The Yurok Tribe has purchased and plans to restore 9,000 acres of land in the Blue Creek watershed for fish and wildlife and to protect spiritual areas.
The tribe has worked with the Western Rivers Conservancy for the past 10 years to purchase land in the Blue Creek watershed, which is a tributary of the Klamath River, according to a Yurok Tribe press release. The watershed is important to salmon populations and houses some of the best fish habitat in the Pacific Northwest, according to the press release.
The tribe used dollars tied to the 1998 Hoopa Yurok Settlement Act and, with help from the Western Rivers Conservancy, purchased the land through the federal New Market Tax Credit program. According to the tribe’s press release, it has worked with Western Rivers Conservancy to accomplish other land acquisitions. The acquisition of the 9,000 acres in the Blue Creek watershed is the final piece of an ambitious land recovery plan, according to the tribe.
The tribe’s goal is to restore the Klamath River’s salmon runs, said Amy Cordalis, the Yurok Tribe’s general counsel and a traditional salmon fisher.
“The Yurok Tribe’s goal is to heal the Klamath River from its headwater to the Pacific Ocean,” Cordalis said in a written statement on Wednesday. “This is a step forward toward realizing a bigger vision — restoration of the river’s mighty salmon runs.”
Blue Creek is the Klamath River’s largest tributary on the Yurok Reservation and provides habitat for fish populations in the lower part of the river, according to the press release. The creek also provides a cool refuge for fish throughout the Klamath basin, especially for chinook salmon migrating upstream during the late summer and early fall.
According to the tribe’s press release, concurrent with its effort to reacquire land, it has been engaging in an endeavor to reverse “”the negative impact that historic natural resource extraction industries have had on the Klamath and its fisheries.”
The tribe plans to use traditional and contemporary forest management practices to rehabilitate the 9,000 acres they have acquired, which was heavily logged in the past 100 years, according to the press release.