Permanent Protection for the Badger-Two Medicine

The Badger-Two Medicine remains the last major stretch of unprotected wild country on the Rocky Mountain Front. Consequently, the area’s outstanding fish and wildlife habitat and wilderness character, along with Blackfeet cultural resources and practices in the area remain at risk from future development, emergent recreation technologies, or changes in management priorities. Thankfully the long fight to stop oil and gas generated broad public support for permanently protecting this widely cherished place once and for all.

Current Management

Formerly part of the Blackfeet Reservation, the Badger-Two Medicine roadless area is presently managed by the U.S. Forest Service as part of the Helena-Lewis and Clark National Forest. The Blackfeet Nation retains rights to access, hunt, fish, gather and cut timber for domestic use within these ceded lands, lands which are of premier importance to sustaining the Blackfeet people’s spiritual and cultural traditions. 

Recently updated management plans generally prohibit commercial timber harvest, road building, motorized recreation and other resource development, as well as facilitate a greater role for the Blackfeet Nation in management of the area. However, none of these plans are permanent. Importantly, they lack the enforceable guarantees and long-term certainty that a formal protected-area designation would provide.

Past Efforts at Permanent Protection

Since the mid 1970s, various attempts have been made to pass federal legislation to permanently protect the Badger-Two Medicine. The most recent effort culminated in the summer of 2020, when Sen. Jon Tester introduced the ‘Badger-Two Medicine Protection Act’ at the request of Blackfeet Nation leadership. 

The bill, developed over several years of close collaboration between tribal leaders, conservationists, hunters and anglers, and other Montanans, would have created the first-of-its-kind Cultural Heritage Area to be cooperatively managed by the US Forest Service and Blackfeet Nation to protect the area’s rich cultural and ecological values. However, this legislation stalled before it could advance in Congress.

Finding a Durable Solution

Finding a lasting solution for a place as unique and important as the Badger-Two Medicine takes time, patience, and persistence. Any politically viable solution must be tailor-made from the ground-up to reflect the distinctive context of this place as well as the input of all the various human communities who use and care for it, especially the Blackfeet Nation for whom this is sacred ground.  Glacier-Two Medicine Alliance will continue to explore potential designations and management models with tribal leaders, backcountry users, local landowners, and other interested parties for however long it takes to get it right.

Keeping it Wild

Until a protected-area designation can be secured, Glacier-Two Medicine Alliance will continue to engage the Forest Service, as well as state and federal fish and wildlife managers, to ensure that management of the resources and recreational use in the Badger-Two Medicine protects the ecological and cultural integrity of this wild place, honors Blackfeet rights and cultural relationship to the area, and smooths the path toward a more permanent solution.


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