Thursday, November 19, 2015

Today's intersection: tribal economic development and Yellowstone bison

Tribes don’t want help from the State of South Dakota or any other western state unless it’s government to government.

Pay the tribes for the Black Hills, move BHNF out of USDA into Interior then give tribal governance over a new national monument that includes the national grasslands, Bear Butte and the Slim Buttes. Include land held by the US Bureau of Land Management.

Create wildlife corridors connecting those lands with others throughout the Greater Missouri River basin and release the 1000 bison Montana wants to kill into one of those corridors.

Here’s one plan:
This is offered as a remedy for buffalo overgrazing the Lamar Valley in Yellowstone National Park: Reintroduce overproduction of YNP bison to the Charles M. Russell National Wildlife Refuge and the adjacent Bureau of Land Management lands within the Lewistown District north of the CMR.
Montana is unique in the west for its federal land, coupled with YNP as our treasured source of pure bison, for reintroduction into the CMR. Since most of our federal land is leased to domestic cattle and sheep grazers at a low price of $1.69 animal unit month for a cow and calf or five sheep, it is only fair that domestic cows and sheep share the public grass with bison. The province of Saskatchewan has established two Canadian National Grasslands parks north of the U.S. border where brucellosis-free and genetically pure bison are being reintroduced.
We continue suffering from 27 years of poor management — through YNP boundary shooting by tribes and licensed shooters — after 58 percent of the bison were slaughtered in 1988-89. National disgrace and embarrassment due to lack of practical management continues while at the same time failing to manage bison numbers within YNP.
Bison populations can be controlled through bison reintroduction to the CMR, licensed fair chase hunters harvesting bison within the CMR and Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks managing the hunt. The goal is a sustainable number of bison in the CMR in balance with the production of native grasses and with domestic cattle and sheep.[LTE: Joe Gutkoski, president, Yellowstone Buffalo Foundation, Great Falls Tribune]
Corridors over public and private land to the Fork Peck, Crow, and Northern Cheyenne nations then into Wyoming's Thunder Basin National Grassland beyond to North and South Dakota merely takes the political will to do it.

Northern Colorado has just added a bison herd. The Oglala, Pawnee and Comanche National Grasslands are not far away.

The relatively small distance between the Canadian River and the Rio Grande reminded me again how the earliest humans, thwarted by glaciers, the dire wolf, and Smilodon on everything north of the Sangre de Cristos terminating at Santa Fe, blazed the Pecos Trail from west to east into The Great Plains to find an inland paradise teeming with prey. Human successes likely contributed to the extinction of those two species and most camelids some 11,000 years ago.

After the herds reach sustainable levels agreed upon by the stakeholders allow private and other public herds like the one at Wind Cave National Park with microchips to join the public herd and be harvested according to the market or population pressures. Hybrid herds should be assessed on a case by case basis and some individuals could join the main herd.

Steve Hickey gets it:
Step one isn’t an economic development task force as is evidence by why this well-intentioned idea is experiencing difficulties getting tribes to even come to meetings. Step one is the Truth and Reconciliaion Commission. If we want to move into a good future together we need to put the past on the table, and the present animosities and ongoing injustices. Natives culturally value honor and we think they value money like we do. [comment, Steve Hickey]
If SDGOP wants to interact with tribal nations it’s because there is federal money to funnel into the Governors Club.

There are three American Indians sitting in South Dakota's legislature.

The legislatures of Montana, South Dakota, Wyoming and New Mexico should be drafting cannabis compacts with tribes and pueblos, identifying needs, and raising the resources to rewild the West.

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