Wildlife Migration Corridor Protections and Montana Water Rights Bills Advance in U.S. Senate

WASHINGTON, DC — The National Wildlife Federation hails the advancement of two Senate bills which will ensure enhanced wildlife conservation, water security, and increased collaboration with tribal nations. The Tribal Wildlife Corridors Act (S-2891) and the Montana Water Rights Protection Act (S-3019) were approved today by the Senate Indian Affairs Committee.

“The Tribal Wildlife Corridors Act acknowledges the tremendous influence that tribes have had in managing millions of acres of wildlife habitat and water resources,” said Garrit Voggesser, national director for tribal partnerships at the National Wildlife Federation. “This legislation will build on tribal initiatives that have promoted landscape-scale conservation and protection of wildlife corridors to boost biodiversity and safeguard our nation’s fish and wildlife.”

The corridors act, which was introduced by Senator Tom Udall (D-NM), creates a tribal wildlife corridors grant program to ensure that tribes have the resources needed for on-the-ground implementation of conservation measures. Additionally, it enables tribes to nominate wildlife corridors and sets a deadline for the Department of Interior to make a decision on the request.

The Montana Water Rights Protection Act, introduced by Senator Steve Daines (R-Mont) affirms the water rights of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes and restores ancestral lands to tribal control through the transfer of the National Bison Range from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to the tribes.

“This legislation – which is long overdue – is the result of years of negotiation and represents an innovative, collaborative solution. The water compact reflects a positive, forward-looking approach to water management, community development and ecosystem recovery,” said Tom France, regional executive director for the National Wildlife Federation. “The Salish and Kootenai Tribes played a pivotal role in saving bison from extinction in the late 1800s. This act will right a historic wrong by returning management authority of the National Bison Range to the tribes.” 

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