JACKSON — It's official — the Hoback will never be fracked.
The Trust for Public Land announced yesterday it successfully rounded up more than 1,000 donors, many of whom likely already sported "Don't frack the Hoback" bumper stickers commonly seen around Jackson Hole, to complete the purchase of 58,000 acres of oil and gas leases from an exploration company in the Hoback Basin of the Wyoming Range. The leases will now be retired permanently.
This draws to a close a years-long controversy, though Plains Exploration & Production Company who owned the leases long said they were willing to cooperate to transfer the leases when they discovered the sensitive nature of the land as the headwaters of the Hoback River.
With the purchase, the trust said the $8.75 million deal will permanently preserve hunting, fishing and recreational opportunities on the property in Bridger-Teton National Forest.
While not all of the donors pledged substantial amounts, at least two donors surpassed seven figures.
"I'm pleased to be able to support a practical Wyoming solution that — with this milestone — is now a proud American legacy," said Hansjorg Wyss, a Wilson donor who paid for almost half of the leases with his $4.25 million donation through his Wyss Foundation. "This is about neighbors and communities coming together to protect an iconic Western landscape."
Entrepreneur Joe Ricketts also donated $1.75 million, including the final $750,000 that rounded out the fundraising.
Though the project was approached with confidence after an Oct. 4 press conference that brought in Gov. Matt Mead, it hinged on the group's ability to raise the money before the deadline. As of the conference, it had already received pledges of $4.5 million.
"Basically the announcement today was we saved the Hoback," a representative of the trust said in a phone interview the day of the conference. Mead that day
called the solution a "win-win" for both industry and preservation.
"I can't think of a better way to start off the New Year," said Will Rogers, president and CEO of the Trust for Public Land in a statement. "This solution honors the wishes of the people of Wyoming and protects a vital corner of Greater Yellowstone for generations to come."
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