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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Glacier, Yellowstone receive money for bison conservation

A newborn bison calf stands next to its mother in Yellowstone National Park’s Lamar Valley in 2017.  (Neal Herbert/National Park Service)
By Brett French Billings Gazette

BILLINGS – Recently announced funding from the Department of the Interior will go to reintroducing bison to Glacier National Park and helping Yellowstone expand its program of bison transfers to tribes.

The funding was announced Tuesday in a news release from the department touting $195 million in investments across the nation for climate restoration and resilience projects over the next decade.

“National parks across the United States will use this funding to prepare for the impacts of climate change, protect species, restore ecosystems and invest in conservation jobs,” the Interior Department announced.

The states include Montana and Wyoming.

Glacier public information officer Gina Icenoggle said the park is still in the planning stages for how the money will be used.

Yellowstone is targeted for a $3 million investment in expanding its capacity to increase the return of Yellowstone-origin bison to tribes through its transfer program. The park has sent 414 bison to the Assiniboine and Sioux tribes in eastern Montana to finish out their required quarantine protocol to insure they are free of the disease brucellosis.

The Fort Peck Reservation then works with the Intertribal Buffalo Council to move the animals to tribes. Since its inception in 2018, the transfer program has sent bison to 26 tribes in 12 states.

“America’s national parks drive economic opportunity, extend nature-based solutions in our fight against climate change, and provide the chance for people of all ages to explore and enjoy the great outdoors,” Interior Secretary Deb Haaland said in the news release. “Through historic resources from President Biden’s Investing in America agenda, we are investing in these precious places, safeguarding endangered species and making our communities more resilient to climate change.”

Also included in the funding is $722,400 for an inventory of cultural resources at high elevations in Yellowstone, Glacier and Grand Teton national parks. Protection and restoration of federally threatened whitebark pine in Grand Teton, Yellowstone and Glacier – along with other parks in California and Washington – will see a $2.25 million boost.

Other funding, nationwide and to regional parks, focuses on restoring landscapes by managing invasive plants and restoration of abandoned mines and sagebrush ecosystems.

“This investment in conservation demonstrates an unprecedented commitment towards tackling the climate crisis and strengthening America’s resilience,” National Park Service Director Chuck Sams said. “From protecting species to rebuilding outdoors infrastructure, this investment will support ongoing efforts to protect and preserve our nation’s most cherished places.”

The $195 million investment announced Tuesday will support more than 40 projects across hundreds of national parks, including initiatives that:

• Promote climate resilience in forests from the West Coast to the East Coast;

• Prioritize coral health and resilience to climate change in the Southeast;

• Mitigate the impacts of climate change and improve food security for subsistence users through co-stewardship arrangements with Tribal Nations; and

• Support the expansion of the Community Volunteer Ambassador youth program.