Day 5

Field Trip Day: Pinedale & Trappers Point

**Today I did much of my learning after the day passed since I was fighting a horrible migraine from the back of the AWLS van. A huge thank-you to everyone that helped me through that day. **

Upon the Mesa:

  • While there we listened about the history and significance of the area. Pinedale and its surrounding areas is home to around 2,000 people, it is an area rich in wildlife and natural gas. While sitting on the Mesa (flat top mountain) it appeared the land went on forever. The challenge is the need to tap into the natural gas and also conserve/protect the wildlife. The Pinedale Anticline Project Area (PAPA) is just south of Pinedale, 80% of the surface of this area is owned by the federal government and operated by the Bureau of Land Management. In 2000, PAPA was one of the most productive natural gas areas in the United States. Along with PAPA is Jonah Field, another natural gas field that yields a significant amount to contribute to our total in the United States. The demand of natural gas along with preserving the land and wildlife was on the forefront of the discussion of the day. Fish & Game came to the MESA to discuss how this balance is being maintained. From the Clean Air Act of 1970 to the continuous monitoring of wildlife and air quality there is ongoing work to help with preserving this land.
  • Fracking: In this area the natural gas is contained in tight rock formations. In order for the gas to be released fracking is done. Fracking is a drilling process where they inject/force water and sand at high pressure into wells to crack or create fissures to open up the rock and release the natural gas.
  • Environmental Impacts: Due to the natural gas industry the impact on wildlife was significant. Specifically to the sage grouse, pygmy rabbits, pronghorn antelope and mule deer. To help with the impact, the Bureau of Land Management would restrict drilling upon the Mesa during the winter months since this was an area where the Sublette Mule Deer would roam during this time of the year. There also just been continuous habitat loss due to roads, pipelines, etc. for these deer in the area and consequently they have seen a significance in their population. The Gas companies are trying hard to work with coordinating times in the area to help with these animals natural movement and migration. The companies have also Development Areas (DAs) that allow the company to focus on one area so that other areas can be undisturbed to allow for animals to migrate and thrive. The other issue surrounding the gas line is the impact on the water and air quality. There is continuous air and water quality completed in order to maintain appropriate levels.

Trappers Point:

  • This area looks over the major migratory area of the Pronghorn Antelope. Their path leas them across a major highway as they travel from the Grand Tetons National Park to the Green River Basin. Due to the number of automobile accidents due to this migration path many organizations came together to develop migration bridges that go over the highway to help protect the pronghorn and other animals.

Case Study: Mule Deer of the Kaibab Plateau

  • Kaibab Plateau in Arizona was home to around 4,000 in the early 1900s. It was estimated that the carrying capacity of this area was around 30,000 mule deer. President Roosevelt wanted to protect these deer, once calling them the "finest deer herd in America." He developed the the Grand Canyon National Game Preserve in order to help protect and monitor the herd. This resulted in the immediate stopping of hunting in this area. Then in 1907 there was an push to eliminate the wolves and coyotes in this area that were the natural predators to the deer. This resulted in an uncontrolled amount of deer in this area by the 1920s. This was extremely visible not only by the numbers but also by the overgrazing of grass and shrubs in the area. Then in 1923 it appeared the herd essentially was starving themselves by overgrazing all their resources. There was a committee formed instantly to determine how they could control the numbers, initially a quick harvest of the deer was immediate. Today the numbers and herd are monitored by the Arizona Game Commission.

"Here is your country. Cherish these natural wonders, cherish the natural resource, cherish the history and romance as a sacred heritage, for your children and your children's children. Do not let selfish men or greedy interest skin your country of its beauty, its riches or its romance. "

-Theodore Roosevelt