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Retired Forest Service Leaders Recommend Cancellation Of Badger-Two Medicine Leases

Map of Solenex Lease site in the Badger-Two Medicine near Glacier National Park
Courtesy Montana Wilderness Association
Map of Solenex Lease site in the Badger-Two Medicine near Glacier National Park

This week more voices came out in support of canceling oil and gas leases in the Badger-Two Medicine area of the Lewis and Clark National Forest.

Nineteen retired U.S. Forest Service leaders sent a letter to the Secretaries of the Interior and Agriculture urging the cancellation of the 18 remaining leases.

The rest of the 81 original leases have been let go by their holders. Those leaseholders were compensated and given money from private groups, says former Lewis and Clark National Forest Supervisor Gloria Flora.

“But I believe for the remaining leaseholders it is a matter of principle. It has nothing to do with economic viability or really discovering a vast gas field.”

Offers to remaining leaseholders to buyout or swap land for their leases has been turned down, says Flora. She signed the letter supporting lease cancellation.

The leases are on land considered sacred by the Blackfeet Tribe. Lawyers representing one of the remaining leaseholders, Solenex, have said their client has a property right on the land and should be allowed to use their lease.

Gloria Flora says it’s likely that if the remaining leases are canceled the leases holders will receive some kind of compensation that will be worked out with the Interior Department.

The Interior Department has been ordered by a federal judge to decide whether to cancel or move forward with the lease held by Solenex by November 23. That decision is likely to set precedent for all remaining leases.

Corin Cates-Carney manages MTPR’s daily and long-term news projects. After spending more than five years living and reporting across Western and Central Montana, he became news director in early 2020.
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