Saturday, January 5, 2008

Protection for Adobe Town

In the time since I lasted posted anything about the Red Desert (here), there’s been some good news. On November 28, Wyoming’s Environmental Quality Council voted 5 to 1 to designate 180,000 acres of Adobe Town as rare and uncommon (R&U). This designation prohibits mining of solid minerals if

The proposed mining operation would irreparably harm, destroy, or materially impair any area that has been designated by the council a rare or uncommon area and having particular historical, archaeological, wildlife, surface geological, botanical or scenic value;” [Title 35, Chapter 11, article 4 (m) (iv)]

Approximately 86,000 acres of the Adobe Town area was already protected (sort of) as a Wilderness Study Area (WSA). The R&U designation includes this area and extends it to include surrounding areas (the Haystacks, Willow Creek Rim, the flats near Skull Creek Rim, and some of Powder Rim). Although the R&U designation doesn’t protect areas outside of the WSA from oil and gas development (hence the emphasis on solid minerals above), it’s hoped that the BLM will take the state’s desire to protect this area into consideration when permitting future development.

Adobe Town is located southwest of Wamsutter, WY.

The area outlined in pink is the current WSA, and the green is the area designated as rare and uncommon. This map (and the map at the top of the post) is taken from a brochure produced by Biodiversity Conservation Alliance (download the brochure as a pdf here). BCA is responsible for pettitioning for the R&U designation. Their petition can be downloaded from their website. To see the attachments to the petition, and subsequent public comments to the Environmental Quality Council (including the what the oil companies had to say), visit here. And, since you really should go visit the area, here's a BLM document on visiting Adobe Town (BCA also has directions on their website). Finally, BCA published a nice document about Adobe Town, describing the major areas with lots of photographs. You can download the pdf here (but be forwarned, it's about 15 mb).