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 U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service – The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes 

U.S. FISH AND WILDLIFE SERVICE AND THE CONFEDERATED SALISH AND KOOTENAI TRIBES NEGOTIATE ANNUAL FUNDING AGREEMENT FOR NATIONAL BISON RANGE COMPLEX 

December 15, 2004  

Contact:  Matt Kales, FWS (303) 236-4576
Gwen Lankford, CSKT, (406) 675-2700, ext. 1119
Sharon Rose, FWS, (303) 236-4580 

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes (CSKT) today signed an Annual Funding Agreement for the National Bison Range Complex in Moeise, Montana.  Under the agreement, the tribes will perform some of the Service’s activities at the Bison Range for the remainder of Fiscal Year 2005 and for Fiscal Year 2006.  These activities include elements of the biology, fire, maintenance and visitor services programs at the Bison Range. 

 “This agreement signals a new level of cooperation between the Service and the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes in managing the fish and wildlife resources at the National Bison Range,” said Steve Williams, director of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  “The Service looks forward to forging a strong relationship with the Tribes as we work together to conserve America’s natural heritage.” 

“We have worked together on many projects with both the Bison Range staff and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service,” said Fred Matt, chairman of the Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribal Council, “We believe this new partnership will help us all as stewards of the land.” 

Examples of the activities CSKT will perform on the Bison Range under the AFA include migratory non-game bird surveys; waterfowl pair counts; bird banding; vegetation monitoring; GIS mapping; invasive plant control; wildfire suppression and prescribed burning; collection of federal public use fees and receipts from Federal Duck Stamp sales; and, custodial services. 

The Service will maintain ownership of and management authority over all lands and buildings at the Bison Range. 

Matt and Ralph Morgenweck, Regional Director of the Service’s Mountain-Prairie Region,, and CSKT Chairman Matt signed the agreement at a ceremony at the Main Interior Building in Washington, D.C..  The AFA will be transmitted to the Senate Indian Affairs Committee and the House Resources Committee Office of Insular and Native American Affairs for a 90-day Congressional review period before it is implemented. 

The National Bison Range Complex, part of the National Wildlife Refuge System, consists of the National Bison Range, Swan Lake, Lost Trail, Pablo and Ninepipe National Wildlife Refuges, and the Northwest Montana Wetland Management District.  Established in 1908 to conserve the American Bison, the Bison Range and ancillary properties provide important habitat for a variety of species such as elk, pronghorn antelope and migratory birds.  The agreement applies only to those units that lie within the boundaries of the Flathead Reservation: The National Bison Range; Ninepipe National Wildlife Refuge; Pablo National Wildlife Refuge; and, waterfowl production areas within the Reservation. 

The agreement, which was the culmination of a 10-year effort, was negotiated pursuant to the Indian Self-Determination and Education Assistance Act.  Under the Act, qualified Indian Tribes may request to perform activities administered by the Department of Interior which are of geographic, historic or cultural significance to the requesting tribe.  The National Bison Range meets all three of those criteria with respect to its significance to the Confederated Salish & Kootenai Tribes due to its location within the Flathead Indian Reservation and the fact that some of the bison descend from a herd managed by Tribal members a century ago. 

The agreement at the Bison Range follows another recent management agreement between U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Council of Athabascan Tribal Governments regarding tribally contracted activities in the Yukon Flats National Wildlife Refuge of Alaska.   

Notice of the agreement will be published in the Federal Register in the near future.  The agreement may currently be obtained on-line at: http://mountain-prairie.fws.gov/cskt-fws-negotiation or by contacting the Bison Range at: National Bison Range, 132 Bison Range Road, Moiese, MT 59824; (406) 644-2211; or the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, P.O. Box 278, Pablo, MT 59855; (406) 675-2700. 

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is the principal Federal agency responsible for conserving, protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife and plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The Service manages the 95-million-acre National Wildlife Refuge System, which encompasses 545 national wildlife refuges, thousands of small wetlands and other special management areas. It also operates 69 national fish hatcheries, 64 fishery resources offices and 81 ecological services field stations. The agency enforces federal wildlife laws, administers the Endangered Species Act, manages migratory bird populations, restores nationally significant fisheries, conserves and restores wildlife habitat such as wetlands, and helps foreign and Native American tribal governments with their conservation efforts. It also oversees the Federal Assistance program, which distributes hundreds of millions of dollars in excise taxes on fishing and hunting equipment to state fish and wildlife agencies.

 The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes are comprised of the Bitterroot Salish, the Pend d’Oreille, and the Kootenai Tribes.  The Tribes occupy the 1.3 million acre Flathead Reservation in northwestern Montana.   

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