Josh Purtle, Attorney, Northern Rockies Office, Earthjustice: “The plan allows a huge amount of new road building to the detriment of grizzly bears and bull trout. It essentially says we’re going to change the requirements where you can build a road and how many miles you can build while maintaining the 2011 habitat conditions to protect grizzlies. But the plan doesn’t actually do that.”
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 on 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.
25 Years in the Northern Rockies
In the fall of 2018, the Northern Rockies Office celebrated — alongside our clients and partners — a quarter century of fighting for and defending the magnificent Northern Rockies region and its wild inhabitants.
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.”
Contact Northern Rockies Office
313 E. Main St.
Bozeman, MT 59715
Timothy Preso Managing Attorney
Marci Bozeman Major Gifts Officer
Amanda Galvan Associate Attorney
Jenny Harbine Staff Attorney
Cindy Hsin-Pei Napoli Legal Practice Manager
Katherine O'Brien Staff Attorney
Chrissy Pepino Litigation Assistant I
Josh Purtle Associate Attorney
Cedar Wilkie Gillette Law Fellow