Three environmental organizations joined together to file an administrative appeal Thursday to protest against an oil and gas lease sale proposed by the Bureau of Land Management.
The federal public land up for auction in March is located along the Yellowstone River and borders the Yellowstone National Park gateway community of Livingston, Montana. The Wilderness Society, Montana Wilderness Association, and Park County Environmental Council believe leases in the region threaten the outdoor economy.
Peter Aengst of The Wilderness Society said the current administration’s priority is energy development and production.
“When it comes to leasing and sage grouse habitat and if you have this comprehensive plan from 2015 that takes second,” said Aengst. “It's no longer fully followed and they’re pushing leasing wherever they can, including in critical sage grouse habitat.”
Aengst said the group hopes filing the appeal will make the Bureau of Land Management redo its environmental assessment of the land.
“We hope it forces or compels the BLM to take a second look,” Aengst said. “I’m not that confident that they will change course, but we wanted to make an effort.”
The second look would include examining the potential impacts development would have on sage grouse habitat, the region’s economy, and the Yellowstone River. Environmentalists want the BLM to remove the most vulnerable parcels from the land that would be auctioned in March.