GRANTS PASS — Forests held in trust for Indian tribes across the nation are woefully underfunded by the federal government, according to a report issued Thursday by a panel of experts.
The congressionally mandated report for the Intertribal Timber Council was released at the group’s annual meeting on the Menominee Indian Reservation in Wisconsin.
It found that tribal forests covering about 28,000 square miles nationwide receive about half of the funding per acre provided to national forests for wildfire prevention, and about one-third of national forests’ funding rate for forest management. That leaves tribal forests understaffed as they deal with increasing threats of wildfire related to global warming and change their goals from timber production to forest restoration.
Council President Phil Rigdon, who oversees natural resources for the Yakama Nation in Washington state, said from Wisconsin that the lack of funding makes managing tribal forests a struggle as many tribes take over operations from the U.S. Bureau of Indian Affairs.
The forests represent major assets for tribal culture as well as tribal economies, he added.
The Bureau of Indian Affairs did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
Jerry Franklin, a University of Washington forestry professor who took part in the first reviews of the state of tribal forests in 1993, said problems identified in the latest report seemed to have changed little from years past.
“What we see on Indian lands in many ways reflects what we also see on the federal forest lands: inadequate funding, inadequate staffing levels, insufficient resources in terms of qualified personnel and funds to do an appropriate job of stewardships,” Franklin said from Seattle.
He said the consequences of forest management are felt more intensely by tribes than Americans in general because they live closer to the forests and relate to them culturally.
The report was issued by a panel led by John Gordon, former dean at Yale School of Forestry, and John Sessions, professor of forest engineering at Oregon State University. It said funding and staffing levels for tribal forests are lower than they were when the original review was done in 1993, and well below those for national, state and private forests.
“Challenges such as losses of infrastructure, declines in forest health, and changing climate require urgent action,” the report said. “Progress will not occur without resolve and increased investment on the part of political leadership.”
There is no effective mechanism for enforcing performance standards, the report added.
Indian forests need a minimum of $254 million from the federal government but only receive $154 million, the report said. That leaves tribes to rely on grants, which are unstable as a source of funding.
FRESNO, Calif. — Federal law now allows visitors to carry guns in national parks, but you can’t just slip a loaded pistol into your backpack and take a hike. Pay attention, because this is a little complicated. You will need a concealed weapons permit to carry the loaded gun in the backpack. But you don’t need any kind of permit if you just want to…
The holiest plant of the Christmas season may be a raggedy shrub with peeling bark that seems to grow best in a dusty backyard in Tempe, Ariz. This is Boswellia sacra, better known as the frankincense tree. The shrub’s gum resin is one of the three biblical gifts that the wise men bestowed on the infant Jesus. Until recently, Americans who wished to cultivate their…
The Rainbows are coming again, and Crook County is prepared. Ten years ago, more than 20,000 members of the Rainbow Family, an international Utopian living group, met to camp, recreate and pray for peace at Indian Prairie, part of the Ochoco National Forest located approximately 30 miles northeast of Prineville. The group’s stay in Central Oregon was largely uneventful. But the influx of visitors and…
A barred owl that drew crowds of onlookers while swooping around at Farewell Bend Park earlier this year may well be dead. The owl was seen from mid-January into last month, regularly hunting for mice and voles along the Deschutes River just upstream of the Old Mill District. It then disappeared about a month ago. Two photographers found a dead owl March 3 about 10…
Move over, large lap pools. Smaller swimming holes are making a big splash. Sure, the economy is playing a role in making this luxury littler: Smaller pool equals smaller budget. But it's more than that, says Brett Berry, owner of Landscape Renderings, a Missouri business that designs and builds outdoor living environments. “You can create a fantastic sense of intimacy and atmosphere with a small…