Threats To Our Beloved Badlands—Help!
A plaque which sat on the desk of President John F. Kennedy read “Oh God, thy sea is so great, and my boat is so small.” That’s how we feel most days about the threats to our Badlands, the landscape BCA exists to protect. Threats that never seem to go away.
There are the two bridges that won’t go away. One’s already built by a rancher named Wylie Bice. It’s illegal. He built it on BLM land without permission. The BLM is now in the final stages of an Environmental Assessment which will determine what to do about it. BCA sent in comments, saying tear it down, slap a big fine on him, and throw him in the clink for a year for blatantly violating the law and desecrating the Little Missouri State Scenic River Valley. By early summer we’ll know what BLM plans to do. Don’t bet on the bridge going away.
Also, don’t bet on stopping the other bridge from being built. BCA, and every other conservation group concerned about the Badlands, has testified against the construction of a Billings County bridge over the Little Missouri just north of Medora. With the plans by a company named NP Resources to drill more than 150 new oil wells between Medora and the Elkhorn Ranch along the river corridor, this could be the worst environmental disaster ever to face our only official State Scenic River valley, turning it into an industrial corridor. We’ll notify you re: comments and hearings.
The Federal Highway Administration and the North Dakota DOT have issued a Record of Decision on the new 4-lane Long X Bridge on Highway 85, which is going to send an army of oil trucks roaring across the Little Missouri on the east end of the North Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park. We’ve tried to get them to slow down traffic as the road runs through the park and over the river, but they’re not listening.
And then there’s the new management plan for the entire Little Missouri National Grasslands, creeping toward completion. BCA has been harping on the Forest Service to write a new plan for oil and gas management in the Badlands for more than a decade. Turns out you have to be careful what you ask for. The new plan, now in its final stages, is totally unacceptable to the wild critters who live in the Badlands, and the visitors who enjoy communing with them. The BCA board will be calling on you to help with this one. Watch your e-mail & social media.
Finally, and probably worst, there’s the proposed oil refinery on the South Unit of the Park’s eastern border. It could be under construction by the time you’re reading this newsletter. We’ve asked every North Dakota government official we could find, including the Governor, to put a stop to this fiasco. Right now it appears the only thing that can stop it is an economic reality that it might just be a bad idea. We’ve got our fingers crossed. It’s all we have left.