OLYMPIA (December 20, 2007) — The status quo isn’t always something to cheer about, but when it comes to securing federal funding for tribal natural resource management during tough budgetary times, the treaty Indian tribes in western Washington are applauding the efforts of the state’s congressional delegation.
“Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell and U.S. Rep. Norm Dicks came through for us Indian people, but really, everyone benefits from the work we do to preserve, protect and restore our natural resources,” said Billy Frank, Jr., chairman of the Northwest Indian Fisheries Commission.
The omnibus funding bill signed by the President Dec. 20 restores $1.8 million for tribal participation in the Pacific Salmon Treaty. That brings total tribal funding to near status quo funding of $4.1 million. The funding is shared by tribes in western Washington and along the Columbia River, as well as the Metlakatla Indian community in Southeast Alaska.
The PST was negotiated by the U.S. and Canada in 1985 to address trans-boundary salmon management issues. As natural resource co-managers in western Washington, the treaty tribes’ participation in implementing the PST is critical to reaching the shared goals of protecting, sharing and restoring the salmon resource.
Joint multi-year management agreements for chinook, chum and coho are expiring and will be re-negotiated in 2008. Strong tribal participation in the negotiations will help ensure a positive outcome for the salmon and the people of the Pacific Northwest, Frank said.
Also restored as a result of the Washington delegation’s efforts was $1.7 million for tribal participation in the Timber Fish Wildlife agreement. With $2.5 million in state funding, the tribes have recovered near status quo funding of $4.2 million for FY 08.
TFW was born in 1987 and is a national model of cooperative conservation. TFW brings together treaty Indian tribes, state and federal agencies, environmental groups and private forest landowners in a holistic statewide approach to natural resource management that ensures protection for salmon and wildlife while providing for the economic health of the timber industry.
“We thank the delegation for its vision in obtaining this funding for the tribes, especially in this time of tight budget constraints. They realize the need for the tribes to be active participants in the management of Washington’s natural resources, and we thank them for their hard work,” Frank said.
For more information, contact: Mike Grayum, NWIFC executive director, (360) 438-1181; Tony Meyer, NWIFC, (360) 528-4325.