Tribal Natural Resources Management:A report from the Treaty Indian Tribesin Western Washington2013
“We, the Indians of the Pacific Northwest,recognize that our fisheries are a basicand important natural resource and of vitalconcern to the Indians of this state, and thatthe conservation of this natural resource isdependent upon effective and progressivemanagement. We further believe that byunity of action, we can best accomplishthese things, not only for the benefit of ourown people, but for all of the people of thePacific Northwest.” – Preamble to the NWIFC Constitution
Table of Contents 2 From the Chairman 8 Hatchery Management 3 Year in Review 9 Wildlife Management 5 Habitat Management 10 Regional Collaborative Management 6 Harvest Management 12 NWIFC Functions, Programs and ActivitiesMap: Ron McFarlane. Cover: Quileute fisherman Tazzie Sablan hauls in a coho near the mouth of the Quileute River in LaPush. Debbie Preston
From the Chairman Natural resources, especially salmon and are compounded by climate change, which dispropor- salmon, have always been the tionately affects isolated tribal communities. foundation of tribal cultures The results have been devastating. Some treaty tribes have had and economies here in western to give up even their most basic ceremonial and subsistence fisher- Washington. When we signed ies. treaties with the United States, But there is hope. we gave up millions of acres of We are encouraged by the federal government’s response so far land, but kept what was most to our call for action under the Treaty Rights at Risk initiative that precious to us: our right to hunt, we began in 2011. We are asking the federal government to exer- fish and gather in all of our tra- cise its trust responsibility to the tribes and take charge of salmon ditional places. We kept these recovery, align its agencies and programs to be more effective, and rights because these resources lead a more coordinated salmon recovery effort. enable us to survive as a people, Helping guide that effort is the tribes’ recently completed State a fact no less true today than of Our Watersheds report. The report examines the health of 20 when the treaties were signed more than 150 years ago. watersheds in western Washington to help gauge progress and Today we are co-managers of the natural resources in western identify barriers to salmon recovery. Washington, but our treaty rights are at grave risk because natural We all have made a huge investment in recovering salmon and resources are being damaged and destroyed faster than they can their habitat in recent decades, but it hasn’t been enough. We must be protected and restored. This is especially true of the habitat that do more. That includes steps like stronger enforcement of existing salmon need to thrive. environmental laws to protect salmon and putting a stop to devel- Despite massive cuts in harvest, careful use of hatcheries and opment in river floodplains that are important to salmon habitat. a huge financial investment in habitat restoration the past four We believe that all things are connected. That means salmon and decades, wild salmon populations continue to decline along with natural resources are part of us – all of us – and it’s going to take their habitat. This trend shows no signs of improvement. all of us to stop the loss and decline of those resources and return Nearshore marine habitat – especially important to young salmon them to sustainable abundance. – is being lost and damaged by docks, bulkheads and other forms of shoreline armoring. Forests are disappearing to development. Water quality and quantity are declining throughout the region. Polluted stormwater runoff is increasing as more of our watersheds Billy Frank Jr. are lost to pavement every year. All of these issues directly affect NWIFC Chairman Tribal Natural Resources Management Natural resources management functions and associated programs of the treaty Indian tribes in Western Washington: Timber/Fish/Wildlife Endangered Ocean Ecosystem Puget Sound Forests & Fish Report Hatchery Reform Species Act Initiative Partnership Fish, Shellfish and Wildlife Harvest Fisherman and Vessel Identification Management Natural Resources Enforcement Harvest Monitoring/Data Collection Salmon Recovery Planning Population Monitoring and Research Water Resource Protection and Habitat Protection and Restoration Assessment Policy Development and Forest Land Management Intergovernmental Relations Administrative Support Coordinated Tribal Other State and Local Watershed Recovery Pacific Salmon Treaty Mass Marking Water Resources Collaborative Programs Planning
Year In Review T his report offers a broad overview of some of the natural resources management issues and activities of the treaty Indian tribes in western Washington during 2012. Tribes Implement Treaty Rights at Risk Initiative The treaty Indian tribes began the Treaty Rights at Risk initiative in summer 2011 because of the decline of salmon due to ongoing Among the major issues were the increased degradation of loss and damage of habitat. Historically, the federal government’s salmon habitat, climate change and a state budget deficit main response to declining salmon runs has been to restrict har- that threatened hatchery salmon production. All of these vest. Before tribes can go fishing, they are required to show that issues put treaty rights at great risk. More information is their fisheries will contribute to salmon recovery under the Endan- available at nwifc.org. gered Species Act. Those who damage or destroy habitat, however, are not held to the same standard. The tribes are asking the United States government to take charge of salmon recovery because it has the obligation and authority to ensure both salmon recovery and protection of tribal treaty rights. The tribes also are seeking better alignment and coordination of federally funded programs to ensure they contribute to salmon re- covery. Tribes have met with federal leadership several times to discuss the initiative. Attention is being focused on increased enforcement of existing habitat protection laws, protecting instream flows for salmon, and ensuring that federal agency actions are helping meet salmon recovery needs and goals. A tribal paper on the initiative, videos and more information are available at treatyrightsatrisk.org. State of Our Watersheds Report Confirms Ongoing Habitat Loss For decades, the tribes have been examining the health of their watersheds to gauge progress toward recovery of salmon and their habitat. The result is the recently released State of Our Watersheds report, which confirms that we are losing the battle for salmon recovery. Habitat is being lost faster than it can be restored, and the trend is not improving, which threatens tribal cultures, treaty rights, jobs, and economies, as well as the quality of life for every- one who lives in Washington. The report tracks key salmon habitat indicators over time – such as the condition of nearshore marine areas, forest habitat along our streams, and water quality and quantity – in 20 watersheds across western Washington.Debbie Preston Some of the report’s findings include: ● A 75 percent loss of salt marsh habitat in the Stillaguamish A Makah tribal member shares a dance during a protocol ceremony at the 2012 Tribal Canoe Journey hosted by the Squaxin Island Tribe. watershed is limiting chinook populations in the river system. ● Herring stocks in the Port Gamble S’Klallam Tribe’s area of concern have declined from healthy to depressed because of degraded nearshore habitat. Herring are important food for salmon. ● In the Chehalis River system, the Quinault Indian Nation estimates that culverts slow or block salmon from reaching more than 1,500 miles of habitat. (Continued on next page)
Year In Review (Cont’d) The State of Our Watersheds report includes decades of data The state says that 6.5 grams daily – roughly a single 8-ounce gathered by tribes and state and federal agencies, as well as rec- meal per month – is how much fish and shellfish residents eat. That ommendations for protecting watersheds and the salmon they pro- standard has been in place for more than 20 years. The state ac- duce. More information is available at nwifc.org/sow. knowledges that the rate does not protect the majority of Washing- ton residents because most people eat more than one seafood meal Ruling Expected in Culvert Case a month. This is especially true for Indian people and members of the Asian and Pacific Islander communities here in Washington. The federal judge presiding over a suit filed in 2001 by west- Oregon’s rate was recently increased to 175 grams per day. ern Washington treaty tribes against the state of Washington over Progress was being made on updating the rate when the state’s hundreds of failing, fish-blocking culverts under state roads has Department of Ecology abruptly halted the process after industry indicated he will issue a final order in the case in early 2013. voiced concerns about the potential cost increasing the rate would Tribes won a summary judgment in the case in 2007 when have on businesses. Tribes are hoping to re-engage the state in a U.S. District Court Judge Ricardo Martinez ruled that the failing government-to-government process that will provide a clear, de- culverts diminish salmon returns and violate tribal treaty fishing cisive path forward to develop a more accurate fish consumption rights. rate. State agencies told the Legislature back in 1995 that fixing cul- verts was one of the most cost-effective strategies for restoring Shellfish Co-Management Efforts Continue salmon habitat. In 1997, state agencies estimated that every dollar spent fixing culverts would generate four dollars worth of addi- Tribes continued in 2012 to work cooperatively with the state of tional salmon production. At the state’s current pace, it will take Washington in co-managing shellfish resources. more than 100 years to fix the nearly 1,000 fish-blocking culverts A major part of that effort was working to update the implemen- that remain. Meanwhile, more culverts are failing and blocking tation plan for the 1994 ruling that upheld tribal treaty-reserved salmon passage. shellfish harvest rights. The ruling by Federal District Court Judge Edward Rafeedie determined that tribes had reserved treaty har- Tribes Respond to Climate Change vest rights to half of all shellfish from usual and accustomed plac- es. The case was a sub-proceeding of the 1974 U.S. v. Washington Because of their close relationship with the land, water, fish and (the Boldt decision) ruling that upheld tribal treaty-reserved fish- wildlife, indigenous people are among those most affected by cli- ing rights. mate change. The treaty tribes in western Washington are address- Tribes also continued to work with the state of Washington to ing the challenges of climate change at local and national levels. improve catch estimation of non-treaty recreational harvest of At the local level, tribes are examining how ongoing climate Dungeness crab. In addition, the tribes and state worked to imple- change and its accompanying effects, such as melting glaciers and ment a joint process to streamline regulations for shellfish aqua- warmer stream temperatures, will further affect their members and culture in Puget Sound. the natural resources that sustain tribal communities, cultures and economies. State Budget Deficit Concerns Tribes At the national level, hundreds of native leaders, witnesses and climate scientists joined policy-makers and non-governmental or- A $2 billion budget deficit has tribes concerned that the state ganizations in July to share adaptation strategies and traditional of Washington may be unable to meet its natural resources co- knowledge to address the effects of climate change. More informa- management responsibilities under U.S. v. Washington. The state’s tion is available at firststewards.org. budget problems, combined with the ongoing loss of salmon habitat and the state’s inability to stop that trend, puts tribal cultures and State Fish Consumption Rate treaty-reserved rights at continued risk. Needs Revision to Protect Health Of particular concern are budget cuts at state salmon hatcheries. The decline of wild salmon and their habitat already has restricted The state of Washington’s inaccurate fish consumption rate was the tribes’ abilities to exercise their treaty-reserved fishing rights. a major focus of tribal efforts in 2012. This rate is used by the state Their rights would be further threatened by more cuts in hatchery to determine how much pollution is allowed to be dumped in its production and reduced state participation in co-management. waters every year. The rate is intended to protect human health from more than 100 toxic pollutants that can be found in state wa- ters.
Habitat ManagementHabitat protection and restoration are Habitat Critical to Fishermen’s Livelihoodabsolutely essential for recovery of wildsalmon in western Washington. ● Salmon habitat in western Washington is being lost faster than it is being restored, and the trend shows no sign of improvement. The ongoing decline of salmon and habitat puts tribal treaty rights, cultures and economies at risk. ● The NWIFC Salmon and Steelhead Habitat Inventory and Assessment Program (SSHIAP) provides a “living database” of local and regional habitat Tiffany Royal conditions. The program assesses the effect of habitat loss and degradation on salmon and steelhead stocks and assists Lower Elwha Klallam tribal member Russ Hepfer looks over the improvements made in developing strategies to protect and to Morse Creek near Port Angeles. restore salmon habitat. When Lower Elwha Klallam tribal while preventing future impacts from ● In 2012, tribes worked with SSHIAP member Russ Hepfer learned to fish stormwater, and water withdrawals to document ongoing loss and damage as a young man, he did it because from other creeks on the peninsula?” to salmon habitat in the State of Our that’s what his family did. Hepfer said. Watersheds report, which can be viewed “I didn’t realize I was being ‘tradi- Morse Creek got a shot of restora- at nwifc.org/sow. tional’ when I was fishing,” he said. tion in August 2010 when a half-mile “It’s just what I was taught. But then I section of the creek was realigned ● Tribes conduct extensive monitoring of learned over the years how important to its historic channel. Since then, water quality for pollution and ensure it was to our tribe and our culture, salmon have been seen spawning in factors such as dissolved oxygen levels and now I teach that to my nephews the restored area. are adequate for salmon and other fish. and sons.” But the lower 2 miles of Morse ● To make limited federal funding work As he grew older, he also became Creek have been affected by a combi- to its fullest, tribes partner with state aware of the dwindling salmon nation of land development, chan- agencies, industries and property owners population that he and his tribe relied nelization, diking and armoring, and through collaborative habitat protection, upon. As a result, he started to learn streamside vegetation removal. restoration and enhancement efforts. about the importance of good salmon Nearly half of the creek’s flood- habitat, which is key to sustaining the plain is being zoned for development, ● In western Washington, NOAA’s Pacific population runs. from utility right-of-ways to single- Coastal Salmon Recovery Fund monies Morse Creek, a 16-mile creek near family homes. Historically, the lower have supported projects that have Port Angeles, is one of the streams reaches of the creek were unconfined restored thousands of acres of forest, that the tribe has been improving. The and meandered with multiple chan- protected hundreds of acres of habitat creek was featured in the 2012 State nels. and removed more than 100 fish passage of Our Watersheds report. “We’re taking two steps forward barriers. Morse Creek has been hit hard by with restoration efforts but are forced development and growth in the past, to take one step back as we continue but the tribe is trying to change that. to lose habitat faster than we can The creek supports chinook, coho and save it,” Hepfer said. pink salmon, and steelhead. “How do we undo historic impacts to the salmon habitat in Morse Creek
Harvest Management Salmon Salmon Harvest Key to Shellfish ● Treaty Indian tribes and the Washington Sustaining Tribal Culture ● Treaty tribes harvest Pacific oysters, Department of Fish and Wildlife co- native littleneck, manila and geoduck manage salmon fisheries in Puget clams, Dungeness crab, shrimp and Sound, the Strait of Juan de Fuca and other shellfish throughout the coast nearshore coastal waters. and Puget Sound. ● For decades, state and tribal salmon ● Tribes closely monitor beaches to co-managers have reduced harvest in ensure shellfish are safe to eat. response to declining salmon runs. Today’s harvest levels are only 80- ● Shellfish harvested in commercial 90 percent of those of 1985. Further fisheries are sold to licensed shellfish reductions will not contribute to the buyers who sell either to the public or recovery of wild salmon stocks because to other distributors. of disappearing habitat. ● Shellfish from ceremonial and ● Under U.S. v. Washington (the Boldt Kari Neumeyer subsistence fisheries are for tribal use decision), harvest occurs only after only, and are a necessary part of their sufficient fish are available to sustain culture and traditional diet. the resource. Harvest management is Stillaguamish Tribal Chairman Shawn Yanity coordinated to limit mortality of weak prepares chinook salmon at the tribe’s First ● Tribal shellfish programs manage wild stocks throughout their migratory Salmon Ceremony. harvest with other tribes and the state range. through resource-sharing agreements. Stillaguamish tribal fishermen have not ● Tribal and state managers work had a directed commercial chinook fishery ● Tribal shellfish enhancement results cooperatively through the Pacific in nearly 30 years. in higher and more consistent harvest Fishery Management Council and the “We are a pretty small fishing commu- that benefits both tribal and non- North of Falcon process to develop nity,” said Gary Tatro, a fisherman who Indian diggers. Tribes also research fishing seasons. The co-managers also also works for the tribe as a bison special- underutilized species, such as cooperate with Canadian and Alaskan ist and in cultural support. “We just don’t Olympia oysters and sea urchins. fisheries managers through the U.S./ have the fish in the water.” Canada Pacific Salmon Treaty. Tatro was one of two designated fisher- men who participated in the 2012 ceremo- ● The tribes monitor their harvest using nial and subsistence chinook fishery. the Treaty Indian Catch Monitoring “The only reason we fish for chinook is Program to provide accurate, same- for the salmon ceremony,” Tatro said. day catch statistics for treaty Indian fisheries. The program enables close The tribe has held these small fisheries monitoring of tribal harvest levels and since 2009, when Stillaguamish hosted a allows inseason adjustments. First Salmon Ceremony for the first time in generations. This year, Tatro and his fishing partner Shawn Soholt didn’t meet the 30-fish limit that was set during preseason planning. Because returns are so low, each year, Emmett O’Connell the tribe must purchase additional fish from outside the Stillaguamish River system to have enough salmon for their ceremony. “To have a living culture, you have to Squaxin Island tribal elder Mike Cooper practice it,” Tatro added. “That’s why we takes advantage of harvesting on a special have the salmon ceremony. If we’re not elders beach. Shellfish harvest is a major part of the tribe’s culture and economy, fishing, the culture dies.” but not all beaches are easily accessible.
Shellfish Part of Tribal Marine Fish Rockfish ImportantEconomic Engine ● Treaty tribes are co-managers of to Coastal Tribes Shellfish harvest always has been the the groundfish resource. They work Identifying every species of rockfish thateconomic backbone for many tribes, in- closely with the state of Washington, comes to the dock is harder than it looks,cluding the Squaxin Island Tribe. Clams, federal agencies and in international but for the Quinault Indian Nation (QIN) it forums to develop and implementoysters and other shellfish were traded provides vital information about economi- species conservation plans for allacross a large regional intertribal cally important groundfish fisheries. groundfish stocks in Puget Soundnetwork, bringing in commodities that When conducting halibut and black cod and along the Pacific coast.tribes couldn’t find in their own areas. longline fisheries, other species are caught “Before the treaties, our trade routes ● The Pacific Fishery Management incidentally and must be accounted for asextended from the Pacific Ocean up Council regulates the catch of black part of managing the fishery.through the Columbia Basin,” said Andy cod, rockfish and flatfish. Halibut are “Our fishermen are required to keepWhitener, natural resources director for managed through the International everything they catch and that gives usthe tribe. “Our shellfish economy has Pacific Halibut Commission, a really good picture of the types of non-a rich and extensive history. Shellfish established by the governments of the targeted species found in our fishery,” saidwere always more than subsistence, United States and Canada. Tribes are Joe Schumacker, marine scientist for thethey’ve always been part of our broader active participants in season-setting QIN.economy.” processes and the technical groups Marine fisheries have been a corner- While their shellfishing trade is cen- that serve those bodies. stone both culturally and economicallyturies old, the Squaxin Island Tribe en- for Washington treaty tribes. Halibut andtered the business world 30 years ago ● The state of Washington, Hoh Indian black cod fisheries can be the biggest partwhen they bought a family oyster farm Tribe, Makah Tribe, Quileute Tribe of a tribal fisherman’s income.on Harstine Island. Over time, that busi- and the Quinault Indian Nation are The allowable incidental take of someness has grown into Salish Seafoods, working with the National Oceanic species, including rockfish, is tightly con-which has $2 million in annual sales, and Atmospheric Administration to trolled by the Pacific Fisheries Manage-13 employees and 60 acres of farmed integrate research goals that look at ment Council and National Marine Fisher-Pacific oyster beds in deep South Sound. changing ocean conditions and create ies Service. Annual coastwide catches of “It’s nothing new for us; it’s always the building blocks for managing these species cannot exceed an amount ocean resources. The tribes andbeen part of our economy,” said David that would diminish their populations. state support ocean monitoring andJohns, general manager for Salish Sea- Some species of rockfish are of particular research leading to ecosystem-basedfoods. “Certainly we’re in modern times, concern. management of fishery resources.but our seafood trade is something “We want to make sure that informa-that’s always existed.” tion is accurate as we go forward, both to In addition to farming Pacific oysters, manage the stocks and protect our fisherySalish Seafoods also buys most of the from inaccurate data,” Schumacker said.manila clams harvested by Squaxin trib- “Differentiating some of these rockfishal members. Last year, tribal members species sometimes comes down to theharvested 500,000 pounds of clams, number of spines on the head or even400,000 of which were purchased by around the eye sockets,” Schumacker said.Salish Seafoods. The earbones, or otoliths, from halibut “Tribal members aren’t limited to also are collected to provide informationselling to us, in fact there are about four about the age of the fish for the Inter-other clam buyers that they can sell to,” national Pacific Halibut Commission andJohns said. “But because we buy from tribal managers. Debbie Prestonevery dig, we ensure tribal memberscan make decent money throughout theseason. We’re always there to buy fromour tribal members.” Scott Mazzone, shellfish and marine biologist, and Bruce Wagner, fisheries technician for the A video about Salish Seafoods can be Quinault Indian Nation, remove otoliths fromfound at go.nwifc.org/salishseafood. a halibut.
Hatchery Management Most hatcheries were built to make up for Tribes Help State Hatcheries Through Shortfall the natural salmon production that was lost because of damaged and destroyed habitat. At a time when the state is cutting water. Production at the Deschutes back on hatchery programs because River facility had been steady at 4 ● Hatcheries play a critical role in fisheries of a huge budget shortfall, several million chinook, but because of a management and fulfilling the tribal treaty- treaty tribes are picking up the tab shortfall in legislative funding, only reserved harvest right. to keep salmon coming home for about 1 million fish would have been everyone who lives here. Tribes are released. ● Hatcheries must remain a central part of doing everything from taking over On the coast, the Quileute Tribe salmon management in western Washington the operation of some state hatcher- took over the lease last year of the as long as lost and degraded habitat prevents ies to buying fish feed and making Bear Springs hatchery, a fish-rear- watersheds from naturally producing donations of cash and labor to keep ing facility formerly run by WDFW abundant, self-sustaining runs of sufficient up production. and owned by the state Department size to address the tribal treaty fishing “Hatcheries must remain a central of Natural Resources. The hatchery harvest right. part of salmon management in released 50,000 chinook. western Washington for as long as The Quinault Indian Nation pro- ● Hatcheries work best when combined with lost and degraded habitat prevents vided funds to the state’s Humptu- conservative harvest management, and watersheds from naturally produc- lips Hatchery to feed 300,000 coho habitat restoration and protection. ing abundant, self-sustaining runs,” and chinook up to release size in said Billy Frank Jr., chairman of the 2012. ● Tribal, state and federal agencies operate 100 Northwest Indian Fisheries Commis- While tribal hatcheries have been salmon enhancement facilities in western Washington, creating the largest salmon sion. producing fish for nearly 40 years, hatchery system in the world. More than 100 The Puyallup Tribe of Indians federal funding has not kept pace, million salmon and steelhead are released recently helped fund a program that threatening the tribes’ ability to annually from these hatcheries. Tribes alone is restoring spring chinook in the implement vital hatchery reform release about 40 million juvenile salmon upper White River watershed. The projects and produce hatchery each year. Washington Department of Fish and salmon for harvest. Wildlife (WDFW) couldn’t afford to ● Most tribal hatcheries produce salmon for fin-clip the young salmon, so the harvest by both Indian and non-Indian tribe picked up the cost. fishermen. Some serve as wild salmon The fin clipping allows salmon nurseries that improve the survival of managers to track the fish as adults juvenile fish and increase returns of salmon when they return to the White River. that spawn naturally in our watersheds. A video about this effort is at go.nwifc.org/whiteriverchinook. ● Tribes conduct extensive mass marking Also in 2012, the Squaxin Island of hatchery fish along with a coded-wire Tribe contributed funds to prevent a tag program. Young fish are marked by 75 percent cut in chinook production having their adipose fin clipped before at a state salmon hatchery in Tum- release. Tiny coded-wire tags are inserted into the noses of young salmon. The tags from marked fish are recovered in fisheries, providing important information about marine survival, migration and hatchery effectiveness. Archie Cantrell, a fisheries technician for the Puyallup Tribe of Indians, trans- Emmett O’Connell ports juvenile spring chinook from the state Hupp Springs hatchery to the up- per White River. The tribe contributed funds in 2012 to make sure the recovery program continues.
Wildlife ManagementThe treaty Indian tribes are co-managers Rebounding Herd Allows for Tribal Harvestof wildlife resources in western Washing-ton, which include species such as deer, elk, Tulalip tribal member Beau Jess wasbear and mountain goats. thrilled to be one of three hunters in his tribe to receive a permit to harvest ● Western Washington treaty tribal a bull elk in Game Management Unit hunters account for a very small portion 418. of the total combined deer and elk Tulalip and the other Point Elliott harvest in the state. In 2011-2012, treaty Treaty tribes shared 25 permits to tribal hunters harvested a reported 365 harvest Nooksack elk in 2012, because elk and 495 deer, while non-Indian the herd had rebounded from as low hunters harvested a reported 7,236 elk as 300 animals in 2003 to as many as and 29,154 deer. 1,400, according to the most recent aerial surveys. ● Tribal hunters do not hunt for sport, but The other tribes with the treaty for sustenance. Most do not hunt only right to harvest elk in the North Cas- for themselves. Tribal culture in western cades Mountains are Lummi, Nook- Washington is based on extended family sack, Muckleshoot, Sauk-Suiattle, relationships with hunters sharing game Stillaguamish, Suquamish, Swinomish with several families. Some tribes have and Upper Skagit. designated hunters who harvest wildlife for tribal elders and others unable to “I started hunting with my dad hunt for themselves, and for ceremonial when I was 10, but this was the first purposes. year I hunted on my own,” said the 21-year-old Jess. In October, he har- Kari Neumeyer ● All tribes prohibit hunting for vested a 408-pound bull, which will commercial purposes. provide his family with a year of elk steak, roast, sausage and burgers. ● As a sovereign government, each For many northwest tribes, the Tulalip tribal member Beau Jess harvested treaty tribe develops its own hunting ability to harvest elk and deer is as his first bull elk in 2012. regulations and ordinances for tribal important to tribal culture as salmon harvest to having nine tribes share 25 members. fishing. Tribal members tradition- animals.” ally relied on elk and deer meat for During the past two decades, the ● Tribal hunters are licensed by their sustenance, and in modern times, the co-managers completed numer- tribes and must obtain tags for game protein source helps their communi- ous habitat restoration projects to animals they wish to hunt. ties stretch tight food budgets. improve elk forage. The co-managers About 20 years ago, tribal and state also boosted the herd in 2003 and ● Many tribes conduct hunter education wildlife co-managers agreed to stop programs aimed at teaching tribal youth 2005 by relocating about 100 cow hunting elk in the North Cascades be- elk to the North Cascades from the safe hunting practices and the cultural cause the Nooksack herd’s population importance of wildlife to the tribe. Mount St. Helens region. was dwindling fast, in part because In 2007, the Nooksack herd was of overharvest, but largely because of stable enough to support a small hunt degraded and disconnected habitat. of 30 elk, which the Point Elliott tribes “We have a treaty right, but no and state shared equally. Limited per- place to exercise it, and not enough mit-only hunts have taken place each animals to harvest,” said Todd Wil- year since then in Game Management bur, Swinomish tribal member and Unit 418. In 2012, in addition to the chairman of the Inter-tribal Wildlife 25 permits shared by Point Elliott Committee. “We’ve gone from being Treaty tribes, the state issued 25 per- able to feed our families with our mits to harvest Nooksack elk.
Regional Collaborative Management Cooperation is the key to sound natural resources management. Treaty Indian tribes are active participants in many collaborative efforts to enhance, protect and restore natural resources in western Washington. Ocean Ecosystem Management Tribes Co-host First Stewards Symposium ● The state of Washington, Hoh Indian Tribe, Makah Tribe, Quileute Tribe and the Quinault Indian Nation are working with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration to integrate common research goals to understand changing ocean conditions and create the building blocks for managing these resources. ● In recognition of the challenges facing the Olympic coast ecosystem, tribes and Debbie Preston the state of Washington established the Intergovernmental Policy Council (IPC) to guide management of Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary. The tribes and state have The Hoh, Makah and Quileute tribes and the Quinault Indian Nation dance for developed ocean research and planning goals, the symposium audience at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian. many of which mirror the recommendations of the U.S. Ocean Policy. Climate change is occurring adapt to and reduce the speed of rapidly, creating an urgent need for these changes,” said Micah McCarty, ● Climate change has been a major focus of the world to make use of indigenous Makah tribal member and president the IPC for the past two years. Because of ways of adapting and maintaining of the First Stewards board of direc- their unique vulnerability, coastal indigenous the resiliency that has served an- tors. cultures are leaders in societal adaptation cient coastal cultures for thousands The Quinault Indian Nation (QIN) and mitigation in response to climate change of years. has seen the glaciers that feed impacts. The IPC created First Stewards, That was the message delivered the Queets and Quinault rivers of a first-of-its-kind national symposium by representatives of indigenous Washington’s Olympic coast become held in July 2012 in Washington, D.C., to coastal people of the United States just fractions of the size they were examine the impact of climate change on and Pacific Islands when they gath- a few decades ago. As they recede, coastal indigenous communities throughout ered in 2012 in Washington, D.C., they threaten treaty-protected the United States and Pacific Islands. for the First Stewards Symposium, salmon stocks important to QIN. Hundreds of tribal leaders, witnesses and where their unified voices called for “The blueback, or sockeye salmon, scientists met with climate change experts action on climate change. is an iconic run of salmon for us,” and policymakers for the groundbreaking The First Stewards Symposium said Ed Johnstone, a Quinault Indian dialogue. was created to gather voices and Nation tribal member and fisheries create a mechanism for the indig- policy spokesman. “We are under- ● Coastal tribes are participating with the state enous people of the United States taking a monumental restoration of Washington to develop a coastal marine and Pacific Islands to engage with effort in the upper Quinault River, spatial plan for the outer coast. This would serve as a component for an overall state governments, non-governmental but now the glacier retreat adds to plan encompassing waters from the lower agencies and others to help mitigate the problems for the fish.” Columbia River estuary to Puget Sound. and adapt to climate change. The very fabric of indigenous so- In addition, the state and tribal plan would The coastal tribes of Washington cieties is threatened by the over-de- be part of a larger federal regional coastal – Hoh, Makah and Quileute tribes velopment of coastlines, alteration marine spatial plan for the West Coast. and the Quinault Indian Nation – co- of freshwater streams and lakes, de- hosted the symposium after seeing struction of life-giving watersheds, ● Coastal tribes engage with the White changes in their own villages that destruction of reefs, and the decline House’s National Ocean Council and affect treaty-protected resources. of marine and terrestrial species. Council on Environmental Quality regarding “What we must prepare for now These have been exacerbated by implementation of the National Ocean Policy is staggering, but we must design climate change, creating changes in and developing joint goals and objectives on regional and national pathways to coastal natural systems and wit- ocean governance. create ways of working together to nessed by indigenous cultures.10
Forest Management Tribal Environmental Protection ● Treaty tribes in western Washington manage their and Water Resources Program forestlands in ways that benefit people, fish, wildlife and water. Healthy forests support healthy streams for salmon ● More than two decades ago, Pacific Northwest tribes and enable wildlife to thrive. partnered with the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to address water quality issues under the Clean Water ● Forests are a source of treaty-protected foods, medicine and Act. The unprecedented relationship, called the Coordinated cultural items. Tribal Water Quality Program, has improved tribal water quality management and protection of tribal lands and ● Tribes that harvest timber on their reservations have forest treaty-reserved resources. management plans and conduct extensive reforestation programs to ensure trees for the future. ● Partnerships between the EPA and individual tribes have involved environmental protection activities in watersheds ● Two processes, Timber/Fish/Wildlife (TFW) and the Forests throughout the region and enabled the leveraging and and Fish Report (FFR), have brought together tribes, state partnering of county, state and federal funds. and federal agencies, environmental groups and private forest landowners in an adaptive management process to ● EPA’s General Assistance Program (GAP) was established protect salmon, wildlife and other species while providing in 1992 to build capacity for environmental protection for the economic health of the timber industry. programs at every federally recognized tribe in the country. Many tribes have successfully built basic operational ● A tribal representative serves on the state’s Forest Practices capacity with GAP funds and are ready to move to the next Board, which sets standards for activities such as timber step of implementing those environmental programs. harvests, road construction and forest chemical applications. Tribes also are active participants in the FFR Cooperative ● Tribes are leaders in a pilot project, called “Beyond Monitoring, Evaluation and Research Committee. GAP,” to build on the investments of the past 20 years by implementing environmental programs locally, while providing leadership in shaping the next steps in EPA’sPuget Sound Partnership Indian Program development nationally. ● Tribes continued their participation and leadership in the ● Tribal treaty resources continue to be threatened Puget Sound Partnership (PSP) in 2012. The PSP was by declining water quality and quantity. In western created by Washington Gov. Chris Gregoire in 2005 to Washington, climate changes and urban development are recover Puget Sound’s health by 2020. having profound effects on water resources and aquatic ecosystems. This situation will worsen with the state ● Tribes participated extensively in updating the PSP Action population expected to increase by 1 million in the next 20 Agenda while implementing a wide range of projects aimed years. at improving the health of Puget Sound. Tribal leaders also traveled to Washington, D.C. with PSP leadership to ● Goals of tribal water resources programs include advocate for common interests. establishing instream flows to sustain harvestable populations of salmon, identifying limiting factors for ● Projects included monitoring forage fish populations near salmon recovery, protecting existing ground and surface Indian Island in Puget Sound; identifying sources and water supplies, and participating in federal, state and potential treatment of land-based pollutant runoff in the local planning processes for water quantity and quality Stillaguamish River system; and mapping and monitoring management. the Skokomish River estuary to assess performance of restoration efforts. ● Tribes were disappointed in 2012 when the state delayed its update of the fish consumption rate used to determine how ● Nearly 1,400 acres of shellfish beds reportedly were much toxic pollution is allowed to enter Washington waters. reopened for harvest. Approximately 2,300 acres of habitat The rate is supposed to protect residents from more than 100 restoration projects were completed in the 16 major river toxins that can harm human health. delta estuaries. ● Ground is still being lost faster than it has been gained. Progress in the region has not been sufficient to meet the partnership’s 2020 ecosystem recovery targets for the region. 11
NWIFC Functions, Programs and Activities The Northwest Indian Fisheries Habitat Services Fisheries Management Commission was created in 1974 by the 20 treaty Indian tribes in ● Support policy and technical discussion ● Long-range planning, wild salmon recovery western Washington that were par- between tribes and federal, state and efforts and federal Endangered Species Act ties to the U.S. v. Washington (the local governments, and other interested implementation. Boldt decision) litigation that af- parties regarding protection and recovery ● Annual fisheries planning: developing firmed their treaty-reserved salm- of tribal treaty resources. preseason agreements; preseason and on harvest rights and established ● Coordinate, represent and further tribal inseason run size forecasts; monitoring; and the tribes as natural resources co- interests in the Timber/Fish/Wildlife postseason fishery analysis and reporting. managers with the state. Forests and Fish Report process and ● Marine fish management planning. The NWIFC is an intertribal Coordinated Tribal Water Quality ● Shellfish management planning. organization that assists member Program. Analyze and distribute tribes with their natural resources technical information on habitat-related Quantitative Services co-management responsibilities. forums, programs and issues. Member tribes select commis- ● Implement the Salmon and Steelhead ● Administer and coordinate the Treaty Indian sioners who develop policy and Habitat Inventory and Assessment Catch Monitoring Program. provide direction for the organi- Project. ● Provide statistical consulting services. zation. The commission employs ● Conduct data analysis of fisheries studies about 70 full-time employees U.S./Canada and develop study designs. and is headquartered in Olympia, ● Update and evaluate fishery management Wash., with satellite offices in Pacific Salmon Treaty statistical models and databases. Forks, Kingston and Burlington. ● Facilitate inter-tribal and inter-agency The NWIFC provides broad meetings, develop issue papers and Information and policy coordination as well as negotiation options. high-quality technical and sup- ● Inform tribes and policy representatives Education Services port services for its member tribes about issues affected by the treaty ● Provide internal and external in the co-management of natu- implementation process. communication services to member tribes ral resources in western Wash- ● Serve on the pink, chum, coho, chinook, and NWIFC. ington. The NWIFC serves as a Fraser sockeye and data-sharing technical ● Develop and distribute communication clearinghouse for information on committees, as well as other workgroups products such as news releases, newsletters, natural resources management is- and panels. videos, social media, photos and web-based sues important to member tribes. ● Coordinate tribal research and data- content. The commission also acts as a gathering activities associated with ● Respond to public requests for information forum for tribes to address issues implementation of the Pacific Salmon about the tribes and their tribal natural of shared concern, and enables Commission. resources management activities. the tribes to speak with a unified ● Work with state agencies, environmental voice. Enhancement Services organizations and others in cooperative communication efforts. ● Coordinate coded-wire tagging of more than 4 million fish at tribal hatcheries to provide information critical to fisheries management. ● Analyze coded-wire data. ● Provide genetic, ecological and statistical consulting for tribal hatchery programs. ● Provide fish health services to tribal hatcheries in the areas of juvenile fish health monitoring, disease diagnosis, adult health inspection and vaccine production.12
Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission6730 Martin Way E.Olympia, WA 98516(360) 438-1180nwifc.org