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Joint News Release

Congressman Denny Rehberg
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service
The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes



October 13, 2004

For Immediate Release                                                              

Brad Keena, Rep. Rehberg, (202) 225-3211
Matt Kales, FWS, (303) 236-4576
Gwen Lankford, CSKT, (406) 675-2700, ext. 1119

Congressman Denny Rehberg of Montana, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) and The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes (CSKT) today announced that public comment for the draft Annual Funding Agreement (AFA) for the National Bison Range Complex will be reopened to allow the public additional time to review and provide comment on the AFA and associated information.  The reopening will begin following publication of a notice in the Federal Register and last fifteen (15) days.  Public comments will be accepted during the days preceding publication of the Federal Register notice, effectively extending the original 90-day public period, which concluded on October 12. 

The Service and the CSKT, working closely with the Congressman earlier this week, agreed to reopen the comment period so the public could consider cost estimates for the draft AFA developed subsequent to the publication of the draft AFA.  Congressman Rehberg contacted the Service in late September to request an opportunity for the public to comment on this additional information.  

“I requested that the public comment period be reopened because new information has come to light since the public comment period began," Congressman Rehberg said. "With new facts and figures only recently available, it is appropriate for the public to have a chance to comment on this new information.  I appreciate that both the agency and the Tribes have agreed to my request.” 

“We believe that meaningful public involvement is an essential part of this process,” said Ralph Morgenweck, Regional Director for the Service’ Mountain-Prairie Region.  “Reopening the public comment period will help us ensure that any final agreement considers all relevant issues identified by the public.”

“We are pleased to join with Representative Denny Rehberg, and the Fish and Wildlife Service to allow the public an additional 15 days to comment on the draft Annual Funding Agreement,” said Fred Matt, Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribal Chairman.  “This gives the public another opportunity to participate in the process now that we have a more accurate cost analysis.”

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes have negotiated a draft Annual Funding Agreement for the National Bison Range Complex in Moiese, Montana.  Per the draft agreement, the CSKT would perform some of the Service’s activities at the Bison Range during Fiscal Year 2005.  These activities include the following categories: biological program, fire program, maintenance program, and, visitor services.   

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

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 draft 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 draft agreement 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 draft 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. 

The draft agreement and associated information, including the cost estimates, may currently be obtained on-line at: or by contacting the Bison Range at: National Bison Range, 132 Bison Range Road, Moeise, MT 59824; (406) 644-2211; or The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, P.O. Box 278, Pablo, MT 59855; (406) 675-2700.   

Comments may be submitted via e-mail at:, or in writing to the Bison Range at the above address.  Comments previously submitted during the original public comment period do not need to be submitted again.   

Following the public comment period and any subsequent revisions to the draft agreement, the final agreement will be signed by the Service and the CSKT, after which the agreement will be submitted to the U.S. Congress for a 90-day review period before it is implemented.



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