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Settlement reached in latest lawsuit over National Bison Range - KPAX.com | Continuous News | Missoula & Western Montana

Settlement reached in latest lawsuit over National Bison Range

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MOIESE - The latest lawsuit over management of the National Bison Range is being settled, clearing the way for the US Fish and Wildlife Service to resume development of a management plan for the National Bison Range.

Development of a Comprehensive Conservation Plan, as required by law, ran into a snag a couple of years ago when the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility filed suit. PEER was particularly worried when the Fish and Wildlife Service began floating the idea that it might use a “legislative transfer” to turn over management of the 18,000-acre wildlife refuge to the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes. 

PEER has repeatedly opposed the tribes playing a larger role in the Bison Range’s management. 

However, word comes now a settlement has been reached between FWS and PEER, resolving the lawsuit and setting new deadlines for the management plan to be completed within the next five years. 

PEER says some of its concerns were resolved last year when Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke stipulated the Interior Department would retain control of the Bison Range. 

But CSKT spokesman Rob McDonald notes that the settlement is actually “silent” on the question of the tribe’s involvement, neither stipulating, nor blocking the tribes from working with FWS. He says the tribes remain open to helping with the management plans and seeking participation in the Bison Range.

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