In a ruling announced today, a judge sided with a Louisiana-based corporation, Solenex LLC, allowing them to drill on an oil and gas lease granted in the 1980s. The lease is located within the Badger-Two Medicine area of the Lewis and Clark National Forest next to Glacier National Park and home to the Blackfeet Tribe’s creation story. In response, Western Values Project is calling on Interior Secretary Zinke to permanently protect the area with a designation that prohibits drilling.
“If Secretary Zinke is committed to a ‘grand pivot’ on conservation, this is where he should start – an area that is culturally sacred to First Nations, bordering Glacier National Park, and in need of lasting protection. Secretary Zinke has already recommended that the area be protected with a national monument designation, which should include a drilling prohibition in consultation with tribes,” said Western Values Project Executive Director Chris Saeger. “This is an opportunity for Secretary Zinke to do the right thing.”
Last fall, when Secretary Zinke recommended the largest reduction of protected public land in U.S. History to President Trump, he also advocated for a monument designation in the Badger-Two Medicine area.
The proposal by Secretary Zinke would protect 130,000 acres that are sandwiched between Glacier National Park, the Blackfeet Indian Reservation, and the Bob Marshall Wilderness Complex. At the time, Secretary Zinke said that area had the “possibility of revenue from tourism and an untapped culture.”
Under the Antiquities Act, the president can make a designation to protect an area of federal public land of historic or cultural significance.