Governor urges protection of rare elk herd

Laramie, Wyo. – Oil and gas companies have their eyes on the Fortification Creek area that includes more than 100-thousand acres in Johnson, Campbell and Sheridan counties.

But Freudenthal told the Bureau of Land Management he would not support development there unless the government paid close attention to the impacts drilling would have on water, soil and wildlife.

Specifically, the governor is worried about an isolated herd of elk that residents have grown fond of. Ryan Lance is the governor's deputy chief of staff.

"We have received a lot of mail begging us to make sure that any development that moves forward takes full account of that herd," Lance says.

Freudenthal told the BLM in a letter that the plan must have aggressive strategies for reclamation and protection of the animals. Lance says the governor is worried the BLM is being pressured by the outgoing Bush administration to get these permits issued quickly.