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Hoback Makes “Most Endangered Rivers” List

May 17, 2011

JACKSON, Wyo. - Wyoming's Hoback River is listed as one of America's "most endangered" in a report released today by the organization American Rivers. Ten waterways are featured each year; they aren't necessarily the most polluted, but rather rivers that face pollution risks. The Hoback is number seven because of plans for hydraulic fracturing, called "fracking," in connection with natural gas drilling near the river's headwaters.

Rendezvous River Sports owner Aaron Pruzan in Jackson notes that the lower reaches of the river are designated "Wild and Scenic."

"It's a very unique free-flowing river. The water's clean. It's amazing recreation for hunters, fisherman, whitewater rafting. The area is important to the outfitting industry."

Purzan says the best thing to do to protect the river and the company's bottom line would be for the leases to be "bought out."

Outfitter Dan Smitherman of Bondurant, who is with Citizens for the Wyoming Range, has spent the past year promoting public discussion about the risks of gas development in the area.

"We've been focused on this oil and gas development extensively. For us, this is an independent verification of some of the issues that we've been raising from the very beginning."

Plains Exploration and Production Company, based in Houston, has plans to begin natural gas extraction at the Hoback's headwaters using the "fracking" process, which involves chemicals that can leach into water systems. The company claims the chemicals are not dangerous and are closely monitored.

The full list is at www.americanrivers.org

Deb Courson Smith, Public News Service - WY