Group opposes forest drillingadmin
JACKSON – The Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce says it opposes oil and gas development in the Bridger-Teton National Forest.
The chamber on Wednesday wrote to forest Supervisor Kniffy Hamilton stating that energy development on forest lands would hurt recreation and the regional economy.
More than half of the 3.4 million acre forest is open to oil and gas leasing and other energy development. Existing leases cover more than 200,000 acres of the forest.
The chamber’s letter states that the beauty of the forest is a key component of the region’s tourism industry. It states that tourism accounts for $163 million in business earnings and millions more in sales taxes.
The chamber represents 916 local and regional organizations.
“It is for these critical reasons that the Jackson Hole Chamber of Commerce strongly opposes any leasing and drilling for oil and gas in the Bridger-Teton National Forest,” states the letter signed by T.R. Pierce, president of the chamber board of directors.
The chamber board late last year surveyed its membership on energy development. The U.S. Forest Service is developing a plan to determine what activities will be allowed for the next 15 years.
The survey found that 72 percent of respondents said they were not in favor of further leasing for oil and gas development. The survey also found that 66 percent of respondents were not in favor of any oil and gas drilling on forest lands.