MISSOULA – Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke has halted plans to transfer management of Montana’s National Bison Range to the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
The former Montana congressman told the Missoulian in an email that he is committed to not selling or transferring public lands.
The proposed transfer was a step to hand over management of the range to the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes. The refuge is located on the Flathead Indian Reservation and was created in 1908 when bison were nearly extinct.
Zinke says the tribes will play a pivotal role in discussions about the future of the bison range.
Tribal Chairman Vernon Finley says restoring reservation land to the tribes is different from selling public lands. He says he’ll speak with Zinke and the tribal council about their options.
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