Support Badger-Two Med

| July 29, 2020 5:15 AM

Badger-Two Medicine: From Birch Creek and Family Peak in the south, to Lubec Ridge and Elk Calf Mountain in the north, the headwaters of Badger Creek and the Two Medicine River flow down from the sacred summits of Feather Woman and Heart Butte, Scarface and Morningstar, Half Dome and Kiyo Crag, Goat Mountain and the Bruin Peaks.

This is classic east-of-divide country with the northern Great Plains of the Blackfeet Nation stretching far to the east.

Immediately south of Glacier National Park, this wild, mostly roadless 130,000-acre segment of Montana’s Rocky Mountain Front is a cultural jewel for Blackfeet people who have worshiped here for untold generations.

It is also supremely significant for America’s outdoor heritage -- the last piece of public land along a hundred miles of the “Backbone of the World” without lasting formal protection.

The Blackfeet Tribe has proposed designating this special place as a Cultural Heritage Area, and Senator Jon Tester has introduced the Badger-Two Medicine Protection Act, which would accomplish that goal.

Tester’s bill correctly states that the area boasts abundant wildlife, critical clean water, spectacular natural scenery and outstanding recreational opportunities; and importantly it provides connectivity to Glacier Park and the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex, of which it is an integral part.

Senator Tester’s bill will “keep it like it is” by protecting wildlife habitat and ensuring continued public access for traditional recreational uses including hunting, fishing, horse packing and hiking.

In recent years large wildfires burned across some of the country, which means wind-fallen trees across trails, so the legislation allows chainsaws for trail clearing. The Cultural Heritage Area honors tribal treaty rights and the spiritual connections the Blackfeet have for this sacred land, and it serves the best interests of all who love wild places.

Montanans overwhelmingly supported the 2014 Rocky Mountain Front Heritage Act which protects all national public lands of the Front south of Birch Creek. This latest proposal completes 40 years of continuous effort so many have worked for – to ensure that our descendants can experience the special landscape of the Badger-Two Medicine the way we have.

The area is finally free of oil and gas leases, so the next logical step is to formally recognize its significance as a Cultural Heritage Area.

We urge all Montanans to thank Senator Tester for introducing this bill and urge Senator Daines and Congressman Gianforte also to endorse this excellent legislation. Let’s seize this opportunity for enduring protection, a win-win for all concerned. It’s time to protect the Badger-Two Medicine.

Montana Conservation Elders

Gene Sentz, Bill Cunningham