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Tongue River Renamed for April Fools’ Day?

April 1, 2010

MILES CITY, Mont. - Montana's Tongue River has been renamed the "East Fork of the Flathead!" Well, not really - it's an April Fools' Day stunt.

Although it's a joke, prankster and Tongue River rancher Mark Fix says the fake name change has a serious side. He and other ranchers in the area see a double standard that would allow destruction of agricultural land in the Tongue River Valley while the Flathead valley gets protection.

"The state, working with Canada, is not developing the coal and natural gas in that area of the state, but they've been pushing very hard to develop it down here on the Tongue River."

Fix, who chairs the Northern Plains Coal Bed Methane Task Force, says he's willing to apply to the U.S. Board on Geographic Names for the change, if the action will help his valley gain a little respect.

"They're trying to turn us into an industrial area. I don't understand why they want to do it here and sacrifice us."

The Tongue River Valley is a productive agricultural region that lies above the Otter Creek coal tracts recently sold by the state. It also is the site of coal bed methane fields.

Deb Courson, Public News Service - MT