In early July 2023, the Office of State Lands and Investments (OSLI) put a parcel of state land near the New Fork River up for auction. It is known as parcel 194. Offering state land parcels for auction is routine and the results are reviewed by the State Board of Land Commissioners (SBLC). The state generates revenue from these auctions that support public education in the state. What makes this a bit different is that this parcel lies in a bottleneck in the Path of the Pronghorn, a historic migration route in which animals move between the summer range as far away as Grand Teton National Park, to the winter range south of Pinedale. A bottleneck area is in a corridor where animal movements are significantly restricted, such as where they cross a river.
While parcel 194 was auctioned off in July, approval of development of this parcel was delayed until October pending concerns over migrating antelope. During this period, the SBLC met with the Wyoming Game and Fish Department to figure out a future for the parcel. They developed certain stipulations for the lessee to follow if it were to develop. Mainly, the lessee may not develop the area during critical times of the year for migration.
This is a well-known and well-researched migration corridor that is vital to the longevity of this antelope herd. As such, WWF has written a letter to the OSLI requesting that management actions be taken that follow Executive Order 2020-1, Wyoming Mule Deer and Antelope Migration Corridor Protection, signed by Gov. Mark Gordon in 2020. These actions include no surface development within this parcel. While this corridor has not been officially designated under the Executive Order, this is an extremely important area in an extremely important corridor that deserves strong protection.
The fate of this parcel will be decided during the October 5th meeting of the SBLC. WWF is tracking this and will keep you up to date.