Intertribal Timber Council, IFMAT presentation

The Third Assessment of Indian Forests and Forest
Management in the United States
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
“Our Land is What Makes Us Who We Are”
• Income ($43 M stumpage in 2011)
• Employment (19,000 jobs)
• Fuel (78,000 cords firewood; $30 M avoided costs)
• Nontimber forest products ($10 M)
• Climate (400 M tons CO2 storage)
• Fish & Wildlife
• Foods & Medicines
• Recreation
• Water, soils protection
Warm Springs
Sustainable Lifeways, Cultures, Spiritual Practices
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
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.
Larry Mason
Principal Consultant,
Alternate Dimensions Inc.
UW School of Forest Resources (retired)
Eastern Cherokee
San Carlos Apache
Eight topics mandated by NIFRMA
Additional Special Study Areas:
Climate Change
Workforce retention and development
Economic and employment contributions
Anchor Forests
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
Lowest harvest level in 80 yrs!
50 yrs of decline!
2013: 336MMBF; $42MM
Hazardous Fuels Treatments decline
Planting and Thinning backlogs increase
Woodlands are important but neglected
• 202 tribes have woodlands (109 have only
• 2/3 of Indian forests are woodlands and noncommercial forestlands.
• Woodlands are extremely sensitive to climate
change, range management, drought, and
encroachment by plant and animal species.
Tule River
IFMAT III Recommendations
Investments 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
• 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 that the 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
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
• 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
Nez Perce
– 2-page summary
– Executive Summary
– Volume I – Summary of findings and
– Volume II – detailed task reports, analyses &
Plus special issue of Evergreen Magazine

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