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US Fish & Wildlife Service FieldNotes

Klamath Tribal Restoration Workforce Partners with Klamath Falls Fish and Wildlife Office to Restore Habitat

Region 8, October 16, 2012
The Klamath Tribal Restoration Workforce in action restoring Oregon oak woodland habitat.
The Klamath Tribal Restoration Workforce in action restoring Oregon oak woodland habitat. - Photo Credit: n/a
Klamath Tribal Restoration Workforce thinning conifer stand.
Klamath Tribal Restoration Workforce thinning conifer stand. - Photo Credit: n/a
The Klamath Tribal Restoration Workforce burning slash piles to restore open understory condition in rare Oregon oak woodland habitat, Klamath County.
The Klamath Tribal Restoration Workforce burning slash piles to restore open understory condition in rare Oregon oak woodland habitat, Klamath County. - Photo Credit: n/a

By David Ross

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (Service) Klamath Falls Fish and Wildlife Office has been working closely with the Klamath Tribe on watershed issues since the inception of the office in 1993. Recently, this partnership was greatly expanded through the establishment of the Klamath Tribal Restoration Workforce; the workforce is comprised of about 20 tribal members.

This collaborative effort provides employment opportunities for tribal members and is focused around on-the-ground habitat restoration to improve watershed conditions in the Upper Klamath Basin. The tribe is taking a leadership role in restoring streams, wetlands, upland and riparian habitats in the upper basin through this new effort. Perhaps more importantly, tribal members are being invited onto private lands at the request of the private landowner. This is significant to tribal members because it reconnects them in a very positive way to their traditional homelands.

Oak habitats are the most important habitats for terrestrial migratory birds in the Pacific Northwest and these trees suffer significant threats to their long-term viability with encroachment of conifers. The restoration of oak is a task well suited for a focused workforce like that provided by the Klamath Tribes. By restoring the open character of oak woodlands, not only are oak-obligate terrestrial migratory birds positively impacted, but the endangered Gentner’s fritillary (a lily), winter hunting habitat for the northern spotted owl (a federally protected species) and even denning habitat for the Pacific fisher are all improved. The tribal group performs forest thinning by removing small (< 8 inch diameter) conifers and burning the residual slash. After the slash piles have cooled, the disturbed areas will be seeded with native warm season bunch grasses.

Partners for Fish and Wildlife projects provide the perfect platform for partnering with the Klamath Tribes as the flexible program greatly enhances partnerships with Native American peoples. We have also secured additional work for the tribal group through contacts with restoration projects throughout the Klamath Basin. The group has been involved in projects that range from replanting willow and lodgpepole pine within riparian habitat along the Wood River, to assisting the restoration of bull trout habitat by installing large woody debris in the upper Sprague Watershed. Recently the Klamath Tribal Restoration Workforce has worked with the city of Klamath Falls and they are restoring form and function to Moore Park, a 400 acre ponderosa pine forest that is also the site of a historic Klamath Tribal village.

The largest cooperatively developed project is a forest restoration effort on over 16,000 acres of the Fremont-Winema National Forest and is made possible via a stewardship agreement through the Klamath Tribes. The Klamath Falls Fish and Wildlife Office is looking forward to continued collaboration with the Klamath Tribal Restoration Workforce and is eager to see how this partnership will continue to evolve over the next few years.

David Ross is the Partners for Fish and Wildlife Program Coordinator at the Klamath Falls Fish and Wildlife Office in Klamath Falls, Ore.
 

Contact Info: David Ross, 541-885-2518, dave_ross@fws.gov