Montana Rancher Resists Consolidation Coal Company’s Attempts to Strip Mine His Property

Learn about the life of Boyd Charter, a Jackson, Wyo. cowboy turned Montana cowman, who resisted generous strip mining contracts with Consolidation Coal Company and motivated others to do the same.

| January/February 1979

Strip Mining

Boyd Charter was a son of a member of Butch Cassidy's Hole-in-the-Wall Gang and one time he picked a fight with John Wayne over a horse, but Charter's greatest distinguishment was a lifetime of resisting Consolidation Coal Company's desire to strip mine on his Montana ranch.


The following story originally appeared in High Country News, a fine biweekly environmental newspaper. Some of our readers may find Boyd Charter's language a bit on the strong side, but we figured that what the "Cantankerous Cowman" had to say about strip mining resistance was a whole lot more important than just how he chose to say it.

[EDITOR'S NOTE: Boyd Charter died August 26 at his ranch in the Bull Mountains of Montana. He and his wife, Anne, were longtime opponents of strip mining and founders of the Northern Plains Resource Council and of the Bull Mountain Landowners Association. The tribute to Charter which follows was written by Kye Cochran of the Alternative Energy Resources Organization.] 

Jackson, Wyo. Cowboy Turned Montana Cowman

Boyd Charter had a straightforward value system. It went like this: You keep your word. You don't hurt other living things for sport or play or through meanness. You do what you can to help keep the earth and its inhabitants alive and happy.

In these times of people pushing "new and better" things to acquire and do, Boyd's values too often are equated with gullibility and stupidity, rather than the simplicity of truth.

When coal companies began sending representatives to eastern Montana in the early 70's to negotiate the buying-up of ranchers' land for strip mining of coal, they read Boyd wrong.

He used to tell of one encounter he and his wife Anne had with an acquisitive coal company representative who assumed that because Montana ranchers are hospitable to strangers, they are also ignorant and malleable.

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