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Nov 18 2013

Partners in Conservation: Glacier Two Medicine Alliance

Working to protect a critical piece of the Crown of the Continent and their own backyards

Partners in Conservation

Casey Perkins
Rocky Mountain Front Campaign Director
“We are dedicated to the protection, stewardship, and shared enjoyment of the culturally and ecologically irreplaceable wildlands of the Badger-Two Medicine and its interconnected ecosystems. We seek to ensure that a child of future generations will recognize and can experience the same cultural and ecological richness that we find in the wildlands of the Badger-Two Medicine today.”

Along with hugs, remote camera photos of local wildlife and sometimes the pouring of wine, these words begin the monthly meetings of the Glacier-Two Medicine Alliance.

“We are as grassroots as is gets,” says founder Lou Bruno as he throws another log in the fireplace.

At first glance, you might think this small group of locals gathered in an East Glacier living room is not much of a force to be reckoned with on the scale of large landscape conservation.

But first glances can be deceiving.


MWA members enjoy dinner at the GTMA Fall Gathering. Photo by Casey Perkins

This handful of dedicated advocates have been working to protect the Badger-Two Medicine area from one threat or another since they first came together in 1984. And they have been winning. They have repeatedly rebuffed oil and gas development and helped secure a non-motorized travel plan. They have worked to gain eligibility for the Badger as a Traditional Cultural District recognized by the National Register of Historic Places. Recently, they joined the Montana Wilderness Association and Tribal and conservation partners to defend the Badger from oil and gas development in court. The group also plans to hire their first employee this winter to be on the front lines of working toward permanent protection.

In the middle of September, GTMA held its fourth annual fall gathering. More than 80 people came together at the Rising Wolf Ranch nestled in the curve of the South Fork of the Two Medicine River just south of Highway 2 and Glacier National Park. Some people came because the Badger is their backyard and the place they hike with their children. Some came to share stories of past victories and to plot the way forward. Perhaps a few came because it is a beautiful place, even more so with the aspens turned yellow and snow on the nearby peaks. Those who had come before came again to bid on homemade huckleberry pie. I came to hear Rick Bass talk about his work to protect other wild Montana places and to hear those efforts rendered into prose. Everyone came to eat and drink and learn and hike and celebrate.

It was wonderful.

I drove home, south on 89 along the Rocky Mountain Front, filled to the brim with new knowledge of the science, art, culture and spirituality of the Badger. I realized that working to protect the Badger is just as much about maintaining connectivity for grizzly bears as it is about maintaining the birthplace of a creation story and wanting to be able to take our kids to the same wild places someone brought us long ago. I think about the Margaret Mead quote, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has,” and I just know these were the kind of people she was talking about.

Learn more about the story of the Glacier Two Medicine Alliance and stay tuned for the arrival of their own website very soon.