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.

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