By Brian C. WilsonThe U.S. government has been quietly adding new panels of aluminum to the fence of its largest national wildlife refuge in western Montana for the past five years.
The federal agency that oversees the wildlife refuge said in a news release Wednesday that it will start adding the panels to the existing aluminum fence that covers the refuge.
The federal government has long relied on the panels for a simple reason: they are inexpensive and easy to install.
The panels, called U.F.P.A. (Unfinished Phase 3), are being added to the perimeter of the wildlife area on the eastern side of the refuge, which stretches from the towns of Big Sky and Big Sky-Tecota to the northern edge of the Great Salt Lake.
The project is the latest phase in the U.D. Paiute Nation’s attempt to expand its territory beyond the refuge’s current boundaries.
M.E. said it would use the panels if the fence is able to withstand a significant earthquake or catastrophic wildfire, but would consider whether the panels could withstand a similar event.
It will be up to the Paiute tribe and the UF.’s National Forest Service to evaluate whether the panel system would be viable in the future.
The first panels were installed on the refuge in 2013, but the tribe has yet to finish the work on them.
The U.B.I. and the Forest Service both say that they are working to finish a design and build a prototype of the UFFP.
A report by the UFS found that the panels would be effective in mitigating the impacts of a large earthquake.
“The panels are being built to protect the land from future events,” U.P.’s spokesman, Matt Lathrop, told reporters.
“It is important to note that no earthquake could cause significant damage to the UffP.
We are working very closely with our local officials to ensure that our project is safe and efficient.”
The UF., meanwhile, said it expects to begin installing the panels in mid-March.