Hats off to the Hoback

In the spirit of new beginnings, we’d like to pass along a bit of good news on this second day of the new year.

The Trust for Public Lands announced today it had reached it’s fundraising goal of $8.75 million needed to buy out 58,000 acres of oil and gas leases in the Wyoming Hoback Basin. Hats off to you TPL. Well done.

And while the ultimate outcome of that means hunters and anglers of the Wyoming Range will be able to keep a much beloved place from being forever changed, the announcement also carries another less tangible, but equally important meaning. 

The sale of these leases means the process worked. About 85 percent of the leases fall within the boundaries of the Wyoming Range Legacy Act, which was spearheaded by Trout Unlimited with the help of many other organizations and individuals back in 2004 and signed into law in 2009. It withdrew 1.2 million acres of great hunting and fishing from oil/gas development and allows leases to be permanently retired when bought out instead of being re-sold to other oil and gas companies.

We believed in this legislation back then and today, that belief was validated – a sort of wonkified “icing on the cake,” so to speak.

In the context of problems and solutions, it is often hard to find a solution that actually works when it comes to large scale conservation. But this one did. And that’s something not only to celebrate, but to take heart in.

Today proves there is still room for negotiation, compromise – for balance – and to unceremoniously steal the phrase of another, for grown-ass conversations that actually get things done. It’s a humbling thought that brings great gratitude to those of us who prefer life with a little less extremism.

Congratulations to the Trust for Public Lands on an outstanding effort and many thanks to all the donors, but especially Hansjörg Wyss, who contributed $4.25 million through his foundation and Joe Ricketts contributed a total of $1.75 million. You can go to sleep tonight knowing you made a monumental difference in the world of hunters and anglers across the country to know and love this place.

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