Wild Word

Home Wild Word Almost There
Pine Creek Lake. Photo by Walker Stole
Nov 16 2016

Almost There

Devon Energy relinquishes its 15 leases in the sacred Badger-Two Medicine. Two leases now remain.

Announcements, Featured

Today marks a historic milestone in the 35-year-old struggle to free the Badger-Two Medicine from the threat of oil and gas development.

Devon Energy, the holder of 15 leases in this sacred area, voluntarily relinquished its leases at a signing ceremony with Secretary of Interior Sally Jewell. She was surrounded by Blackfeet Chief Earl Old Person, Tribal Chairman Harry Barnes, Senator Jon Tester, and Devon Energy CEO Dave Hager as she made the announcement.

Sen. Jon Tester, who has championed the removal of the leases and the protection of the Badger, said, “This region carries great cultural and historical significance to the Blackfeet Tribe and today’s announcement will ensure that the Badger-Two Medicine will remain pristine for both the Tribe and the folks who love to hunt, hike, and fish near Glacier Park and the Bob Marshall Wilderness.”

Sec. Jewell briefly reminisced about the time she spent there this summer.

“It is both spectacular, but more important, a sacred site and very important to the culture and the values and the story of the Blackfeet Nation and its people going back since time immemorial,” Jewell said. “It should not have been leased to begin with.”

Wearing a ceremonial headdress, Chairman Barnes reiterated how important the area is for the Blackfeet people.

"Our pursuit to protect the Badger-Two Medicine has lasted more than three decades, and it will continue until all the illegal oil and gas leases are canceled and the area is permanently protected," he said.

“The Blackfeet people can hold their heads high today,” he added.

Devon CEO Hager shared that he was an avid and hiker and backpacker, and was now eager to spend some time in the Badger.

“We appreciate how important [the Badger-Two Medicine] is to the Blackfeet people,” Hager said. He later added, “We think is a good opportunity to demonstrate we can be a good neighbor in this area.”

Devon’s relinquishment of the leases offers hope that conservation values need not run in opposition to energy development. Devon’s actions should stand as an important lesson to the incoming administration – that there are places on American public lands that should remain off-limits to oil and gas drilling.

Two small leases remain in the Badger-Two Medicine, and we are urging the Secretary to do everything in her power to remove all threats of oil and gas development in the Badger before the end of the Obama administration. Sec. Jewell cancelled one of the leases, held by Solenex, LLC., in March.

“Today, we saw a great example of people coming together around a shared respect for this wild place that means so much to the Blackfeet and all Montanans,” said Brian Sybert, MWA executive director. “We’ve been honored to work with the Blackfeet Nation in this effort and we commend Devon Energy for doing the right thing for the Badger."

MWA will continue to work toward permanent protection of this remarkable region, but for now, it is time to celebrate and thank those whose vision and wisdom have protected our irreplaceable, wild public lands.
Sen. Tester has been a relentless advocate for the Badger and fought to ensure that it remains as it is – wild and un-desecrated. Please call Sen. Tester today at 202-224-2644 and thank him for fighting to protect it for the good of the Blackfeet people and future generations of Montanans.

Apropos of the occasion, MWA and Blackfeet Nation leaders will be hosting a screening of “Our Last Refuge” tomorrow (November 17) in Washington, D.C. at the Elmer and Mary Louise Rasmuson Theater in the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian. “Our Last Refuge” is a documentary about the Blackfeet people’s connection to the Badger-Two Medicine and their fight to protect it from industrial development. The screening begins at 4:30 p.m. A panel discussion with Blackfeet leaders and tribal members will follow. Visit ourlastrefuge.com for more about the film.

- Casey Perkins, MWA Rocky Mountain field director