Badger Bulletin

Snowmobiles Trespassing in the Badger-Two Medicine

Badger Bulletin

Snowmobiles Trespassing in the Badger-Two Medicine

Snowmobile tracks in a snowy forest

A skiier moves along snowmobile tracks in a forest
Snowmobile tracks in the Sawmill Flats area on March 14th. The tracks come from private land and lead all the way to Badger Creek, 12 miles to the south. The area has been closed to motorized recreation since 2009 yet trespass remains frequent with enforcement uncommon. (Photo: Peter Metcalf)

Illegal snowmobile use has once again been spotted in the Badger-Two Medicine. The area has been closed to motorized recreation since 2009 to protect sensitive winter wildlife habitat for Canada Lynx and other species, as well as the integrity of the Blackfeet Traditional Cultural District in the Badger-Two Medicine region. Yet every winter snowmobilers continue to take advantage of a lack of Forest Service presence and law enforcement to trespass in the area.

On a recent wildlife winter track survey, we documented snowmobilers accessing the area from two distinct locations on three different days, from private land in the Highway 2 corridor and from the Skyland road snowmobile area to the west. The rider (or riders) coming off the private land is also illegally clearing downed trees all the way to Badger Creek, thirteen miles to the south.

Logs illegally cleared by a snowmobiler less than 100 meters from Badger Creek. (Photo: Peter Metcalf)

From the Skyland snowmobile area, riders cross a low saddle on the Continental Divide at the upper end of Puzzle Creek to high mark in the Badger-Two Medicine. This is a long-standing problem, and one of particular concern to grizzly bear managers due to the concentration of dens in the area.  To start to correct this problem, Glacier-Two Medicine Alliance helped successfully push the Flathead National Forest to recommend the Slippery Bill-Puzzle wilderness in their revised forest plan and declare the last mile of the route up Puzzle Creek as no longer suitable for snowmobiles. However, the Flathead National Forest has dragged its feet on taking the steps necessary to actually close the last mile of this route, facilitating easy continued trespass by snowmobilers.

Both incidents have been reported to Forest Service law enforcement.

Snowmobile tracks on a snowy hillside
Snowmobile high marks below the Crescent Cliffs in the Badger-Two Medicine on March 13. The snowmobiles were heard from nearly 3 miles away, shattering winter solitude. (Photo: Peter Metcalf)

Unfortunately, snowmobile trespass is not unique to this area, but a growing problem across northerwestern Montana. The Forest Service simply lacks adequate law enforcement resources and the institutional commitment to prioritize enforcement of its own travel management rules. That’s one reason we have decided to speak out in opposition to the construction of new winter-recreation cabins on the edge of the Bob Marshall Wilderness at Bunker Park. Their remote location provides easy access for snowmobilers to ride in the Bob Marshall Wilderness and adjacent recommended wilderness without fear of getting caught, both of which are closed to motorized recreation to protect wildland values and critical wildlife habitat for Lynx, grizzly bears and other species.

How you can help

If you witnessed snowmobiles in the Badger-Two Medicine this winter, please let us know. Send pictures, date and location if known. This will help us advocate for stronger education and enforcement. And please contact District Ranger Mike Munoz at (406) 466-5341 as well. The Forest Service needs our help, and our pressure, to stop continued illegal snowmobile use in the Badger-Two Medicine, and across the region.

Illegal motorized use is not just a winter problem as unauthorized motorized use continues to occur in the summer too. We’ll have more information out soon on how you can help us monitor illegal motorized recreation this summer.

Comments on the Bunker Park Cabin proposal are due Tuesday, April 6. Submit to

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