Hiking in the Yukon. Image: Pat Morrow
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Badger-Two Medicine: Too Sacred to Drill

U.S. Department of the Interior announces plans to cancel Solenex lease in Montana's Badger-Two Medicine region.

After a long and arduous legal battle, the U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) announced it will cancel the Solenex gas leases in the Badger-Two Medicine region.

The region in northern Montana, which is sacred to the Blackfeet people as part of their creation story, is also an important area for wildlife moving north and south between the U.S. and Canada.

The Crown Conservation Initiative, Y2Y and other conservation partners have supported long-term efforts of the Blackfeet Nation to protect their homeland.

This map shows the Badger-Two Medicine region in relation to adjacent protected areas, as well as the location of proposed Solenex drilling sites. Map courtesy of Blackfeet Nation.

The leases, which covered roughly 6,000 acres (2,400 hectares) belonged to Louisiana-based Solenex, but they had been contentious from the very beginning. The decision, announced in late November 2015, was major step toward eventual permanent protection for Badger-Two Medicine's cultural and natural values.

There are still some other gas leases, totaling 30,000 acres (12,000 hectares) that remain in the region, owned by Oklahoma-based energy company Devon. It is hoped the DOI decision will serve as a precedent for canceling those as well.

The long-term goal for the Blackfeet people, and for the conservation groups supporting them, is to ensure that their sacred lands and the unique cultural values they represent are permanently protected from development.

Photo: Stephen Legault.