Bordered by fabled geography, and often referred to as the "Badger-Two Med,” this beautiful 130,000-acre piece of Montana’s Rocky Mountain Front is named as such as it is the headwaters of Badger Creek and the South Fork Two Medicine River. Its eastern side touches the Blackfeet Nation's prairie lands, Glacier National Park guards the northern boundary, and the ribbon of the Continental Divide and the adjacent Bob Marshall country define its western edge.
Owing to its continuing ancestral use by the Blackfeet, the Badger-Two-Medicine is designated as a Traditional Culture District under the National Historic Preservation Act. As their sacred ground, it is part of what these original owners of the territory termed “The Backbone of the World.” For wildlife, it is a valuable habitat and a crucial link between Glacier and the more than 1.5-million-acre Bob Marshall Wilderness complex. And its waters protect west slope cutthroat trout.
Yet, despite its significance to Indigenous culture and wild country values, dating back to the 1980s, efforts have been made to try and despoil this magnificent place to explore for natural gas and oil with little chance of finding anything of value. Elsewhere on the Rocky Mountain Front and outside of the Park, landscapes that share the same type of geology have been drilled and nothing of worth has been found.
Now though, through earlier actions by the U.S. Department of the Interior and recent rulings by the Washington D.C. US Court of Appeals, the Badger-Two Med may finally be safe.
The good news has been a long time coming; John Murray, the Blackfeet Tribes historical preservation officer, said, "I was a young man when I got involved. I was kind of wondering whether I was going to see this day or not. It had gone on for so long. I'm very, very happy.” Peter Metcalf, executive director of the Glacier-Two Medicine Alliance, stated, "By and large, this means we’re looking at an oil-and-gas-free Badger-Two Medicine for the first time since the early 1980s, which is an amazing, amazing feeling."
Rick Graetz has been a University of Montana faculty member since 2003 and Susie Graetz is the editor of UM’s Crown of the Continent and Greater Yellowstone e-Magazine. The views expressed in this opinion are their own.
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