At a time when Indian tribes are making headlines for taking control of their ancestral lands, the Nisqually Tribe plans to share some of its land with the federal government (HCN, 3/7/05: Tribe close to sharing federal bison refuge).
the tribe worked out a deal to buy a 310-acre inholding in
Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge from its owner, who was
reluctant to sell to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The refuge
sits on the Nisqually River Delta in southern Puget Sound.
Nisqually tribal natural resources director David Troutt
says "the tribe wasn’t cash rich," so it asked Rep. Norm
Dicks, D-Wash., for help. After the tribe agreed to share its new
land with the refuge for 25 years, Dicks signed on, and Congress
ponied up a third of the $2.4 million purchase price. If, after 25
years, the tribe decides not to renew the sharing agreement, it
will manage the land as a refuge in perpetuity.
agreement, which was signed Feb. 23, the tribe and the agency will
work together to restore wetlands for chinook salmon, Pacific
loons, long-toed salamanders and other wildlife. They will also
carve a hiking trail through the refuge and tribal land.
For its part, the Fish and Wildlife Service will manage visitor
services such as restrooms and parking lots. And the tribe will get
unrestricted access to the Nisqually Delta to restore estuaries
where threatened chinook salmon feed.
Troutt says the
partnership will "forward the bigger agenda of salmon recovery and