The U.S. Forest Service says it has begun work on a new option for allowing a controversial gas drilling project in western Wyoming.

Houston-based Plains Exploration and Production Co. seeks to drill up to 136 gas wells from 17 well pads in Bridger-Teton National Forest.

Forest Supervisor, Jacque Buchanan, announced Tuesday her staff will prepare a new option for drilling that would not result in more roads than are permitted by the overall forest management plan.

She expects to release the new draft proposal in January.

Environmentalists object to drilling near the headwaters of the Hoback River and in habitat for mule deer and other wildlife.

PXP has leased the right to drill on the land. Company officials have said they are committed to following regulations and protecting the environment.