Conserving the Nature of America

News Release

Pacific Region Tribes Receive More Than $1.3 Million To Restore Land and Protect Species

February 25, 2010

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Interior Secretary Ken Salazar today announced more than $7 million in grants to fund 42 Native American projects that benefit fish and wildlife and their habitat. Of those funds, $1,302,539 will be awarded to tribes in Idaho, Oregon and Washington.

“Tribal Wildlife Grants are much more than a fiscal resource for Tribes. The projects and partnerships supported by this program have enhanced our commitment to Native Americans and to the United States’ shared wildlife resources,” Salazar said.

More than $50 million has gone to Native American tribes through the Tribal Wildlife Grants program in the past eight years, providing funding for 400 conservation projects administered by 162 participating federally recognized tribes. The grants provide technical and financial assistance for the development and implementation of projects, including non-game species, that benefit fish, wildlife, cultural and natural resources.

“The Tribal Wildlife Grants program has helped the Service collaborate more effectively with Pacific Region tribes in conserving and restoring the vast diversity of fish and wildlife habitats they manage,” said Acting Director Rowan Gould.

The grants have enabled tribes to develop increased management capacity, improve and enhance relationships with partners including state agencies, address cultural and environmental priorities, and heighten interest of tribal students in fisheries, wildlife and related fields of study. Some grants have been awarded to enhance recovery efforts for threatened and endangered species.

The grants are provided exclusively to federally recognized Indian tribal governments and are made possible under the Related Agencies Appropriations Act of 2002 through the State and Tribal Wildlife Grant program.

During the current grant cycle, tribes submitted a total of 137 proposals that were scored by panels in each Fish and Wildlife Service region using uniform ranking criteria. A national scoring panel recommended 42 proposals for funding. Grants awarded in the Pacific Region are:

IDAHO

Nez Perce Tribe Awarded $200,000
Rare Plant Conservation of Nez Perce Lands

The Nez Perce Tribe will implement conservation actions for up to 24 species of rare plants located at over 260 sites on tribal lands in Idaho, Oregon and Washington. Populations of rare plants have been inventoried and their needs assessed through completion of two trial landowner Incentive Program (TLIP) grants awarded to the Nez Perce Tribe by the Service in 2004 and 2006. The current program will implement conservation measures and management actions identified through that earlier work. Plant populations deemed to be at highest risk (smallest size, highly restricted distribution, most imminent threats) will receive priority. Conservation measures will include fencing and gating to restrict vehicular and livestock access, noxious weed control, seed collection and cryopreservation, pollinator habitat conservation, creation of herbicide buffer zones, and public outreach and education efforts.

OREGON

Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde Reservation Awarded $127,882
Upstream Migration of Pacific Lamprey in the Willamette Basin, Oregon – Phase II

The Confederated Tribes of the Grand Ronde Community of Oregon (CTGR) will continue to study the upstream migration habits of Pacific lamprey (Lampetra tridentata) in the Willamette River Basin, Oregon. Pacific lamprey populations have declined throughout their range in the Pacific Northwest. Dam counts and harvest rates have fallen dramatically. Within the Willamette Basin, lampreys appear to have faired better than in other river basins of the Columbia Basin, though they have declined and face considerable threats. The CTGR and other partners in the region believe that understanding Pacific lamprey status, distribution, and life history are required to ensure the persistence of healthy Pacific lamprey populations into the future. Under this proposal, the CTGR will radio tag Pacific lamprey in the Willamette River and track their movements as they migrate upstream to spawning grounds. The benefits expected to result from the project include understanding the timing of Pacific lamprey migration, identifying important over-wintering locations, and determining the relative use of primary tributaries for spawning. The CTGR will also work collaboratively with other entities and agencies studying Pacific lamprey in the Willamette Basin to gain crucial information that will help us understand the variables involved in Pacific lamprey migration and habitat use. The information gained from this project will allow the CTGR and other fish and wildlife managers to effectively manage and conserve Pacific lamprey and their habitat.

WASHINGTON

Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation Awarded $177,416
California Bighorn Sheep Project - Second Year

The Colville Confederated Tribes Fish and Wildlife Department (CCT-FWD) will continue augmentation and management of California bighorn sheep (Ovis canadensis californicus) in the Hell’s Gate Game Reserve and the Omak Lake Ridge Game Reserve on the Colville Reservation. This continued effort will supplement the ongoing projects working with the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (WDFW) successful transplant of 36 California bighorn sheep into the Hell’s Gate Game reserve in January and February 2009. The Colville Reservation now supports two bighorn sheep populations. The first herd is the existing herd within the Omak Ridge Game Reserve. This herd showed up in the early 1980’s, likely deserters from either the Mt. Hull or Sinlahekin herds located north of the Reservation. The Omak Ridge Reserve herd has remained un-hunted, yet observed numbers have never exceeded 20 animals.
This project will address management needs for the existing Omak Ridge Game Reserve herd and the Hell’s Gate Game Reserve herd for the next two years through: continued monitoring of population composition and mortality through radio telemetry, GPS collar data, and aerial and ground surveys, continued genetic testing of Mt. Hull and Sinlahekin bighorn sheep herds to identify the source stock of the Omak Ridge Reserve herd - continued collaring efforts for home range analysis and identification of winter and summer ranges - seasonal movements, and habitat mapping of suitable habitat in core use areas - designing and constructing a portable ground trapping structure suitable for sheep capture operations on the Colville Reservation - completing the Colville Confederated Tribes Bighorn Sheep Management Plan - constructing a public outreach and education interpretive sign and possibly a bighorn sheep monument on the Colville Reservation.

Reservation. Jamestown SKllalm Tribe Awarded $57,312
Restoring the Dungeness Elk Herd to its Historic Range

For more than a decade the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe has worked to restore a culturally significant elk herd to its historic home range in the Dungeness River valley in northwestern Washington State. In recent decades weather events and agricultural practices have caused this herd to shift its home range from its historic forest habitats in the Olympic mountain foothills to the urbanizing lowlands around Sequim, Washington. Because relentless urban sprawl is rapidly displacing suitable habitat in the lowlands, elk range there is not sustainable long-term. Consequently, there is a need to restore the Dungeness elk herd to its historic range.

This project will be a part of a larger, cooperative effort by the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe, Point No Point Treaty Council, Washington State, the U.S. Forest Service, and two local governments to reestablish the Dungeness elk herd on its former year-round range and allow the herd to exist in sustainable habitat on public forest and low-intensity agricultural lands. The Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe will conduct a thorough inventory of habitat resources on the herd’s current and traditional ranges, and develop a GIS-based habitat capability model that will help identify areas where restoration efforts are most likely to be successful. The tribe will conduct long-term elk monitoring, habitat assessment, enhancement, and management. The Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe and its partners will share the cost of radio telemetry marking, monitoring, population management, habitat assessment, and habitat model validation in this effort.

Lower Elwha K’lallam Tribe Awarded $199,995
Impact of river restoration on river-dependent species: river otters and American dippers

River otters and American dippers are of particular interest to the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe because of the imminent removal of two hydroelectric dams from the Elwha River and subsequent salmon restoration. Both species are known to use the Elwha River below, between, and above the two dams, but we know little about their distribution, seasonal habitat requirements, movement patterns, or how their diets might be altered after salmon restoration. Further, we do not understand how these dietary shifts might impact salmon populations as they recolonize the Elwha River after dam removal. In light of dam removal activities, which are slated to begin by 2011, and subsequent restoration of salmon stocks to the Elwha River, the tribe will conduct research aimed at gathering baseline data on river otters and American dippers in the Elwha River, such as how otters and dippers use the river to meet their spatial, habitat, and dietary needs. The tribe will then be able to 1) better document the effects of river restoration on these two river obligate species and then use these species as indicators of ecosystem health in the future; 2) understand how these species, particularly otters, might impact salmon populations that are of great importance to the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe; and 3) incorporate monitoring and/or management of these species into a Tribal Wildlife Management Plan. This study will help the tribe and project partners monitor the effects of dam removal and subsequent salmon restoration on representative river-dependent wildlife species, will provide the tribe with valuable baseline data by which to examine otter predation on restored salmon populations, and will provide important species-specific information for incorporation into a Wildlife Management Plan for the tribe.

Lummi Nation Awarded $200,000
South fork Fobes Reach Project

Lummi Natural Resources (LNR) will conduct habitat restoration activities in the Nooksack River basin to support endangered species recovery of bull trout (Salvelinus confluentus), steelhead (Oncorhynchus mykiss), Chinook salmon (Oncorhynchus tshawtscha) and other salmonid species. The tribe will address factors of degraded habitat that have been identified as production-limiting to ESA-listed Chinook salmon, stealhead and bull trout, and other treaty-protected species of tribal significance by constructing 21 pool-producing logjams in the South Fork’s floodplain and active channel. The project reach is the core spawning area for ESA-listed Chinook and used by all salmonids present in the Nooksack watershed. This project will not only provide significant environmental benefits, but it will also help defend treaty-protected harvest rights and build the Lummi Nation’s technical capacity to further defend these rights. Working with the Nooksack Tribe on this project will continue an important partnership for salmon restoration in the Nooksack basin.

Stillaguamish Tribe of Indians Awarded $147,895
Klein Farm Wildlife Preserve

The Stillaguamish Tribe of Indians will restore, enhance, and protect in perpetuity 60 acres of floodplain habitat along the South Fork Stillaguamish River in Arlington, Washington for the benefit of fish and wildlife. A 10-year conservation management plan is being developed as part of this project to ensure long-term protection and management. This effort will benefit the severely depressed South Fork Stillaguamish Chinook stock, provide critical habitat for a variety of wildlife species, fulfill requirements outlined in the Stillaguamish Chinook Recovery Plan, and provide a learning demonstration site to teach tribal members about nature and cultural history.

The Tulalip Tribes of Washington Awarded $192,039
Monitoring Fish and Water Resources

Monitoring fish and water resources on the Tulalip Tribes Indian Reservation, usual and accustomed (U&A) lands, and marine waters of the Pacific Northwest

This project will support a fisheries, water resources, and habitat monitoring project with two components. Part I seeks partial operations funding needed for two tribal employees to operate the Tulalip Tribes’ Stock Assessment Laboratory (TSAL), located on the Tulalip Indian Reservation, and for temporary sample collections. Laboratory operations funding is needed to cover the remaining time not funded (less 700 hours) for a full-time Tribal Laboratory Manager to provide six months of part time laboratory analysis for 18 months. Finally salaries requested also include 693 hours for a temporary Field and Fishery Sampler to provide a total of four months of assistance with field sample collections throughout the Snohomish River basin during an 18-month period. Part II seeks funding for a one-year subcontract between the Tulalip Tribes and the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) to continue cost-sharing funding for essential surface water monitoring of three primary streams on the Tulalip Indian Reservation. This effort will greatly help to restore losses to fish, wildlife and habitat resources by funding the cost of basic and essential measures of fish and their critical habitat - measure water quantity, fish identification and abundance. Both components of this monitoring proposal have interacting, interdependent effects on each other and provide enormous benefits on fish, wildlife, plants, their habitats, and the people of the Tulalip Tribes.

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