This letter is in response to the conservation and fisheries license changes proposed on the Flathead Indian Reservation. I am guessing there are a lot of Montana residents who do not reside on the reservation who have become totally unhinged when viewing your new draft on these regulations. I was a little taken aback when I saw that non-residents of the reservation and non-residents of Montana are basically lumped into the same category.
Should I expect a lower fee just because I am a sixth generation Flathead County resident? Probably not. What I am seeing is the reservation is a sovereign nation and it makes no difference to the tribe if I am a non-resident of the reservation or a non-resident of Montana. I am outside of that sovereignty and therefore pay the same price as the guy from California or Idaho, etc.
My opinion, which doesn’t count for very much in the whole scheme of things, is if the tribe would have placed a notice to non-residents off the reservation that stated: the tribe has a 5-year or a 10-year plan for the fisheries on the reservation, or we need maintenance done on our wilderness areas, an in order to accomplish this we are looking at license fee increases. That would make too much sense to garner support from non-residents on you plan for fisheries and wilderness. Common sense is not really common anymore, whether it be at county, state or federal levels.
The only reason agencies put out a request for “public input” is because they are required to do so.
To triple the fee cost in one year is basically your fish and game board and your public relations people saying we don’t care what people think, we are a sovereign nation. We can charge what we want, take it or leave it.
I will say, I appreciate the research the tribe has done to try and understand the fisheries on the southern end of Flathead Lake. It is too bad the state doesn’t work more with the tribe in trying to research and hopefully understand the many aspects of the fisheries in such a large body of water.
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