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The Third Assessment of Indian Forests and Forest Management in the United States. IFMAT III Tribal Interior Budget Committee Billings, MT July 2014. Phil Rigdon (ITC) Larry Mason (IFMAT III). Intertribal Timber Council (ITC). Phil Rigdon , ITC President Deputy Director
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The Third Assessment of Indian Forests and Forest Management in the United States • IFMAT III • Tribal Interior Budget Committee • Billings, MT • July 2014 Phil Rigdon (ITC) Larry Mason (IFMAT III)
Intertribal Timber Council (ITC) Phil Rigdon, ITC President Deputy Director Natural Resources Yakama Nation ITC is a national association of Tribes and Alaska Native Organizations established in 1976 Yakama
“Our Land is What Makes Us Who We Are” (78,000 cords firewood; $30 M avoided costs) Warm Springs Sustainable Lifeways, Cultures, Spiritual Practices Income ($43 M stumpage in 2011) Employment (19,000 jobs) Fuel Nontimber forest products ($10 M) Climate (400 M tons CO2 storage) Fish & Wildlife Foods & Medicines Recreation Water, soils protection
Forest lands are among Indian Country’s most valuable assets • 334 forested reservations in 36 states – 18.6 M ac • 1/3 of all Indian lands • 305 reservations in trust & 29 in fee • 294 outside of Alaska • Increased 2.8 million acres in 20 years • 1 million acres in reserves • Fragmentation, fractionation, allotments Coquille
National Indian Forest Resources Management Act (NIFRMA) Public Law 101-630, Title 3, 1990, • The US has a trust responsibility toward Indian forest lands. • Existing federal laws do not sufficiently assure the adequate and necessary trust management of Indian forest lands • The federal investment in Indian forestry is significantly below the level of investment in, and management of, forest lands of other federal, state, and private owners.
NIFRMA requires independent assessments of Indian forests and forestry to be completed every ten years and provided to Congress and the Administration. Three have been completed. 2003 2013 1993
IFMAT III Larry Mason Principal Consultant, Alternate Dimensions Inc. UW School of Forest Resources (retired) San Carlos Apache Eastern Cherokee
IFMAT Focus Flathead Eight topics mandated by NIFRMA Additional Special Study Areas: Climate Change Workforce retention and development Economic and employment contributions Anchor Forests
Penobscot Funding is inadequate and declining • Federal funding for Indian forestry has declined by 23% since 1991 and is 33% of NFS. • Fire preparedness funding to tribes is 25% of NFS. • Hazardous fuels funding is 46% of NFS. • Roads funding is 23% of NFS.
More staff are needed • Staffing levels have declined 13% since 1991. • Indian forestry programs are aging (51% of foresters are 50 years or older). • Wages and benefits for tribal forestry positions are 15-30% lower than for comparable federal jobs. • An erosion of workforce skills, leadership, and institutional knowledge within BIA and tribal forestry programs is occurring. • BIA forestry lacks in-house scientific and technical support sufficient for inventory updates, climate change and environmental assessments, market and economic analyses, topical research and reporting, and long-range planning. • The BIA has no strategic plan to recruit, train, relocate, and retain tribal forestry professionals and technicians. Quinault
Lowest harvest level in 80 yrs! 50 yrs of decline! 2013: 336MMBF; $42MM 2013 Quinault
Hazardous Fuels Treatments decline Planting and Thinning backlogs increase Menominee
Woodlands are important but neglected Tule River • 202 tribes have woodlands (109 have only woodlands). • 2/3 of Indian forests are woodlands and non-commercial forestlands. • Woodlands are extremely sensitive to climate change, range management, drought, and encroachment by plant and animal species.
IFMAT III RecommendationsInvestments in Funding & Staffing • Increase funding for tribal forestry and wildfire management by a minimum of $100 million (39%) to provide a level of forest stewardship and timber production consistent with Indian goals and comparator organizations. • Increase professional and technical staff from current 1,210 by 792 (65%) to 2002 total. Mescalero Apache
Trust Responsibility The preamble to NIFRMA [Title III SEC 302] explicitly recognized the US trust responsibility for sustained management of Indian forests and expressed concerns with government ability to fulfill it’s obligations. Two decades later, IFMAT III finds thatthe federal government continues to inadequately fulfill its trust obligations to Indian forestry. After 20 years, still both “pitcher and umpire” An inherent conflict of interest is created by the dual obligations of the Bureau of Indian Affairs to both deliver Indian services and to assess whether those services are adequate and well-executed. Leech Lake
To be sustainable, Indian forestry programs must: • be assured of predictable, consistent, and adequate funding; • have access to up-to-date technical and research support; • be guided by each tribe’s vision for its forests; and • have a capable workforce committed to protecting tribal resources.
Underfunded and understaffed yet successes are noted Tule River IFMAT observed dedicated forestry staff, Indian and non-Indian, working together in tribal and BIA operations to care for Indian forests. Tribal forestry programs strive to do the best they can with limited available resources in accord with the wishes of tribal leadership. Indian forests are visibly healthier than adjacent national forests.
The number of contract and compact tribes that have taken control of their own forest management programs has doubled. Mescalero Tribal knowledge and stewardship capabilities are uniquely positioned to help sustain forests within and beyond reservation boundaries particularly on the neglected federal estate. If federal support to Indian forests and forestry programs is increased as recommended and fulfillment of trust responsibility is assured, Indian forests stand to become a model of sustainable management for federal and private forests alike.
Accomplishments notwithstanding, the current situation grows dire Makah Chronic underfunding and staffing shortfalls are placing the health and productivity of the trust corpus in jeopardy. Increasing threats of catastrophic loss from wildfire, insects, disease, drought, and climate change must be addressed proactively. Economic and employment benefits are being lost and opportunities are not being pursued. Indian forestry appears at a tipping point as decades of “begging Peter to pay Paul” cannot be sustained.
IFMAT III Implementation • The Administration has been briefed. • Hearings on IFMAT III has been held in both the House and Senate • Implementation Teams are being formed Nez Perce
IFMATIII Report Report: • 2-page summary • Executive Summary • Volume I – Summary of findings and recommendations • Volume II – detailed task reports, analyses & references Downloadhttp://www.itcnet.org/issues_projects/issues_2/forest_management/assessment.html Plus special issue of Evergreen Magazine