North Fork has plenty of oil, gas leases in U.S.

The North Fork of the Flathead is blanketed by oil and gas leases and they’re not in Canada — they’re right here in Montana, just north of Columbia Falls on Flathead National Forest lands.

The leases date back to the 1970s and have been held in what amounts to legal limbo since 1985, when James R. Conner of Kalispell, members of the Montana Wildlife Federation and the Madison-Gallatin Alliance sued Robert Burford, director of the Bureau of Land Management.

In early 1981, the Forest Service issued environmental assessments recommending that 1.3 million acres of land in the Flathead and Gallatin National Forests be leased for oil and gas development.

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