Coasting in on fumes in a beat-up 1983 Subaru with a golden retriever and $13 in his pocket, Doug comes to the oil fields with literally everything at stake. After losing his job, his wife, his home, and his daughter, not only does he see the boom as a chance to put him back on his feet, he sees it as his redemption as a man. His years as a truck driver will hopefully be beneficial for him as they are by large the most abundant jobs in the area. Doug is not a dubious character, nor is he unsympathetic to the effect the boom is having on the people who live in area. He represents those who come to the oil fields not for get-rich-quick schemes or greedy opportunism, but instead people who seek to reestablish themselves as productive members of society. His journey in oil country will entail finding a job, housing, friends, and once again being able to provide for his 15-year-old daughter with whom he has a very close relationship and lives in neighboring state Montana.
As of late May, he has landed a part-time job working on a frack water disposal site. As there is virtually no housing in Williston, he is still sleeping on the streets in the back of his station wagon with his dog, Santa. Promises of a space opening next month in a shared RV keep him hopeful.
Ranching is in John’s blood. After the premature death of his parents, he was forced to take over the family ranch at 15 years old and saddled with the responsibility of raising four younger siblings. His seemingly only passion outside of cattle ranching is his part-time job as a backcountry park ranger at the Theodore Roosevelt National Park. He is a solitary person who often stops mid-sentence to identify the species of a bird chirping nearby. He is the type of man who lives life by principles; some perhaps old-fashioned, but one whose guttural instincts of right and wrong are his guiding light no matter what the consequences. In John’s case, it is the vow to fight with every inch of his being the eleven oil wells proposed to be around his land within the next year. While John stands in a position where he could financially benefit from the drilling – and he is definitely in need – he refuses to take a dime personally from the oil companies.
John will exude his rare virtue of the deepest love and appreciation for the land as well as show us the past, present and future struggles of the life of a rancher. He fears the massive amounts of dust his cattle will consume – a valid concern – kicked up by the thousands of trucks that are needed to frack and service oil wells. He fears ground water contamination, his star-scattered skies blinded by the flickers from gas-burning flares, his bird calls silenced by truck engine breaks and oil rig megaphones, in essence he fears his way of life disappearing completely.