Protecting the Rocky Mountain Front from Excessive Motorized Off-Road Travel

Located amid some of our nation's most impressive wildlands, the Badger-Two Medicine hosts numerous rare and sensitive wildlife species. It also constitutes a land of special cultural importance to the Blackfeet Tribe, whose reservation it borders. The region is almost entirely without roads, presenting a de facto wilderness occupying a critical wildlife movement corridor along the eastern Rocky Mountain Front.

Case Overview

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 amid 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 without roads, 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 challenged it in court. Representing a coalition of conservation groups, Earthjustice intervened in the case to defend the Forest Service decision, which was upheld.

The South Fork of Two-Medicine from Hall Creek Trail.
The South Fork of Two-Medicine from Hall Creek Trail. (Photo courtesy of Gene Sentz)

Case Updates

April 20, 2011 Article

Saving Our Wild Places: Conservation Activist Gene Sentz

(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…

April 19, 2011 Article

Saving Our Wild Places: Research Ecologist Dan Fagre

(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…

April 18, 2011 Article

Saving Our Wild Places: Earthjustice's Tim Preso

Over the past decade, Tim Preso has spearheaded Earthjustice's work to protect this untouched wilderness.