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Cameco donates $5,000 to St. Stephens school

Drill lease buyout plan still well short of goal

Dec 21, 2012 - The Associated Press

CHEYENNE -- A land conservation group said it is $750,000 short of meeting a year-end deadline to raise $8.75 million to buy out and permanently retire gas leases in the Hoback River headwaters.

A fundraiser for the effort in Jackson on Friday will feature a raffle with prizes that include a guitar signed by Johnny Depp, a 15-day ski pass at Jackson Hole Mountain Resort and guided fishing trips.

Few Wyoming environmental issues have attracted as much attention within the state as the possibility of oil and gas drilling in the Wyoming Range, a scenic and mostly untrammeled region between Jackson and Kemmerer that is popular with hunters and fishermen.

Houston-based Plains Exploration and Production has sought to drill 136 gas wells a few miles south of Bondurant in Bridger-Teton National Forest. The 2010 Wyoming Range Legacy Act prohibited further oil and gas development on 1.2 million acres in the Wyoming Range but the PXP leases are among the small number of existing leases exempted from the act.

The PXP drilling would occur near the headwaters of the Hoback River, a federally designated wild and scenic river.

The Trust for Public Land announced in early October that it had agreed with Plains Exploration and Production to buy out PXP's 58,000 acres of leases for $8.75 million. The group already had raised $4.5 million for the deal.

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