Fellow BCA Members,
It has been one of the joys of my life to serve as president of the BCA board of directors for the past three years. As with any volunteer activity that one does with a willing heart, I have received so much more that I have given! Thanks for the companionship and the mentoring to every member who has participated in a BCA outing or an annual meeting potluck, I have enjoyed your company and I have learned something of value from each of you. Thanks to everyone who has served on the board during my term as a board member. Finding a group like BCA with deeply-held shared values and a commitment to work for those values with civility and integrity has been truly inspirational for me.
A very special thanks to our Executive Director Jan Swenson whose passion and energy make it so easy for the board to look good.
As we watched our last hope for the introduction of a Wilderness bill fade away for the near term (please know that we are not giving up on Wilderness for the long term) with Kent Conrad’s departure from the U.S. Senate in December 2012, we turned our attention primarily to state governance issues and federal agency actions. As every BCA member knows, with the multitude of issues impacting our beloved Badlands, there has been no shortage of work in that arena.
We have learned that increased attention from the national media is the most effective way to encourage positive action from our state government. The issues around flaring, spills, waste disposal, and rail safety have each seen positive responses from various aspects of ND state government only when pressure from outside the state begins to build.
The cynic in me believes that’s because the money to fund oil development comes almost entirely from out-of-state and because the markets for the petroleum products are largely out-of-state. So it matters when equity bankers in New York decide that flaring is a bad thing or when the State of California begins to suggest that Bakken oil might not be welcome in that state.
Jan Swenson has worked tirelessly to enhance BCA’s visibility. She has succeeded in becoming one of a very few “go-to” people for visitors to North Dakota who want an environmental perspective on events occurring in the oil patch. She has granted numerous interviews and given many tours for visiting journalists, activists, and members of national and worldwide conservation organizations as they seek to understand the transformation taking place in western ND. Your BCA board and staff have also put a significant amount of time and energy over the past two years into increased cooperation and collaboration with other groups having similar or related missions.
Included are groups whose focus in ND is specific to a certain geographic place, such as the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA), the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and the Friends of Theodore Roosevelt National Park, all of which have as their main mission within ND the preservation of the integrity of our only national park, especially the tiny Elkhorn Unit and the area surrounding it; and the Killdeer Mountain Alliance (KMA) whose members focus on that specific geographic area.
BCA also works with groups having a statewide focus such as the ND Natural Resources Trust, the Dakota Resources Council (DRC), the ND Chapter of The Wildlife Society, the Dacotah Chapter of the Sierra Club, and the Coalition for Clean Water, Wildlife, and Parks.
We participate in the Northern Plains Conservation Network (NPCN) which is a collaboration of more than 25 organizations working together to conserve the wildlife, habitats, and ecological processes of the Northern Great Plains. Participating in the NPCN has introduced BCA to people with connections to global organizations such as the World Wildlife Fund.
The increased level of information-sharing and activity-coordination has allowed us to have access at the very highest levels of the U.S. Department of the Interior and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, something we likely could not have accomplished on our own.
As Jan reports elsewhere in this newsletter, BCA continues its tradition of submitting comment letters to state and federal agencies on many proposed actions that threaten the Badlands. BCA is making a difference in developing public policy at the intersection between the free market economy and necessary protective measures for the environment and values that North Dakotans hold dear.
On behalf of your board of directors, I encourage and challenge each member of this wonderful organization to contribute as much you can. We need your time, your energy, your ideas, and your tax-deductible donations.
Grand Forks, ND