A male Green-winged teal with rusty head and green eye stripe swims next to a mottled brown female.  Photo by Dave Menke, USFWS

The National Wildlife Refuge System is committed to building partnerships which encourage conservation and preservation of our natural and cultural resources. Partnerships with the Refuge System bring innovative approaches to solving land management and water disputes in the most environmentally protective manner. Scientifically-informed and technologically-based stewardship of our public lands, waters, wildlife and special places must be collaborative efforts between the Refuge System, other government agencies, and private organizations if conservation efforts are to succeed.

The Service works with neighboring land managers, the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes (CSKT) and the Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks (MTFWP), to manage Ninepipe National Wildlife Refuge as part of a larger wetland and upland vegetation community. The very existence of Ninepipe NWR is based on partnerships. The Refuge centers on Ninepipe Reservoir, developed for and managed by the Flathead Irrigation Project in 1910. At the request of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, the Refuge was established in 1921 on Tribal Trust lands.

Under a cooperative agreement with the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, the general Tribal recreation fee is waived for non-consumptive use of Ninepipe NWR by non-members of the Tribes. In turn, this allows fees to be waived for CSKT tribal members visiting the National Bison Range.

Partners worked together to develop the Ninepipe Watchable Wildlife Viewing Area under a challenge cost share program in 1996 on lands owned or operated by the Service, Montana Department of Fish, Wildlife and Parks, and the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes. The State developed the entrance road, parking area, interpretive area base structures and a restroom. A fully accessible trail starts at the State parking area and goes out on the Refuge. All three agencies cooperated on the development of the interpretive panels.

Ducks Unlimited constructed two islands for nesting birds in 1987. At times they assisted in planting dense nesting cover. The wild rose and snowberry plots planted in 1988 are well established and no cultivation has been required on them since 1990. These islands are typically high above water level and connected to the mainland until the reservoir receives sufficient spring melt (usually in June).

Annual Funding Agreement Information –

Pursuant to the 1994 Tribal Self-Governance Act, The US Fish and Wildlife Service has negotiated, entered into and concluded Annual Funding Agreements with the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes (CSKT). These partnerships between the Service and CSKT are government-to-government relationships and provide for the Tribes to have a substantive role in mission-critical programs of select units of the National Bison Range Complex, including Ninepipe NWR, which remain units of the National Wildlife Refuge System.

The Service issued a Notice of Intent to prepare an Environmental Assessment regarding the Interest of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes to enter into an Annual Funding Agreement with the Department of the Interior, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. This will assess the Draft Fiscal Year 2013-2016 Annual Funding Agreement between the United States Department of the Interior and the CSKT. We will post information and links when the Environmental Assessment is ready for public comment.