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Seismic Surveys in Clark, Wyoming

In 2004, Windsor Wyoming Inc. proposed a seismic survey on land owned by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), the Forest Service, and private landowners. The environmental analysis called for the drilling of 3,420 seismic shot holes in a 47-mile area surrounding Wyoming’s Clark River – the state’s only designated Wild and Scenic River.

Under the proposal, explosive charges would be fired into the holes to create a 3-D picture of the area’s available resources. After reviewing the draft plan, nearby private property owners represented by Powder River Basin Resources Council — a bipartisan community group — noted that it failed to consider how these explosions would affect scarce water resources, elk and other game species, hunting opportunities,

“I am against all this blasting because of the danger to the water wells,” resident Art Lovell said at the time.

“Most people are concerned about the water,” said another local resident. “We depend on water.”

This public input led BLM to re-examine the initial environmental assessment and consider the use of a new survey technology called “passive seismic” to mitigate the damaging effects of the explosive charges. Agency officials readily admitted it was public involvement that brought these issues to the forefront and pushed BLM to consider alternatives.

Thanks to NEPA, local residents, land managers, and industry achieved a seismic exploration plan that protected game species, tribal sites, private property rights, and critical water resources.

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