Exposing ‘Oil Boom’ Destruction via 350-Mile Trek Across North Dakota

Fracking and flaring practices and the general deep dig for oil across North Dakota has changed the face of the state.

I know this first hand, having seen the land change dramatically near the Maah Daah Hey mountain biking trail. It was remote and mostly pristine in 2006. Today, the area is clogged with semi trucks and oil pumps. There are hundreds of new roads or tracks cut through the land, and dumpy “man camp” villages constructed ad hoc to support the oil boom sit near the freeway and on the outskirts of towns.

Residents of North Dakota are benefiting economically. But at what cost? A project spearheaded by a group of young outdoor athletes from Grand Forks called the Bakken Eco-Expedition has a mission to raise awareness about the impact of the oil boom on the state.

It starts on June 1, and the crew plans to run and trek more than 350 miles in 15 days, all self-supported (with a crew following on bikes to film).

The expedition route will go through the heart of oil country from Grand Forks to the town of Williston, traversing prairies, gravel tracks, and oil fields as the route.

“Our mission is starting a conversation about the social, physical, and economic impact of the oil boom on North Dakota,” said Caleb Kobilansky, one of the Bakken Eco-Expedition athletes.

From housing and food prices, to air quality, there are few aspects of North Dakota life that oil hasn’t influenced in the past few years. The rapid extraction of oil has raised concern about the limited regulations present due to the lack of infrastructure.

We wish the Bakken Eco-Expedition crew luck! Follow the trip on the group’s website or Facebook page. —Stephen Regenold

Stephen Regenold

Stephen Regenold is Founder of GearJunkie, which he launched as a nationally-syndicated newspaper column in 2002. As a journalist and writer, Regenold has covered the outdoors industry for two decades, including as a correspondent for the New York Times. A father of five, Regenold and his wife live in Minneapolis.