Jackson, WY – Conservation groups are criticizing the opening of more than 100 thousand acres in the Bridger-Teton National Forest for gas leasing. Jackson Hole Conservation Alliance staff attorney Tom Darin says the decision to open the forest to leasing is out of touch with the public's values for its national forests. But forest officials say any drilling proposal would be saddled with stringent environmental regulations. Bridger-Teton Deputy Supervisor Brent Larson also points out that issuing a lease does not necessarily result in drilling. Much of the acreage proposed for leasing is on the eastern slope of the Wyoming Range. Gas demand is projected to increase by more than 50 percent over the next 20 years.