As the Blackfeet Nation’s leaders ramp up efforts to protect the Badger-Two Medicine area near Glacier National Park from oil and gas development, a nationwide conservation group has issued a report singling out the sacred region as a top priority for environmental safeguards.
The Wilderness Society’s 2015 edition of “Too Wild to Drill,” which identifies places the group believes should be off limits to energy development, featured the Badger-Two Medicine among three other lands deserving protection, including Alaska’s Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Colorado’s Thompson Divide and Grand Junction region and Utah’s Bears Ears and lands near Desolation Canyon.
Flanked on the northwest by Glacier National Park, on the east by the Blackfeet Indian Reservation and on the south by the Bob Marshall and Great Bear Wilderness, the 130,000-acre Badger-Two Medicine is central to the cultural identity of the Blackfeet.
It is also home to grizzly bears, elk and the best remaining habitat for the westslope cutthroat trout along the Rocky Mountain Front. Threats to the area include decades-old oil and gas leases, including one owned by Solenex, a Louisiana energy company that has filed a lawsuit demanding to be allowed to drill on the land.
In addition to receiving support from tribal and conservation leaders, protecting the Badger-Two Medicine is a priority for U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, D-Montana, who recently visited the Blackfeet Indian Reservation to promote safeguards for the threatened lands.
Leanne Falcon, a Blackfeet tribal member who lives near the Badger-Two Medicine, said “the Badger-Two Medicine connects the Blackfeet people to our past and our future. It is a source of clean water, wildlife, and native plants and our cultural survival depends on protecting the Badger from the threat of oil and gas drilling.”