Land acquisitions present another opportunity to benefit the Indian tribes that were so profoundly affected by European American settlement and development of the Columbia River Basin. Every tribe in the Basin receives fish and wildlife funding from BPA today. Many have used these funds for historic firsts.
The Nez Perce Tribe returned to Oregon and Chief Joseph’s homelands for the first time in a century when BPA funding allowed the tribe to buy over 17,000 acres in northeast Oregon. The Cowlitz Tribe is an active partner in Columbia River estuary mitigation projects and is establishing a land base after finally being recognized again by the Federal government in 2000.
The Burns Paiute Tribe’s Malheur River Wildlife Mitigation Project (above) includes close to 32,000 acres* of deeded and leased lands stretching for seven miles along the Malheur River. protects and restores wildlife habitat affected by grazing and agricultural land uses in the Malheur Basin in southeast Oregon. Acquired in 2000 through an MOA with BPA, the Project is culturally significant to the BPT. It lies within the Tribe’s original reservation and aboriginal territory where tribal members historically lived, hunted, gathered and fished.
The Logan Valley Wildlife Mitigation Site (right), in southeast Oregon’s Logan Valley, is part of a 1,760 acre parcel acquired by the Burns Paiute Tribe with BPA funding. The Logan Valley and surrounding areas were once occupied by the Wadatika people – ancestors of the current day Burns Paiute Tribe, and was important for gathering, hunting, fishing, trading and sacred cultural activities. The area has diverse habitats, including mountain meadows, uplands forests, wetlands and sagebrush steppe which support a number of listed species, including threatened bull trout. In addition to the wildlife benefits, the acquisition will ensure access for the BPT to once again practice their traditional tribal cultural activities in the area.
* The site includes the Denny Jones Ranch (a 6,385 acre deeded parcel), and tracts of land leased by the Bureau of Land Management (a 4,154 acre parcel) and the Oregon Division of State Lands (a 21,242 acre parcel), each with grazing allotments.