressure the BLM to uphold this responsibility.

To this end, a coalition of conservation groups have created its own management plan for the area, called Protecting the Great Divide: The Western Heritage Alternative. This Plan would protect southern Wyoming's last desert wildlands, its famous open spaces, and its rare and disappearing wildlife. This alternative would also ensure that future oil and gas production is done in an environmentally responsible manner. Needless to say, the BLM and the Bush Administration are going to do their best to overlook the Western Heritage Alternative. But by joining our voices together, we can become a force that simply can't be ignored.

Please Write a Letter to Protect the Great Divide by April 7!
In a letter or email, please tell the BLM that our last desert wildlands in southern Wyoming must not be sacrificed to the oil and gas industry. Please ask the BLM to:

* Protect all remaining wilderness quality lands as Wilderness. The rugged and scenic Pedro Mountains, the rolling hills of Wild Cow Creek, and the steep canyons and gulches of the Bennett Mountains deserve permanent protection. The Citizens' Proposed Adobe Town Wilderness, with its steep badland rims and sagebrush flats, and the Citizens' Proposed Ferris Mountains Wilderness, with its limestone cliffs and secluded canyons, should also be protected for future generations.
* Don't drill in environmentally sensitive areas such as Wilderness Study Areas and roadless lands. The BLM should "withdraw from leasing" or require "No Surface Occupancy" for oil and gas drilling on floodplains, roadless lands, Wilderness Study Areas, crucial elk and deer winter ranges, prairie dog colonies, mountain plover habitat, and within three miles of sage grouse leks or one mile of raptor nests.
* Protect the Atlantic Rim from harmful coalbed methane development. The Atlantic Rim area contains extremely important wildlife habitat, including elk and deer crucial winter range. This is no place for 4,000 new coalbed methane wells.
* Mandate less environmentally damaging types of drilling. Directional drilling and the re-injection of coalbed methane wastewater should be required in the Great Divide's new management plan.
* Reduce grazing to ecologically sustainable levels. Some parts of the Great Divide suffer from overgrazing and damage from livestock. Streamside vegetation must be protected and priority must be given to limiting damage to habitat crucial to animals like the sharp-tailed grouse, Colorado River cutthroat trout, elk, and antelope.
* Restore wild bison. These majestic animals once roamed across the Great Divide region. It's time to take down the fences and let Wyoming's state mammal once again roam free.

A mailed letter is best. But if you can't do a letter, an email will really help. Here are the addresses:

BLM Rawlins Field Office
Kurt Kotter
PO Box 2407
Rawlins, WY 82301

or

 comments@rawlinsrmp.com
Additional information is available on BCA's Great Divide web page at www.VoiceForTheWild.org

Thanks for taking the time to protect Wyoming's Wildlife and Wildlands!
--

Biodiversity Conservation Alliance
www.VoiceForTheWild.org
(307)742-7978
PO Box 1512
Laramie, WY 82073


-----------------------------

SAMPLE COMMENT LETTER:

BLM Rawlins Field Office
Kurt Kotter
PO Box 2407
Rawlins, WY 82301
 comments@rawlinsrmp.com


Mr. Kotter, March 27, 2003

Please consider my comments to the proposed revisions to the Great Divide's Management Plan. I am strongly opposed to the proposed revisions and urge the BLM agency to instead consider the Western Heritage Alternative Plan developed by conservation groups. The Alternative would protect the last desert wildlands of southern Wyoming and the wildlife dependent on this ecosystem for survival. Your agency has a responsibility to protect this region and the crucial elk and wild horses winter ranges, as well as the other rare or sensitive animals who reside in the ecosystem of the Great Divide, encompassing 3.5 million acres of public land.

I respectfully request that your agency work to protect these areas by limiting the plans to drill in every area in this rare ecosystem. The Western Heritage Alternative would ensure that future oil and gas production is done in an environmentally responsible manner.

I encourage you to adopt the intent behind this proposed Western Heritage Alternative:
* Protect the Atlantic Rim from harmful coalbed methane development. The Atlantic Rim area contains important wildlife habitat, including elk and deer crucial winter range. This is no place for 4,000 new coalbed methane wells.
* Don't drill in environmentally sensitive areas such as Wilderness Study Areas and roadless lands. The BLM should "withdraw from leasing" or require "No Surface Occupancy" for oil and gas drilling on floodplains, roadless lands, Wilderness Study Areas, crucial elk and deer winter ranges, prairie dog colonies, mountain plover habitat, and within three miles of sage grouse leks or one mile of raptor nests.
* Protect all remaining wilderness quality lands as Wilderness. The rugged and scenic Pedro Mountains, the rolling hills of Wild Cow Creek, and the steep canyons and gulches of the Bennett Mountains deserve permanent protection. The Citizens' Proposed Adobe Town Wilderness, with its steep badland rims and sagebrush flats, and the Citizens' Proposed Ferris Mountains Wilderness, with its limestone cliffs and secluded canyons, should also be protected for future generations.
* Mandate less environmentally damaging types of drilling. Directional drilling and the re-injection of coalbed methane wastewater should be required in the Great Divide's new management plan.
* Reduce grazing to ecologically sustainable levels. Some parts of the Great Divide suffer from overgrazing and damage from livestock. Streamside vegetation must be protected and priority must be given to limiting damage to habitat crucial to animals like the sharp-tailed grouse, Colorado River cutthroat trout, elk, and antelope.
* Restore wild bison. These majestic animals once roamed across the Great Divide region. It's time to stop the irrational slaughter of the wild bison that the Montana DOL is perpetuating.

Sincerely,

homepage: homepage: http://www.VoiceForTheWild.org
phone: phone: (307)742-7978
address: address: PO Box 2407 Laramie, WY 82073