Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes

From left, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service employees Kevin Shinn, Vanessa Fields and Bernardo Garza  field public questions at an open house about future National Bison Range management in Charlo May 10, 2018.
Nicky Ouellet

The National Bison Range near Charlo has a way of anchoring itself in local’s sense of where they come from and who they are now.

Dave Stipe remembers as a kid taking visitors out to the range to see the herd.

"We grew up in our hot lunches eating the buffalo, the deer and the elk from the bison range," Stipe says.

Now, as a Lake County Commissioner, Stipe is part of a group working alongside the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to outline how the Range and a few nearby wildlife refuges will be managed in the future.

State budget cuts mean the Montana Indian Language Program has less than half the funding it had in previous years to try to stop the rapid decline of native language speakers. State lawmakers got an update from people who work with that program Thursday.

Casey Lozar, an enrolled member of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes who also works as an advisor on tribal policy in the Department of Commerce, says there has become an urgency to their work in the language preservation program.

Watercraft inspection station sign.
Katrin Frye

State and tribal agencies are opening mandatory boat check stations this week to screen incoming watercraft for invasive species, like zebra and quagga mussels.

Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks will open an inspection station at its regional office in Kalispell Thursday, March 15. The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes will open the Ravalli check station on Friday, March 16. The station along I-15 in Dillon will open Saturday, March 31, with more stations opening on a rolling schedule leading up to Memorial Day.

Tony Harwood lectures on Native American uses and approach to wildland fire at the first Wildland Fire in Western Montana lecture event in Kalispell, MT February 23, 2018.
Nicky Ouellet

Even with two feet of snow on the ground, homeowners and fire managers in the Flathead Valley are thinking about fire season. FireSafe Flathead kicked off a four-part lecture series about wildland fire in western Montana at Flathead Valley Community College Thursday night. MTPR's Nicky Ouellet brings us the highlights.

The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes released a seasonal closure reminder Monday for the Ferry Basin Wildlife Management Unit in the southwest corner of the reservation. The area is closed each year to non-tribal members to minimize impacts to big game in critical winter and calving ranges from January 1 through May 15.

An informational sign at the entrance of the National Bison Range near Moiese, MT.
Josh Burnham

Federal wildlife officials have agreed to prepare a conservation plan for Montana's National Bison Range as part of a settlement in a lawsuit brought by an environmental group. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will prepare what’s called a comprehensive conservation plan, or CCP, for the Bison Range by 2023.

Logo of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes.
Josh Burnham

Tribes in northwest Montana have pledged to uphold the Paris Climate Agreement, despite President Donald Trump backing out last year. The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes signed onto the We Are Still In campaign last week.

FWP has inspected more than 23,000 watercraft as part of its effort to keep the mussels, which can cause millions of dollars of damage to hydropower dams and irrigation systems, out of Montana’s waterways.
Katrin Frye

Agencies responding to the discovery of invasive mussels in two Montana reservoirs east of the continental divide last year are working to better align their prevention programs.

The Kootenai Bridge over Lake Koocanusa from the east bank.
David M. Carson (CC-BY-SA-4)

 Editor's note: We've corrected part of this story. Read below.

Coal mines in Canada have been sending a harmful heavy metal downstream to northwest Montana for years, but state, tribal, federal and Canadian agencies all have different standards for how much is too much. Those agencies are meeting this week, and speaking with the public to try to come up with common standards.

Hydroelectric dams like the Salish Ksanka Qlispe Dam in Polson worry invasive mussels could clog up energy production.
Corin Cates-Carney

Hydropower is a big resource in Montana. It accounted for almost a third of the state’s net electricity generation in 2015. Floods and droughts are always on dam managers’ minds, but lately, energy producers are also worried about tiny, non-native mollusks that could wreak havoc on Montana’s hydropower facilities.


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