The settlement ends a decades-long fight to protect the sacred and important public lands from oil and gas development
WASHINGTON — The Badger-Two Medicine, critically important and sacred land in northwest Montana, is for the first time in more than 40 years permanently protected from the threat of oil and gas development.
The last remaining oil and gas lease issued in the Badger-Two Medicine has been retired as the result of an agreement filed Friday in federal court between the U.S. government and the lease holder, Solenex, LLC. The Wilderness Society along with Blackfeet Traditionalists and other conservation organizations are intervenors in the decades-long protracted lawsuit. The Wilderness Society, with generous financial support from the Wyss Foundation, is grateful to have played a role in securing the settlement.
The Badger-Two Medicine area — 130,000 acres bordering Glacier National Park, the Bob Marshall Wilderness, and the Blackfeet Nation — is ecologically important for wildlife connectivity and is considered sacred traditional homelands by the Blackfeet people.
A statement from The Wilderness Society President Jamie Williams:
“For the first time in four decades, the Blackfeet Tribe can rest assured that their sacred cultural lands won’t be destroyed by industrial development. This agreement is a watershed moment for the Blackfeet Nation and for the long-term health and preservation of the Badger-Two Medicine. We rejoice beside our partners at today’s news. Since time immemorial, the Badger has been a sacred cultural place to the Blackfeet Nation, and it was wrongly leased to private energy developers. Acknowledging that wrong can hopefully begin a process of healing and eventual peace.”
Much of the Badger-Two Medicine area of the Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest was leased for oil and gas in the 1980s under the Regan administration. Over the years, the Blackfeet Nation along with conservation partners and with bipartisan support at the local, state and federal levels were able to reach agreements with most lease holders to voluntarily relinquish their leases. In 2006, recognizing the cultural and ecological values of the entire Rocky Mountain Front, including the Badger-Two Medicine, Congress withdrew the area from further energy leasing, ensuring that retirements of any existing leases are permanent. The federal government canceled a small number of remaining leases including the lease owned by Solenex, a Louisiana-based LLC. The court case challenging the status of the Solenex lease was working its way through the courts, however the settlement agreement ends litigation and permanently retires the last lease.
Chelsi Moy, Sr. Communications Manager, email@example.com, (406) 240-3013 or at firstname.lastname@example.org