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56 Counties: Lake County

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courtesy Tom McDonald and Dr. Cristina Eisenberg
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Tom McDonald (left), Dr. Cristina Eisenberg

Two thirds of Lake County is made up of the Flathead Reservation, which includes the Confederation of Salish and Kootenai Tribes along with the Flathead tribe. And because this county borders Flathead Lake, the tribes share a responsibility with the state to manage the fish and wildlife as well as the environment for the county. My guests this week are both wildlife biologists who have worked closely with the tribes and the state and federal entities to help maintain a healthy environment in Lake County.

Tom McDonald is a member of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes and currently holds the administrative position of Division Manager for the Tribe’s Fish, Wildlife, Recreation and Conservation Programs. The Division employs approximately 75 resource specialists and professionals for fish, wildlife, and recreation management on the 1.3-million-acre Flathead Indian Reservation and within the aboriginal territory of the Tribes. Mr. McDonald has been employed the Tribes in various capacities for the past 38 years and possesses a bachelor’s degree in natural resource management from The Evergreen State College. His work experience varies from management of wild and prescribed fire, conducting fish and wildlife population surveys and restoration activities, writing recreation, wilderness, and fish/wildlife management plans, and acquiring critical wildlife habitat and travel corridors on sensitive landscapes. Tom’s interests in the outdoors comes from his family’s history of the landscape, people, languages, and the relationships between all living things.

Dr. Cristina Eisenberg is graduate faculty at Oregon State University in the College. An Indigenous woman scientist, she studies wolves, elk, bison, and fire, and their effect on plants communities, and leads two major on-the-ground projects with the Kainai First Nation in Alberta, and the Fort Belknap Indian Community in Montana that integrate Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) into plant and wildlife conservation in Western North America. She was the Chief Scientist at Earthwatch Institute, where she oversaw a global research program focusing on ecological restoration, social justice for Indigenous peoples, and sustainable production of natural resources. She has written two books, The Carnivore Way, and The Wolf’s Tooth, and is currently working on a book about bison, Bison Homecoming: Repatriating and Icon, Rewilding the West, and another on wildlife and climate change. She lives with her family in a remote valley in Lake County, MT, where there are more grizzly bears and wolves than humans.

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