Assessment of Indian Forests and Forest Management in the United States The Fourth Indian Forest Management Assessment Team for The Intertribal Timber Council 2023

Assessment of Indian Forests and Forest Management in the United States The Fourth Indian Forest Management Assessment Team for The Intertribal Timber Council 2023

This report contains three parts: 1. The Main Report (this document)

2. The Executive Summary 3. A Two-Page Summary

For more information regarding the report Assessment of Indian Forests and Forest

Management in the United States , please contact the Program Manager at the following address: Intertribal Timber Council, PO Box 11790, Portland, OR 97211; (503) 282-4296;

Photo Credits: Cover page, clockwise from upper left:

Penobscot hardwood forest – Vincent Corrao Cow Creek timber harvest – Tim Vredenburg Post-wildfire restoration on Santa Clara Pueblo – Serra Hoagland Wildfire on the Yakama Reservation – Ryan Sanchey Page iii: IFMAT IV site visit to the Spokane Reservation – Vincent Corrao Page iv: Redwood on Yurok ancestoral territory – Vincent Corrao

Table of Contents

Authors and Acknowledgements . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . v

ListofAbbreviations. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .xi

IFMATIVExecutiveSummary. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1

IntroductiontoIFMATIV. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .17

Overview of Indian Forests and Forestry: Organization, Health, Productivity, and Cultural Significance. . . . . . . . . . . . . 19

Vision: Tribal Member Values, Perceptions, and Priorities. . . . . .27

Non-Timber Forest Products (NTFPs). . . . . . . . . . . . . . 35

The Evolving Role and Progression of Self Governance in ForestManagement....................45

Alaska’s Federally Recognized Tribes. . . . . . . . . . . . . . 49

Allotments. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 51

Task Findings and Recommendations . . . . . . . . . . . . . 53

Task A: A comparative analysis of management practicesandfunding. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 53 Task B: A survey of the condition of Indian forest lands, including health and productivity levels. . . . . . . . . . . . 79 Task C: An evaluation of staffing patterns of forestry organizations of the Bureau of Indian Affairs and ofIndiantribes.....................99 Task D: An evaluation of procedures employed in timber sale administration, including preparation, field supervision, and accountability for proceeds . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 109 Task E: An analysis of the potential for reducing or eliminating relevant administrative procedures, rules, and policies of the Bureau of Indian Affairs consistent with the Federal trust responsibility. . . . . . . . . . . . . 117 Task F: A comparative analysis of forest management plans and their ability to meet tribal needs and priorities. . . . . . .123 Task G: An evaluation of the feasibility and desirability of establishing minimum standards against which the adequacy of the forestry programs of the Bureau of Indian Affairs in fulfilling its trust responsibility to Indian tribes canbemeasured...................137 Task H: A recommendation of any reforms and increased funding levels necessary to bring Indian forest land management programs to a state-of-the-art condition. . . . . 153

Table of Contents iii

Task Findings and Recommendations (continued)

Task I: An evaluation of tribal climate risk and adaptation to climate change (for forests and forest operations). . . . . .161 Task J: An assessment of how Indian forests fit into the general scheme of landscape ecology and restoration. . . . . 185 Task K: An assessment of institutional capability, staff, equipment, facilities, and organizational components necessary to support landscape scale management . . . . . . 201


Appendices. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . A-1

Appendix i: National Indian Forest Resources Management Act Statute Legal Authority. . . . . . . . . . A-1

Appendix ii: NTFP Interview Protocol . . . . . . . . . . . A-18

Appendix iii: NTFP Species. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . A-20

Appendix iv: IFMAT IV Trip Log. . . . . . . . . . . . . . A-27

Appendix v: IFMAT I-III Crosswalk Table of Recommendations.. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .A-34

Appendix vi: Table of Tribes Visited and Governance Status. . A-58

Appendix vii: Survey/Questionnaire Template. . . . . . . . A-59

Appendix viii: Recommendations for IFMAT V. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . A-68

Appendix vix: IFMAT IV Site Visit Handbook. . . . . . . . . A-70

Appendix x: IFMAT IV Tribal Site Visit Sampling Scheme. . . . A-78

Appendix xi: How well are tribes supported by the BIA?. . . . A-79

Appendix xii: Additional Information About Alaska. . . . . . A-84

Appendix xiii: Additional Information about Allotments. . . . . A-86

Appendix xiv: BIA Regional Office Visit Questions . . . . . . A-87

iv Assessment of Indian Forests and Forest Management in the United States

Authors and Acknowledgements The IFMAT IV core team would like to thank the tribes that participated in this assessment, as well as the Intertribal Timber Council (ITC) Oversight Committee for providing comments on the draft report. The team also expresses its appreciation for the assistance of numerous individuals who were interviewed, including the BIA Central

Office and Regional staff, as well as tribal leaders who participated in focus groups and surveys. Finally, this report could not have been possible without the technical specialists, group of student participants, and editors. Funding was provided by the BIA and the USDA Forest Service.

The Core Team

John Sessions, PhD, Co-chair John Sessions is University Distinguished Professor of Forestry and Strachan Chair of Forest Operations Management at Oregon State University. Before coming to OSU he served in various positions in the USDA Forest Service in engineering and timber management and as harvesting manager of a 3.4-million-acre property in northern Brazil. He has consulted in 16 countries for NGO’s, companies, and agencies on five continents as well as participating in several congressionally mandated assessments including co-chair or vice-chair of four national assessments of Indian forests and forest management. For 15 years he supported the strategic planning efforts of the Oregon Department of Forestry. His John Gordon, PhD, Co-chair John C. Gordon is Pinchot Professor Emeritus of Forestry and Environmental Studies and former dean at the Yale School for the Environment (formerly the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies). He has participated in all four IFMATs to date and has worked with tribes to regain some of their ancestral lands. He was Head and Professor, Department of Forest Science, Oregon State University from 1976 to 1983. Before that he was Professor of Forestry at Iowa State University, and Principal Plant Physiologist at the Pioneering Project in Wood Formation, USDA Forest Service, Rhinelander, Wisconsin. He has a B.S. (forest management) and a Ph.D. (plant physiology and silviculture) from Iowa State University and has been a Fulbright Scholar in Finland (University of Helsinki) and India (Bangalore). He is the principal and sole proprietor of John Gordon

research focuses on searching for efficient solutions to forest planning problems and all aspects of the forestry supply chain and is documented in 360 publications and reports. He has a BS in civil engineering, MS in civil engineering, MS in forest engineering, and PhD in forest management. Since 2013, Dr. Sessions has chaired the Oregon Professional Forest Engineering licensing examination. In 2013 he was recognized by the Society of American Foresters with the National Award in Forest Science. In 2015, he received the Forester of the Year award by ITC and the 2015 International Forest Engineering Achievement Award from the Council on Forest Engineering. Dr. Sessions is a Fellow of the Society of American Foresters. Consultant, a Portland, Oregon, firm. He is also chairman and founding partner in the Candlewood Timber Group, a sustainable forestry company with operations and substantial forest holdings in Northwest Argentina. His primary expertise is in the biological basis of forest productivity, the management of research, and forest policy and management. He has consulting experience with public and private organizations, including forest products firms, the ITC and several individual tribes, the World Bank and the United Nations Development Programme. He has authored, coauthored, or edited over 100 papers and books, and has overseas experience in a variety of places, including India, Pakistan, China, Costa Rica, Brazil, Argentina, Finland and Scotland. In 2005 he was awarded the Gifford Pinchot Medal by the Society of American Foresters.

Authors and Acknowledgements v

Serra Hoagland, PhD, Co-chair Serra Hoagland (Laguna Pueblo) serves as the Tribal Relations Specialist for the USDA Rocky Mountain Research Station of the USDA Forest Service. She focuses on building partnerships with tribes and intertribal organizations, mentoring students

In 2020, Dr. Hoagland was nominated and selected as the most promising scientist by the American Indian Science & Engineering Society. To date, she has co-authored 2 dozen books and peer reviewed publications including co-editing the first contributed volume on Tribal Wildlife Stewardship. She served as a graduate student observer for IFMAT III and as co-chair of the ITC Research Sub-committee. Over the years, she has been actively involved with the Society of American Foresters, ITC, the Native American Fish & Wildlife Society as well as The Wildlife Society. involved nationally with ITC, as co-chair of the Research Sub-committee and member of the Education Committee, a member of the Forest Research Advisory Council (FRAC) and an executive Board Member of the National Association of University Forest Resource Programs (NAUFRP). Leighton was a member of the 3rd Indian Forest Management Assessment Team. He has a B.A. in Anthropology, an M.F. in Forestry, and a PhD in Forest Ecology and Silviculture. land acquisitions/exchanges, and forest policy. Vinny was honored with the Natural Resource Award for development of programs exemplifying integrated natural resource management from the University of Idaho, the ITC Northwest Regional Award, and the Nez Perce Tribal Executive Committee special appreciation award for work conducted with the Nez Perce Tribe.

in natural resources, and conducting research that is relevant to Native

communities. As the first Native American to graduate from Northern Arizona University with a PhD in forestry, Serra studied Mexican spotted owl habitat on tribal and non- tribal lands in south-central New Mexico. Adrian Leighton, PhD, Co-chair Adrian Leighton is a professor of forestry and Director for the Center for Tribal Research and Education in Ecosystem Sciences (TREES) at Salish Kootenai College. He helped start the first Bachelors of Science in Forestry at SKC in 2003, the first and only such program at a tribal college. As well as teaching and developing curriculum, Leighton has served as Forestry Department Head, Dean of Natural Resources and most recently Dean of Sciences. He has been Vincent Corrao, BS, Program Manager Vincent Corrao (Vinny) is the Founder and CEO of Northwest Management, and he has worked with ITC and individual tribes for more than 40 years. He has participated in several regional and national forest products and wildfire management studies as well as the IFMAT III assessments. He has consulted in strategic planning, business development, all aspects of the forestry supply chain,

The IFMAT IV Core Team would like to express its appreciation to Laura Alvidrez , the Program Manager for ITC, for her support and assistance.

vi Assessment of Indian Forests and Forest Management in the United States

The 41 Participating Tribes Bristol Bay Native Association, Alaska Chugachmiut, Alaska Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes Confederated Tribes and Bands of the Yakama Nation Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation

Passamaquoddy Tribe Penobscot Nation Pueblo of Acoma Pueblo of Santa Clara Quinault Indian Nation Red Lake Nation

Grand Portage Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Hoopa Valley Tribe Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians Kalispel Tribe of Indians Karuk Tribe Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe Makah Indian Reservation Menominee Tribe Mescalero Apache Tribe Metlakatla Indian Community, Alaska Mi’kmaq Nation Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians Navajo Nation Nez Perce Tribe

San Carlos Apache Tribe Spokane Tribe of Indians Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohican Indians Tanana Chiefs Conference, Alaska Tulalip Tribes Tule River Tribe Yurok Tribe Warm Springs Tribe White Earth Nation White Mountain Apache Tribe

Confederated Tribes of the Coos, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw Indians Coquille Indian Tribe Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians Eastern Band of Cherokee Gana-A ‘Yoo, Limited, Alaska

Technical Specialists

John Bailey, PhD John Bailey is a Professor of Silviculture and Fire Management in the College of Forestry at Oregon State University. He obtained his BS and MF degrees from Virginia Tech (as a native Virginian). He completed a PhD at Oregon State University in silviculture, addressing structural development of Douglas-fir forests, and subsequently joined the faculty at Northern Arizona University for David A. Cleaves, PhD David A. Cleaves is the owner of Cleaves Consulting LLC, offering services in risk management, planning, leadership development, and climate change policy. Cleaves was formerly the Climate Change Advisor to the Chief of the US Forest Service where he led and coordinated agency activities in climate change adaptation, mitigation, policy, and communication. Cleaves was formerly the deputy administrator for the Forest Service national R&D program and director of the Rocky Mountain Research Station. He was also

nine years before returning to OSU in 2006 to continue teaching and research on fuels/ fire management and sustainable forest management in fire-prone forest types. His most recent research and outreach focus is on landscape-scale wildfire risk and how to use active forest management to minimize the adverse impacts of future wildfire in uncertain climatic times. the national staff director for research in economics, fire management systems, forest products, social science, recreation, urban forestry, and resource assessment. Previously, he was professor of economics and the marketing extension specialist at Oregon State University. Cleaves has a B.S. and an M.S. from Michigan State University and a Ph.D. in economics from Texas A&M University. Cleaves was the Forest Service representative on IFMAT III assessment and has been lead on Task I – climate change – in IFMAT IV.

Authors and Acknowledgements vii

Mark Corrao, PhD Dr. Corrao has expertise in many diverse aspects of leadership, analysis, and policy across the disciplines of forestry, rangeland, and water resources. His experience throughout the U.S. with multiple Tribal Nations, State, Federal and private industrial forestlands afford him a unique perspective in natural resource services and research. Mark has more than 20 years’ experience in natural resource field data collection, academic research, environmental policy, Greg Dillon, MA Greg Dillon is the Director of the Fire Modeling Institute, part of the USDA Forest Service Rocky Mountain Research Station. He is an ecologist and geographer with Michael Dockry, PhD Mike Dockry is a member of the Citizen Potawatomi Nation. He works at the University of Minnesota as an Assistant Professor of tribal natural resource management in the Department of Forest Resources. His interdisciplinary research and teaching focus on incorporating Indigenous knowledge and tribal perspectives into Marla Emery, PhD Dr. Marla R. Emery retired after 25 years as a scientist with the USDA Forest Service. During that time, she had the honor to Lloyd Irland, PhD Growing up in Chicago, Irland earned his B.S. at Michigan State; an M.S. at University of Arizona. He served in the Army in Vietnam, then earned a Ph.D. at Yale. He served as a U.S. Forest Service economist in the South, and worked ten years in Maine state government, serving in the Maine Forest Service, as Director of Public Lands, and as State Economist. He has worked on tribal issues on several occasions, including Dave Mausel, PhD Dave is enrolled in the Muscogee (Creek) Nation of Oklahoma and of Austrian and Scottish descent. He was raised in Massachusetts and studied forestry at the Univ. of Massachusetts B.S., and Forest Entomology at the Univ. of Washington M.S.

and leadership. As adjunct faculty, Mark serves as a mentor for graduate students in both the College of Agricultural Sciences and College of Natural Resources within the University of Idaho. He has provided multiple technology seminars through the U.S. and has attended ITC as a speaker and workshop lead since 2014. Mark holds a B.S. in Forest Ecosystem Management, M.S. in Watershed Hydrology, and a multi- disciplinary Ph.D. in Soils Physics and Environmental Law. almost 25 years in the US Forest Service. He has an M.A. in Geography from The University of Wyoming and a B.S. in Geography from James Madison University. forestry and natural resource management. He was a technical specialist supporting social science research for the IFMAT IV. He earned a B.S. in Forest Science from the University of Wisconsin, an M.S. in Forest Resources from Penn State University, and a Ph.D. in Forestry from the University of Wisconsin.

conduct research in partnership with numerous tribes, intertribal organizations, and indigenous scholars, especially in the Upper Midwest and Northeast.

as consultant to the first Indian Forest Management Assessment Team. He has given talks at several ITC meetings. He is now on a student’s committee supervising a Ph.D. thesis at Yale on native rights and timber management in British Columbia, and while on faculty there for 2 years co-taught a workshop in tribal resource management and religions, joint with noted scholar John Grim. He is a Fellow of the Society of American Foresters. and Virginia Tech Ph.D. Before joining the USFS in 2020, Dave worked for Menominee Tribal Enterprises and continues to work for the Keshena Fire Department. He lives in Shawano, WI with his wife, Pehsapan, and three sons, Julian, Rowan, and Henry.

viii Assessment of Indian Forests and Forest Management in the United States

Mark Rasmussen, MS Mark Rasmussen is Emeritus Forest Economist at Mason, Bruce & Girard, headquartered in Portland Oregon. Mark’s career focused on long term forest management planning and public forest management policy. During his 26-year tenure at MB&G, the company developed George E. Smith, MPA George Smith is the President of Pacific Management Associates, a natural resources consulting business located in North Bend, OR. He holds a BSF and MPA from the University of Washington and Cornell University. George is an SAF Certified Forester with more than 55 years of Native American forestry experience. During his 31-year career with the Bureau of Indian Affairs, George served in the positions of Chief Forester, BIA Director – National Interagency Fire Center, Regional Forester – Northwest Region, and Assistant Area Forester – Billings Area. Following Tim Vredenburg, BS Tim Vredenburg is from southwest Oregon. For the last twenty years he has assisted private landowners and Indian Tribes manage forestlands while navigating challenging issues like wildfire, Endangered Species, and an ever-changing regulatory landscape. Since 2012, he has served the Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians, as their Director of Forest Dave Wilson, BS Dave Wilson participated in IFMAT IV as a subject matter expert in the area of forest inventory and planning, budgeting and other financial analysis, and policy. Dave retired from the US Forest Service in 2022 after serving in various positions on the

long-term harvest schedules for nearly 250 public and private forests covering nearly 80 million acres. Mark has testified about forest management issues before Congress, the Endangered Species Committee, various State agencies, and in several Courts. Mark served on the IFMAT III and IFMAT IV teams. federal retirement, George served 10 years as Executive Director for the Coquille Indian Tribe. His tribal experience also includes serving as President of the Sek-Wet-Se Corporation responsible for management of private tribal forestland and as a member of the Board of Directors for the Makah Forestry Enterprise. His federal career and private consulting work experience includes organizing and participating in foreign trade missions to China, Hong Kong and the Federated States of Micronesia, and forest management planning for two regions of the Russian Far East. Management. In his current capacity he is working to develop an expanded timber land base that will provide for the cultural and economic wellbeing of the Tribe for many generations to come. He offers a unique breadth of experience that spans Indian Self Determination/Self Governance, Forest Policy, Endangered Species and Environmental Compliance, along with practical on the ground forest management. Washington Office Forest Management staff. Prior to that he spent 29 years (1986-2015) in Indian Forestry, starting at the Menominee Reservation followed by 17 years at the BIA BOFRP office where he was a Senior Inventory Specialist.

Student Participants

Chase Christopherson Chase is an enrolled member with the Mandan tribe of the Three Affiliated Tribes from the Minneapolis, MN area. He has a M.S. in natural resource sciences from North Dakota State University in 2022, where he conducted research on the recovery of soil

and vegetation following reclamation on degraded lands. He is particularly interested in traditional ecological knowledge (TEK), filling data gaps and making the necessary data accessible to improve tribal land management and further tribal self- governance and determination.

Authors and Acknowledgements ix

Anthony Ciocco Tony Ciocco has worked with numerous tribal natural resource management departments, with the Bureau of Indian Affairs, and currently works with the U.S.

Geological Survey Climate Adaptation Science Center. His research involves ecological modeling, structured decision making, and co-production with Indigenous Knowledge.

Austin Durglo Austin Durglo is an enrolled member of the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes. Graduating in 2024 with an M.S. in Water Resources and a J.D. emphasizing Native American Law, Austin hopes to learn and support Tribes further their self-governance Tyler Everett Tyler is a citizen of Mi’kmaq Nation, a PhD student in the School of Forest Resources at the University of Maine, a forester working for the Passamaquoddy Forestry Department, and the Forest Adaptation Technical Assistant with United South and Eastern Tribes. His current research focuses on addressing the impacts of emerald ash borer in the culturally significant ash forests Hannah Funke Hannah is a first-generation descendant of the Flathead Nation in Northwest Montana. She is currently working towards her Ph.D. in Natural Resources with an emphasis on fire ecology at the University of Idaho. She looks to promote Indigenous knowledge and

throughout his career. Austin plans to use the opportunity as a student participant in IFMAT IV to further his network of Tribal professionals and leaders across Turtle Island. Austin is excited to work in Indian Country and help realize Tribal visions for the next generations. of the northeast. Tyler’s research endeavors and professional work have both benefited from the experiences he has gained in participating in the IFMAT IV report by raising his awareness about the current and on-going issues and challenges being faced by Tribal Nation forest managers and natural resource staff across Indian Country as we all work to protect these forests. burn practices to help promote better land stewardship goals. Hannah’s participation in IFMAT IV has helped her gain insight into what adversities and successes are occurring and continue to occur on tribal lands. She hopes to aid in solutions faced by Tribal Nations in her future career path.

Editor and Graphic Designer

Adam Herrenbruck Adam is a Planning Associate with

planning, wildland firefighting, hazard abatement, wildfire mitigation planning, and writing/editing hazard mitigation plans. Adam holds a B.S. in Journalism with a writing emphasis from the University of Idaho.

Northwest Management, Inc. in Moscow, Idaho. He has worked in many facets of the forestry consulting industry, including inventory, reforestation, forest management

Margaret Parker Margaret is a graphic designer with

prepress production services. Margaret is based in Portland, Oregon, and works with clients throughout the Pacific Northwest.

extensive experience in the printing industry. She specializes in layout, typography and

x Assessment of Indian Forests and Forest Management in the United States

List of Abbreviations


Allowable Annual Cut


Forest Inventory and Planning


Aerial Detection Survey


Forest Management Deduction


Alaska Federation of Natives


Forest Management Plan


Alaska Native Association


Funding and Position Analysis


Alaska Native Corporation


Full-Time Equivalent


Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act


Fiscal Year


Assistant Secretary of Indian Affairs


Government Accountability Office


Burned Area Emergency Response


Geographic Information System


Billion Board Feet


Good Neighbor Authority


Bureau of Indian Affairs


Hazardous Fuels Prioritization and Allocation System


Bureau of Indian Affairs Road System


Indian Forest Management Assessment Team


Bipartisan Infrastructure Law


Bureau of Land Management


Individual Indian Money

BoFRP Branch of Forest Resources Planning BOWFM Branch of Wildland Fire Management CFI Continuous Forest Inventory CFLRP Collaborative Forest Landscape Restoration Program CFR Code of Federal Regulations CO2 Carbon Dioxide DOF BIA Division of Forestry DOI Department of the Interior EMDS Ecosystem Management Decision Support EQIP Environmental Quality Incentive Program ESA Endangered Species Act FAEIS Food and Agriculture Education Information Statistics FEPP Federal Excess Property Program FHWA Federal Highway Administration FIA Forest Inventory Analysis


Incident Management Team


Inflation Reduction Act


Integrated Resource Management Plan


Indian Reservation Road System


Indian Self Determination and Education Assistance Act of 1975


Indian Trust Asset Management Plan


Indian Trust Asset Reform Act


Intertribal Timber Council


Indigenous Traditional Ecological Knowledge


Landscape Conservation Cooperative


Land Titles and Records Office


Thousand Board Feet


Minimum Expected Level


Million Board Feet


Memorandum of Agreement


Memorandum of Understanding

List of Abbreviations xi


National Advanced Silviculture Program


Real Estate Investment Trust


National Climate Assessment


Resource Planning Act


National Center for Cooperative Education


Reserve Treaty Rights Land


State of the Art


National Environmental Policy Act


State and Private Forestry USFS


Non-Governmental Organization


Trust Asset and Accounting Management System

NIFC National Interagency Fire Center NIFRMA National Indian Forest Resource Management Act NPS National Park Service NRCS


Tribal Colleges and Universities


Traditional Ecological Knowledge


Tribal Forest Protection Act

Natural Resources Conservation Service


Timber Investment Management Organization


Non-Timber Forest Products


Office of Personnel Management


US Department of Agriculture


Office of Special Trustee


USDA Forest Service


Office of Tribal Relations USFS


US Fish and Wildlife Service


Public Law


United States Geological Survey


Power of Attorney


Wildfire Hazard Potential

xii Assessment of Indian Forests and Forest Management in the United States

IFMAT IV Executive Summary


The Intertribal Timber Council (ITC), for the fourth time, has organized a team to conduct this federally mandated assessment of forestry on American Indian lands. The statute mandating the Indian Forest Management Assessment is the National Indian Forest Resources Management Act (NIFRMA), enacted as Title III of Public Law 101-630 on November 28, 1990. The Secretary of the Interior is required under NIFRMA to undertake an independent national assessment of Indian Forests and Forest

Management every ten years. This assessment is contracted to the ITC which in turn has engaged a team of nationally known experts in forest management to do the assessment and prepare the report for Congress. As with previous assessments, the 4th Indian Forest Management Assessment Team (IFMAT) is required to address eight tasks defined in NIFRMA and three additional tasks specified by ITC. In the 2019 base year there were 19.3 million acres of tribal trust

forested lands in the United States (F&PA 2019), which includes approximately 10.2 million acres of commercial forests and woodlands. These lands provide important economic, social, and cultural resources to Indian communities. The federal government has a fiduciary duty to ensure that the lands are managed in the best interest for Indian people. Past IFMAT reports and current findings show that tribal forestry can serve as a positive example

Woodland restoration project at San Carlos Apache. PHOTO CREDIT: SERRA HOAGLAND

Executive Summary 1

Helicopter drafting water during an active wildfire on the Spokane Tribe of Indians Reservation. PHOTO CREDIT: VINCENT CORRAO

of promoting environmental stewardship, but numerous urgent challenges exist in sustaining tribal forests for the benefit of Indian people. Most notably, tribal forestry departments are

in co-management authorities, tribal self-determination, and the creation of new programs that support tribal workforce development may begin to alleviate these challenges. This executive summary is intended to provide a condensed overview of the main IFMAT IV report findings and recommendations. Additional details with further analysis can be found in the various task sections of the main report. Where applicable, specific task findings and recommendations are listed in parenthesis (i.e., A2 for Task A finding or recommendation #2). Additional sections with findings and recommendations might also be referenced (i.e., V for Vision, NTFP for Non-Timber Forest Products, etc.).

underfunded and understaffed compared to their neighbors and high stand density conflated with limited processing infrastructure has created complex forest health conditions. However, increases

Figure ES.1. Forestry Self-governance program by number of trust acres. (Source: 2019 F&PA report).

19.3 Million Forest Acres 19.3 Million Forest Acres

3.0% 0.1% 3.0% 0.1%

All BIA Staff P.L. 93-638 Part P.L. 93-638 All Compact Partial Compact Other All BIA Staff P.L. 93-638 Part P.L. 93-638 All Compact Partial Compact Other

7.1% 7.1%

19.4% 19.4%

13.4% 13.4%

57.0% 57.0%

2 Assessment of Indian Forests and Forest Management in the United States


Over a period of two years IFMAT addressed the eight congressionally mandated tasks and the three additional tasks provided by the ITC by 1) visiting 37 tribal forests and hosting 41 virtual calls with tribal forestry departments of varying sizes and governance structures; 2)

surveying tribal communities and the BIA staff about tribal forestry and staffing issues; 3) conducting focus groups during visits to obtain the perspectives of tribal communities; 4) comparing forest management on tribal lands to similar federal and private lands; and 5) hosting virtual and fish and wildlife species, roots, moss, firewood, gravel and minerals, fungi and tree components (bark, sap, leaves/ needles, seeds/nuts) that are harvested by the community for food and medicinal purposes, to maintain cultural traditions, ceremony, and connections to the land (NTFP1). ■ Numerous threats exist to NTFP. These include reduced access, decline in NTFP populations, increased human pressure, changes in forest structure, as well as loss of native language resulting in loss of traditions around gathering, preparing, and processing NTFP (NTFP4). ■ Approximately 80% of tribal trust forested acres (includes all categories) are managed wholly or partially under P.L. 93-638 contracts, cooperative agreements, or SG compacts rather than direct service. This is 38% of all tribal forestry and fire programs. The continued advancement of tribes to SG and new opportunities provided by the Indian Trust Asset Reform Act (ITARA) makes the current BIA manual and handbook approach to development and compliance

in-person visits with BIA agency offices, regional and central office. Eight major findings arose from these efforts that are listed below with supplemental information for each. From the eight major findings IFMAT proposes a suite of major and supporting recommendations. with federal standards less relevant (G6, Appendix xi). Also, inconsistent requirements and guidance exist between BIA direct operations and SG tribes relating to trust oversight, trust standards and trust responsibility (G7). ■ A significant shift in concept and performance of inherent federal function for SG/ITARA tribes leaves unaddressed issues relating to the Secretary’s trust responsibility: As tribes continue to move towards SG and perform programs under ITARA, the context of the inherent federal function and the relationship of the performance of this function in fulfilling the Secretary’s trust responsibility changes. This leaves a residual trust responsibility that is not well understood and can lead to underutilization of SG authorities (G18). In theory the intent of SG can improve the ability for tribes to accomplish their vision (Table SG.1). 2. Funding to support tribal forest management is limited. ■ Funding for BIA forestry and wildfire preparedness continue to be far below investments in National Forest and BLM

Major Findings

1. There is a unique tribal vision of forest management including a focus on stewardship and non-timber

forest products (NTFP) as self-governance (SG)

increases yet the Secretary’s trust responsibility remains and is vaguely defined. ■ As in previous assessments, forest-based income continues for many tribes to be a less-important value (V1). Many tribes are prioritizing stewardship and traditional uses of their forests over timber production (A1). Tribes continue to question Allowable Annual Cut (AAC) achievement as a success measure, as used by BIA in the past (E7). The aggregated AAC for tribal forests has increased slightly overtime but timber harvests have generally not been achieved, with 2019 being the lowest since the Depression era, and management of tribal forests has shifted from a focus on timber production toward forest stewardship (H1). ■ There is a wide range of NTFP and benefits that come from tribal forests that sustain tribal lifeways and traditions. Most commonly identified NTFP include herbaceous plants,

Executive Summary 3

term forest management and, the project funding model may undermine self-governance. Costs of management increase over time, but recurring funding has not kept up with inflation (C2/H11). ■ Due to congressional continuing resolutions regarding the federal budget and agency delays, appropriated funding is arriving too late in the year to efficiently implement forestry practices increasing costs, reducing effectiveness, and jeopardizing both regeneration success and forest sustainability (A6). ■ The need for Burned Area Emergency Response (BAER) funds has increased significantly due to more frequent and larger wildfires on Indian lands. However, BAER funding is often insufficient to meet emergency needs and the policies and procedures for administering these funds are not aligned with the timing needs for project implementation. The BIA only has two BAER staff officers (H6).

Figure ES.2. Annual federal budgeted funding level to tribes for forestry and fire adjusted to $2019. IFMAT IV recommended funding level of $313 million is based on a comparative analysis to the U.S. Forest Service and other federal programs. This amount does not include estimated federal contributions of $11 million from other BIA programs or other federal sources such as NRCS. It also does not include needed funding to address the road maintenance backlog which was $200 million in 1991 and has increased to $1.33 billion in 2019. Subtotals may not add to total due to rounding.

Annual Federal Funding to Tribes for Forestry and Fire Annual Federal Funding to Tribes for Forestry and Fire

400 350 300 250 200 150 100 50 0

$363 million

$313 million

$305 million $295 million








$192 million


$176 million

$165 million

41 71

$112 million








Funding level recommended from IFMAT comparative analyses in red type Actual funding in black type Funding gap in blue type

Forestry funding Wildfire funding

2019 forestry and fuels funding gap ($96 million) 2019 wildfire funding gap ($42 million) All program gap

funding for comparable lands (A2). The Tribal Forestry Program funding requirements set forth in NIFRMA Section 3310 are not being met, more than 50% were being funded at levels below those prescribed in 25CFR163.36. ■ The gap between federal funding for tribal forests and other lands held in trust by the federal government decreased sharply between 1991 and 2001 (Figure ES.2) due to a significant reduction in Forest Service funding coupled with a large increase in tribal wildfire funding (including fuels reduction). However, since 2001 the gap has been increasing due to a combination of rising federal investments in the Forest Service for forestry and wildfire and reduced or stagnant tribal funding.

■ There is an imbalance between recurring funding and nonrecurring funding as well as no adjustments for inflation (A5). Funding has trended to favor nonrecurring project funding rather than recurring funding that supports stable tribal capacity to carry out long

Figure ES.3. Professional staffing levels for tribes and the BIA for fire and forestry staff. Staffing by Staff Level – Federal and Tribal and Fire/Forestry – Professional Only

- 100 200 300 400 500 600 700










4 Assessment of Indian Forests and Forest Management in the United States

A wildfire salvage timber sale operated by the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes in Montana. PHOTO CREDIT: VINCENT CORRAO

BIA, but can have unintended consequences (C4) such as the positions not being filled when they cannot identify a qualified tribal applicant or the forestry positions being filled with tribal members who have experience in other natural resource disciplines (i.e. wildlife, range, hydrology, etc.) which makes it more challenging for them to pursue the National Advanced Silviculture Program (NASP) certifications. ■ The lack of qualified personnel for timber sale layout makes it difficult for tribes to complete timber sales for meeting annual harvest volumes (D1).

increased in 20 or more years and is no longer a sufficient amount to pay salaries it was originally designed to. ■ It is increasingly difficult for tribes to bring on permanent staff due to uncertainty in funding levels (C2). In many cases, the team heard that future increases in project funds were irrelevant because there was a shortage of staff to perform the work and in many cases the facilities to house them. ■ Indian and tribal preference hiring policies have led to an increase in Native foresters working for tribes and the

3. Limited staffing and issues around workforce capacity are impacting tribal forest management. ■ Forestry Tribal Priority Allocation (TPA) funding has remained relatively static, compared to budget increases that are used to fund annual, mostly competitive projects. The result of this is that neither the BIA nor tribes have adequate funds to pay for staffing (C1). This problem is especially acute for tribes that compacted or contracted programs several decades ago. In multiple visits the team was told that the annual funding from the Bureau has not

Executive Summary 5

The mouth of the Klamath River, critical salmon habitat for the Yurok and Karuk Tribes in California. PHOTO CREDIT: VINCENT CORRAO

■ BIA training tends to be technical and compliance oriented and tribes are not receiving access to the broad scope of trainings that would benefit staff (C5) and build capacity. ■ At most locations, tribal staff are fully engaged in carrying out ongoing forestry operations and lack capacity to take on new initiatives even if those initiatives will streamline processes and result in more cost-effective program execution (H10). 4. Roads, facilities, and enforcement on tribal forests are in dire state. ■ BIA and tribal road systems are in very poor condition jeopardizing forest protection, water quality, and active forest management (A3). ■ The overall condition of the facilities used for forest management are in poor or worse condition, posing safety

and security issues. There are also needs for additional buildings to house equipment that is being left outside. While the BIA facilities are in fairly good shape, tribal facilities are significantly worse in condition (A9). ■ There is limited law enforcement on Indian forest lands for the protection of the natural resources (A7). 5. Major challenges continue to exist for forest protection, forest health, and planning. ■ For most tribal forests, excessive stand density, high fuel accumulations, and insect and disease issues remain a major forest sustainability issue (B1). This is conflated with an overall decline in processing infrastructure resulting from federal policies that limited timber harvests on National Forest lands more than three decades ago. This situation has created immense impacts on

tribal forest product industry employment and revenue to tribes. ■ Tribal forest managers face immense forest health challenges following 100 years of fire suppression policies and historic fire suppression. Current Incident Management Teams (IMTs) who are generally not trained in tribal values, management, and culture are assigned to work on tribal trust lands on incidents. This is a significant issue for tribes due to the conflict between forest health, cultural and archeological sites, and wildfire suppression tactics. ■ A 500,000-acre backlog of precommercial thinning treatments remains since the IFMAT III report despite the pressing need for density regulation (B2). Implementation of hazardous fuels reduction treatments is often made difficult by the separation of traditional

6 Assessment of Indian Forests and Forest Management in the United States

forestry and fuels management units (B3). ■ Woodland forests are in need of restoration (J12) and are increasingly being treated for fuels hazard reduction, range/ forage improvement, fuelwood gathering, food security, and carbon sequestration; however, those goals are not well articulated, and funding is often done outside the BIA. The carbon status of woodlands and woodlands research is limited. BIA guidance for woodland planning and management needs to be strengthened and better integrated into the forest management plan (B8). ■ There is thirty years of documented dissatisfaction with grazing, protection from trespass and poaching and other underserved values (such as access to culturally important plants) (V2). ■ Wild horses and burro (WHB) populations continue to damage forests and watersheds in Indian Country, particularly in the West. Funding for wild horse control remains far below those provided to other federal agencies. Tribal participation in federal programs to control wild horse and burro populations is not occurring. Funding appropriated for WHB issues is not being shared across the Department of the Interior (A8). ■ There is a lack of forest insect, disease, and invasive plant staff positions in tribal programs and the BIA to be fully engaged in addressing these threats (B9).

Redwood trees located on the Yurok’s ancestral lands, California. PHOTO CREDIT: ADRIAN LEIGHTON

Executive Summary 7

■ Many FMPs do not integrate with other plans such as non-trust land management, woodland management, non- timber forest products (NTFP), transportation, tribal business, and hazardous fuels mitigation plans (F3). ■ Forest inventory work is lacking yet needed for developing modern forest plans. Forest Inventory and Planning (FIP, formerly the Branch of Forest Resource Planning, or BoFRP) is not able to keep up with the needs of the BIA and tribal Forest Management and Inventory Planning (FMIP) needs (F8). ■ The gap between the aggregate Allowable Annual Cut under current management plans and the volume offered for sale continues to grow (F6). ■ In many areas there is a lack of manufacturing infrastructure resulting in poor markets and in some areas no market for the harvested products (D11). ■ Suppression activities during large wildfire incidents are increasingly inconsistent with tribal goals (B6). 6. Cross cultural relationship building, and landscape-scale management projects are needed. ■ Indian forests are being showcased as models of good stewardship which should be applied to management of federal lands (J2). There is overwhelming tribal member support (82%) for involvement in the management of federal lands (V3) yet capacity and funding to carry out projects is limited (J1/J5/K7). Projects are also hindered by rotating leadership of federal partners

Maple syrup collection tube network run by the Passamaquoddy Tribe in Maine. PHOTO CREDIT: VINCENT CORRAO

■ Lack of additional timber sales that are “shelf ready” makes it difficult to take advantage of fluctuating market conditions. Few tribes have more than one year’s access to commercial volume for marketing purposes, reducing the opportunity to capture high market conditions (D4). ■ Few tribes complete the sale layout of their AAC volume and this shortfall in annual sale volumes results in annual revenue losses (D4). Most tribes lack the process to evaluate whether the tribe is

receiving fair market value for their forest products (D7). ■ Maintenance of planning inventories and Forest Management Plans (FMPs) is not keeping up, especially regarding climate change. FMPs are not updated to include new techniques and ideas such as monitoring, climate change, forest health, modern planning techniques, carbon goals and accounting, sustained yield management practices to promote forest resilience, and new approaches for calculating the AAC (F1/F2).

8 Assessment of Indian Forests and Forest Management in the United States

An active timber harvest unit on the Quinault Reservation in western Washington. PHOTO CREDIT: VINCENT CORRAO

(J4) and, unfortunately, new authorities aimed at promoting tribal partnerships may often benefit the partners more than the tribes themselves (J7). A champion is needed on the tribal side as well as on the federal side to keep the collaborative process moving forward (K2). Federal agencies’ views on co-management and co-stewardship should be clarified and the tribes should be included in funding discussions regarding these projects (K4). ■ Prescribed fire, including cultural burning, is a consistently mentioned tool that tribes want to utilize in cross-boundary projects. However, this is often the most complex, although very critical component of many silvicultural treatments. Fire planning needs cooperation

among multiple agencies, landowners, and municipalities and without agreements in place this limits progress (J8). Presently there are not enough trained fire management qualified personnel in Indian Country (K10). ■ Fractionated, highly allotted tribal lands are especially challenging when promoting landscape-scale cross- boundary projects (J13). 7. There is a need for policy

and should be reviewed for relevance and applicability with current conditions, particularly the rapid progression of tribal self-governance (E1). ■ There are two divergent BIA forestry functions: direct service to tribes and working with self-governance tribes. It is not clear that BIA Forestry is adequately funded and staffed to do both at the required scale (E6). Furthermore, BIA staff have outdated resources (such as basic computer programs), oftentimes lack basic program information (G11), and show limited attention to some requirements in NIFRMA (A4, F1, G11). ■ There are special concerns/ benefits for tribes and BIA in carrying out forest management activities under ITARA and self-governance

reform and increased education regarding

available pathways to self- governance to fulfill the trust responsibility. ■ NIFRMA is one of the most recently legislated major federal forest policies and the ultimate basis of BIA Forestry rules and regulations, but the legislation is over 30 years old

Executive Summary 9

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