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The Mountain-Prairie Region

NEWS RELEASE

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
134 Union Boulevard
Lakewood, Colorado 80228

 

March 8, 2005                                                                      Otto Jose, 303-236-8156

Service Seeks Public Comment on Draft Environmental Assessment for the
Chain Lakes Wildlife Habitat Management Area in Wyoming
 

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is seeking public comment on a draft Environmental Assessment (EA) for the proposed “Development of BP America Production Company Wells on the Chain Lakes Wildlife Habitat Management Area (WHMA), Sweetwater and Carbon Counties, Wyoming.”  This draft EA is tiered to the “Continental Divide/Greater Wamsutter Area II Natural Gas Development Project Environmental Impact Statement,  Bureau of Land Management, 2000.”  Public comments are welcome for a 30-day period which ends on April 7, 2005. 

The draft EA, prepared by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Wyoming Game and Fish Commission (WGF), analyzes BP’s American Production Company’s (BP) proposal to drill for, extract, remove and market gas products on subsurface mineral rights of the WHMA which are owned by Anadarko Petroleum.  Anadarko leased these rights to BP and BP is currently in the process of developing this lease. 

Implementation of the proposed action to allow BP to drill for, extract, remove and market gas products requires an approval from the Service, since the WHMA was purchased with federal funds under the Wildlife Restoration program for the purpose of providing wintering habitat for pronghorn.  Any activity or action that is not part of the original purpose must be reviewed by Service’s Federal Assistance office to assess the potential impacts to the environment pursuant to the National Environmental Policy Act.  Although the activities associated with proposed action on the WHMA were broadly addressed in the Continental Divide/Greater Wamsutter Area II Natural Gas Development Project Environmental Impact Statement, Bureau of Land Management, site-specific activities on the federally-acquired property of the WHMA require further evaluation.  Consequently, the WGF and the Service have prepared this EA tiered to the Continental Divide/Greater Wamsutter Area II Natural Gas Development Project Environmental Impact Statement.  The EA also identifies additional mitigation measures based on the  “Surface Use Agreement” established between the WGF and BP.  The “Surface Use Agreement” contains a list of 43  terms and conditions to minimize environmental impacts on the project area.  

BP would undertake gas well drilling, testing, and production on 14 sections of Chain Lakes WHMA covering approximately 8,960 acres located in T23N, R93W, all of Sections 7, 9, 15, 17, 19, 21, 25, 27, 29, 31, 33, and 35; T22N, R93W, all of Sections 3; and T23N, R92W, all of Section 31.  Currently, BP has lease rights on three sections for gas exploration and development purposes which include the following sections T23N, R93W, 19,  29, and 27.  BP is in the process of obtaining leasing rights to conduct further gas explorations and development on the other Sections described above.  It is anticipated that BP will not pursue portions T23N, R93W, Section 7, 9, and, 15 due to the presence of wetlands.  Anadarko Petroleum Corporation has the right to those lands not developed for oil and gas by BP. 

The  location and spacing of well pads are governed by the rules and statutes established by the Wyoming Oil and Gas Conservation Commission (WOGCC).  Pursuant to these rules, a  maximum of 56 well pads (four well pads per section) could be developed on the Federal Assistance-acquired property in Chain Lakes WHMA.  BP would be required to obtain approval from WOGCC for a higher density of well pads. 

The total disturbance area for a single well pad and associated exploration drilling operations during exploration is approximately 3.4 acres.  If exploration reveals that each section of land at Chain Lakes WHMA would have a high gas production, a maximum total of 190.4 acres of Federal Assistance-acquired property could potentially be directly disturbed during well drilling and testing and an additional 44 acres would be directly impacted from new road construction. For the production phase, only 1.5 acres would be disturbed for a single well pad.  If all wells become productive and the surface unnecessary for production operations at those wells is reclaimed, a maximum total of 128 acres (84 acres of well pads and 44 acres of new road) of Federal Assistance-acquired property would remain disturbed for the length of the project –  from 30 to 50 years for each well. 

Detailed information is contained in the Service’s EA.  Copies of the document, which include details of the proposed action, affected environment and environmental impacts are available online at http://mountain-prairie.fws.gov/FA/Wyoming_Chain_Lakes_EA.pdf.  Those without internet access may request a copy by calling the Services’s Division of Federal Aid, 303-236-5420.  Written comments should be sent to: Chief, Division of Federal Assistance, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, P.O. Box 25486, Denver, CO   80225. Comments will be accepted through April 7, 2005. 

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal Federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 95-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System, which encompasses 545 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 69 national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resources offices and 81 ecological services field stations. The agency enforces federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign and Native American tribal governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Assistance program, which distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies. 

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