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Pine Creek Lake. Photo by Walker Stole
Jul 22 2020

A Momentous Day for the Badger

Sen. Tester announces the Badger-Two Medicine Protection Act

Today is a momentous day, one that MWA and so many of our supporters have been working toward for nearly 40 years. 

This afternoon, Sen. Jon Tester announced that he will introduce the Badger-Two Medicine Protection Act.

As its name suggests, the bill will secure the wild future of the Badger-Two Medicine and ensure that the Blackfeet Tribe, to whom the Badger is of great cultural significance, will have a meaningful voice in its management.

This is a landmark moment for our Blackfeet partners, MWA, and our supporters. Today’s developments are the direct result of decades of dedicated advocacy, and they never would have happened without your unwavering support. I can’t express how proud I am to be a part of this community and how inspired I am by your commitment. 

The Badger is a special wild place that is uniquely deserving of protection. Nestled between Glacier National Park and the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex, it has held deep cultural significance to the Blackfeet for centuries and faced an uncertain future for decades. The area was included in previous wilderness bills, before the Bureau of Land Management began illegally issuing oil and gas leases in the area without consulting the Tribe in 1981. Since then, nearly all the remaining leases in the area have been cancelled or withdrawn, with a single lease still in legal limbo at the time of writing. 

Although the Badger-Two Medicine Protection Act will not effect the legal status of the last remaining lease, it will be a critical step in protecting the Badger and a big win for the wildlife, local communities, and recreationists who depend on the Badger’s rich habitat, clean headwaters, and outdoor opportunities.

The Act proposes designating the Badger-Two Medicine as a cultural heritage area, to preserve its wild character and protect its cultural and spiritual significance to Blackfeet people. In the simplest terms, this designation will keep the Badger as it as – existing uses like traditional cultural practices, hunting, hiking, fishing, horseback riding, and camping will continue to be allowed, while new oil and gas leases, motorized use, and industrial development will continue to be off-limits.

Significantly, the legislation would guarantee that the federal government would honor its existing treaty rights with the Blackfeet Nation. It would also establish formal consultation between the Tribe and the U.S. Forest service on future management decisions, ensuring that the Blackfeet will have a voice in the management of the Badger - a voice the Tribe has been denied for centuries. 

We’re standing on the brink of a historic development for the Badger, and I’m immensely proud of the role MWA and our supporters have played in getting us to this point. Together, we have advocated tirelessly and successfully for the retirement and cancellation of numerous oil and gas leases. Together, we have proudly supported our tribal partners as they fought to right historical wrongs and gain a voice in the Badger’s future. Together, we have built a grassroots movement to protect this special place, a movement that has resonated across the country. 

Of course, there is still work to be done. Most critically, we need to make it clear to the rest of Montana’s congressional delegation just how important it is that they join Sen. Tester in supporting permanent protection for the Badger-Two Medicine.

 

Please take a moment to sign the letter endorsing the Badger-Two Medicine Protection Act and calling on Sen. Daines and Rep. Gianforte to champion the bill in the Senate and House, respectively.
Sign the letter here

 

 

While there is still work for us to do to finish the job of protecting the Badger, we should not forget to take a moment to consider just how far we’ve come. It’s inspiring to see the tremendous effort that this community has put into this effort, and I can’t thank you enough for being a part of this journey.

If you’d like to make a contribution to our work to build on this historic momentum, I’d encourage you to do so here

Thank you. 

 
Ben Gabriel
Executive Director

Ben develops MWA's organizational strategy and works with our grassroots community, partners, and board of directors to achieve MWA's mission and ensure our long-term health and effectiveness. He spends his time connecting to Montana's wild places and rivers by hiking, kayaking, and skiing with his wife, daughter, and dogs.