Badger Bulletin

Victory for the Badger-Two Medicine

Badger Bulletin

Victory for the Badger-Two Medicine

Historic settlement agreement retires last oil and gas lease, ending 40-year fight

East Glacier Park – Mission accomplished! Today, for the first time in four decades, the specter of oil and gas drilling no longer hangs over the wild and sacred lands of the Badger-Two Medicine.

Glacier-Two Medicine Alliance together with our Blackfeet and conservation partners have reached a negotiated settlement agreement with Solenex, LLC to permanently retire the last oil and gas lease in the Badger-Two Medicine. The federal government likewise reached a separate, parallel agreement.

Proposed drill site with evidence of bear activity

The 6,247-acre lease was located in the Hall Creek area on the northern end of the Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest adjacent to Glacier National Park. It was issued in 1982 for $1/acre. The lease was later suspended after conservationists and Blackfeet traditionalists compelled the government to undertake more thorough assessments of potential drilling impacts to the land and wildlife as well as to Blackfeet reserved rights and cultural practices.

In 2013, Solenex sued to lift the suspension to allow drilling to proceed. Glacier-Two Medicine Alliance, along with the Pikuni Traditionalist Association, Blackfeet Headwaters Alliance, National Parks Conservation Association, The Wilderness Society, and Wild Montana intervened alongside the federal government to defend the Badger-Two Medicine. The lease was subsequently cancelled by the Department of Interior in 2016, only to be reinstated twice by the federal district court during the ensuing legal wrangling over the lease cancellation decision, most recently last September. As part of the settlement, we agreed to drop our appeal of this decision.

A map of the retired Solenex lease area
A map showing the location of the now retired Solenex leasehold which was immediately south of Glacier National Park in the Badger-Two Medicine roadless area. Development would have punched at least 7 miles of road along with a bridge over the South Fork Two Medicine right into the heart of critical spring range for grizzly bears.

Today’s settlement is particularly poignant for Glacier-Two Medicine Alliance. Community members, including both Blackfeet tribal members and non-member residents of the Blackfeet Reservation, organized the Glacier-Two Medicine Alliance in 1984 to stop the imminent plan to drill this very lease at Hall Creek.

Thirty-nine years and countless rallies, meetings, legal filings, letters, and other actions to defend the irreplaceable ecological and cultural values of this area later, we have achieved this goal! The Badger-Two Medicine is free at last from all oil and gas leases. And because Congress withdrew the area, along with the rest of the Rocky Mountain Front, from future leasing and mining in 2006, leases can never be issued again! We are particularly proud that throughout this long struggle, and all its ups and downs, no industrial development whatsoever has occurred in the Badger-Two Medicine!

Students from Browning High School learn about the impacts of oil drilling
Students from Browning High School learn about the impacts oil and gas drilling would have on the wildlife, water, and cultural uses of the area during a field trip to the Hall Creek proposed drill site (clearing in trees) with Glacier-Two Medicine Alliance in the fall of 2021. Today’s settlement agreement retired this last leasehold, ending the forty-year threat of drilling in these national forest lands sacred to the Blackfeet Nation.

Thank you to everyone who has contributed in some way to this outstanding accomplishment. To everyone who wrote letters, attended a demonstration, spread the word, volunteered, provided financial contributions, or otherwise stood up for the integrity and value of this wild and sacred place, we thank you! We especially thank the many members and supporters of Glacier-Two Medicine Alliance who have kept us going all these years. We also extend our deepest gratitude to all the Blackfeet tribal leaders, conservation partners, the Wyss Foundation, Sen. Jon Tester, and the outstanding legal team at Earthjustice – your partnership and friendship were indispensable! It has been an honor to fight alongside all of you for the health and integrity of the land and its wildlife, for respect of Blackfeet rights and cultural values, and for the ability of present and future generations to experience the quiet beauty and power of the Badger-Two Medicine that we know and cherish. Thank you all! We did it!

Hikers pose by proposed oil drilling site
Hikers near the Hall Creek proposed drill site on a Glacier-Two Medicine Alliance-led hike in 2013. Since our inception, Glacier-Two Medicine Alliance has led countless hikes into the Badger-Two Medicine to sound the alarm of what would be loss should drilling proceed. We will lead another hike to the proposed drill site as part of our celebrations at the Fall Gathering. (Photo: Angelika Harden-Norman)

Celebrate with us!

Please join us to celebrate this amazing victory at our Fall Gathering Sept 15 – 17. (Tickets are limited and selling fast).

Additional celebrations of this historic accomplishment are also being planned. Stay tuned, as we bring you more information this landmark settlement, opportunities to celebrate, as well as about what may come next for the Badger-Two Medicine.

Your support makes a difference.
Our long-standing fight to defend the wild and sacred Badger-Two Medicine is possible because of your financial support and volunteer activism. Donate today to support Glacier-Two Medicine Alliance’s continued work to protect native species, clean water, and wild lands in this region.
Scroll to Top