(This is the third in a series of Q & A's on the Crown of the Continent, a 10-million acre expanse of land in northern Montana and southern Canada. Gene Sentz is co-founder of the Friends of the Rocky Mountain Front, one of the organizations whose activism resulted in the banning of oil and gas leasing in the Front. To learn more about this wild place and how Earthjustice is working to protect it, check out our Crown web feature.
The Badger-Two Medicine region represents 130,000 acres of National Forest land located in Montana's Rocky Mountain Front -- where the eastern slope of the Rockies meets the Great Plains -- and sandwiched between the south boundary of Glacier National Park and the Great Bear and Bob Marshall Wilderness Areas. Located amidst some of our nation's most impressive wildlands, the Badger-Two Medicine hosts numerous rare and sensitive wildlife species, including grizzly bears, wolves, lynx, wolverines, bighorn sheep, elk, and mountain goats. It also constitutes a land of special cultural importance to the Blackfeet Tribe, whose reservation it borders. The region is also almost entirely unroaded, presenting a de facto wilderness occupying a critical wildlife movement corridor along the eastern Rocky Mountain Front.
Unfortunately, the Badger-Two Medicine region also has over the past decade become popular with off-road vehicle enthusiasts. Motorcycles and four-wheelers had become common sights on the Badger-Two Medicine's nearly 200 miles of trails, and snowmobiles range over the area in the winter. These motorized vehicles bring noise and pollution into the backcountry, disturb sensitive wildlife, and leave scars on the land. Motorized use had become so pervasive that some trails in the region have been converted into four-wheeler "roads" by heavy traffic.
Responding to this problem, the Forest Service in March 2009 issued a landmark decision banning motorized wheeled vehicles from all trails and prohibiting all snowmobiling in the Badger-Two Medicine region. This decision represents one of the most environmentally protective travel management decisions issued by the Forest Service anywhere in the Northern Rockies, but motorized interests have challenged it in court. Representing a coalition of conservation groups, Earthjustice has requested to intervene in the case to defend the Forest Service decision.
(This is the second in a series of Q & A's on the Crown of the Continent, a 10-million-acre expanse of land in northern Montana and southern Canada. Dan Fagre is a research ecologist at the U.S. Geological Survey who has spent 15 years working to understand how climate change will affect mountain ecosystems like those found in the Crown. To learn more about this wild place and how Earthjustice is working to protect it, check out our Crown web feature.)
(This is the first in a series of Q & A's on the Crown of the Continent, a 10-million-acre expanse of land that stretches from Northern Montana into Canada. Over the past decade, Tim Preso has spearheaded Earthjustice's work to protect this untouched wilderness. To learn more about the Crown and how Earthjustice is working to protect it, check out our Crown web feature.)
EJ: How did Earthjustice became involved in protecting the Crown?