Front Oil, Gas Leases Back on Table

By Beacon Staff

GREAT FALLS – The state will offer eight tracts of environmentally sensitive lands along the Rocky Mountain Front in December for oil and gas leasing.

One of the parcels sits within the state-managed Blackleaf Wildlife Management Area, which provides winter range for elk and spring and summer habitat for black and grizzly bears.

Montana’s Department of Natural Resources and Conservation offered four of the same leases, located in Teton County, for sale in June, but deferred the sale until Dec. 9 after conservationists raised concerns.

The remaining four Front leases being offered in December are also located along the mountains, but are in Pondera County.

DNRC Director Mary Sexton says the department and the Montana Wildlife Federation have discussed a minerals exchange in which the state would trade the Teton County parcels for property elsewhere.