The Pitch

The Pitch is WyoFile’s staff blog designed to serve as a community “water cooler” for behind-the-scenes chatter about what we’re up to. Our editors and contributors use The Pitch to toss out shorter, more timely offerings than what you might read in a regular WyoFile feature. It’s also a place for us to pitch story ideas to readers, and to share with you bits of additional information or insight that may have been pitched out of the published versions you’ve already read.

As always, your comments and feedback are wanted, so pitch in and let us hear from you.

Ucross High Plains Stewardship Initiative Wins Google Research Award

Ucross High Plains Stewardship Initiative Wins Google Research Award

The Ucross High Plains Stewardship Initiative team — From left, Henry Glick, Charlie Bettigole, Chad Oliver, Devin Routh, Ambika Khadka (in glasses) and Lindsi Seegmiller (Ucross Photo — click to enlarge)

– January 29, 2014

[Press Release]  – The Ucross High Plains Stewardship Initiative research team (UHPSI), directed by Yale University’s Pinchot Professor of Forestry and Environmental Studies Chadwick Oliver, has recently received a “Google Earth Engine Research Award”. The award has been granted in support of UHPSI’s ongoing land-cover studies undertaken in close partnership with the Ucross Foundation on its ranch near Clearmont, WY.  The initiative was set in motion by Ucross Founder Raymond Plank, an alumnus of Yale, and is part of the Foundation’s ongoing land stewardship work.  UHPSI is staffed by a team of graduate students and research scientists connected to Yale University who spent extended time at the Ucross ranch in the summer of 2013.

This award will provide the team the opportunity to make advanced methods for rapid land-cover detection and assessment available to the public through the use of freely available satellite data. Specifically, the team will work to integrate various statistical methods into Google’s new Earth Engine platform as pre-set tools that will allow users to evaluate vegetation or land-cover types of interest for any portion of the globe. The research will incorporate contemporary methods for remote sensing, coding, and multivariate statistic analysis, and the team plans on releasing their work at the end of the 2014 calendar year. These pre-set tools will be available to anyone in the world with an Internet connection and a Google account.

While working in Wyoming in 2013, the Ucross High Plains Stewardship Initiative team also made important connections with faculty from the University of Wyoming, Sheridan College, the University of New Mexico, Colorado State University, and Kansas State University. Another element of their work at the Ucross ranch included the set-up of acoustic monitoring stations to collect data on the distribution of bird life, an important indicator of landscape health.

In Wyoming, the UHPSI team is based at the Ucross Foundation’s new Raymond Plank Creative Center, located at the Park at Ucross near the intersection of Highways 14 and 16.  The team will return to Wyoming in May 2014 to spend another summer at the Ucross Foundation’s ranch. Visitors are welcome to stop by the Center to meet the team and learn more about their work. For further information on UHPSI, or to find contact information, please visit

Ucross Foundation, located on a 20,000-acre working cattle ranch, is a nonprofit organization founded in 1981 by Raymond Plank. The Foundation operates an internationally known artist-in-residence program that has supported nearly 2,000 writers, visual artists, composers and choreographers with the gift of uninterrupted time and studio space. Approximately 90 individuals each year come to Ucross from throughout the United States and the world to focus on creative work.  Alumni include Pulitzer Prize-winning writers Annie Proulx and Doug Wright, Tony Award-winning composer Adam Guettel, and writers Elizabeth Gilbert, Ann Patchett and Karen Russell. For more information about Ucross Foundation, visit

Posted by on January 29, 2014
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ESPC offers Citizen Lobbyist Training

— posted January 29, 2014 

(Press release) — The Equality State Policy Center’s next Citizen Lobbyist Training will be conducted Feb. 12 (check in time is 7:30 a.m. and the session begins at 8 a.m.) at the Plains Hotel in Cheyenne. The training will include a “Budget 101” workshop.

Participants in the training will learn how a bill becomes law. Experienced lobbyists who work for ESPC member organizations outline the attributes of an effective lobbyist and teach attendees how to testify before a legislative committee. Other presentations outline how citizens can get the attention of legislators and affect their policy deliberations from home. Sitting legislators offer their perspectives on lobbying and discuss approaches that work – and that don’t work – with them.

Rock Springs City Council member Rob Zotti stands to practice a speech for participants at a citizen lobbyist training workshop in Cheyenne in 2011, organized by Dan Neal, right, and others at the Equality State Policy Center. (Ruffin Prevost/WyoFile — click to enlarge)

Rock Springs City Council member Rob Zotti stands to practice a speech for participants at a citizen lobbyist training workshop in Cheyenne in 2011, organized by Dan Neal, right, and others at the Equality State Policy Center. (Ruffin Prevost/WyoFile — click to enlarge)

ESPC will offer a virtual tour of the Legislature’s website, which has become a key resource for tracking developments during and following each session. The training also will include a real tour of the Wyoming Capitol and the opportunity to practice new lobbying skills on legislators.

ESPC will again offer workshops on three issues that will be discussed during the coming legislative session. These include a basic “Wyoming Budget 101? workshop led by Ken Decaria, a former state senator and now the government relations director for the Wyoming Education Association. Rebekah Smith of the Wyoming Women’s Foundation will lead a workshop on the minimum wage and how it affects the gender pay gap. And Marguerite Herman of the League of Women Voters will conduct a third workshop to discuss options to extend Medicaid to Wyoming’s low-income adults without children. Attendees will choose their workshop on the day of the training.

The training attracts citizens from all walks of life, including students, representatives of nonprofit groups and people who simply want to learn more about lawmaking in Wyoming. The cost of the training is $50 per person. The fee helps us defray the cost of materials, lunch and refreshments. We offer a discounted rate of $25 for attendees affiliated with ESPC groups.

The registration fee is not meant to be prohibitive, however, and we offer scholarships to participants who need assistance.

Register online here. If you have other questions or do not wish to register online, please email Dan Neal at or call 307-472-5939 to make arrangements.

Posted by on January 29, 2014
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Women veterans exhibit marks Women’s History Month

(Press release) — A large exhibit commemorating 110 years of service by Wyoming’s women veterans opens at the Wyoming Veterans Memorial Museum Feb. 14. These 20 stories will be featured in the Kading Gallery through February 2015.

An opening reception for the exhibit will be held Feb. 22, from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m., and will feature free sample doughnuts prepared from the historic recipe used by the “Doughnut Dollies” of the Salvation Army supporting the American Expeditionary Force during World War I.

Acceptance of women into the U.S. armed forces has been a long and challenging proposition. It started in 1901 when Congress established the Army Nurse Corps, a military organization without rank, equal pay or benefits.

The concept of women in uniform began to change during World War II, when a labor shortage meant that women were desperately needed by all branches of the armed forces and civilian industry to contribute to the war effort. Beginning with the Women’s Armed Services Integration Act of 1948, women were authorized for regular and reserve service in the military. With this legislation women were permanently recognized as full-fledged members of the military. However, service by women continued to be restricted during Korea and Vietnam, but gradually expanded during the Cold War era. Although women were eligible for numerous military roles beginning in the 1970s, only in 2012 were combat positions opened to women.

Today, women are full members of the armed forces, and are completely integrated into all roles and responsibilities of the military services. It has required over a century to fulfill.

The Wyoming Veterans Memorial Museum is located at 3740 Jourgensen St., Casper, Wyo. It is free to the public. Hours are Tuesday through Saturday from 9 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Posted by on January 28, 2014
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BLM sets public meetings on sage-grouse Resource Management Plan amendments

(BLM press release) — The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) will hold public meetings for the Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the Wyoming Sage-Grouse Resource Management Plan/Land Use Plan Amendments in February.

The male sage grouse in its mating display. (click to enlarge)

The male sage grouse in its mating display. (click to enlarge)

In December 2013, BLM issued the DEIS for the Wyoming Sage-Grouse RMP/LUP Amendments for the Rawlins, Rock Springs, Kemmerer, Pinedale, Casper, and Newcastle Resource Management Plans (RMPs); as well as the Bridger-Teton National Forest, Medicine Bow National Forest, and the Thunder Basin National Grassland Land Use Plans for public comment.

The BLM encourages the public to attend one of the DEIS public comment open house meetings that will be held in Rawlins, Rock Springs, Pinedale, Casper, Douglas, and Laramie, Wyo. They will be held from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Several information stations will be located within the meeting venue that will present information on key issues, the planning process, and the public commenting process. BLM staff will give a presentation at 5 p.m. Attendees can learn about the RMP amendment comment process, ask questions, and provide comments in electronic and written formats.

Meeting dates:

Tuesday, Feb. 4
USFS Douglas Ranger District
2250 East Richards Street
Douglas, WY 82633

Wednesday, Feb. 5
BLM Casper Field Office
2987 Prospector Drive
Casper, WY 82604

Thursday, Feb. 6
Medicine Bow-Routt National
Forest Supervisor’s Office
2468 Jackson Street
Laramie, WY 82070

Tuesday, Feb.11
BLM Pinedale Field Office
1625 West Pine Street
Pinedale, WY 82941

Wednesday, Feb. 12
BLM Rock Springs Field Office
280 Highway 191 North
Rock Springs, WY 82901

Thursday, Feb. 13
BLM Rawlins Field Office
1300 N Third Street
Rawlins, WY 82301

For more information, please contact Lisa Solberg Schwab at (307) 367-5340.

Posted by on January 26, 2014
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Public can join Wyoming PBS conversation with Gov Mead

— January 25, 2014

(Press release) — For over a decade, Wyoming PBS has been conducting in-depth interviews with Wyoming governors. This year, Wyoming PBS travels to the Governor’s Mansion in Cheyenne for an intimate conversation with Governor Matt Mead. “Wyoming Perspectives: One on One with the Governor,” a live call-in program hosted by Geoff O’Gara, airs on Wyoming PBS Thursday, January 30 at 7 p.m.

Geoff O'Gara

Geoff O’Gara

Viewers can join in the conversation by emailing questions to, tweeting them using the hashtag #WyomingPBSgov, or calling them in during the live program to 800-495-9788. Similar questions may be blended, and O’Gara will ask follow-up questions to get the fullest answers possible. Questioners will be identified only by first name and town of origin.

“It’s a great opportunity to visit with the Governor in his home,” said O’Gara. “Viewers are able to get unrehearsed answers to the questions they’ve been wanting to ask.”

“This one-hour interview is the rare exception to the thirty-second sound bite or the short article in the newspaper that has been edited,” said Wyoming PBS General Manager Ruby Calvert. “It allows Governor Mead time to really explain his vision for Wyoming and his rationale for policies and decisions.  But more than that – it provides access to our Governor to everyone in Wyoming – and it is an important part of the public service mission of Wyoming PBS.”

Wyoming PBS is a non-commercial, educational institution and cultural resource dedicated to connecting and enriching Wyoming lives through innovative media. Wyoming PBS can be found on various channels across Wyoming, on ROKU and Xbox over-the-top devices, and online. For more information go to

Posted by on January 25, 2014
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BLM seeks comments on August 2014 oil and gas lease sale parcels

(BLM press release) — The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) High Plains District (HPD) is seeking public comment on the Environmental Assessment (EA) for the HPD portions of the August 2014 oil and gas lease sale.

The initial list of parcels derived from public nominations within the HPD contains 117 individual parcels (totaling 48,128 federal mineral acres) varying in size from 39.47 to 2,007.71 acres.  Forty parcels are located within the Buffalo Field Office, 41 within the Casper Field Office, and 36 are in the Newcastle Field Office.  They are offered in compliance with the Buffalo Resource Management Plan (RMP) Record of Decision (ROD) approved in October 1985, the Casper RMP ROD approved in October 2007, Nebraska RMP ROD approved in May 1992, and the Newcastle RMP ROD approved in September 2000.

The draft EA is available online.  Three alternatives are analyzed:  under Alternative A, the No Action, no parcels would be offered for lease; under Alternative B, the Proposed Action, 59 parcels (28,956 federal mineral acres); and under Alternative C, Offer All Parcels for Sale, 87 parcels (38,497 federal mineral acres).

Public comments are an important component of the National Environmental Policy Act process and help identify issues, concerns, and mitigation opportunities not covered in the EA.  Mail or deliver written comments to: Mike Robinson, High Plains District Office, 2987 Prospector Drive, Casper, WY 82604.  Comments can be e-mailed to with “August 2014 Lease Parcels” in the subject line. Comments will be accepted until Feb. 19, 2014.

For more information, please contact Mike Robinson at (307) 261-7520 or

Posted by on January 25, 2014
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Press release: Shoshone National Forest releasing final forest plan

Cody, Wyo. – The Shoshone National Forest is releasing its final forest plan and final environmental impact statement this week. The official 60-day objection period begins on Saturday, January 25, 2014. Eight years and over 75 public meetings have gone into the creation of the final forest plan and final environmental impact statement.  These documents are a combination of input from private individuals, public meetings, and cooperator meetings. Most of the final documents are already available on the Shoshone National Forest website; however some documents cannot be loaded due to unscheduled Forest Service-wide website maintenance.

The remaining documents will be available online by the end of the month. The final forest plan and final environmental impact statement may also be viewed at your local library or local Shoshone National Forest ranger district offices. To request these documents on a compact disk or to receive further information about the Shoshone National Forest’s final forest plan or final environmental impact statement

  • ·         Send an e-mail to ;
  • ·         Call the forest supervisor’s office in Cody at 307.527.6241
  • ·         Or stop by any Shoshone National Forest office in Cody, Dubois, or Lander

As the nation’s first national forest, the Shoshone National Forest has 2.4 million acres of diverse terrain and a mission to sustain the health, diversity, and productivity of the forest to meet the needs of present and future generations.

Posted by on January 21, 2014
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Yellowstone Decides Against Remote Brucellosis Vaccination Of Bison

— January 14, 2014

[Press Release] The National Park Service (NPS) has released a Final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on a Brucellosis Remote Vaccination Program for Bison in Yellowstone National Park.

The NPS preferred alternative is the No Action alternative, which would continue the currently authorized syringe vaccination of bison calves and yearlings periodically captured at the northern boundary of the park. The action alternatives, which would have implemented a remote vaccination program, were dismissed because of substantial uncertainties over vaccine effectiveness and delivery, the cost of a 30 year program, potential impacts to wildlife behavior and the visitor experience, and evaluation of public comments.

“We don’t think it makes any sense to spend millions of taxpayer dollars and invest thirty years of effort in hopes of a small reduction in the prevalence of brucellosis in bison with no significant benefit to bison conservation,” said Yellowstone National Park Superintendent Dan Wenk.  “The fact is that by working with our federal, state, and tribal partners we have completely kept wild bison from infecting area livestock with brucellosis.”

Brucellosis can cause pregnant cattle, elk, and bison to abort their calves. Cattle brought this non-native disease to the region when pioneers settled the West. The disease was subsequently transmitted to local wildlife populations. Many bison and elk in the 28,000 square mile Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem have been exposed to the bacterium that causes brucellosis.

The preferred alternative is supported by the inclusive IBMP Citizen’s Working Group, several American Indian Tribes, the Intertribal Buffalo Council, and the conclusions of a February 2013 Bison/Brucellosis Science panel composed of disease experts and organized by the NPS and Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks.

The EIS was prepared in response to a commitment the NPS made in 2000 as part of a court-mediated settlement between the federal government and the State of Montana which resulted in the creation of the Interagency Bison Management Plan (IBMP).  Additional information and an electronic copy of the Final EIS is available online at   You can request a printed copy of the Final EIS by contacting the National Park Service, Bison Management Program, P.O. Box 168, Yellowstone National Park, WY 82190.

The Superintendent of Yellowstone National Park will use the analysis and recommendations contained in the Final EIS to make a final recommendation to the National Park Service Intermountain Regional Director regarding bison remote vaccination.  The Regional Director is expected to issue a Record of Decision (ROD) in late winter or early spring.

Posted by on January 14, 2014
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DEQ installs mobile air quality unit in Afton

(Wyoming DEQ press release) – Wyoming’s Department of Environmental Quality – Air Quality Division (AQD) has begun operating a Mobile Beta Attenuation Monitor (BAM) trailer in the town of Afton, Wyoming.

The BAM Trailer will include continuous particulate matter (PM2.5 and PM10) and meteorological instrumentation.   The BAM Trailer will be located inside the city limits of the town of Afton for population based monitoring of the parameters listed above.

The BAM Trailer is a self-contained monitoring shelter that may be moved to different statewide locations in a relatively short time frame.  The WDEQ-AQD is planning to locate and operate the BAM Trailer at the Afton location for approximately one (1) year.

The AQD operates monitoring stations throughout the State of Wyoming.  Real-time monitored data, including meteorological data, can be found at

Posted by on January 7, 2014
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BLM seeks public input on Little Mountain drilling proposal 

— January 7, 2014

(BLM press release) — The Bureau of Land Management has announced it will work to involve the public by extending the comment deadline and holding a public meeting as they review an application to drill in the Little Mountain area, a popular hunting and fishing spot south of Rock Springs.

Sportsmen and women welcomed the news in late December, congratulating the BLM on its decision to take their time in this process. The agency is currently looking at an application from Azalea Oil Company, LLC which is requesting to drill an exploratory oil and gas well on Iron Mountain in the Sugarloaf Basin Special Management Area. The area contains critical big game habitat and is popular for its elk and mule deer hunting.

“Now is the time to gather information to make an educated decision about such a highly valued area” said Josh Coursey, Executive Director of the Muley Fanatic Foundation. ”The development of this well needs to be managed with the utmost of care and diligence. We’ve seen how popular the Little Mountain area is to hunters, anglers and recreationists. Given that, the public should have every opportunity to weigh in on this issue.”

Community leaders echoed that sentiment, including Wyoming State Senator, John Hastert.

“As a legislator for the past 10 years I have always felt there is a need to develop our resources in Wyoming in a responsible manner,” Hastert said. “As a sportsman and outdoorsman I’m always concerned when there are development requests in sensitive areas such as this. I believe it was a good decision for BLM to extend the public comment period and hold a public meeting in the Rock Springs area. It is critical for the agency to hear from the local community on this issue before making final decisions.”

“Requests like this can’t be taken lightly,” said Sweetwater County Commission Chairman, Wally J. Johnson.  “I have recreated and hunted on Little Mountain since I was a boy, and, like many Sweetwater County residents, Little Mountain has provided me with many fond memories that have given me a strong bond with that area. As a County Commissioner and a Sweetwater County resident, I understand the importance of oil and gas to our County’s economy, and I respect the rights of a company to drill. In any development process, we must not only strive to be balanced and consider all points of view, but we must also consider and plan for  how a development will play out in 10, 20 or even a 100 years from now. We owe that to the future generations of Wyomingites.”

“We’ve seen such an outpouring of support, especially from hunters and anglers, for keeping Little Mountain the way it is” said members of the Greater Little Mountain Coalition in a statement. “This is a critical piece of habitat and goes a long way toward maintaining the healthy fish and big game populations we currently see there. It’s prudent to proceed through this process with a high degree of caution and thought to the future.”

The comment period was initially scheduled to close on Jan. 3, but according to the BLM, will be extended to February 4th and a public meeting will be held to gather feedback on January 21st at the BLM Rock Springs Field Office from 4:30p.m. to 7:00p.m.

Posted by on January 7, 2014
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State to host seminar on oversight of Powder River Basin oil play

(Wyoming DEQ press release) — On Wednesday January 15, 2014, an open house and presentation seminar will be held in Douglas, WY to discuss state and local agency oversight for the oil and gas development in Converse County.

Douglas blowout

Chesapeake Energy’s Combs Ranch well north of Douglas experienced a blowout in April 2012. (Amanda Smith/The Glenrock Bird Central — click to enlarge)

This meeting is being sponsored by the Converse County Commissioners, Wyoming State Senator Jim Anderson and Wyoming State Representative Richard Cannady.

The Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission, the Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality, Petroleum Association of Wyoming, the Wyoming Game and Fish, and Commissioner Jim Willox will all discuss the agency’s roles and answer questions from the public.  Also on hand will be representatives from the Wyoming State Engineers Office, Wyoming Pipeline Authority, Wyoming Department of Transportation, and the Wyoming Water Development Commission.

The meeting starts at 5:30 with an open house at the Douglas High School Auditorium, 1710 Hamilton Street. Presentations will begin at 6:00 PM until 8:00 PM. The public is encouraged to attend and will be given an opportunity to comment.

Posted by on January 7, 2014
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Gov Mead welcomes Magpul Industries to Wyoming

— January 2, 2014

CHEYENNE, Wyo., (press release)  –  Magpul Industries has announced that it will relocate its manufacturing, distribution and shipping operations to Cheyenne, Wyoming. Governor Matt Mead expressed his support in helping with the move, which begins immediately and his appreciation for Magpul recognizing the state’s benefits to a manufacturing company.

“Wyoming and Magpul are a great match. The state is looking to expand and diversify its economy. Bringing an innovative and growing manufacturing operation to Wyoming is a significant step for the state. We offer Magpul an attractive tax environment, stable and reasonable regulations, not to mention a firm commitment to uphold the Second Amendment,” Governor Mead said.

The company plans to lease a 58,000 square foot manufacturing and distribution facility while the construction of a new 100,000+ square foot build-to-suit facility is being completed in the Cheyenne Business Parkway. This two-phased approach allows for rapid movement of operations out of Colorado where the company is currently located. Additionally, Magpul is moving its corporate headquarters to Texas.

Magpul Industries has been looking at relocation since early this year. “Magpul made the decision to relocate in March 2013 and has proceeded in an aggressive but deliberate manner,” said Doug Smith, Chief Operating Officer for Magpul Industries. “These dual moves will be carried out in a manner that ensures our operations and supply chain will not be interrupted and our loyal customers will not be affected.”

“Magpul has a core set of values that guides its business plan, its relationship with its employees and how it develops and produces its products,” said Randy Bruns, Chief Executive Officer of Cheyenne LEADS. “We are pleased that they will be anchoring that approach to business here in southeast Wyoming. The company’s move to Cheyenne represents a significant expansion of local manufacturing and job diversity.”

Cheyenne LEADS is pursuing a grant and loan package through the Wyoming Business Council that will enable LEADS to construct a building that can be leased to Magpul. Cheyenne LEADS is securing a temporary facility in a vacant warehouse and has committed to bring it into useable condition and make it available to Magpul while a new facility is under construction. “This project has clearly been a team effort of the Governor’s Office, the Wyoming Business Council, Laramie County and Cheyenne LEADS, working closely with Magpul,” states Bruns. “It is to the credit of the Cheyenne community and LEADS’ board of directors, past and present, that LEADS has the capacity to play an important role in bringing Magpul here.”

Magpul was founded in 1999 with the intent of developing a simple device to aid in the manipulation of rifle magazines while reloading under stress. Since that time, the company has expanded its production line to include consumer products and firearm accessories from phone cases to rifle stocks to magazines based on proprietary composite material. The company products are known for their extreme reliability and durability and have become some of the most sought after accessories in the industry. “This company brings a new level of manufacturing capability to Cheyenne and the state,” stated Bob Jensen, Chief Executive Officer of the Wyoming Business Council. “It will serve as a magnet that will help significantly grow Wyoming’s manufacturing industry and is a great investment for Wyoming.”

Posted by on January 2, 2014
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Atlantic Rim natural gas development review team set to meet in January

(BLM press release) – The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Rawlins Field Office (RFO) will host an Atlantic Rim Natural Gas Development Review Team meeting on Tuesday, January 9, at 10 a.m., in the RFO, 1300 N. Third St., Rawlins, Wyo.

The Atlantic Rim Review Team meets several times a year and is comprised of federal, state, county and private entities which are charged with monitoring Atlantic Rim Project Area (ARPA) implementation. Meeting topics will include an update on big game monitoring, sage-grouse trend modeling and a discussion of sediment and erosion best management practices. In addition, operators will be presenting their annual plans and reclamation success for the past year.

A 2007 Record of Decision authorized multiple operators to develop the 270,080 acre ARPA with approximately 2,000 gas wells south of Rawlins, Wyo. Site-specific environmental assessments are conducted for each new development. During the 30 to 50 year life of the project, the project area is expected to produce nearly 1.35 billion cubic feet of natural gas, providing enough natural gas to heat 19.3 million homes for one year.

For more information, please visit or contact Jennifer Fleuret at 307-328-4314.

Posted by on December 22, 2013
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State prepares forecasts for winter ozone season in upper Green River Basin

(Wyoming DEQ press release) – The Wyoming Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), Air Quality Division (AQD), is again reaching out to residents of the Upper Green River Basin in anticipation of elevated ozone levels. Elevated levels of ozone have been observed in previous years during the months of February and March.

Seperation facilities in the Pinedale Anticline

Separation facilities in the Pinedale Anticline have been consolidated to reduce emissions in an attempt to reduce the potential for ozone. (Dustin Bleizeffer/WyoFile – click to enlarge)

Ozone adversely affects the respiratory system, especially in children, the elderly and people with existing respiratory conditions. On days when elevated ozone levels are expected, people in these sensitive groups should limit strenuous or extended outdoor activities, primarily in the afternoon and evening. The public is encouraged to use the monitored data to help make decisions about outdoor activity. More information on ozone and the health effects of ozone is available at the Wyoming Department of Health website.

In preparation for the winter of 2014 and the possibility of elevated ozone occurring in the Upper Green River Basin, the AQD is again initiating in-house weather forecasting. Forecasting by the AQD’s meteorologists will consist of evaluating whether a strong temperature inversion in conjunction with low winds, snow cover and clear skies is likely to occur. This is the combination of factors which, together with the presence of ozone forming emissions, appear to result in elevated ozone levels.

The AQD will continue to forecast for the winter of 2014 (January – March) and provide updates to the public daily. These winter ozone updates will give expected conditions for the current and next two days. The winter ozone updates will be geared specifically toward making sure the public has the information needed to help make decisions about outdoor activity.

These winter ozone updates will be conveyed in several ways to the public. Beginning January 2, the main page of DEQ’s website, and the AQD’s Winter Ozone website, will carry a daily message of current and next two days conditions. The public can also sign up at the Winter Ozone website to receive daily winter ozone updates by email.

University of Wyoming atmospheric sciences professor Dr. Robert Field uses a canister to collect an air sample as part of a spatial air quality assessment in the Pinedale Anticline.

University of Wyoming atmospheric sciences professor Dr. Robert Field uses a canister to collect an air sample as part of a spatial air quality assessment in the Pinedale Anticline. (Dustin Bleizeffer/WyoFile — click to enlarge)

DEQ will also notify all media outlets in Sublette County of the current winter ozone update. Media outlets include Sublette County newspapers, radio stations, and online news sources. KPIN radio will broadcast a winter ozone update everyday at noon. Also, citizens may call 1-888-WYO-WDEQ (1-888-996-9337) to hear a recorded message (updated by noon every day) regarding the forecasted conditions that may impact ozone concentrations, typically during the latter half of the day.

The AQD will continue the short-term emission reduction ozone contingency plan program with all stakeholders (e.g., oil and gas industry, non-oil and gas industry, governmental agencies) in the Upper Green River Basin ozone non-attainment area of southwest Wyoming. Ozone contingency plan participants have volunteered to take short-term actions to further reduce emissions in response to forecasted conditions that favor possible elevated ozone levels. These contingency plans will be implemented on Ozone Action Days. The Action Days will be issued by AQD 24-hours in advance when forecasting indicates that weather conditions would be conducive to the development of elevated ozone levels for the next day.

On Ozone Action Days, everyone – including those without ozone contingency plans and the public, are encouraged to voluntarily reduce emissions. Such actions may include, but are not limited to, eliminating vehicle idling and postponing nonessential trips.

The AQD operates several monitoring stations in the Upper Green River Basin.  Real-time monitored data, including current ozone levels being measured at these stations, can be found at The public is encouraged to use the monitored data to help make decisions about outdoor activity.

Posted by on December 22, 2013
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Interior Secretary Jewell provides update on sage grouse conservation

LAS VEGAS, NV – (press release) At a meeting with western governors today, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell applauded the unprecedented federal-state cooperation on planning efforts to conserve the greater sage-grouse but emphasized that much work still needs to be done by both the federal government and the states in advance of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s September 2015 deadline to determine if the species warrants protection under the Endangered Species Act.

Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell

Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell

“Thanks to our partnership with states throughout the range of the greater sage-grouse, we have made tremendous progress analyzing and planning landscape-level strategies that could lessen the threats to the bird and conserve its sage-brush habitat,” said Jewell. “At the same time, we are not yet where we need to be and it is time for both the states and the federal government to redouble our efforts so that we can have effective conservation efforts in place before a listing determination must be made.”

Jewell highlighted important steps that have been taken including publication before the end of the year of draft changes to 98 resource management plans by the Bureau of Land Management and the U.S. Forest Service that are expected to be finalized next year following a public comment period. She emphasized that conservation efforts on state and private lands need to be accelerated to mitigate the threats to the bird.

“The states, too, must complete and begin to implement their own plans for state and private lands on a similar timeline,” she said. “The Fish and Wildlife Service needs substantial certainty that these plans will both be in place and effective as it considers the biological and legal issues related to a listing decision.”

Among other issues, the Service is seeking continued state involvement in determining, based upon the best available science, whether sufficient measures are in place to ameliorate the effects of development and other disturbances of greater sage-grouse habitat as well as the threat posed by invasive species and more frequent fire cycles.

Two years ago, then-Secretary Ken Salazar and western governors formed the Sage Force Task Force to work together on a cooperative, landscape-level approach to conserving the species across the West. The Task Force includes a representative of the governor of each of the 11 greater sage-grouse states plus the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Forest Service and the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

The Task Force has met frequently since being formed. At the request of the Task Force, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service assembled a Conservation Objectives Team made up of state and federal sage-grouse experts to assess the conservation needs of the species across its range. The BLM also assembled a National Technical Team that included state and federal scientists to advise its land management planning efforts.

Jewell emphasized the importance of this holistic and cooperative approach. “We will only be successful if we work together across the landscape to achieve our common conservation goals,” she said.

Earlier in the day in a speech before the Western Governors Association, Jewell highlighted her first Secretarial Order to establish a Department-wide mitigation strategy to encourage balanced development through landscape-level planning on federal lands.

“Our goal is to have a strategy in place that provides consistency and efficiency as we review and permit new energy and other infrastructure development activities, at the same time ensuring that we are effectively conserving our nation’s valuable natural and cultural resources,” she said.

The greater sage-grouse is a large, rounded-winged, ground-dwelling bird, up to 30 inches long and two feet tall, weighing from two to seven pounds. The birds are found at elevations ranging from 4,000 to over 9,000 feet and are highly dependent on sagebrush for cover and food.  They are well-known for their elaborate mating ritual and an iconic species of the remaining sage brush landscapes.

The greater sage-grouse is currently found in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana, North Dakota, eastern California, Nevada, Utah, western Colorado, South Dakota and Wyoming and the Canadian provinces of Alberta and Saskatchewan.

Habitat fragmentation and destruction across much of the species’ range has contributed to significant population declines over the past century. If current trends persist, many local populations may disappear in the next several decades, with the remaining fragmented population vulnerable to extinction. Taking actions to conserve the species will also restore the health of native sage steppe ecosystem that support local economies and communities in addition to big game species, upland birds and other wildlife.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service previously determined that the listing of the species as a threatened or endangered species was warranted but precluded by other conservation priorities.  In accordance with a settlement agreement, the agency has until September 2015 to determine if the species should be proposed for listing under the Endangered Species Act.

Posted by on December 12, 2013
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Gov Mead appoints Cheyenne attorney Kate Fox to Wyoming Supreme Court

— November 21, 2013

(Press release) Governor Matt Mead has appointed Catherine (Kate) M. Fox as the newest member of the Wyoming Supreme Court. Fox replaces the Honorable Barton R. Voigt, who has been on the Supreme Court since 2001 and served as Chief Justice from July 1, 2006 to June 30, 2010.

Kate Fox

Kate Fox

Fox is currently a partner at Davis & Cannon in Cheyenne. She has had extensive private practice experience involving litigation, employment law and natural resource law. Before joining Davis & Cannon she was a law clerk for Federal District Court Judge Clarence Brimmer. Fox graduated at the top of her class at the University of Wyoming College of Law. She has also worked on her family’s dude ranch near Dubois.

“This was an extremely difficult decision to make. All three of the candidates are well qualified to serve on the Supreme Court and they all had outstanding interviews. I thank the Judicial Nominating Commission for sending me such strong lawyers to consider for this position. In the end, I had to make a choice, and I believe Kate will do an extraordinary job. She has varied experience, representing large companies, government entities and individuals. She has also done pro bono work supporting a Wyoming adoption group,” Governor Mead said. “Her keen mind and appreciation for the Wyoming and U.S. Constitutions will be great assets for our state.”

“I am honored to join the Wyoming Supreme Court and to have the support of Governor Mead and the Judicial Nominating Commission,” Fox said. “Since starting law school I have felt right at home with the law. I have a great affinity for it as well as for justice. I enjoy the challenge of reading cases and synthesizing the law, the facts and legal theory, and I am eager to sit on the bench with our accomplished Justices.”

Fox will be the second woman to serve on the Wyoming Supreme Court.

Posted by on November 21, 2013
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Interior Disburses $14.2 billion in 2013 energy revenues to federal, state, local and tribal governments

November 19, 2013

[Press Release] As part of President Obama’s all-of-the-above energy strategy to continue to expand safe and responsible domestic energy production, Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell today announced that the Department of the Interior collected and disbursed more than $14.2 billion in revenue generated by energy production on public lands and offshore waters in Fiscal Year 2013 – a $2 billion or 17% increase over the previous year.

The federal mineral revenues were distributed to state, local, federal and tribal accounts to support critical reclamation, conservation, recreation and historic preservation projects.  Local governments apply the revenues to meet a variety of needs, ranging from school funding to infrastructure improvements and water conservation projects.

“Domestic energy production infuses funding into communities across the United States that creates American jobs, fosters land and water conservation efforts, improves critical infrastructure, and supports education,” said Jewell.  “The funding reflects significant energy production from public resources in the United States and serves as a critical revenue stream for federal and state governments and tribal communities.”

The FY 2013 increase in disbursements is attributed primarily to $2.77 billion in bonus bids received for new oil and gas leases in federal waters of the Gulf of Mexico. That includes two lease sales in FY 2013 and one sale in FY 2012 that was adjudicated in 2013, when the disbursements were made.  Overall disbursements totaled $12.15 billion in FY 2012.

“Interior offered 59 million offshore acres for energy exploration and production in fiscal year 2013 and is holding 30 onshore lease sales this year, offering nearly 5.5 million acres for energy production,” said Jewell. “As we continue to expand domestic energy production, we need to ensure that it’s done safely and responsibly and that it continues to benefit the communities that are most impacted.”

More than $2 billion of the FY 2013 energy revenues were disbursed to 35 states as their cumulative share of revenues collected from oil, gas and mineral production on federal lands within their borders and from U.S. offshore oil and gas tracts adjacent to their shores.  Among the top states receiving revenue are Wyoming ($933 million); New Mexico ($479 million); Utah ($138 million); Colorado ($130 million); California ($102 million); North Dakota ($90 million);Montana ($36 million); Louisiana ($27 million); Alaska ($19 million) and Texas ($17 million).

Included in the state disbursements is $3.59 million sent directly to 43 individual counties in eight states from geothermal energy production.  Also included in the state disbursements is $297,985 to four coastal states and eligible political subdivisions – or counties and parishes – under provisions of the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act of 2006.  A complete list of states receiving revenues through Fiscal Year 2013 is available on Interior’s Office of Natural Resources Revenue’s website.

A total of $8.6 billion was disbursed to the U.S. Treasury to fund programs for the entire nation, making the Department’s mineral revenue disbursements one of the nation’s largest sources of non-tax revenue.

The $932.9 million disbursed to 34 American Indian Tribes and nearly 30,000 individual Indian mineral owners represents an increase of more than $200 million over FY 2012 disbursements that totaled $717.5 million.  This increase to Native Americans is attributed primarily to increasing oil production at the Ft. Berthold Reservation in North Dakota.

The Interior Department disburses 100 percent of the revenues received for energy and mineral production activities on Indian lands directly to the Tribes and individual Indian mineral owners through Interior’s Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Office of Special Trustee for American Indians.  Tribes then distribute the revenues among all members or apply the revenues to health care, infrastructure, education and other critical community development programs, such as senior centers, public safety projects, and youth initiatives.  Many individual Indian mineral owners use these revenues as a major source of income to support their families and communities.

The disbursements also fund several special use accounts in the U.S. Treasury, including FY 2013 transfers of $895.6 million to the Land & Water Conservation Fund, $1.59 billion to the Reclamation Fund, and $150 million to the Historic Preservation Fund.

The Land and Water Conservation Fund, established by Congress in 1964, uses revenue from energy development to provide grants to state, federal and local governments to acquire land, water and easements for recreation use and to protect natural treasures. Receipts deposited in the Reclamation Fund are made available by Congress through annual appropriation acts for authorized water management and efficiency programs that directly benefit 17 Western States.  The Historic Preservation Fund provides matching grants to help state and tribal historic preservation offices preserve cultural and other historic resources.

All federal energy revenues are collected and disbursed by Interior’s Office of Natural Resources Revenue, which is under the Assistant Secretary for Policy, Management and Budget.  ONRR makes disbursements on a monthly basis from the royalties, rents and bonuses it collects from energy and mineral companies.

Federal lands and waters have helped to boost domestic energy production since President Obama took office.  Last year, oil production from federal waters was up 7 percent compared to fiscal year 2008. Onshore federal oil production is also above 2008 levels – by about 35 percent. To support further increases in domestic production on federal lands and waters, the Administration continues to make new areas available for development. In Calendar Year 2013, Interior will hold 30 onshore oil and gas lease sales for public lands. The Department has already held 26 of these sales; the 1,783 parcels of land offered cover nearly 5.4 million acres.  At the same time, Interior continues to modernize the way it permits production to increase efficiency while ensuring implementation of key safety and environmental standards.

Posted by on November 19, 2013
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National Park Service names Sue Masica as Intermountain Regional Director

— November 19, 2013

(Press release) National Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis has named Sue Masica as the Service’s Intermountain regional director, responsible for leading 6,000 employees and 91 national parks visited by more than 42 million people annually. Masica, who serves as the Alaska regional director, assumes her new position in Denver in January.

Sue Masica, Intermountain Regional Director for the National Park Service.

Sue Masica, Intermountain Regional Director for the National Park Service.

“Sue has an incredible track record of tackling tough issues and finding innovative solutions,” Jarvis said. “Results-oriented and goal-driven, Sue manages by inclusion, building a collaborative work ethic among employees and with partners. She strives for the highest standards of transparency and accountability. She brings great experience to her new position from her previous National Park Service assignments. Sue is a valued member of our national senior management team.”

“Serving as the Intermountain regional director is a tremendous honor,” Masica said. “The region is home to spectacular landscapes and compelling stories; places that have been entrusted to the National Park Service by the American people for nearly 100 years. I’m looking forward to working with communities and National Park Service staff on issues that are very different from those in Alaska, like Colorado River water, and others that are similar, such as partnering on close-to-home recreational opportunities.

“This is an opportunity to support employees in their efforts to care for these special places and engage park visitors, partners, and communities,” Masica said. “I will listen carefully to their voices as we work together to preserve these treasures, engage the public, draw young people to the parks, and provide meaningful experiences to our diverse audiences.”

As the Alaska regional director since May 2008, Masica oversees the largest national park and preserve acreage in the United States – 54.7 million acres – and an annual operating budget of more than $100 million. During her tenure in Alaska, she led critical planning exercises in anticipation of declining federal budgets, expanded the Service’s work with Alaska Native tribes and organizations, and expanded the public outreach efforts at both the regional office and parks.

Masica has 25 years of federal service, and is a recipient of the Presidential Rank Award for her leadership accomplishments with the National Park Service. Prior to arriving in Alaska, she held senior leadership positions overseeing the Service’s Washington office operations, facility infrastructure investment and planning, and administration programs.

Prior to joining the National Park Service, Masica served 10 years on the staff of the United States Senate Committee on Appropriations, and as staff director of the Subcommittee on the Department of the Interior and Related Agencies. She began her federal career as a Presidential Management Intern with the Department of the Interior.

Masica earned a Master of Public Affairs, Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs, University of Texas; and a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, Austin College (Texas).

Posted by on November 19, 2013
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Public mineral parcels for February 2014 oil and gas lease sale posted

— November 13, 2013

(Press release) The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Wyoming State Office has posted its proposed list of parcels for the quarterly competitive oil and gas lease sale scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 11, 2014, at the Holiday Inn in Cheyenne, Wyo. Doors open at 7 a.m. with the auction beginning at 8 a.m.

The posted list, which identifies 167 proposed parcels totaling 153,933.89 acres, initiates a 30-day public protest period.

The parcels are located in Big Horn, Campbell, Converse, Crook, Fremont, Natrona, Niobrara, Park, Washakie and Weston counties in Wyoming and Sioux County in Nebraska.

Copies of the complete February 2014 competitive oil and gas lease sale notice will be available at the sale and may be purchased in advance for $5 from the State Office at 5353 Yellowstone Road in Cheyenne, or by writing: BLM, Attn: Copy Work, P.O. Box 1828, Cheyenne, Wyo. 82003. Copies are also available for purchase from each BLM field office in Wyoming.

The complete February 2014 competitive oil and gas lease sale notice may be viewed and/or downloaded for free here. Also available at this website are the oil and gas leasing environmental assessments, including public comments, for the February 2014 oil and gas lease sale.

Posted by on November 13, 2013
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Indian rodeo and culture focus of Wyoming PBS program

— November  13, 2013 

(Press release) Present day Indian culture encompasses many things, including rodeo. For nearly 40 years now, Indian Rodeo has been a professional sport and nationwide tribal subculture.

Passed from one generation to the next, Indian rodeo families cross the country participating in a sport that requires dedication and effort. This Friday, November 15th at 7:30 p.m. on Wyoming PBS, WYOMING CHRONICLE takes a glimpse into the life of seventeen year old Drew Antone and his family as he competed in the Rocky Mountain Regional finals to determine who participated in the Indian National Finals in Las Vegas last year.PBS logo

The Indian Rodeo story is followed by a studio discussion about life beyond the stereotypes and how the two worlds meet, contrast and evolve. Studio guests include Helsha Acuna, Professor of Native American Studies at Central Wyoming College; Caskey Russell, Associate Professor at the University of Wyoming in the American Indian Studies program; and Jordan Dresser, journalist and producer for this Wyoming Chronicle Indian Rodeo story.

About Wyoming Chronicle:

Wyoming Chronicle is an innovative weekly program featuring interviews with newsmakers, artists, independent thinkers, and unique Wyoming personalities. Most programs begin with a video piece to introduce the subject, but the centerpiece of the show is the conversations between articulate guests and our experienced interviewers, led by host/producer Richard Ager. The public affairs series deals with difficult and complex issues such as fracking, access to rural health care, and being unequal in the Equality State. Our guests have included Gerry Spence, “the lawyer who couldn’t lose”; the wit and insight of Senator Al Simpson; and Lee Alley, author and Wyoming’s most highly decorated Vietnam veteran. Wyoming Chronicle explores the people and places of this vast state and tells the stories of Wyoming.

Posted by on November 13, 2013
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