U.S. Secretary of the Interior visits Hauser Lake and Browning


by MTN News

U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell visited Devils Elbow on Hauser Lake on Tuesday morning to talk about protecting public lands.

Jewell told the gathered audience that in states like Montana, outdoor recreation drives the economy and it’s important to take care of public lands.

Right now she is working to see which landscapes are appropriate for developing renewable energy projects on public lands.

“So that we can plan on a long-term basis for an energy future that takes advantage of these renewable resources that are around us, as well as recognizing that the non-renewable resources are going to be an important part of our economy for years to come as well,” said Jewell.

This also marks National Public Service week, and Jewell honored those in the audience who work for local and state governments for serving the community.

Montana Attorney General Tim Fox released a statement regarding Jewell’s visit to Montana.

“The regulations Interior Secretary Jewell is implementing have dire consequences for Montana’s economy,” said Fox. “I strongly encourage her to visit with those who will be most impacted by her anti-coal policies,” said Fox.

Jewell, accompanied by U.S. Senator Jon Tester (D-MT), then traveled to Browning to discuss the Land Buy-Back Program for Tribal Nations.

The Buy-Back Program serves as the land consolidation component of the Cobell settlement, which provided $1.9 billion to purchase fractional interests in trust or restricted land from willing sellers at fair market value within 10 years.

“This nation-to-nation agreement honors the work of the late Elouise Cobell and will restore tribal homelands for the benefit of current and future Blackfeet tribal members,” Jewell said.

A press release from the Department of the Interior says that since it began making offers in December 2013, the Cobell program has paid more than $740 million to individual landowners and restored the equivalent of nearly 1.5 million acres of land to tribal governments.

The Interior Department has now entered into agreements with 31 tribal nations to implement the Buy-Back Program.

“It is a great honor for the Blackfeet Tribe to host Secretary Jewell and our good friend Senator Jon Tester. The kickoff of Blackfeet’s own Land Buy Back Program is more unique because the entire program came about through the hard work of our own Elouise Cobell,” Blackfeet Chairman Harry Barnes said. “The Cobell settlement touched every American Indian’s life. It is rare that Indian Country has the opportunity to host a policy maker of Secretary Jewell’s stature and position. It is imperative that those who would consider Indian Policy visit Indian Country and witness first hand the struggles our people live with day in and day out. Too often that policy is determined on the Potomac with no consideration of the Two Medicine.”