time short as Wyo. Range buyout nears goal

By Jim Stanford on December 13, 2012

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The Deadlocks will play a benefit concert Dec. 21 at CFA, helping music fans do their part to protect the lands right outside our lazy summer home.

With little more than two weeks left to complete a deal, the Trust for Public Land has raised $7.6 million of the $8.75 million it needs to retire drilling leases and protect the Wyoming Range south of Jackson from oil and gas development.

The trust must raise the remaining $1.15 million by the end of the year. In the last week, donors have given $1.7 million, including $200,000 from the Pinedale Anticline Mitigation Fund.

All those small donations must be making an impact. In the last two months, advocates have made the case on social media that even a $150 contribution will protect an acre of land.

To help reach the goal, The Deadlocks and Jalan Crossland will perform a benefit concert Dec. 21 at Center for the Arts. Tickets are $20 or $100 for VIP with food and cocktails. The Jackson-based website Clean Snipe is helping put on the show, along with a host of other local businesses.

The area targeted for drilling includes the Hoback headwaters.

If finalized, the deal would eliminate the threat of drilling on about 58,000 acres of the range, which is prized for hunting, fishing and other recreation. Noble Basin, the area targeted for development, includes some of the headwaters of the Hoback River, a Snake tributary designated by Congress as Wild and Scenic.

TPL brokered the deal earlier this year with Houston-based Plains Exploration and Production Co., which owns the drilling leases. Congress, spurred by the late Sen. Craig Thomas of Wyoming, put some 1.2 million acres of the range off-limits to drilling in 2009, but PXP had grandfathered rights.

(Photo by Chris Havener)

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Posted under Environment, Music, Politics

25 Comments so far

  1. cm December 13, 2012 11:24 am

    Thanks for helping spread the word, Jim! Someone please take a better picture of us and then actually send it to us!

  2. Claire December 13, 2012 1:20 pm

    It will be a rocking good time! If you can’t make it, you can buy raffle tickets early by calling Lisa @ 413-2790. There are great raffle prizes, and you need not be present to win.

  3. Dave December 14, 2012 7:21 am

    Unless the lease cost them 8M, I’d rather have ‘em drill and not pay the ransom. This seems like a typical ploy by corporations to get money for doing nothing.

  4. D December 14, 2012 11:42 am

    Dave really…….????? They did them a favor, because they wanted to drill it and had the right to do so. They owned the lease and sold it, just like you do with a car or house. It’s not an evil ploy by corporations. Its basic CAPITILISM.

  5. MikeV December 15, 2012 1:10 am

    D, It’s actually Capitalism, but even then not really.

  6. Charlie December 15, 2012 2:49 pm

    I agree Dave. If they paid under 8 mil for the lease, they get all the reward with no risk.

    I couldn’t care less if it’s capitalism or not.

    I have no problem with someone buying out the lease. I don’t like giving these gas folks a free ride. They get enough handouts as it is.

    The actual impact may be low for all I know but what kind of person even thinks that this lease would be favored by stakeholders in the area? Liberals in Jackson can’t stand the thought of an oil/gas patch anywhere near Teton County and the Feds(?) should have known better unless they’re complete idiots.

    I do like the roads carved into the hills for biking and the cheap gas for driving but I’m not a majority.

  7. P December 15, 2012 5:01 pm

    Will the Trust for Public Land give back my donation is this falls shorth of the goal?

    What does the lease mean for public access? Much of Teton County is CLOSED to public access due to decisions by conservation groups.

  8. MikeV December 17, 2012 5:41 am

    P,

    I’m curious, besides the elk refuge and seasonal winter closures what parts of Teton county are closed to public access?

  9. dick December 18, 2012 9:43 am

    P’s probably referring to conservation easement signs & conservation property signs that are plastered all over Teton County that say No Trespassing.

    Along Fall Creek, Indian Trail Bike Path, etc.

  10. MikeV December 18, 2012 12:14 pm

    dick, Thanks. I wonder if he knows that the conservation easements make up about 1% of Teton County. That doesn’t really qualify as “much”.

  11. PC December 18, 2012 3:23 pm

    Conservation easements are also largely on private property. Tax benefit for limiting development and other activities to preserve historical uses of wildlife/habitat.

  12. Bogus December 20, 2012 8:25 pm

    Conservation easements are nothing less than a way for land owners in Teton County to get tax breaks for not developing property they have no intention or desire to develop in the first place. Like the AG exemption for property taxes, it’s another way for the property-rich to avoid taxes the rest of us pay.

    You can own a house on property worth 50 million and pay lower taxes than someone in a townhouse.

    Colorado changed its laws, time for Wyoming to do the same.

  13. Bogus December 20, 2012 8:26 pm

    So, what will happen to the money if this falls through? None has answered that question.

  14. js December 20, 2012 8:30 pm

    I think the goal is well within reach. http://bit.ly/ZVP4oI
    It does feel like extortion, having to pay an energy company that made $1.4 billion last year, for leases that probably never should have been issued in the first place. If the Forest Service had done a more thorough review or required more safeguards, the value of the leases would have been lower. I hope PXP is not getting much more than what it paid for the leases, plus interest and whatever it invested for exploration, planning, etc.
    That said, I appreciate the efforts of such a broad coalition to broker a deal. So I’m happy to do my part. In the future, let’s do better and not have to hold bake sales to keep drilling out of sensitive areas.

  15. slim December 20, 2012 9:06 pm

    In Wyoming property tax is based on an assessment of fair market value (except ag). Conservation easements limit the value only because they limit development potential. The donor may get Fed tax breaks but the benefit of scenic open space, wildlife protection etc is well worth it

  16. js December 21, 2012 12:27 pm

    Here’s the schedule for tonight’s benefit: High school band Spatial Relations opens at 7 p.m., followed by Jalan Crossland Band at 8 and Deadlocks at 9. In a refreshing change, patrons will be allowed to take drinks inside the theater and, you know, have fun.

    More from Clean Snipe:

    The benefit will feature a raffle drawing with prizes including a stand up paddleboard from Rendezvous River Sports, a 15-day Peak Pass from Jackson Hole Mountain Resort, a Fender guitar signed by Johnny Depp and donated by Tony Gilkyson, an LP signed by members of the Grateful Dead, a ticket package to the Center for the Arts, a half-day guided float trip by World Cast Anglers, and more. Raffle tickets are available for $5 each, or $20 for five. Raffle tickets can be purchased at the event, or in advance by calling Lisa: 307-413-2790.

    To encourage concert goers to make a donation to the cause, The Snake River Brewery has generously offered a $5,000 challenge grant to match donations made during the event to The Trust for Public Land to protect the Hoback.

    In addition to $10 student tickets and $20 general admission, VIP Tickets are available for $100. Thanks to Fine Dining Group and Thai Me Up, VIP ticket holders will have access to a separate dance area, a catered buffet with complimentary beer, side-stage access, backstage room, and separate entrance. For general admission, the lower level of the Center Theater will include a uniquely festive atmosphere, with a large dance-floor and cocktail service.

  17. D December 21, 2012 12:35 pm

    Jim,

    They leased it fair and square you know that. They are doing us a favor. I don’t want it developed either, but to act like they are the bad guy is a joke. You can blame the government, forest service, etc, but they got the lease fair and square. They are not the bad guy and their profits have noting to do with it. They are giving up future profits by allowing this buy out.
    Com’on Man!

  18. Jim Stanford December 22, 2012 11:08 am

    They leased it legally, no doubt. Fair and square is subjective. Some of the Wyo. Range leases (2005-6) were under protest even before they were issued, with Gov. Dave Freudenthal and U.S. Sen. Craig Thomas opposed to the sale. It’s possible these leases were issued much earlier (1994), in which case, yes, you’re right. But it still feels funny for the public to pony up for land that was owned by the public to begin with.

    Regardless, last night’s benefit was a success. Cowboys, hippies, paddlers and ski bums came together to pitch in. Attendance could have been stronger, but that was probably a function of the holiday timing. There was a strong feeling among organizers that the fund-raising goal is about to be reached. The sound and organization at the theater were excellent.

    One of the raffle prizes was a Grateful Dead LP signed by guitarist Bob Weir and songwriter John Perry Barlow, who owns a ranch in Sublette County. The two wrote Dead songs together not far from the Wyoming Range. The Deadlocks covered many Weir-Barlow tunes throughout the show.

    The highlight came midway through the second set, with Throwing Stones. Always powerful and on this night, appropriate, given that Wyoming’s drilling boom has left us “afraid we may lay our home to waste.” There were other references with topical meaning — “selling guns instead of food today” — but what made the song stand out was high school guitarist Michael Scalabrino joining the band. The 16-year-old wailed with an intensity that might have impressed Jerry Garcia, both drummers picked up the tempo, and the crowd howled in approval. This kid evidently has been taking part in rock camp. Veteran Wyoming troubadour Jalan Crossland raved about Scalabrino’s band, Spatial Relations, which opened the show.

    I couldn’t help but marvel that a conservation effort begun in the halls of Congress, encompassing the efforts of so many philanthropists, elected officials and advocacy groups, was being pushed across the finish line by Deadheads and skids in Jackson. The kids they dance and shake their bones!

  19. Brad December 24, 2012 1:50 pm

    Jim, with all due respect, D is correct. Mineral leasing of any land, private or government, is a risk and these development companies lose money all the time on leased land that provides no return. It’s all risk/reward. The PXP leases were all done legally, fair and square, under the then-current procedures, your ‘subjective’ label notwithstanding. The public isn’t “pony[ing] up for land”, just the mineral rights under multiple use rules. If Fruedenthal and Thomas COULD have stopped the leasing, it would have happened, in my view; it was all just too late for the Noble Basin. The only thing left was for the Forest Service to intervene to mitigate surface intrusion. And we all know how that went. Everyone questions it now and professes disdain because PXP’s geologists hit the jackpot in Noble Basin. The risk paid off here, thanks mostly to modern 3-D seismic profiling. They now know what’s down there or there wouldn’t have been any talk of 136 wells on 17 pads, let alone any issued permits. PXP has the right to all the profits the gas and oil underneath will allow. And, as in this case, if someone wants to buy them out, well, step up and pay what PXP thinks it’s worth. All neat and tidy legal. Like you and most everyone else here, I don’t want to see the first D9 blade start a new road towards development. I’m just glad people with money care enough to try and put an end to it. The process just might work.

  20. Brad December 24, 2012 1:51 pm

    By the way, MERRY CHRISTMAS, EVERYONE!

  21. murph December 27, 2012 10:57 am

    so it fell short now what?

  22. Brad December 28, 2012 3:21 pm

    There are rumors swirling of a deep-pocket source waiting until the last minute to see what the final shortage is, then will step in. Could be interesting.

  23. D December 29, 2012 11:15 am

    How far are they from the goal?

  24. Brad December 31, 2012 10:28 am

    Less than $750,000, last I heard. As of 10:30AM 12/31/12, don’t know. Jim?

  25. js December 31, 2012 2:30 pm

    Don’t know, but the gap couldn’t be too far to close. The Trust for Public Land sent an email last week saying they would announce the result at 10 a.m. Wednesday, via press release.

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