Rock of Ages

A recently issued free-use permit will give Prairie County in eastern Montana access to the high quality gravel.

As of March 7, the BLM and Prairie County (with the assistance of Mr. Eric Urban of Highland Environmental, Inc.), reached an agreement to permit the Cherry Creek Pit.

This effort is two years in the making. Mr. Urban worked diligently on the County’s plan and with Montana Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ), the Montana Sage Grouse Habitat Conservation Program, and BLM to provide a complete and concise mining and reclamation plan.

A bulldozer and scraper move dirt and rock.
Todd Henry (bulldozer) and Wade (scraper) stockpile the overburden to be used in the reclamation process. Photo by Samantha Keeran

Mining activities were initiated April 3. Road Superintendent Todd Henry and Wade (roadcrew member) peeled back the overburden and stockpiled gravel for the upcoming season.

If you’re standing atop the Cherry Creek Pit and look south, it is not hard to imagine how the Yellowstone River meandered its way across the valley over time. As part of permit stipulations and the paleontological potential of the gravel in this area, BLM Paleontologist Greg Liggett was on site monitoring last week. Mr. Liggett was amazed with the agates located within the pit, but other BLM staff were more impressed with the quality of the gravel and lack of needing a crusher on site.

A man watches a dozer move dirt and rocks.
Greg Liggett, BLM Paleontologist, monitors stockpiles for fossils, bones, and bone fragments. Photo by Samantha Keeran

The BLM hopes to work with Prairie County and Mr. Urban on the remaining gravel pits in the county that have expired including Chapman, Cabin Creek, and Little Sheep Mountain. These strategically placed pits throughout the county help reduce fuel costs and the need to travel and haul material long distances.

If you have questions about mineral ownership or how to obtain a mining permit, please visit the BLM website Mining and Minerals | Bureau of Land Management ( or call the Miles City Field Office at 406-233-2800. You can also check out the GLO website for more information regarding mineral ownership at

Samantha Keeran, Physical Science Technician

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