The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes are forging on – once again – in their effort to be a part of the management operations at the National Bison Range in northwestern Montana.
As Missoulian reporter Vince Devlin reports, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will go ahead with an environmental assessment for a funding agreement recently filed by CSKT that would allow the tribe to be involved in certain operations and programs at the range.
A similar funding agreement was thrown out be a judge several years ago, as Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility has continually fought against tribal involvement efforts.
Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility, which filed
the lawsuit that got the last agreement thrown out and has long fought any tribal involvement at the Bison Range, indicated it would again oppose a funding agreement.
“When people have a chance to evaluate the funding agreement on their own, they’ll be hard-pressed to figure out how PEER came to some of the allegations they make,” said CSKT spokesman Rob McDonald.
McDonald noted that an investigation by the Office of Inspector General of the Department of Interior last year found, on virtually a point-by-point basis, no merit in PEER’s longstanding charges of wrongdoing by CSKT employees who worked at the Bison Range under two previous funding agreements.
PEER has also previously claimed previous funding agreements “ceded control” of the Bison Range to the tribes, which was never the case.