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Pinedale Online > News > September 2004 > Paradise on Paradise Road

Blue Heron. Photo by Pinedale Online.
Blue Heron
A Great Blue Heron uses an area near natural gas rigs. Antelope graze in the background.

Wildlife and Development. Photo by Pinedale Online.
Wildlife and Development
A Great Blue Heron and pronghorn are found alongside a road with heavy truck traffic and adjacent drill rig activity.

Cattle and drill rig. Photo by Pinedale Online.
Cattle and drill rig
Cattle graze in a field below a natural gas drill rig. The New Fork River flows along the line of trees between them.
Paradise Road
by Dawn Ballou
September 6, 2004

We have often said that here in Pinedale you can jump in the truck and point it in any direction and you'll see wildlife no matter what direction you go in. Most of the time we head for the nearby mountains or lakes where we know we'll find incredible scenery, forest, tumbling streams and wildlife around every turn.

Recently we decided to go a different route, into 'the Mesa' south of Pinedale, to follow the New Fork River south from Boulder to where it flows into the Green River near Big Piney. This route following the New Fork goes along the now-famous Paradise Road, in the heart of the natural gas development areas taking place south of Pinedale. This is the Pinedale Anticline area that has been so much in the news on national TV programs and in big city newspaper articles as environmental groups challenge energy development's every step. If you don't live in this area and can't see it for yourself, publicity would no doubt have you believe this is a lush wildlife haven and recreation playground laid waste by energy developers. With all the many new natural gas drill rigs popping up, and the heavy truck traffic on this road, we didn't expect to see much in the way of wildlife along this route.

We were surprised to see herds of antelope contentedly grazing IN fenced off well pad areas. After puzzling over that for a short while, we realized it was because the grass was better there than in the open sagebrush areas. We saw great blue heron, swans, flocks of Canada geese and an osprey sitting on a nest right along the busy road, seemingly oblivious to the trucks driving along the road just below the nest. In fact, we saw more migratory birds along this road than we have seen anywhere else on our many tours this summer. We also saw fishermen fishing the banks of the river and floating downstream in drift boats enjoying the weekend on the river.

Certainly, the people who live along this road are being heavily impacted by the development currently happeniing in this area with the noise, constant truck traffic and night-time lights. The rigs here now will be gone in a few months, but others will come to replace them to drill in other locations. This is activity that is likely to go on for years and it is definitely not something the people bargained for when they moved here for the solitude and scenic beauty. Still, the energy resource being retrieved is desperately needed and there are huge economic benefits to the country, state, and this county from this activity. The one thing all seem to be able to agree on is wanting responsible stuardship of the land.

Despite all the hub-bub of activity taking place along this road, both for agriculture and energy development, it was obvious on this one weekend drive that there still is plenty of wildlife living here that has adjusted to the activity levels. Paradise road, along the New Fork River, is still a haven for a variety of species of wildlife.

New Fork River. Photo by Pinedale Online.
New Fork River
The New Fork River flows from New Fork Lake, past Pinedale and Boulder, and meets the Green River near Big Piney, Wyoming.

New Fork near Boulder. Photo by Pinedale Online.
New Fork near Boulder
The New Fork River near the Boulder boat access.

Rig signs. Photo by Pinedale Online.
Rig signs
Signs showing access to various drill rigs along Paradise Road.

Mesa Road Signs. Photo by Pinedale Online.
Mesa Road Signs
The Mesa is bustling with energy development activity.

Swans and drill rigs. Photo by Pinedale Online.
Swans and drill rigs
Two swans swim in a pond near the New Fork River. Natural gas drill rigs are nearby in the distance.

Swans and ducks. Photo by Pinedale Online.
Swans and ducks
Two trumpeter swans and a variety of ducks swim in the New Fork River. A large truck from the natural gas fields drives the road in the background.

New Fork Trout. Photo by Pinedale Online.
New Fork Trout
A trout casts a shadow as it lazily swims in the shallows of the New Fork River.

Fisherman. Photo by Pinedale Online.
Fishing the New Fork River

Drifting the river. Photo by Pinedale Online.
Drifting the river
Drift boat fishing is popular along the New Fork River.

New Fork Fisherman. Photo by Pinedale Online.
New Fork Fisherman
A fisherman enjoys the afternoon fishing along the New Fork River.

Canada Geese. Photo by Pinedale Online.
Canada Geese
Flocks of migrating Canadian geese were seen along the Paradise Road near the New Fork River.

Osprey Nest. Photo by Pinedale Online.
Osprey Nest
An osprey has made its nest on a perch right next to the busy Paradise Road.

Osprey Paradise. Photo by Pinedale Online.
Osprey Paradise
Osprey in nest along Paradise Road.

Cattle and pronghorn. Photo by Pinedale Online.
Cattle and pronghorn
Pronghorn graze in the same pasture with cattle along Paradise road.

Cattle along the New Fork. Photo by Pinedale Online.
Cattle along the New Fork
Cattle drink from the New Fork River.

Temple antelope. Photo by Pinedale Online.
Temple antelope
Pronghorn graze in a pasture along Paradise Road. Temple Peak is visible in the distance in the Wind River Mountains.

Paradise Pronghorn. Photo by Pinedale Online.
Paradise Pronghorn
A pronghorn surveys the view from atop a hill along Paradise Road.

Agriculture and drilling. Photo by Pinedale Online.
Agriculture and drilling
A center pivot sprinkler system helps make fields more productive along Paradise Road.

Cactus. Photo by Pinedale Online.
Cactus grows in the Mesa.

New Fork cactus. Photo by Pinedale Online.
New Fork cactus
Cactus grows along the streambank of the New Fork River.

Boat ramp. Photo by Pinedale Online.
Boat ramp
New Fork River boat access near Boulder along Hwy 191.

Truck on the road. Photo by Pinedale Online.
Truck on the road
Natural gas development traffic shares the road with ranching uses.

BLM Campground. Photo by Pinedale Online.
BLM Campground
BLM campground along the New Fork River and Hwy 351.

Truck on bridge. Photo by Pinedale Online.
Truck on bridge
One of many large trucks that cross over the New Fork River bridge and drive up the Paradise Road many times a day.

Fremont Drill Rig. Photo by Pinedale Online.
Fremont Drill Rig
A natural gas drill rig with a view of the mountains.

New Fork near Boulder. Photo by Pinedale Online.
New Fork near Boulder
The New Fork River near Boulder by the boat ramp access.

New Fork desert. Photo by Pinedale Online.
New Fork desert
The New Fork River at the end of Paradise road. Not much grows on the sidehills outside the riparian area made lush by the river.
Pinedale Online > News > September 2004 > Paradise on Paradise Road

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