More folks in WY realize how much their wildlife and land heritage will pay for oil and gas

There has been a sudden realization that the massive industrialization of Wyoming’s open spaces by the natural gas industry is making a wrenching change to the state’s outdoor heritage — its clean air, vistas, wildlife.

Today there were numerous newspaper stories on the seemingly unstoppable conquest of Wyoming by the petroleum industry.

We’re going to feel it.‘ By Whitney Royster. Jackson Hole Star-Tribune.

Wyo drilling rig count climbs. By Dustine Bleizeffer. Star-Tribune energy reporter.

Jonah [gas field] office floats reclamation plan. By Whitney Royster. Casper Star-Tribune.

This might sound good, but in fact restoration of the natural vegetation of the high desert to its original form may take more than a hundreds years, if ever. The drillers will have to keep about 55% of the Jonah field land area “undisturbed,” but this is very misleading as the Google Earth photo of part of the field below shows. Most of the land in the image is undisturbed, but as you can see the effect of all the roads and drilling pads is almost total disturbance.

Part of the Jonah gas field. Most of the land is physically “undisturbed,” but you can see that in reality, it is totally disturbed.







  1. Bob caesar Avatar
    Bob caesar

    “God bless Wyoming and keep it wild”. The last entry in the diary of Helen Mettler age 15, in Aug 1925.

    Wyoming has sold Helen’s her prayer down the drain. The extraction has just begun. Only a small fraction of the wells have be built to date. 2,500 more to come!

    What the hell will this place be like? What will be left in ten years? Just be glad you are not a Pronghorn!

    God bless Wyoming…AND foregive us for we know not what we are doing to this ole Earthl”! Oh, but then we have no income tax…


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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Ralph Maughan