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Missoula County commissioners work with Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes


By Alyssa Kelly
Char-Koosta News

Confederated Salish and Kootenai tribal leaders met with the Missoula Board of County Commissioners to sign a five-year memorandum of agreement regarding cooperative land use planning and regulation. The Flathead Reservation and Missoula county overlap in the Evaro primitive area, and the memorandum is intended to “enhance cooperative procedures employed in land use planning activities on the land common to Missoula County and the Flathead Indian Reservation.” (Alyssa Kelly photo) Confederated Salish and Kootenai tribal leaders met with the Missoula Board of County Commissioners to sign a five-year memorandum of agreement regarding cooperative land use planning and regulation. The Flathead Reservation and Missoula county overlap in the Evaro primitive area, and the memorandum is intended to “enhance cooperative procedures employed in land use planning activities on the land common to Missoula County and the Flathead Indian Reservation.” (Alyssa Kelly photo)

PABLO — The signing of a five-year memorandum of agreement (MOA) marked a 30-year government-to-government cooperation between the Missoula Board of County Commissioners (MBCC) and the Confederated Salish and Kootenai tribes (CSKT).

The land use planning and regulation document is intended to “enhance cooperative procedures employed in land use planning activities on the land common to Missoula County and the Flathead Indian Reservation.”

The Flathead Reservation and Missoula County boundaries overlap in the Evaro primitive area, which inspired the governments’ initial memorandum in 1986. The agreement recognizes Missoula’s history as the aboriginal territory to the Salish, Pend d’Oreille, and Kootenai tribes and provides an avenue for the government entities to collaborate on land use projects.

“This has been a mutually beneficial partnership between the tribes and Missoula County,” Economic Development Planning Director Janet Camel said. “It’s provided a positive dialogue on a government-to-government level. We all get so much out of working together in a respectful and cooperative atmosphere.”

The government bodies meet annually to discuss potential projects. Camel said the MOA provided cooperation on past projects such as: the animal overpass in Evaro, an eco-restoration project planting bitterroot at Fort Missoula, the Missoula Board of County Commissioners’ letter of support for the CSKT water rights, and both have been involved in urging the Environmental Protection Agency to investigate and address the water quality issues resulting from the Smurfit Stone Mill in Frenchtown.

Aside from renewing the MOA, the MBCC invited CSKT leaders to join the Crown of the Continent Leadership Team, which is a group made up of US, Canadian, and tribal leaders, citizens, and non-profit organizations specifically focused on preserving the cultural and ecological integrity of an 18 million acre landscape coined “the Crown of the Continent.”  Located from the Elk Lakes Provincial Park in Canada to the Rattlesnake Wilderness in Montana, the Crown of the Continent represents the largest intact ecosystem in the United States and encompasses several national parks as well as the Flathead and Blackfeet reservations.

Upcoming projects between the government bodies include the completion of a walk path along Highway 93 from 44 Bar to the Missoula and projects to emphasize CSKT’s historical and cultural connection to the Missoula area.

For more information on the Missoula Board of County Commissioners visit: https://www.missoulacounty.us/home. For more information on the Crown of the Continent Leadership Team: http://largelandscapes.org.

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