Miles City Pilot Office

The Miles City Pilot Office is responsible for 2.8 million acres of BLM-administered surface acres and 11.6 million acres of BLM-administered mineral estate, lands that encompass more than a quarter of the State and include all or portions of 19 counties in eastern Montana.   

Land use changes in the Miles City Office area in the last 10 to 15 years have included increased oil and gas exploration and development; livestock grazing issues; the spread of noxious weeds; renewed focus on wildlife and fire management; growth in off-highway vehicle use; various demands for increased access to BLM-managed lands; consolidation of land ownership; and requirements to address impacts on local community socioeconomics.

Coal bed natural gas (CBNG) is in the early stages of development in southeastern Montana. Production of CBNG began in 1999 from private and state wells and in 2003 from Federal wells. Approximately 525 wells are now producing CBNG from Federal, state, and private leases with all production occurring in a single gas field operated by Fidelity Exploration & Production Company. 

A U.S. District Court ruling directed BLM to prepare a supplemental environmental impact statement (SEIS) to a 2003 EIS that analyzes phased development of CBNG.  Until the SEIS is complete, a court-issued injunction allows only limited CBNG development for a designated area within the Montana-portion of the Powder River Basin for approximately 500 CBNG APDs per year. This limitation is reflected in the APD processing figures for the Miles City Office.  

The BLM plans to complete the SEIS ROD by December 2008.


The Miles City Pilot Office completed 60 percent more environmental inspections in FY 2007 than in FY 2005, the year before the Pilot Project was established. The office also collaborated with the Bureau of Reclamation and South Dakota State University to map sagebrush cover on more than 1 million acres in the area covered by the office, giving the BLM information crucial for siting oil and gas development in a manner that minimizes impacts to sagebrush and sage-grouse.