Driven by increased enrollment, Salish Kootenai College has begun an expansion project that includes construction of art and science buildings, a cultural center and a nine-hole golf course. Enrollment at the tribal college in Pablo has held steady the past two years, at the equivalent of about 1,100 full-time students. "But that's been intentional,'' said Dennis Klaus, vice president for business affairs. "We haven't had room to expand ... .'' The new facilities will provide more space for four-year programs in nursing and environmental science and for art instruction in a new, 10,000-square-foot art building ready this fall. Salish Kootenai lacks a degree program in art, largely because the facilities to offer one have not been available, Klaus said. "Up to this point, we've been dealing with two shared classrooms,'' he said. "This will allow the program to branch out and have projects going in all the art disciplines at the same time, without having to put the work away between classes.'' Work on a cultural center is set to begin in August, and officials plan to break ground for a science building this fall. Building-trades students will be primary builders of all structures. The golf course will be used heavily for instruction, beginning next spring, by youths from the Flathead Indian Reservation.
Tribal council members inspected the tribe's long-defunct Camas Hot Springs spa here July 10 with an eye to reviving it - or tearing it down. No decision was announced about the area, considered sacred by tribal members. Chairman Fred Matt earlier told the council he favors resurrection in some form. Once known around the world for its mineral waters, the soaking-and-swimming resort was closed 20 years ago. Asbestos insulation on 1,800 feet of hot-water piping has been a major obstacle to any action. Dave Marshall, director of the tribes' Solid and Hazardous Waste Program, said $50,000 of a $96,000 asbestos abatement grant will be used in the old spa. Then the council can decide the next step. "The bathhouse has been sitting there empty for years, and it can't even be torn down because of asbestos,'' Marshall said. Vinyl floors, siding, ceiling panels, pipe, ceiling and wall insulation all may contain dangerous asbestos in older buildings. Marshall said the concrete building, built on bedrock, is sound, although the interior has been trashed. Its year-round supply of water from the hot springs could heat a greenhouse or warm a tropical fish operation.
An area in the Mission Mountains known for its grizzly bear population is being closed by the Confederated tribes. The closure, from July 15 through Oct. 1, affects the 10,000-acre grizzly bear management zone surrounding McDonald Peak. The bears historically gather in the area to feed on high concentrations of ladybug beetles and army cutworm moths in the summer. The closure allows the bears to remain at high elevations, which reduces potential conflicts with humans at lower elevations. The area is closed from Post Creek south to the divide between Ashley and Mission creeks, from the western edge of the tribal wilderness to the Mission Divide.