Hiking in the Yukon. Image: Pat Morrow
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"I BELIEVE in connected landscapes; so connected that my children can walk from one point to another."
Chris Bunting, Y2Y Supporter since 2007

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Working Together to Protect Badger-Two Medicine

Y2Y, the Blackfeet Nation and others band together to face the threat of petroleum exploration in the headwaters of the Blackfeet sacred landscape.

What do an emergency doctor, Blackfeet tribal members, a retired teacher, a wildlife photographer, a local business owner, the Blackfeet Headwaters Alliance, the National Parks Conservation Association and a host of other conservation groups have in common?

They share a desire to protect the Badger-Two Medicine region along Montana’s Rocky Mountain Front.

This 133,000 acre portion of the Lewis and Clark National Forest (south of Glacier National Park) is sacred territory for the Blackfeet Nation and essential habitat connecting the Yellowstone to Yukon landscape.

Indian paint brush located in the Badger-Two Medicine region. Photo: Stephen Legault

The threat of petroleum exploration in the headwaters of the Blackfeet sacred landscape has reared its head once again.

Sidney Longwell, who owns a series of leases that would allow his company to drill for gas under the Montana’s Badger-Two Medicine region is now suing the Forest Service to gain access to his leased lands in Hall Creek. The event has elevated the stakes in the decade’s long effort to protect the cultural and natural values of the Badger-Two Medicine.

The collection of old and new allies have banded together to save this spiritually and ecologically sacred ground. For its part, Y2Y is facilitating fundraising and capacity support of the Badger-Two Medicine campaign through our collaboration with the Crown of the Continent Conservation Initiative.

South fork of the Two Medicine River at Wolf Ranch. Photo: Stephen Legault

The allies are working every angle to put this issue to rest. Troubadour and tribal member Jack Gladstone, penned an open letter to Longwell – elder to elder. He wrote:

“I urge you to follow the example of other oil and gas speculators who have found mutually beneficial alternatives, relinquishing their leases in our Badger-Two Medicine area. You would be granting our Blackfeet Nation an honorable service by abandoning your lawsuit.”

“Sidney,” he continued, “my home is on the Blackfeet Reservation…a pot of coffee is always on and a meal never far from the stove. I invite you to visit me here, to deepen our understanding of each other’s motives and visions regarding the Badger-Two Medicine/Hall Creek wildlands.”

While Longwell has yet to respond, the allies forge on, exemplifying how local grassroots activism can lead the effort to protect important landscapes and connect them to other significant parts of the Y2Y network.