Klamath Tribes: In 1954, the Klamath Tribes were terminated by the federal government. They were stripped of their federal recognition status, their entire 1.2 million acre reservation, all their natural resources, and simply left to their own devices. While the Tribes were legally restored in 1987 they did not get back what was most important to their recovery: the return of their land base and development resources that could once again create a firm foundation for financial self-reliance. The Klamath Tribes took charge of their own restoration by implementing a community and economic development strategy to get back on its feet.
IDRS assisted tribal leaders over a period of seven years. This included preparing a comprehensive 5-10 year strategic action plan that called for reacquiring their land base, being active stewards of the landscape, protecting their treaty rights and trust resources (fisheries, water, wildlife, native plants, and cultural resources, etc.). It also called for the development of “Green jobs” and forest related enterprises that could help sustain the Tribes’ involvement in natural resource protection and enhancement.
IDRS also got involved in helping the Klamath Tribes prepare their negotiation strategy to participate effectively in the highly contentious Klamath River Basin Restoration Negotiations. The agreement that was finally reached with the federal government and 25 other stakeholders outlined new water allocation formulas on the Klamath River and natural resource restoration activities in the Klamath Basin. The Tribes viewed these negotiations as crucial to their being able to bring the fish back to the Upper Basin and obtaining the land base and the resources they needed to restore their economy.
IDRS also assisted the Tribes a $1 million grant for an option agreement to purchase a 90,000 acre forest (the Mazama Forest) that was part of their 1.2 million acre reservation before federal termination in 1954. IDRS also helped the Tribes secure an option to purchase a 108 acre former mill site for the Tribes’ new “Giiwas Green Energy Park”. Finally, IDRS assisted the Tribes develop secure $250,000 from EDA to conduct a thorough feasibility analysis of a bio-mass conversion facility and to prepare a business plan that was finance ready.
In addition to the biomass facility, IDRS assisted the Tribes explore the feasibility of bringing on line a range of forest related enterprises that transform woody material left on the forest floor after fuels reduction/thinning activities into marketable products. Among those explored were a wood sort yard, pellets, fire wood, wood chips, small diameter posts and poles, etc.
IDRS assisted the Tribes to create a tribal work crew to provide forest restoration services on contract with federal, state and privately managed forests. IDRS assisted the tribes secure a $1.4 million grant from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) to train the 20 member crew for two years. IDRS trainers provided this crew with six days of training in team work, collaboration and conflict resolution skills. This crew went on to successfully bid for work in the restoration of forests, fisheries, wildlife habitat, riparian corridors, etc. in the Klamath River Basin.
IDRS also helped the Tribes form a partnership relationship with two non-profit forest conservation and restoration organizations which together with the Tribes successfully negotiated a Master Stewardship Contract with the Winema National Forest. This Agreement essentially made the Tribes a partner with the Forest Service in managing and restoring the Winema Forest which had been part of their ancestral land before termination. The Tribes were thereby guaranteed contracting opportunities on 1.5 million acres for the next ten years, an unparalleled opportunity to create tribal income and new jobs in forest restoration.
Contact: Will Hatcher, Tribal Council Member and Natural Resources Director (541) 738-2219. (will.hatcher@klamathTribes.com)
White Mountain Apache: In 2002, the White Mountain Apache Tribe suffered the devastating impact of a catastrophic wildfire that burned over 250,000 acres of its old growth forests and approximately 250,000 acres of the adjoining Apache-Sitgraves National Forest before it was contained. This fire had a disastrous impact on the tribal economy which heretofore had been primarily in the business of harvesting and processing timber. In addition, the Tribe’s major employer, the FATCO Lumber Mill, closed down and resulted in over 80% unemployment among tribal members.
It will take decades before the Tribe’s forests come back, and the Tribe’s current challenge is to figure out how to diversify its economy to be in a position to provide alternative employment opportunities to its members so they can take care of the needs of their families. IDRS has assisted the Tribe’s Forestry Department to mobilize a team of technical experts to focus on “green job” creation efforts, on forestry enterprise development, provide business development training for staff, secure internship opportunities for tribal members from the Forest Service in skills they need to bid and manage contracts, and grow a fee-for- service unit within the Tribe’s Forestry Department.
In 2009, IDRS worked over a six month period with the tribal administration to secure $8 million from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act to hire tribal members in “green jobs” and undertake forest restoration work on six thousand acres of Tribal lands and forest lands on the Apache-Sitgraves National Forest. IDRS assisted the Tribe reorganize its Forestry Department and develop internal management systems to be in a position to manage the ARRA grants (and other future grants with the FS and other federal and state agencies) with efficiency and accuracy.
IDRS has also assisted the Tribe prepare and negotiate a Tribal Forest Protection Act Agreement (TFPA) with the Forest Service which enables the Tribe to identify additional forest and natural resource restoration projects that will prevent soil erosion, wildfires, insect infestation and the invasion of noxious weeds and other non-indigenous plants that reduce the bio-diversity of the forests. Within the TFPA framework the Tribe will be in a position to initiate restoration contracts that create future employment and subcontracting opportunities for tribal members.
Approximately $2.5 million of the ARRA grant were used by the Tribe to develop its own nursery to sell seedlings, native plants and grasses to the Forest Service and the Bureau of Indian Affairs. IDRS worked closely with the Tribe in all aspects of the nursery development.
Contact: Victor Velasquez, Tribal Administrator, (928) 521-6808 (cell). (E-mail: email@example.com)
Tribes in the Sierra Nevada Forests. One area of great concern is publicly managed National Forests in California in the Sierra Nevada mountain range. There are over 11.5 million acres of National Forests in this stretch of land between Lassen National Park in the north and Bakersfield in the south.
Over the last one hundred years there has been a significant and steady deterioration in the health of public forest lands in this area. These forests have become more prone to catastrophic wild fires, insect infestation and disease, and the invasion of noxious weeds and non-indigenous species. These conditions have undermined the integrity of fish and wildlife habitat, soils, river banks and other riparian areas. The reduction of large healthy tree stands has undermined these forests’ ability to sequester carbon gases from the atmosphere that contribute to global warming.
Over a four year period the U.S. Forest Service updated the Forest Management Plans on all the National Forests in the Sierra Nevada. There are over thirty-three Indian tribes that have land near to or adjoining these National Forests that have a longtime concern for forest land, and for the natural resources (water, vegetation, wildlife, fisheries, etc), and cultural resources (sacred sites, medicinal plants, burial grounds and other archeological and historical elements) that these Forests contain.
IDRS received a grant from the Resources Legacy Funds to support Indian tribes in the Sierra Nevada actively participate in revising the National Forest’s Forest Land Management Plans. IDRS provided formal training and coaching in cross-cultural communications and negotiation skills as well as facilitation services to both tribes and agency personnel in the Stanislaus and the Eldorado Forests. The training and technical services IDRS provided were designed to help both parties bridge the “cross-cultural divide” as well as learn the skills and implement processes that can be instrumental in achieving collaboration and in producing “win/win” agreements.
Contact: Peggy McNutt, Program Associate, Resources Law Group, LLP, 555 Capitol Mall, Suite 650, Sacramento, CA 95814