WASHINGTON, D.C. — The passage of the Montana Water Rights Protection Act rights a historic wrong by affirming the water rights of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes and restoring tribal control of the National Bison Range.
“After years of innovative collaboration between the State of Montana, the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes, and the Department of Interior, passage of the Montana Water Rights Protection Act represents an historic step forward to improve water management and accelerate ecosystem recovery, while righting a historic wrong by returning the National Bison Range to the Salish and Kootenai,” said Collin O’Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation. “The National Wildlife Federation thanks Senators Daines and Tester for passing this critical legislation and looks forward to the stewardship that the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes will bring to the management of the National Bison Range, which will benefit both wildlife and the thousands of people who visit the range every year.”
The Montana Water Rights Protection Act will ensure productive, cooperative management of waters throughout western Montana, which will lead to habitat restoration that is essential to fish and wildlife populations on and off the Flathead Reservation. The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes played a pivotal role in saving bison from extinction in the late 1800s. This agreement will allow them to resume that stewardship.
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