How We Are Protecting Otter Creek from Coal Exports


There is a special place in Montana where few have been but where life is abundant. Where bald eagles soar over migrating elk, mule deer and pronghorn antelope. Where mountain lions and black bears roam over tens of thousands of acres, through ponderosa pine forests and sagebrush prairies that stretch as far as the eye can see.

This place is the Otter Creek valley, located in the heart of Powder River Basin, a region in northeastern Wyoming and southeastern Montana.

Proposed Massive Coal Mine Would Put Wildlife at Risk

But with over 40 percent of U.S. coal production occurring in the region, wildlife habitat is under increasing stress from development. The valley is now threatened by a proposal to develop one of the largest coal mines in the nation, which would forever destroy this pristine landscape and the habitat it provides for wildlife.

In 2010, the Montana State Land Board leased its half of the minerals in the Otter Creek Valley to Arch Coal, Inc., the second largest U.S. coal mining company. Arch paid $160 million to lease 18,000 Otter Creek acres containing 1.4 billion tons of coal from the State of Montana and Great Northern Properties. The State of Montana received around 15 cents per ton of coal, the minimum rate available. Much of this coal is probably destined for export to Asia. 

How NWF is Working on the Ground to Fight the Mine

Coal demand in the United States is declining at a rapid pace due to less expensive natural gas, wind and solar energy and increased energy efficiency. The National Wildlife Federation is working with our allies –tribes, ranchers, conservation groups and hunters to protect Otter Creek. We are mobilizing grassroots efforts on the ground to fight against the mining of this sacred place and the destruction of the communities and wildlife that call it home. NWF is also working to prevent the export of Powder River Basin coal through proposed coal terminals in the Pacific Northwest. 


Get Our E-Newsletter