09/07/2011 09:33 pm ET | Updated Nov 07, 2011

Wyoming's Bighorn Basin Faces Oil And Gas Development (PHOTOS)

It’s a critical habitat for grizzly bears, wolves, sage grouse and Yellowstone cutthroat trout. It boasts some of the West’s most stunning landscapes and historic wintering grounds for migrating big game. It is the Wyoming’s Bighorn Basin and it needs your help.

The Bureau of Land Management (BLM) is finalizing a 20-year management plan for Wyoming’s Bighorn Basin — more than 5 million acres of your public lands, including the wildlife-rich Absaroka-Beartooth Front.

Significant portions of this magnificent area have remained intact and undeveloped, but face threats of intensified oil and gas development. We need you to speak out today to ensure the plan protects this critical habitat.

The BLM is taking public comments on its draft Resource Management Plan through Sept. 7. Please tell the BLM to protect the Bighorn Basin’s most special places from oil and gas development.

While some public lands in the Bighorn Basin might be managed for a variety of uses, areas with outstanding wildlife, scenic, or recreational values should be kept intact. Fortunately, there isn’t much overlap between critical wildlife ranges and areas suitable for energy development. [Text continues below photos.]

Images and captions courtesy of Dave Showalter.

Bighorn Basin

The BLM has a unique opportunity to put forth a new approach in the Bighorn Basin plan that recognizes the world-class values that large, undeveloped areas hold for traditions such as scenic values, solitude and wildlife. But if the BLM’s current draft plan is finalized as it is written, some of our most treasured public lands and wildlife will be at risk.

The Greater Yellowstone Coalition (GYC) supports protection of the Absaroka-Beartooth Front and other important wildlife and recreational areas in the Bighorn Basin. The GYC was founded on a simple premise: An ecosystem will remain healthy and wild only if it is kept whole.

This past week, photographer Dave Showalter joined the GYC, Lighthawk, and the International League of Conservation Photographers to document this landscape and support the campaign to protect this stunning landscape.

“The Absaroka-Beartooth Front is one of the last great vestiges of wild frontier left in America, and the work that Dave Showalter and the International League of Conservation Photographers are doing with the Tripods in the Mud expedition will go a long way toward keeping it that way for current and future generations," said Barbara Cozzens, Northwest Wyoming director for the Greater Yellowstone Coalition, a regional conservation group. "Dave's stunning images tell vivid stories about the magnificence of this place and its inextricable link to the cultural fabric of Wyoming and the Northern Rockies

Be a part of this movement and let your voice be heard. Find out how you can be involved here.

Dave Showalter is based in Colorado and focuses primarily on landscapes and wildlife of the American West.

"I'm thunderstruck by the beauty, immense scale, diversity, and wildness of the Absaroka landscape. I'm sure that I belted out "Wow" many times each day while traveling from rolling sagebrush to alpine tundra below tilted granite peaks. It's exhilarating to go for a solo hike, knowing that I'm sharing the forest with grizzly and black bears, and all of the Yellowstone ecosystem wildlife that criss-cross and migrate through Absaroka country. I returned to Cody after my outings and met kind folks, all interested in helping me tell the story of the AB Front. I got a kick out of the Cody Night Rodeo too, where real cowboys and cowgirls put on a great show every night. Some call it "Yellowstone's wild side", which is pretty good; but the Absaroka-Beartooth Front stands on its own as one of the wildest, most special, and uniquely Western places left in America. We would do well to keep it that way." -Dave Showalter