Salish, Kootenai tribes win national conservation award

2012-05-17T11:30:00Z 2012-05-21T14:33:10Z Salish, Kootenai tribes win national conservation awardBy VINCE DEVLIN Missoulian The Billings Gazette
May 17, 2012 11:30 am  • 

PABLO -– Entertainment has its Oscars, Emmys, Tonys and Grammys.

The conservation movement has Connies, and the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribesl will receive one on Thursday night in Washington, D.C.

The National Wildlife Federation will present CSKT with its 2012 Conservation Achievement Award in Government at an awards banquet.

Other Connie winners will include wildlife expert Jim Fowler; U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby, R-Ala.; and “Appalachian Patriot” Jack Spadaro.

The tribes are being honored for their “commitment to protecting, enhancing and conserving their homeland for future generations,” according to National Wildlife Federation president and CEO Larry Schweiger.

The tribes’ work, Schweiger added, “Benefits wildlife and all Americans in one of North America’s most spectacular and important ecosystems.”

“As a tribal government, this has always been our mission, to protect all the resources,” CSKT Chairman Joe Durglo said. “We feel privileged to be recognized and honored this way for what we’ve always done in the history of our people.”

Tribal council member Reuben Mathias and CSKT wildlife manager Dale Becker were in Washington to accept the award.

The National Wildlife Federation singled out the tribes for establishing the Mission Mountains Wilderness Area on the Flathead Indian Reservation, the nation’s first tribally designated wilderness area.

It also noted that the tribes have restored trumpeter swans to the reservation, established a grizzly bear conservation area, helped stop a proposed dam on the Kootenai River and established minimum instream flows for the Jocko River Basin, which the federation said was Montana’s first quantification of instream flows to support fish and wildlife.

“The Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes are respected among tribes in Montana and across the nation as conservation and wildlife management leaders,” said Alexis Bonogofsky, tribal lands manager for the National Wildlife Federation.

“In giving this governmental award to the CSKT, NWF is expressing its respect for them and other tribes, and the profound role they have played as sovereign nations in protecting wildlife for generations.”

Fowler, who initially gained fame on TV’s “Mutual of Omaha’s Wild Kingdom,” is receiving a Connie for conservation education.

Shelby is being honored for his legislative work to reform the National Flood Insurance Program and restore the Gulf of Mexico in the wake of the BP oil disaster. Spadaro – who the federation said has spent more than 40 years working to “protect the land, water, communities and mine workers from the ravages of irresponsible coal mining” – is receiving a Connie for special achievement.

Also being honored are musician Jack Johnson (communications), the children’s television network Nickelodeon (corporate leadership), Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley and his wife Katie (legislative), the footwear company Timberland (international), Cuban refugee Alicia Celorio (philanthropy) and biomedical researcher Nimansha Jain (science).

Past Connie winners include First Lady Lady Bird Johnson, President Jimmy Carter, Gov. Nelson A. Rockefeller and actor Robert Redford.

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