As you get into complicated political issues, you try to figure out what they really mean for the quality of life in an area. One of the comparisons I’ve often seen for Red Lodge is Williston, ND, at the heart of the Bakken oil and gas development area. I’ve seen the comment, “We don’t want another Williston” several times.
So I looked up Williston. It was a sleepy town of about 10,000 before the fracking boom. It now approaches 30,000. High paying jobs
are plentiful. There’s a housing boom
that can’t keep up with the growth.
So what’s not to like?
A lot of crime for one thing. Rape and theft have increased dramatically. Most disturbing is crimes against women. This NY Times article and this one from the Twin Cities highlight the issues women face when the population growth is almost exclusively male. One quote I ran into was, “This is the Wild Wild West.”
So what does this mean for Red Lodge? To begin with, the current population is only 2155, so it doesn’t have anywhere near the growth capacity of Williston. That means workers would live not only in Red Lodge, but in Roscoe, Fishtail, Nye and Absarokee as well. They will become boom towns, and they will change dramatically.
My initial concern about this was environmental, and I’m still concerned. I’m now getting that this is going to be a huge issue for life as we know it on the Stillwater. Imagine Absarokee as a 21st century Deadwood.
My level of alarm has gone way up since I started looking into this.
The Moses family has lived on the Stillwater River since 1974, when George and Lucile Moses retired and moved to the Beehive from the Twin Cities. They’re gone now, but their four daughters (pictured at left, on the Beehive) and their families continue to spend time there, and have grown to love the area.
This blog started as an email chain to keep the family informed about the threat of increased fracking activity in the area, but the desire to inform and get involved led to the creation of this blog.