A Love For The Hoback

Today’s guest blog for our America’s Most Endangered Rivers® series is a story of love for the Hoback River from Dan Smitherman, with Citizens for the Wyoming Range:

Take Action to Protect the
Hoback River

Send a letter to Plains Exploration and Production today asking them to donate or sell their gas leases to a conservation buyer!

In the summer of 2006, I rode my horse along Monument Ridge riding to the East towards Bondurant.  Below me several miles of the Hoback River stretched out running West to East.  I stopped at the head of Horse Pasture Draw just before the ridge turned north.  From this vantage point, I could see three mountain ranges— the Wyoming Range behind me, the Gros Ventre Wilderness in front, and to the South and East the spine of the Wind River Range. 

I could see almost 10 miles of river.  I contemplated what lay before me. 

I had heard of a proposal to drill for natural gas just to the South of where I stopped.  From this vantage point, one can see over the ridges and folds that embrace Noble Basin, the river forming the northern boundary. 

The Wyoming Range Legacy Act [PDF] campaign was still in infancy.  

I watched the river as it freely flows to the Northeast only to turn six miles away and dash to its intersection with the Snake River

I contemplated the effects of drilling on the mountains behind me, then primarily on the river that lay at my feet.  Clear, clean, and pure, the water flows from its headwaters, past the intersections of First and Second Creeks, past the intersection with Jam Creek that drains the red mud of snowmelt into the river from the Bare Hole. 

I am familiar with it all.  I have ridden horses over most of it— have shared its history and beauty with both friends and strangers. 

It mystified me. 

How can a rational society not recognize these places exist because we hold them dear?  We protect them and we balance them with our other needs. 

My connection with the river— the Hoback— that connects all these nooks and crannies I have explored is strong.  I love the mountains; they are part of my soul.  The river is the gateway, wild and free— a tease of what mysteries lie upstream and a source of water and nourishment downstream.  My connection is deep.  I have ridden its banks, forded its pools, and walked the mile from my house to catch native cutthroat for dinner.  

To put the river at risk for economic gain is both selfish and criminal.  These special places are where we connect, recharge, and gain life’s priorities and insight.  When they are gone, there will be none to replace them.


If you love rivers as much as Dan, please help the Hoback today.  To protect the Hoback from natural gas drilling, send a letter to Plains Exploration and Production (PXP) today asking them to donate or sell their gas leases to a conservation buyer.