An opinion piece from Tim Preso, Managing Attorney of Earthjustice's Northern Rockies office
Northern Rockies Office
The Northern Rockies region boasts some of our nation’s last great wild places. Its magnificent landscapes provide opportunities for both recreation and solitude; its resources have provided sustenance to human communities for thousands of years. Its intact, healthy ecosystems—the Greater Yellowstone, Crown of the Continent, and Salmon-Selway—are key refuges for wildlife. But they are also under increasing stress from habitat fragmentation, destructive development, and rapid global climate change.
Responding to these challenges is a hallmark of Earthjustice. We take cases that focus on protecting large, intact ecosystems, and seek to build ecosystem resilience by reducing pressures caused by oil and gas development, logging, road building, and off-road vehicle traffic. (Learn about some of the office's current and past legal cases.) We are committed to ensuring that our nation’s irreplaceable wild places and wildlife are preserved for future generations.
Wildlife species that the Northern Rockies office works to protect include:
- Grizzly Bears: For decades, Earthjustice has stood at the forefront of efforts to protect and recover grizzly bear populations in the Northern Rockies under the Endangered Species Act.
- Gray Wolves: Earthjustice’s legal team has been battling for 20 years to protect the gray wolf, a critical species in Northern Rockies ecosystems.
BADGER-TWO MEDICINE OIL AND GAS LEASE
The Badger-Two Medicine region, adjacent to Glacier National Park in northwestern Montana, is a dramatic and ecologically important wild landscape. Encompassing 130,000 acres of national forest land, the region is almost entirely roadless and a crucial wildlife movement corridor. The Badger-Two Medicine region is home to numerous rare and sensitive species, including grizzly bears, wolves, lynx, bighorn sheep, and mountain goats, and is of special cultural importance to the Blackfoot Tribe.
In 1982 the federal government issued oil and gas leases in a key part of the Badger-Two Medicine region, but later suspended all activity in the area in response to public and tribal opposition to drilling. However, in 2013 one of the lease holders sued to force the government to allow immediate drilling in the region. Drilling would pose grave environmental risks to these ecologically important wildlands.
OTTER CREEK COAL MINE
Arch Coal proposes to mine a reserve of 1.3 billion tons of coal in southeastern Montana’s Otter Creek Valley. This massive strip mining operation would dirty the air and degrade water quality in an undeveloped, wildlife-rich area. Earthjustice is working to stop this destructive project before it gets started, coordinating with concerned residents, including ranchers and Northern Cheyenne tribal members, for whom the Otter Creek Valley is culturally irreplaceable.
WYOMING FRACKING CHEMICALS DISCLOSURE
Nearly all oil and gas production in Wyoming involves fracking, a process that uses chemicals that threatens contamination of ground and surface waters. Wyoming was the first state to require well operators to disclose the chemicals they use in fracking, but the state permitting agency has since approved dozens of secrecy requests from companies claiming their chemical mixes are “trade secrets.”
Read about a few of the Northern Rockies office's significant victories:
- Wyoming to Strengthen Fracking Chemical Disclosure in Response to Citizen Pressure
- Victory for Wolves in Wyoming
- Judge Halts Plan to Eliminate Secure Grizzly Bear Habitat in Northwest Montana
- Idaho Suspends Wilderness Wolf-Killing Plan In Face of Court Challenge
Each year, Earthjustice achieves more than fifty victories. See all recent victories from the Northern Rockies and across Earthjustice.
Contact Northern Rockies Office
313 E. Main St.
Bozeman, MT 59715
Timothy Preso Managing Attorney
Jessica Hann Litigation Assistant
Jenny Harbine Staff Attorney
Aurora Janke Associate Attorney
Cindy Hsin-Pei Napoli Litigation Assistant / Office Manager
Katherine O'Brien Sr. Associate Attorney
Marcus Pearson Project Attorney
Josh Purtle Associate Attorney