Montana - Rocky Mountain Front

State: Montana

The Rocky Mountain Front, in northwest Montana, is an icon of wildlands, wildlife, beauty, and diversity. It contains the second largest migratory elk herd in the lower 48 states, abundant bighorn sheep, deer and mountain goat populations and a robust and growing raptor population - all due to the connectivity between summer and winter habitats and the intact ecosystems throughout the Rocky Mountain Front.

In December 2006, Congress passed bi-partisan legislation championed by Montana Senators Max Baucus and Conrad Burns that prevents all future leasing of federal oil and gas minerals on the Front. The law prevents any new leasing of federal mineral rights along the Front. While existing federal leases are not affected, should an existing lease expire or be retired, then that area would be off limits to re-leasing. The bill also has tax incentives to encourage existing Front leaseholders to voluntarily retire their federal leases. The law covers only federal mineral rights and federal leases within an approximately 500,000 acre area extending from Glacier National Park to near Rogers Pass. Most of the affected area is National Forest and BLM lands.

In 2008 five oil and gas companies relinquished drilling leases they hold on state lands on the Rocky Mountain Front, an area prized by conservationists. We are working with a number of conservation organizations to preserve the current heritage of ranching, farming and wildlife habitat for the remaining unprotected public lands.