Borrowing courage from the past
Where did Forest Supervisor Gloria Flora get
the courage to say no to the oil and gas
"Mostly from other people," she said,
at the end of a long day after her decision. "I look at certain
people within the agency that I've known, who have made an impact.
It may be a former boss, or a co-worker. In the old books by Rick
Graetz, you look at the pictures of the people involved on earlier
issues of the Front, and it's Carley (MacCaulay) and Margaret Adams
and Gene Sentz.
"You look at them and say, "My
God, I'm breezing through for a short time, and these people have
spent their whole lives protecting this place." (Former U.S.
Representative) Pat Williams fought for 18 years for the
"You see all these people, and you think
if they could do it, I can do it."
final environmental impact statement is out, Flora said the hardest
part is over. "I had spent the whole summer exploring the issue. At
some point I started making phone calls, asking, "What if?" And
once I started, it was so easy. I had support from above." In her
20 years with the Forest Service, she said, she has begun to see
the agency evolving to become more responsive to the
The concerns expressed in more than 1,000
letters weren't only biological or ecological, she added. The
Forest Service staff recognized that the Front was special, and
that the question: "What does this place feel like to someone?" was
a valid question.
Questioned during the press
conference about the expected negative reaction from the oil and
gas industry, Flora said: "Ask FINA and Chevron how much they've
spent on the Badger-Two Medicine." Although the two oil companies
hold leases in the Badger-Two Medicine, their leases are under
suspension because of the area's cultural significance. Both
companies have indicated a willingness to exchange or sell their
The writer is publisher
of The Great Times in Great Falls, Montana, which just began its