Washington – US Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell announced the cancellation of 15 of the remaining 17 leases in the Badger-Two Medicine region of Montana’s Lewis and Clark National Forest.
Tribes and First Nations from across the North American West and conservation groups praised the announcement, which was made together with Blackfeet Nation Tribal Chairman Harry Barnes, Montana Senator John Tester, and Devon Energy Corporation President and CEO David Hager.
“This is a great day for the Badger-Two Medicine. For more than 30 years the Blackfeet people and their colleagues in the conservation community have been fighting to protect this culturally and biologically rich landscape. Today they are one step closer to permanent protection for the region,” says Stephen Legault, Program Director for Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative (Y2Y).
“The Badger-Two Medicine forms the backbone of the world for the Blackfeet,” says Y2Y’s President and Chief Scientist Jodi Hilty. “It’s the source of many of their creation stories and is an important part of the Nation’s effort to rebuild its foundational relationship with their culture and with Mother Earth. Y2Y is deeply grateful that Devon Corporation, working with the Blackfeet people, and with senior members of the Obama administration, were able to come to this same conclusion.”
The Badger-Two Medicine region encompasses 165,000 acres of unprotected National Forest land wedged between Glacier National Park to the north, and the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex to the west and south. The region is bordered to the east by the Blackfeet Reservation and is part of the internationally-celebrated Crown of the Continent.
“The Badger-Two Medicine is at the heart of the Yellowstone to Yukon region,” says Legault. “Grizzly bears, wolverines, bighorn sheep and elk all move through this country as they pass along the rocky mountain landscape. Reducing the threat of oil and gas development in this crucially significant and ecologically-critical region is important on a continental scale.”
The announcement comes after tireless work from the Blackfeet people, who have always been leading advocates for the Badger-Two Medicine, as well as some farsighted industry representatives and several senior government officials, including Senator Tester and Secretary Jewell.
Several conservation groups also played a role in making this happen, including the the National Parks Conservation Association, Glacier-Two Medicine Alliance, Montana Wilderness Association, Wildlife Conservation Society, Earthjustice, The Wilderness Society and many others.
Featured image: Stephen Legault