NEW VIDEO Highlights Healthy and Fire-Resilient Forests with the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation

Oct 27, 2020

With the difficult wildfires experienced across the West in recent years, there is a growing recognition that poor forest health is making fire season worse, threatening local communities and destroying wildlife habitat. The Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation are addressing this threat with timber harvests, thinning, and controlled burns to return the forests they manage to a more natural state.

“There is a forest health crisis in Washington state, and tribes are using science-based stewardship and revenue from timber harvests to return forests to a more natural and resilient state,” said Todd Myers, Environmental Director of the Washington Policy Center. “According to the Washington State Department of Natural Resources, there are 2.7 million acres of unhealthy forests in central and eastern Washington. Washington state and the federal government can learn from the Colville tribes – managing forests to earn revenue, create wildlife habitat, prevent catastrophic fire, and reflect the tribe’s cultural practices.”

“The holistic goal of the Colville Tribe is to maintain and build upon our unique culture, traditions, language and history, which includes resilient landscapes that mimic natural ecologic processes and traditional practices,” said Cody Desautel, Natural Resource Director for the Colville Tribes. “This goal also recognizes current environmental conditions, with consideration for changes to those conditions in the future.”

The video is a tour of forestland on the Colville reservation, showing the impact of the 2015 catastrophic wildfires and how mangers are using harvests and thinnings to prevent limit the impact of future fires. For nearly a century, fire exclusion created forests with too many unhealthy trees. Desautel describes the forests experienced by his grandmother and explains the tribe’s strategy to create fire-resilient forests.

About the Colville Tribes: Today, more than 9,504 descendants of 12 Aboriginal tribes of Indians are enrolled in the Confederated Tribes of the Colville. The twelve tribes which compose the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation include: ščəl̕ámxəxʷ (deep water) or Chelan; wal̕wáma (Wallowa people) or Chief Joseph Band of Nez Perce; sx̌ʷyʔiɬp (sharp pointed trees) or Colville; šnt̕iyátkʷəxʷ (grass in the water) or Entiat; snʕáyckst (speckled fish) or Lakes; mətxʷu (blunt hills around a valley) or Methow; škwáxčənəxʷ (people living on the bank) or Moses-Columbia; nspilm (prairie) or Nespelem; uknaqin (seeing over the top) or Okanogan; palúšpam (people from Palouse) or Palus; sənpʕʷilx (grey mist as far as one can see) or San Poil, and šnp̓əšqʷáw̓səxʷ (people in between) or Wenatchi. The Colville Reservation encompasses approximately 1.4 million acres in North Central Washington.

The Washington Policy Center is a free market oriented, public policy think tank that offers market-based solutions for Washington state. Todd Myers runs WPC’s Center for the Environment and has worked in environmental policy for more than two decades. He is a member of the Puget Sound Salmon Recovery Council’s executive board, and previously worked at the Washington State Department of Natural Resources. He is also a beekeeper and manages 250,000 honeybees.



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