Cowboys, hunters, outdoor recreationalists and members of the Blackfeet Nation, represented by Earthjustice, are seeking to intervene in opposition to a Louisiana oilman’s lawsuit demanding immediate approval to drill adjacent to Glacier National Park.
The Blackfeet Headwaters Alliance, based in Browning, and the Glacier-Two Medicine Alliance, headquartered in East Glacier, has applied for intervenor status in U.S. District Court to oppose a challenge brought by Solenex LLC, a company seeking to develop a 6,200-acre federal oil and gas lease in the Badger-Two Medicine region. The Badger-Two Medicine is a wild and undeveloped area of the Lewis and Clark National Forest located between Glacier National Park and the Bob Marshall Wilderness. This landscape is also considered sacred to the Blackfeet Tribe.
Interest in finding a long-term solution to the contested lease has grown since Solenex LLC rekindled intentions in the summer of 2013 to develop the lease area. The stakes are high, given that “the Badger” is regarded as “holy land” by traditional Blackfeet who have consistently opposed energy development throughout the 130,000-acre wildlands. That opposition was codified through a 2004 Blackfoot Confederacy proclamation stating the tribe “will not consent and will not approve any energy development within the Badger-Two Medicine and will vigorously oppose any proposals for such development.”
Biologically, this area is the last remaining stronghold along the Rocky Mountain Front for genetically pure westslope cutthroat trout. These wildlands also harbor key winter and summer range for over 800 elk and is critical secure habitat for grizzly bears.
The lease, located near Hall Creek, was issued thirty years ago over the objections of Blackfeet tribal members, wildlife biologists, hunters, and Montanans from across the state.
While the majority of “the Badger” was leased in the 1980’s, most of these leases have since been voluntarily relinquished by companies and leaseholders who have taken full advantage of legislation originally proposed by former Senator Conrad Burns and ultimately passed by Senator Max Baucus in 2006.
The National Parks Conservation Association, Montana Wilderness Association, and The Wilderness Society have also filed for intervener status in this lawsuit.