Press Release Jan 10, 2017

Gift for Wild Lands: Interior Retires Remaining Oil and Gas Leases Near Glacier National Park

The U.S. Department of Interior protected Montana’s natural and cultural heritage by negotiating the removal of all remaining oil and gas leases in the Badger-Two Medicine roadless area, adjacent to Glacier National Park.

Washington, DC – Today, the U.S. Department of Interior protected Montana’s natural and cultural heritage by negotiating the removal of all remaining oil and gas leases in the Badger-Two Medicine roadless area, adjacent to Glacier National Park. This region of Montana’s Rocky Mountain Front, a wildlife-rich landscape held sacred by the Blackfeet Nation, is now free from the threat of industrialization by roads, bridges and drill rigs.

These final two now-retired lease allotments, held by two companies and totaling approximately 10,000 acres, were the last of more than 150,000 acres illegally leased by the federal government in the early 1980s. Earlier this year, the Department of Interior cancelled more than 6,000 acres of leases in the region; and in November, the primary leaseholder, Devon Energy, relinquished more than 32,000 acres.

Since the 1980s, numerous companies voluntarily retired their holdings in the Badger-Two Medicine area, citing the ecological values and profound significance to Blackfeet culture. Interior previously noted that these and other leases in the region were issued without sufficient environmental review or tribal consultation.

National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) has fought for the protection of these remarkable lands, supporting the calls of thousands of Montanans, individuals and organizations for permanent protection. These supporters include tribes from throughout Indian Country, the National Congress of American Indians, Montana’s senior U.S. Senator Jon Tester, Montana Governor Steve Bullock, the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, Glacier County Commissioners, retired Glacier National Park superintendents, retired U.S. Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management leadership, hunting and angling groups, ranchers and even the rock band Pearl Jam.

Statement by Theresa Pierno, President and CEO of National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA)

“Today’s lease retirements are the culmination of a long-fought battle to protect cultural values and wildlife-rich lands at the doorstep of Glacier National Park. The Interior Department’s decision reflects the work of so many, and exemplifies wisdom and leadership by the Blackfeet Nation and Interior Secretary Sally Jewell.

“All those who find inspiration, recreation and solitude in this irreplaceable landscape will benefit greatly from this decision.

“NPCA also commends the leaseholders who voluntarily relinquished their leases over the years, choosing to be good stewards of these irreplaceable wildlands, for the sake of the Blackfeet Nation, all visitors to this remarkable landscape and the wildlife that roam there. We will continue to defend the Badger-Two Medicine from any attempt to reverse this important, historic action.”

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About National Parks Conservation Association: Since 1919, the nonpartisan National Parks Conservation Association has been the leading voice in safeguarding our national parks. NPCA and its more than one million supporters work together to protect and preserve our nation’s natural, historical, and cultural heritage for future generations. For more information, visit www.npca.org.