What's at Stake
The land is considered sacred to the Blackfeet Tribe.
The area is the last remaining stronghold along the Rocky Mountain Front for genetically pure westslope cutthroat trout. It also harbors key winter and summer range for over 800 elk and offer critical secure habitat for grizzly bears.
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. The 165,588-acre area was designated a Traditional Cultural District under the National Preservation Historic Act in recognition of its importance to the Blackfeet people. Biologically, this area is the last remaining stronghold along the Front for genetically pure westslope cutthroat trout. The area also provides key winter and summer range for over 800 elk and represents a large block of crucial secure habitat for grizzly bears.
Interest in finding a long-term solution to a contested 6,200-acre federal oil and gas lease in the Badger-Two Medicine region 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.”
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.
Tim Preso, Managing Attorney, Earthjustice: "But at the end of the day only one entity gets to make the decision. And that’s the Interior Department. It created this situation when it issued the leases despite the protests of so many people back in the 1980s. And it issued a drilling permit over the protest of so many people in the 1990s. Now that decision is coming home to roost.”