Roundhouse Foundation is honored to support the Tribal Youth Ecological Forestry Training Program that Lomakatsi Restoration Project has developed in collaboration with the Board of Trustees of the Edison Chiloquin Trust Land, the Klamath Tribal Community and the US Forest Service.
In the spring of 2021, nine Klamath Tribal youth aged 18-24 were provided with outdoor classroom environments and experiential peer-to-peer learning. Over the course of the 5-week program, they worked alongside seasoned restoration practitioners and trainers from Lomakatsi, The Klamath Tribes and the US Forest Service. Participants earned professional certifications in cultural resource monitoring, basics of wildland firefighting, safe chainsaw operations, CPR/First Aid and technical forestry—providing them with diverse career options in ecological restoration, wildland firefighting, and other disciplines. Youth members were connected with Tribal Elders within their community as well, and learned a myriad of transferable skills as they worked to restore the natural habitat for ungulates and fish and wildlife to thrive, in order to provide the Klamath Tribal population with their subsistence food for cultural beneficial use.
Building on long-term relationships with the Klamath, Modoc, and Yahooskin tribal community, as well as over a decade of collaborative forest restoration on Klamath ancestral lands in partnership with The Klamath Tribes and the Fremont-Winema National Forest, Lomakatsi recently launched a new initiative to restore the Chiloquin Trust Lands. Located along the Sprague River, adjacent to downtown Chiloquin, the Trust Lands represent an ancestral Klamath village site traditionally known as “plaikni koke.” Today, this village site is a symbol of cultural revival and sought by many for its spiritual significance. In 1980, the presidentially designated Chiloquin Act—the only of its kind in the nation—was enacted to protect the cultural integrity and ecology of this 580-acre property. The land is administered by the U.S. Forest Service – Fremont-Winema National Forest and managed through a Memorandum of Understanding by the family of Edison Chiloquin. Lomakatsi’s involvement with the family and the tribal community is orchestrated through the Inter-Tribal Ecosystem Restoration Partnership, convened by their Tribal Partnerships Program leadership.
In November 2021, a twelve-person inter-tribal crew employed by Lomakatsi—including participants from the recent Tribal Youth Ecological Forestry Training Program—began the first phase of forest restoration on 19 acres, following a prescription developed by Lomakatsi’s technical forestry team and approved by the Forest Service in close coordination with the Edison Chiloquin family. Tribal restoration crews ecologically thinned and mindfully burned bitterbrush and juniper to restore open conditions back to this beautiful ponderosa pine savannah with large old pines. The long-term goal is the return of culturally beneficial fire to the landscape, which has been closed by dense shrubs for the past 40 years. Tribal crews also just completed ecological thinning and pile burning to restore quaking aspen stands to promote culturally favorable species.
Goals of the project include enhancing wildlife habitat, improving forest health, promoting culturally beneficial subsistence plant species, and supporting the field work for future cultural revival at this ancient village site. Another central focus is reducing the risk of severe wildfire in a strategic area next to Chiloquin, the heart of the tribal community. In the second phase of the project, crews will conduct ecological thinning on an additional 22 acres along the border of the Chiloquin Trust Lands and adjacent US Forest Service lands to create a fuel break that will bolster the ability of fire fighters to respond in the event of a wildfire.
This program provides a tribal voice, choice and action to support critical factors in building a restoration economy that is led by the Traditional Ecological Knowledge of the First, Best Stewards of the Land. Multi-party monitoring for elk and mule deer herds are ongoing and data is provided for the Tribe and partnership to make informed decisions on current populations. The youth workforce development and training will empower, train and equip the Klamath Tribal Youth with the skills needed to co-manage their heartland.
Through the Inter-Tribal Ecosystem Restoration Partnership their team looks forward to continuing this important work with the Klamath, Modoc, Yahooskin and regional tribal community.
“We’re very grateful to Roundhouse Foundation for making this work possible and championing opportunities for tribal youth to earn professional certifications and develop valuable job skills,” says Belinda Brown, Lomakatsi’s Tribal Partnerships Director. “Their investment is already yielding dividends, as several tribal youth from the training program served on the Bootleg Fire and are now using chainsaws and drip torches to restore their ancestral lands, as they continue to gain experience in natural resource careers.”
Lomakatsi would like to thank Roundhouse Foundation, Gray Family Foundation, and Center for Disaster Philanthropy for supporting this important work that helps to restore the land and further the use of their inherent village site to aid in the healing of countless historical and contemporary impacts to the people and their sacred land.
Photos and logo courtesy of Lomakatsi Restoration Project.