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The Badger Two-Medicine on the Rocky Mountain Front is a sacred area for the Blackfeet tribe and one of Montana’s most spectacular landscapes. Last week, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke took an important step forward in protecting this part of Montana’s heritage when he moved to have the Department of Interior appeal a federal court ruling reinstating oil and gas leases in the Badger.

For decades, conservationists, hunters and the Blackfeet tribe have sought to protect the Badger-Two Medicine from oil and gas development. Oil and gas leases issued in the 1980s have long cast a dark cloud over the Badger and we applaud Secretary Zinke’s decision to have these leases terminated.

Montana sportsmen and -women have long defended the Badger, not only for its recreational opportunities, but for the habitat it provides to the wildlife we care about, including elk, grizzly bear, moose, bighorn sheep and mountain goats. We have also joined with the Blackfeet in seeking federal protection for the cultural and spiritual values of the area.

With Secretary Zinke’s help, this wonderful legacy is one step closer to securing the protection its needs for this and future generations.

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Dave Chadwick is executive director of the Montana Wildlife Federation, and lives in Helena. Tom France is regional executive director for the National Wildlife Federation, and lives in Missoula.

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