Last minute donation lands Wyoming Range deal

— By Kelsey Dayton
January 2, 2013

Efforts to raise money to buy and retire oil and gas leases in the Wyoming Range succeeded with a last-minute donation the day before Dec. 31 deadline, said Chris Deming, senior project manager with the Trust for Public Land.

The Trust announced today it raised the needed $8.75 million to buy leases from Plains Exploration Co. (PXP). PXP had proposed a project in the Wyoming Range to drill 136 wells on 17 well pads.

While everyone involved in the efforts stayed positive, whether or not the money could be raised in time was unknown.

“The outcome was in doubt until the very end,” Deming told WyoFile.

Joe Ricketts contributed $1.75 million, including an eleventh hour gift, the day before the deadline, of $750,000 to help the campaign reach its goal.

“I’m proud to have been able to play a role in helping to preserve this magnificent landscape for future generations,” Ricketts said in a press release. “The outpouring of support for this project was inspiring and demonstrates how much the people of Wyoming value the outdoors and how hard we’ll work to protect our natural resources.”

The trust announced a deal with PXP in October. The Trust raised the needed money in 90 days. According to a press release more than 1,000 donors contributed to protect the 58,000 acres. The largest donor was Hansjorg Wyss of Wilson, who contributed $4.25 million through his charitable foundation the Wyss Foundation.

“This is about neighbors and communities coming together to protect an iconic Western landscape, so the Wyoming Range will always remain open for everyone to hunt, fish, hike, and explore,” Wyss said in a press release.

About 85 percent of the lease area is within the boundaries of the Wyoming Range Legacy Act, which allows oil and gas leases to be permanently retired if purchased. The Trust is already working to retire the leases within the boundaries and will hold the remaining leases while developing a long-term retirement plan with state and federal officials.

For more information on this issue, read these previous stories;

Conservation groups celebrate buyout of Wyoming Range oil and gas leases

The Accidental Activist: Dan Smitherman leads the charge against drilling the Wyoming Range

Kelsey Dayton is a freelancer and the editor of Outdoors Unlimited, the magazine of the Outdoor Writers Association of America. She has worked as a reporter for the Gillette News-Record, Jackson Hole News&Guide...

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