Study Seeks Answers About Sage-Grouse, Oil and Gas

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VERNAL — How does oil and gas development affect sage-grouse?

A donation from Questar Exploration and Production Company will allow Utah Division of Wildlife Resources biologists to find more answers to that question.

Questar recently donated more than $27,000 to the UDWR to fund a greater sage-grouse study. Biologists will conduct the study in 2008 and 2009 in the Deadman Bench and Glen Bench areas in northeastern Utah.

Biologists will focus their efforts in areas that have sage-grouse leks (breeding grounds). They’ll learn more about the migration patterns and the breeding and productivity of the grouse in the area, the habitat quality in the area and the effects oil and gas development have on grouse.

The goal of the study is to identify opportunities for habitat improvements in the area and to suggest mitigation in areas where energy development may affect the grouse.

“We are pleased to help fund the UDWR’s study,” says Scott Gutberlet, general manager of Questar Exploration and Production’s Uinta Division. “These studies [have been] beneficial to wildlife and wildlife managers in other areas [where] we operate. Results from the studies help us to better manage our operations and to ultimately demonstrate that wildlife and energy development can coexist. This is another step towards our goal of being responsible energy developers wherever we operate.”

“Questar has been very proactive in resolving wildlife issues,” says Kevin Christopherson, the UDWR’s regional supervisor in northeastern Utah. “Working together to solve problems on the front end has proven to be beneficial for both wildlife and energy development. We appreciate Questar’s progressive approach.”

Questar’s collaboration with wildlife managers in Utah will help develop a solution to reduce impacts on grouse and improve knowledge about greater sage-grouse in northeastern Utah. This partnership will address important natural resource issues across the state.

Both groups look forward to working for the greater good of the grouse.