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last updated: 04/14/2011

Inspector General Report Refutes PEER's Bison Range Allegations

PABLO, MONTANA – The U.S. Department of Interior's Office of Inspector General (OIG) recently issued an evaluation report on operations at the National Bison Range Complex (NBRC). The evaluation was done in response to allegations made by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) that the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service (FWS) were performing poorly under the Tribal Self-Governance agreement.

The OIG investigators found no merit to PEER's allegations regarding bison management, pesticide application, law enforcement and general management. With respect to the pesticide applications, the investigators further reported that the Environmental Protection Agency performed a routine inspection at the Bison Range in 2010 that turned up no problems.

"The Inspector General report refuting PEER's allegations is both gratifying and unsurprising," said Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes Tribal Chairman E.T. "Bud" Moran. "The report proves what most of us in Montana already know: PEER's allegations concerning Tribal performance at the Bison Range are just wrong. The Inspector General demonstrated that Tribal and FWS staff were doing their jobs and doing them well. It is unfortunate that taxpayers had to foot the bill to investigate the continual allegations from PEER."

The OIG had assigned a team of investigators to look into the matter and as part of its evaluation, that team made multiple visits to the Bison Range. CSKT obtained a copy of the OIG report on March 31st.

"The Inspector General's report affirms the support the public has shown for the Tribes at the Bison Range," said Chairman Moran. "We will continue to try to earn that support through our stewardship practices and our partnership with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, including at the National Bison Range."

The Tribes are currently working with FWS on negotiating a new Bison Range agreement.

Below are some excerpts from the OIG report (copy of report attached):


Excerpts from the Office of Inspector General's Report on the National Bison Range Law Enforcement. Contrary to PEER's allegations about inadequate law enforcement, OIG investigators found that "law enforcement coverage at [the Bison Range] was adequate" and that none of the persons interviewed had concerns about insufficient law enforcement coverage.
[pp. 1-2 of report]

Bison Management. In regard to PEER's allegations that bison were allowed to "wander" through fence openings, the investigators found that the bison did not wander outside NBR boundaries but only between NBR pastures and that the bison were not in danger. The report explains that bison wandering into different pastures is "commonplace and rectified in the normal course of operations." The report noted that such incidents occurred "long before CSKT assumed specific NBR functions" and quoted a 16-year NBR employee as saying that bison getting into the wrong pasture "always happens. You just go and get them, it's no big deal." The investigators observed that "both exterior boundary and interior pasture fencing were well maintained and appeared adequate to retain the herd. Damaged fences were promptly repaired."
[p. 2 of report]

Pesticide Application. In response to PEER's pesticide misapplication allegations, the investigators reviewed pesticide application records and "did not find any instance where an NBR employee violated pesticide application instructions." The FWS employee whose document PEER had cited in support of its allegations told the investigators that his "comments were taken out of context" by PEER. The EPA performed an inspection at the NBRC last year that resulted in no adverse findings.
[pp. 2-3 of report]

Annual Work Plans. The investigators found that, while the annual work plan was not completed in 2009 (the first year of the agreement) and was completed late in 2010, the NBR managers had followed the 2008 work plan in 2009 and that "operations had not changed significantly between those years."
[p. 3 of report]

General Management. With respect to PEER allegations that NBR management was "adrift," the investigators bluntly stated that they "did not find any significant information to support this allegation." To the contrary, the report stated that:

"Interviewees told us that the FWS manager and the CSKT tribal deputy manager worked well together and collaborated on operational decisions. They stated that managers sought out experienced NBR staff regarding their opinions on various issues and did not differentiate according to whether they were FWS or CSKT employees. Interviewees also said that free and open communication existed between FWS and CSKT employees."

The report noted that a lead biologist position contracted by CSKT was vacant at the time of their evaluation, but also noted that NBR managers said that the position's duties were capably handled by a "highly regarded" CSKT staffer who was also a biologist. The FWS employee whom PEER cited in support of its allegations reported that this CSKT employee had provided "excellent direction." The report cited FWS as noting that CSKT's hiring qualifications for the position were "more stringent" than those of the federal government.
[pp. 3-4 of report]


For more information contact: Robert McDonald, CSKT Communications Director, 406-249-1818 robertmc@cskt.org


The Tribal Health Pharmacy system has changed for everyone

All the old phone numbers will no longer work. There are new numbers to call, which are extensions:
St. Ignatius: 5180
Polson: 7395

To have your prescription sent to the St.Ignatius pharmacy, you need to access Tribal extension 5180.
So, from home you would call 675-2700, and then either tell the operator or key in the extension 5180. Directions will follow on the call. It will tell you to press 1 to refill.

To have your prescription sent to the Polson pharmacy, you need to access Tribal extension 7395.
So, from home you would call 675-2700, and then either tell the operator or key in the extension 7395. Directions will follow on the call. It will tell you to press 1 to refill.

Also, the system will now require you to leave more information. To renew a prescription, you will need to know the Rx number printed on the bottle. When you call the new numbers, it is automated and it will walk you through what information is needed.

This new system is automated and will automatically fax the request to the appropriate doctor.

Patients with new prescriptions can still simply hand a prescription slip to a pharmacy worker at the tribal health pharmacies.

bullet Indian Health Service Confusion
IHS differs from CSKT's Health Department

PABLO, MT – Over recent months there have been numerous individuals who have been given notice of their medical bills being turned over to a collection agency. This is the result of the failure of Indian Health Service (IHS) to make payment for medical services provided.

Please be advised that the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes DO NOT OPERATE the IHS/Contract Health Services Program. This is the program that pays medical bills for services that are purchased.

Contract Health Services uses a $10 million fund to provide contract health care to eligible Indians of the Flathead Reservation. This program is administered by the Indian Health Service, the agency with the resources and responsibility to pay for medical care provided by private providers/facilities.

The Tribes are working diligently to address this issue. It is unacceptable for this to be occurring. We are currently attempting to determine who may be affected by these actions and to address the issue with necessary and legal response.

We are asking that if you have received a notice of collection, or you continue to receive bills that remain unpaid that you contact the following offices so that we may pursue appropriate resolution to this issue.

Contact person for IHS/CHS in St. Ignatius
Spina Grant, 406-745-2411 x5053 or the Billings Area Office, Attention: Rita Neuman, BAO, POB 36600, Billings, MT 59107, 406-247-7202.

The Tribes do not accept financial liability for the debts of the Indian Health Service, but we can and will utilize all available legal and technical resources to have your issue resolved.

Contact for Tribal Health:
Teri Robison, RN, Tribal Health & Human Services
POB 880, St. Ignatius, MT 59865
406-745-3525, x5044.

Please provide information as soon as possible so we may begin the process to resolve this problem.

All Attachments are Adobe Acrobat file (PDF). You will need to have Adobe Reader installed.

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