CHEYENNE, Wyoming — U.S. Bureau of Land Management figures show the total area of federal oil and gas leases currently deferred in Wyoming to protect the greater sage grouse exceeds the size of Yellowstone and Grand Teton national parks combined.
The 3.5 million acres of deferred leases include 10,000 acres that otherwise would be offered at a BLM oil and gas lease sale Tuesday.
BLM officials say many deferred leases will become available in coming months, after they enact land-use regulations to protect the ground-dwelling bird in the Rocky Mountain region.
Even so, Kathleen Sgamma with the Western Energy Alliance says the petroleum industry worries the regulations will overly restrict oil and gas development.
Federal officials plan to decide next year whether to protect the greater sage grouse under the Endangered Species Act.