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Backing the Front – Gloria Flora

Backing the Front – Gloria Flora

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When Gloria Flora took the helm of Lewis & Clark National Forest in Montana in 1995, she found priceless wildlands threatened by oil and gas speculators. Defying convention, she declared the area off-limits to oil and gas development, adding a definitive new twist to the interplay between community groups, the fossil fuel industry, and the government that is playing out in surprising ways.
When Gloria Flora took the helm of Lewis & Clark National Forest in Montana in 1995, she found priceless wildlands threatened by oil and gas speculators. Defying convention, she declared the area off-limits to oil and gas development, adding a definitive new twist to the interplay between community groups, the fossil fuel industry, and the government that is playing out in surprising ways.

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Published by: Post Carbon Institute on Aug 04, 2013
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial

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05/14/2014

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BACKINGTHE FRONT
FIGHTING OILAND GASDEVELOPMENTIN MONTANA’SROCKY MOUNTAINFRONTGLORIA FLORA
 
This publication is an excerpted chapter rom
The Energy Reader: Overdevelopment and the Delusion o Endless Growth
, Tom Butler, Daniel Lerch, and George Wuerthner,eds. (Healdsburg, CA: Watershed Media, 2012).
The Energy Reader 
is copyright© 2012 by the Foundation or Deep Ecology, and published in collaboration withWatershed Media and Post Carbon Institute.For other excerpts, permission to reprint, and purchasing visit energy-reality.org or contact Post Carbon Institute.Photo: EcoFlight
about the author
Gloria Flora
works or public land sustainability through her organization Sustainable Obtainable Solutions,ocusing on large landscape conservation, state-based climate change solutions, and promoting the productionand use o biochar. She is a ellow o the Post Carbon Institute and o the Center or Natural Resources andEnvironmental Policy. In her twenty-three years with the U.S. Forest Service she served as the Forest Supervisor or two national orests. She has won multiple awards or her leadership, courage, and environmental stewardship.
Post Carbon Institute | 613 4th Street, Suite 208 | Santa Rosa, California 95404 USA
 
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quinting out over the chatting hikers, I stared inamazement at our stunning backdrop, Montana’sRocky Mountain Front. We were going to explore oneo its ridges today under the guidance o Lou Brunorom the Montana Wilderness Association. I had justarrived in Montana a ew days earlier to literally getmy eet on the ground beore starting my new jobas Forest Supervisor o the Lewis & Clark NationalForest. Taking advantage o one o the Association’sWilderness Walks would connect me with a part o my new orest and some citizens who cared about it.My rst ootsteps in 1995 into those mountains becamemy rst ootsteps into decades o working to protect anincredible landscape.The Rocky Mountain Front in Montana, or as it’sknown locally, “the Front,” runs rom the Canadianborder almost to Helena, about 150 miles south. Thisis the Overthrust Belt, the eastern edge o the RockyMountains which have literally smashed into the GreatPlains, orcing thick strata o limestone 4,000 eet inthe air above the rolling grassy plains. Row ater rowo these rees jut east, backed by the Bob Marshall,Scapegoat, and Great Bear Wildernesses. These orma-tions have created diverse and biologically rich ecosys-tems that teem with wildlie, sh, and precious water.Every species that Meriwether Lewis and WilliamClark encountered on their 1804–1806 journey o dis-covery still thrives here, with the unortunate exceptiono ree-roaming bison. Only superlatives can describethe Front, home to the second largest elk herd in theUnited States, the largest wintering herd o mule deer,and every charismatic carnivore you nd in the West.Threatened and endangered species abound and arerebounding: Grizzly bears here are becoming plainsanimals again, as they were two hundred years ago.Over 365,000 acres o this intriguing landscape aresandwiched in between the wilderness and the sparselypopulated private ranch country. This public land ismanaged by the U.S. Forest Service, with some Bureauo Land Management (BLM) lands scattered along itsedge. Despite over one hundred years o management,the Forest Service is a latecomer ater the Blackeet whocall this country
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, the “Backbone o the World”where they were created. Then came the explorers,trappers, miners, and ranchers carving their existencerom this beautiul but unorgiving landscape. Ater theForest Service came the outtters, the loggers, and theoil companies. Others showed up as well, in the guiseo “normal olks,” people rom all walks o lie whowere either drawn like a magnet to this landscape or were born here and just couldn’t bring themselves toleave. And they started orming a quiet line o resistanceagainst the unraveling o the Front.
 
When Gloria Flora took the helm of Lewis & ClarkNational Forest in Montana in 1995, she found pricelesswildlands threatened by oil and gas speculators. Defyingconvention, she declared the area off-limits to oil and gasdevelopment, adding a definitive new twist to the interplaybetween community groups, the fossil fuel industry,and the government that is playing out in surprising ways.

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