For Peter Metcalf, the new executive director of the Glacier-Two Medicine Alliance, his Montana adventure began in 2002 when he worked as a camp counselor on Flathead Lake. After leading groups of students into the Bob Marshall Wilderness, he “loved it” and found ways to stay.
Growing up in western Oregon, Peter graduated from high school outside of Portland and earned his bachelor’s degree in English literature in Spokane, Wash. He ran cross country and wrote his senior thesis on Native American literature. “That’s when I became aware of Indian issues,” he said. Having earned a master’s degree at the University of Montana, he is now pursuing his PhD in natural resource policy and intergovernmental management in a United States context.
He’s worked for a number of years in outdoor areas such as being a river guide in Idaho, as well as working as an environmental educator with UM and other partners.
With that background, he met Lou Bruno, then-director of the B2MA, who took him with a group of students into Badger Canyon. “I was persuaded by the land,” he said. “The landscape just speaks to you - to different people in different ways - and especially to the Blackfeet. There’s such a magnificent splendor of plant and animal communities that I spent five days there. In five days I saw no people and five grizzlies. Everyone I’ve taken in was taken by the landscape.”
Conferring with Bruno, Metcalf was offered the job of G2MA executive director, which he accepted.
“When I got with the Alliance, although I had concerns with Trump and the Badger-Two Medicine, it seemed like it was going forward,” Metcalf said. At the time, Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke “seemed like we had an ally, but now that’s changed radically. On a daily basis, the apparent tenor of the Badger-Two Medicine has changed.”
Two leases remain in the Badger, one by Montcrief and the other by Solenex. Al-though the two challenges they filed against their leases being cancelled were narrowly upheld, Zinke had vowed to appeal them. But last April, Interior withdrew their appeal and as of May 19, the Solenex lease is active. Then, one of those rep-resenting Solenex in the case, William Pendley, was named Acting Director of the Bureau of Land Management, which controls petroleum development in the Badger.
“We’ve been trying to get him recused,” Metcalf said, adding Senator Jon Tester has weighed in favor of recusal. Calls have also been made to Senator Steve Daines, but so far “we’ve got no confirmation of recusal; we’ve got no answer from anyone…so it’s important to the community to organize and keep the issue in the public pur-view. It’s hard to imagine the future that’s coming down the pike. We need greater certainty in land management, and we need to get rid of the leases.”
Which brings up the Fall Gathering coming up this weekend. Starting Friday, Sept. 20, and running through Sunday, Sept 22, the event features different activities each day. Friday kicks off at 7 p.m. at the East Glacier Park Lodge with famed wolverine biologist Rick Yates. Then on Saturday, the main events begin at Summit Mountain Lodge and Steakhouse, with a number of speakers, lunch and dinner, and a live auction. All the issues connected with the Badger-Two Medicine will be discussed. Sunday features guided hikes into the Badger-Two Medicine.
The events are open to everyone. The suggested donation is $40 per person, and folks can register at the website - https://www.glaciertwomedicine.org/fall-gathering-2019 - or at the door.
“As somebody who came into the Alliance, I’m amazed by the welcome I received,” Metcalf said. “And I’m looking forward to getting to know more people and working with the people in the community, and tribal leadership. These are challenging times, but I’m excited about the foundation that’s been laid over the years. So these are exciting times.”