ROCK SPRINGS (WNE) — Sweetwater County commissioners are looking for ways to support both energy development and the environmental needs of the Hoback to Red Desert mule deer migration corridor.

The 150-mile route runs from the Hoback region to the Red Desert.

On Tuesday, commissioners agreed to send a letter to Wyoming Gov. Matt Mead, Gov.-elect Mark Gordon and agency representatives requesting that the state implement a compensatory mitigation program involving potential oil and gas development in the corridor.

“We want them to know how we feel about it,” Commissioner Wally Johnson told the Rocket-Miner.

Commissioners have written letters to Mead in the past asking the state to request that U.S. Secretary of the Interior Ryan Zinke defer oil and gas lease sales within the migration corridor until a record of decision for a revised Rock Springs resource management plan was released. The decision is scheduled to be published in September 2019, according to the October 2018 Wyoming National Environmental Policy Act HotSheet.

“However, Sweetwater County recognizes that, in order to balance competing stakeholder needs, other corridor management options need to be considered,” the commission letter states.

One alternative outlined in the letter states that a compensatory mitigation program should be established in areas where there is high oil and gas potential. This would allow energy development to occur, but also require compensatory payment to be made toward a conservation fund.

Part of the money would go toward constructing a wildlife overpass on Wyoming Highway 28 to help big game like pronghorns and mule deer cross barriers while migrating.

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