EcoFlight flew with The Wilderness Society over the Hoback area of the Wyoming Range.
The Wild and Scenic Hoback River pours out of the Wyoming Range into a valley treasured for its wildlife, beauty and outdoor recreation. The area includes designated critical lynx habitat and is home to elk, moose, deer, antelope, mountain lion and bear.
The Wyoming Range Legacy Act, passed in 2009, protected the Wyoming Range from new oil and gas leasing. However, existing leases were still being upheld and Plains Exploration and Production (PXP), a company based in Houston, wants to drill up to 136 wells using the controversial method of hydraulic fracturing or fracking, a natural gas extraction process known to pollute drinking water and streams.
The Upper Hoback area, or Noble Basin, is well documented as a major migration pathway and crossroads for big game, predators and other wildlife in the southern Yellowstone Ecosystem, connecting the national forest lands to the south, east and west with the forest and national parks to the north. A designated roadless area, it sits in the headwaters of the Hoback River, which was placed on American Rivers' 2011 Most Endangered Rivers List.
Citizens of the Wyoming Range is a loose knit association of groups and individuals that work in collaboration with other partners to permanently protect the Wyoming Range from oil and gas leasing and development. They are trying to persuade PXP to donate, sell or trade its leases on 44,000 acres back to the Forest Service and ensure that air and water quality, wildlife and recreational values are protected in this special piece of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem.