The Nature Conservancy and Questar Market Resources (Questar) have formed an innovative collaboration in order to balance the dual purpose of energy development and natural resource conservation in the Hiawatha Region of Northwest Colorado and Southwest Wyoming with a program called Energy by Design.The Conservancy has developed this science-based process in order to inform industry and decision makers on how to safeguard Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming’s biodiversity at a landscape scale while continuing to satisfy the nation’s increasing demand for energy.
Energy by Design is a program built to better understand wildlife populations, their distribution, and available habitat in and around the Hiawatha region.The goal of Energy by Design is to identify opportunities to avoid, minimize, and/or mitigate the potential impacts of activities such as natural gas development.Questar has provided high resolution aerial photography and vegetation mapping data, further aiding the Conservancy with their analysis.When complete, results will be peer-reviewed and shared with industry, regulators and the public.
“Energy by Design was developed to provide a quantitative, goal-driven framework that industry and agency officials can use as a decision-support tool that helps them balance energy development plans while conserving plants, wildlife and habitat over portions of our public and private lands.” said Joe Kiesecker, Regional Scientist and project lead for the Conservancy.
According to Vincent Rigatti, General Manager of Questar’s Legacy Division, “Questar strives to be a responsible energy developer everywhere we operate, which includes embarking on cooperative partnerships like our current work with the Conservancy.We drilled our first well in the Hiawatha Field in the late 1920’s and have been working in this area ever since. Our collaboration with the Conservancy will provide valuable scientific data and we see Energy by Design as a key component in the successful development of the clean natural gas resources in the area.”
The real work of the project is just starting.The science team for the program has been identified and is currently gathering data. The diverse team includes scientists from The Conservancy, Questar, Bureau of Land Management (BLM), Wyoming Game and Fish, Colorado Division of Wildlife, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, local government and local landowners.
Over the last year, The Conservancy and Questar have been sharing information about this project with a variety of key stakeholders, including but not limited to grazing permittees as part of a cooperative working relationship along with the county commissioners in Sweetwater and Moffat Counties. “We look forward to having real scientific data to learn from and use in conjunction with other available information,” said Rigatti.
“The Nature Conservancy is excited to use our strategies and science in order to make well informed decisions about an area that is important to us all,” added Kiesecker.
To learn more about this innovative partnership Questar, TNC and BLM will speak on a panel at the Yampa Valley Partners’ “Fueling Thought Energy Summit 2009” on May 15, 2009 in Craig, CO. There will be presentations and a question and answer session regarding this program. Please visit www.yampavalleypartners.com or call 970-824-1133 for more information. T
The Nature Conservancy is a leading conservation organization working around the world to protect ecologically important lands and waters for nature and people. The Conservancy and its more than 1 million members have protected nearly 120 million acres worldwide. Visit The Nature Conservancy on the Web at www.nature.org.