By Bob Beck
Gillette, Wy – Coalbed Methane drilling in a sensitive area of northeast Wyoming will be halted until concerns over the possible impacts on elk can be clarified. The State Bureau of Land Management office is asking its Buffalo field office to further study impacts to elk in what is called the Fortification Creek area. Area Wildlife Biologist Larry Gerard says the object is not to prevent any drilling from occurring. But he says four projects were originally allowed to move forward and Gerard wants a different approach.
"They go slowly and complete the process and complete the reclamation on the existing coalbed methane development in the area before they proceed on."
The B-L-M decision stops one drilling project and three other proposed projects. Wildlife groups say the area is unique and the elk herd could face serious impacts. It had been wiped out over 50 years ago, but elk were reintroduced into the area.