A conservation group and the University of Wyoming are conducting a survey in three southern Wyoming counties that could help steer potential energy development and conservation projects.
The survey is being done in Albany, Carbon and Sweetwater counties by The Nature Conservancy's Wyoming Chapter and UW's William D. Ruckelshaus Institute of Environment and Natural Resources.
"We chose these areas because there's a lot of wind energy development and oil and gas development happening and it's resulting in some changes in the landscape," Amy Pocewicz, lead scientist on the survey for The Nature Conservancy, said.
The idea of the survey is to avoid potential conflicts by helping to balance planned energy development and other land use changes with local values and traditions.
For instance, The Nature Conservancy can use the survey results to identify areas for conservation that draw little or no opposition.
"In addition we'll make the data available to anyone who wishes to use it -- county governments, federal government land agencies, any group that works with land management issues," she said.
The survey is conducted anonymously and allows participants to identify places that are important to them for various reasons, including recreation, agriculture and water. Participants can also mark places that they feel should be left undeveloped or that would be suitable for development.
The survey includes a short questionnaire mainly about water and wind farms.
Some 2,000 residents in the counties were randomly mailed surveys, inviting them to participate either by mail or over the Internet. The survey also is being offered over the Internet at http://www.wyomingvalues.us.
"We targeted the people who live in those counties just because we had to target somebody for the invitations and they probably know the area the best, but certainly people are traveling from other places and know these counties also," Pocewicz said.
So far about 200 of the mailed surveys have been returned and fewer than 100 have taken part in the Internet survey, she said.
Pocewicz said she would like to have at least 200 responses from each of the mail and Internet surveys by June 15.
It's possible a similar survey could be done statewide, she said.