From: National Wildlife Federation
Published October 7, 2004 04:39 PM

Montana Rocky Mountain Front Victory

Statement from Larry J. Schweiger
President and CEO
National Wildlife Federation
October 7, 2004

WASHINGTON, DC – “The Bush administration has made a wise and welcomed decision to table its plans to drill Montana’s Rocky Mountain Front. While the administration’s decision does not permanently protect this pristine natural area, it keeps the Front protected for the immediate future. We would hope this decision signals a change in the administration’s attitude towards inappropriate development of prime wildlife habitat on public land.

“The Rocky Mountain Front, where the Rockies meet the Great Plains, is an American jewel. In Montana, it’s home to a wide array of wildlife, including grizzly bears, bighorn sheep and elk.

“Because it is such a remarkable wildlife habitat, the Rocky Mountain Front had become emblematic of the Bush administration’s overly aggressive policy of opening many of America’s most prized public wildlife habitats to damaging drilling operations.

“Let’s be clear: Environmentally sensitive oil and gas development can be an appropriate use of public lands. In fact, this year, some 6,000 drilling leases have already been approved on public lands. But drilling is an inappropriate use of America’s very best wildlife habitats.

“This victory on the Front shows the power that America’s hunters and anglers really have when they fight for conservation. America’s sportsmen and women oppose mortgaging the nation’s wildlife heritage for fleeting amounts of energy.

“Now it looks like the administration may be starting to listen.

“Our affiliate, the Montana Wildlife Federation, deserves special credit for this victory. In Montana as well as nationally, it has worked tirelessly and successfully to muster public opinion against plans to drill the Front.

“Unfortunately, other places, just as important to America’s natural legacy as the Rocky Mountain Front, still face the prospect of being despoiled by oil and gas development.

“The Otero Mesa and Valle Vidal in New Mexico, and Wyoming’s Red Desert, are incredible wildlife habitats that are on the fast track to drilling. The National Wildlife Federation and America’s sportsmen will keep fighting for these special places, just as we’ve fought for the Front.

“Mr. President, your administration has just recognized the natural value of the Rocky Mountain Front, and we applaud you for it. Now is the time to take the next step and support efforts to permanently protect the Rocky Mountain Front.”

Protecting wildlife through education and action since 1936, the National Wildlife Federation is America's conservation organization, creating solutions that balance the needs of people and wildlife now and for future generations.

For more information, contact:
Sean McMahon
Sr. Policy Specialist for Lands Stewardship
National Wildlife Federation

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