In late November of 1984, the U.S. Forest Service organized a meeting at the Community Hall in East Glacier Park. The meeting was to address the Hall Creek Application for Permission to Drill (APD) in the Badger-Two Medicine Roadless Area of the Lewis and Clark National Forest in Montana. The Forest Service personnel told the attendees that the drilling permit was not a done deal. There was still the possibility the US Forest Service could deny the oil company the permission they wanted. At this meeting, the seeds of the Glacier-Two Medicine Alliance were planted. A group of local people in attendance, including Lou Bruno, decided to form a grass-roots group dedicated to protection of the wild resources of the Badger-Two Medicine, Glacier National Park, and surrounding wild lands.
Shortly thereafter, in early December of 1984, Lou attended a Montana Wildlife Confederation (MWC) convention with the express purpose of finding out how to form such a group. The people at MWC were eager to help with the task of setting up the group and served as a great resource. As a result, in February 1985, the Glacier-Two Medicine Alliance (GTMA) was formed. GTMA was incorporated as 501(c)(3) non-profit organization onFebruary 28, 1985.
Lou Bruno was elected the first President, and went on to become Vice President of Montana Wilderness Association in 1987and President the following year.
Early on, the group realized that its task was to maximize awareness of one of the most beautiful, ecologically valuable, and culturally sensitive areas remaining in the lower 48 states. The area was threatened by unrestrained oil and gas development. The US Forest Service’s 10-year scenario included 23 gas wells and a gas processing plant with inter-connecting roads—a scenario that would have destroyed the Badger-Two Medicine’s wild ecosystem forever.
In spite of the US Forest Service’s assurances at the November 1984 meeting, the Application for Permission to Drill (APD) was approved and work on an access road to the site was scheduled to start as soon as snow conditions allowed in the spring of 1985. The GMTA went to work.
The members realized their main task was not only to speak for the land, but to let the land speak for itself. They collaborated with Montana Wilderness Association to do many Wilderness Walks in the area to make people aware of what was at stake.
The Glacier-Two Medicine Alliance was one of 11 entities who appealed the US Forest Service decision to allow the drilling. A lawyer, Don Marble, volunteered to write the appeal pro-bono, as long as GTMA members did the leg work. The GTMA appeal, as well as some of the other appeals, were successful. The Interior Board of Land Appeals remanded the decision for further consideration by the US Forest Service. The Board’s decision meant certain issues had to be resolved by the US Forest Service before the project could get a green light. The US Forest Service again approved the APD, but GTMA and others re-filed their appeals. Their appeals won, and the Hall Creek APD was denied. Many years passed before the threat rose again.
During the ensuing years, various events occurred to make the situation less dire in the Badger-Two Medicine area. Gloria Flora, then Forest Supervisor of the Lewis & Clark National Forest, put a 15-year moratorium on leasing on the Rocky Mountain Front, including the Badger-Two Medicine. During the Clinton administration, Interior Secretary Bruce Babbit also put a moratorium on new leases in the Badger-Two Medicine area. Despite the fact that another APD was filed by Chevron to drill on Goat Mountain, the impetus to drill fizzled along the Rocky Mountain Front. In 2009, Lewis & Clark National Forest Supervisor Spike Thompson declared the Badger-Two Medicine off limits to off-road vehicles (ORVs) and snowmobiles. A US District Court appeal to reverse the plan was denied in 2011.
However, the Badger-Two Medicine still is vulnerable. It isn’t protected by permanent legislation to prevent energy development for all time in this pristine Montana wilderness. The Glacier-Two Medicine Alliance is still active working to secure such legislation. In the meantime, it stands ready to defend this vital ecosystem.