Greater Yellowstone Coalition proposes protections for Absaroka-Beartooth Front

Plan might copy relatively successful effort to conserve Montana’s Rocky Mountain Front-

Given the very scenic nature of much of the A-B Front, in a way it is surprising this proposal didn’t emerge earlier. Personally, I think it is a great idea.

Story in the Billings Gazette on plans to conserve the Absaroka/Beartooth Front.

Beartooth Front. Toward the two forks of the Rosebud River. copyright Ralph Maughan






  1. Mike Avatar

    Awesome pic, Ralph.

    I spend most of my time in the west in the Absaroka-Beartooths and Glacier. There’s something magical about the AB’s that I’ve never been able to convey in words. I just keep going back to it every year.

  2. Virginia Avatar

    The Windsor well has been a total disaster for the Clark area. I hope they can stop any further development there. Windsor needs to give it up.

    1. Cody Coyote Avatar
      Cody Coyote

      It’s a shame that the great 2010 documentary movie ” Gasland” left Clark Wy and the Windsor gas wells on the cutting room floor. The producer, Josh Fox , did a lot of filming in Pinedale and Pavillion WY where hydraulic fracking has ruined people’s lives. He came up to Clark and filmed, too, interviewing Deb Thomas of the Powder River Resource Council at length , who lives there and in fact the horrendous gas well is straight across the road from her house. It had a huge explosive blowout a few years ago.

      The Clark well issue there wasn’t intense enough for his ‘fracking-causes-pollution’ documentary themeline. I guess Deb’s tap water doesn’t burn and her dogs still have all their weight and hair . Fox did leave in some Clark-Beartooth Front scenic shots, though, if you know what you are looking for. The Windsor well has a long list of impacts, of which the effects of the fracking are just a portion. However, it’s important to point out that the Windsor well is located entirely on State land, not federal, and is the State of Wyoming’s responsibility coming and going. That’s not good.

      New exploratory wells are in the paper mill for the Beartooth front currently . A few have already been drilled there in years past , which I recall were on national Forest permits , in the 1980’s. One wildcat oil well was right off the Beartooth Highway scenic road just south of Red Lodge. Thank god for dry holes.

      “Gasland” is a must see for anyone concerned about the impacts of the Bush-Cheney hellbent mineral and energy push. Virtually every oil or gas well drilled in the US these days is ” fracked” , and in too many cases it is like opening Pandora’s Box. And who does most of the fracking in the US—-???? Halliburton . And when did the fracking companies ( Halliburton) get their environmental exemptions ???—2005, when former Halliburton CEO Dick Cheney was Veep and personally rammed an egregious energy bill through a compliant Congress.

      1. PointsWest Avatar

        The focus of Gasland is on what fracking does to human drinking water. He only mentioned that fish and wildlife might be affected too. What if it turns out that fracking can cause small amounts of gas seepage into ground water over a wide area so that, say, the Beaverhead River drainage has gas filtering up through the ground water in a significant portion of the drainage. Sometimes ground water does not make it to the nearest spring (the surface)for hundreds of years. Some of the fracking chemicals may not make it to the surface for hundreds of years. Is the gas seepage going to degrade the water and affect the food chain? Is it going to affect the wildlife that drinks it. It sounds to me that no one knows or cares. It also seems to me that these effects might last for 10,000 years in some cases. It seems like it might be a problem that could last for centuries and is, at best, a short term gain for some people in the present decade…particulary for Bush/Cheny and the gas companies.

  3. Ralph Maughan Avatar


    Maybe you could tell us more about the Windsor well? I had just barely heard of it.

  4. Kayla Avatar

    Now this whole Absarokas Area is sooooo special!!! This is Great News and I wish people the best in getting this implemented for the whole Absaroka and Beartooth area. And also hopefully for the Wind Rivers also. Now one area that is still so wild is that area near Meeteetsee where the Black Footed Ferrets where found years ago. And how much animal migration still is happening between the Absarokas and the Bighorn Basin. And then there is that Beartooth area at the bease of the mountains – still quite so nice and wild. Hopefully they can bring in the protections that this whole front deserves. These lowland areas at the base of the mountains is soooo important for many of the wildlife that is in the summer is up in the High Country and Yellowstone. Also how can we also keep so many people from moving into the area and overpopulating it like in so many other areas of the country now days. Now how much do I love those Absarokas – Best Country in my personally opinion in the whole lower 48 states. May the Absarokas, the Beartooths, and the Wind Rivers Stay Wild Forever!!!

  5. PointsWest Avatar

    I read that the Beartooths have the largest contiguous area above 10,000 feet in North America.

    Some of the geology is interesting. It is directly in the path of the Yellowstone Hotspot that is moving to the northeast. The AB has been around for millions of years but as the Yellowstone Hotspot and the mantle plume that created it has approached in the last few million years, the mantle of the entire area is being uplifted like the bow wave before a large boat. The mantle behaves like a liquid over time and the plume creating the hotspot behaves like a boat. Mountains that were eight to ten thousand feet have, in a relatively short time, uplifted by two or three thousand feet, as they ride the bow wave in the mantle before the plume below Yellowstone.

    It is this sudden change in elevation in only a few million years that gives the AB their special characteristics…large areas of high altitude, exposed granite, and deep cuts by the rapid erosion of suddenly large glaciers. It is all pretty easy to see when you look at them.

  6. Alan Gregory Avatar

    This photo sure makes it hard for me NOT to think back to the wonderful backpacking trek my brother, nephew, friend and I made to Harbor Lake in the Crags area six years ago. Have got to do it again.


Dr. Ralph Maughan is professor emeritus of political science at Idaho State University. He was a Western Watersheds Project Board Member off and on for many years, and was also its President for several years. For a long time he produced Ralph Maughan’s Wolf Report. He was a founder of the Greater Yellowstone Coalition. He and Jackie Johnson Maughan wrote three editions of “Hiking Idaho.” He also wrote “Beyond the Tetons” and “Backpacking Wyoming’s Teton and Washakie Wilderness.” He created and is the administrator of The Wildlife News.

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Ralph Maughan