A program to reduce the impact of natural gas exploration on imperiled sage grouse populations in western Wyoming seems to be helping, according to this Associated Press story:
A new study preliminarily concludes that gas development has harmed sage grouse in western Wyoming but efforts to reduce truck traffic in gas fields seem to have helped the birds somewhat. Companies have reduced traffic by expanding a network of pipelines to move condensate and produced water out of the gas fields. Companies previously would truck those fluids out. Wyoming Wildlife Consultants recently released a report on the progress of a five-year sage grouse study in the Pinedale Anticline. Shell Rocky Mountain Production LLC, Questar Exploration and Production Co., and Ultra Resources funded the study conducted by Wyoming Wildlife Consultants LLC._

“The thing I find somewhat exciting about this study is it’s the first thing we’ve found that may reduce impacts. It seems like all stipulations government puts on developers doesn’t seem to be helping,” said Matt Holloran, senior ecologist for Wyoming Wildlife Consultants. He cautioned that the findings are preliminary and more analysis is needed before the study is completed later this year.

A good first step or too little too late? With the US Fish and Wildlife Service recently giving the sage grouse “warranted but precluded” status under the Endangered Species Act, are there any upland hunters out planning a trip for sage grouse this fall?