PINEDALE ROUNDUP - 6/24/11 Flights Over Wyoming Range

Jun 24, 2011


photo by Kaitlyn McAvoy, Pinedale Roundup

Citizens, EcoFlight provide a look at what lies below, what lies before us.

Story by Kaitlyn McAvoy

Early this week, Citizens for the Wyoming Range
spokesperson Dan Smitherman and EcoFlight President
Bruce Gordon took media up into the air to fly over the Noble
Basin, where Plains Exploration Production Company (PXP)
has proposed to drill for natural gas wells in the Bridger-
Teton National Forest. Tuesday morning flights left from the Pinedale Airport and flew west over the Pinedale Anticline and north towards the Noble Basin in the Wyoming Range.

Gordon, who lives in Aspen, Colo., has been doing “conservation flying” for the past 25 years and traveled around the West and throughout the world. For the next few weeks, he will be flying over the Northern Rockies.

The Noble Basin, Gordon said after landing Tuesday, is
not just acre after acre of sagebrush like the Anticline, but in
the middle of a lush forest. “That’s why the aerial perspective is so important,” he said. Gordon said he hopes his flights will inspire people to become involved and help protect the wilderness. “To me, that Wyoming Range is a very special place,” he said.

Along with Citizens, EcoFlight has worked with other
local conservation groups including the Upper Green River
Valley Alliance. Gordon said, in his years of flying he seen
many changes to the landscape. Now, he said, he can’t fly 30
miles in any direction from his home in Aspen without finding
industrialized land.

This week’s flights over the Wyoming Range were just one
of the events Citizens has scheduled for the summer. Next
month, the group will guide a tour into the Noble Basin and
hold a barbeque in Daniel in August.

Because Citizens has no IRS tax status and no bank account,
the grassroots group has an account set up through the
Wyoming Outdoor Council where people can donate money.
Chris Merrill, director of communications for the
Wyoming Outdoor Council, said the money going to Citizens
has been used to pay for the overflights this week, Smitherman’s expenses and time and the group’s summer events.

“All the money is given directly to the grassroots efforts,”
Merrill said. “We just wanted to help. We have a shared goal
with the Citizens group, who has done such great work.” ?


photo by Kaitlyn McAvoy, PInedale Roundup