Environment

Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes eye role at bison range






Bison in the National Bison Range in Montana. Photo from Facebook

The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes are once again pushing for a management role at the National Bison Range in Montana.

The range is located entirely within reservation boundaries. The bison that live there descend from animals that were raised by tribal members.

A draft enviromental assessment proposes an annual funding agreement with the tribe to manage biology, fire, maintenance, and visitor services at the refuge. Public comments are being accepted until September 4, according to a notice published in today's issue of the Federal Register.

"We always think that it’s important to involve stakeholders in the process of deciding how to best manage our shared natural resources, in this case the locally- and nationally-known National Bison Range,” Will Meeks, the assistant regional director for the Mountain-Prairie Region of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service said in a press release. “Both citizens and Tribal members with an opinion on how the National Bison Range will be managed are invited to comment on the draft environmental assessment during the thirty-day comment period.”

This is the third proposed funding agreement. The first was canceled in December 2006 amid concerns about the tribe's management style.

A second agreement was invalidated in 2010 as part of a federal court case. The new one faces continued criticism from the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, the group that was behind the lawsuit.

"Their own employees say that the Service has not learned from its past mistakes,” PEER senior council Paula Dinerstein said in a press release. “As before, this new agreement will adversely affect Bison Range operations in ways we believe are prohibited by law."

Get the Story:
USFWS, CSKT work towards National Bison Range plan (KPAX 8/5)

Federal Register Notice:
National Bison Range Complex, Moiese, MT; Environmental Assessment for the Proposed Annual Funding Agreement With the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes (August 5, 2014)

Related Stories:
Montana tribe seeks management role at National Bison Range (7/26)