Online petition aims to bring awareness to the Badlands

An outdoor recreation enthusiast from Dickinson, N.D., has launched an online petition drive to bring awareness to the impact the state’s oil boom is having on recreation, tourism, wildlife and agriculture.

Marc Landblom said the petition drive is necessary because too little is being done to protect the Badlands and other public lands. The impact of the oil boom, he said, has been a “disaster” for North Dakota’s wild places.

“Oil wells are being placed near campgrounds, on top of the Maah Daah Hey Trail and near the National Park boundaries,” Landblom said. “Wildlife is being pushed around or out of their habitats and being replaced by well locations, roads, substations, etc.

“I realize that I sound like a tree hugger. But this is the truth.”

Landblom said the petition has attracted attention across the state and even led him to Washington, where he addressed the issue on Capitol Hill.

“It has caught the attention of a few outdoor and recreation groups and brought them together to address the issues locally,” Landblom said of the petition. “And it has allowed individuals to stand up and speak out in defense of our public lands. But there are still many people in the state that don’t know about the petition.”

If you’re interested in signing the petition, click here:

Land board withdraws sensitive lands from mineral lease auction

The Board of University and State School Lands passed a resolution this morning in Bismarck to withdraw more than 5,300 acres of environmentally sensitive lands in western North Dakota from mineral development, including parcels near Bullion Butte and the Kendley Plateau.

Bullion Butte

The announcement comes as good news to conservation interests, who had worked to have the lands withdrawn from consideration in an auction of mineral leases set for Tuesday. According to a story by Patrick Springer of Forum Communications, the board earlier had voted to withhold 1,683.6 acres from Tuesday’s auction after requests from the state Game and Fish Department and the North Dakota Chapter of The Wildlife Society.

Today’s action withdraws the full acreage Game and Fish and The Wildlife Society had requested. According to a source attending the meeting, today’s action is temporary, and mineral leases on the acreage could go back up for sale as early as May.

In the Forum Communications story, Gov. Jack Dalrymple said all of the acres included on the Game and Fish Department list should go through a review process. The land board today said it will develop a formal written process for assessing wildlife and other values on state school lands being considered for mineral lease sales.

One conservationist earlier this week might have summed up the feeling best in a letter written to to state officials leading up to today’s meeting:

“At some point all of us realize that everything in life doesn’t revolve around money.  We cannot put a price on our natural environment and its inhabitants.  … We need to preserve all the tracts outlined by NDGF, not just the 1,700 acres.  We need to protect the entire block.  The possible revenue loss from these acres is inconsequential when viewed in the total picture.”