For yesterday's New York Times, Missoula native Nate Schweber wrote a fascinating story from Fort Belknap about how native species have been able to thrive on reservation land here in Montana and elsewhere in the West:
Wildlife stewardship on the Northern Plains’ prairies, bluffs and badlands is spread fairly evenly among private, public and tribal lands, conservationists say. But for a few of the rarest native animals, tribal land has been more welcoming.
As tribes have welcomed back and protected threatened species ranging from bison to black-footed ferrets, Schweber writes, members have benefited not only from reforging connections with animals long absent from their land but also from an influx of funding and jobs related to conservation:
In late 2013, during the painful federal sequestration that forced layoffs on reservations, Mr. Azure authorized the reintroduction of 32 bison from Yellowstone and 32 black-footed ferrets. That helped secure several thousand dollars from the nonprofit Defenders of Wildlife and kept some tribe members at work on the reintroduction projects, providing employment through an economic dip and advancing the tribe’s long-term vision of native ecosystem restoration. The next project is an aviary for eagles.
And the story isn't short on great details about the people these conservation efforts have affected: "In the employee directory of the Fort Belknap Reservation, Bronc Speak Thunder’s title is buffalo wrangler."