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Nez Perce Tribe signs Good Neighbor Authority agreement with Nez-Perce Clearwater National Forest

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The Lochsa River Corridor on the Nez Perce-Clearwater national forests. (Courtesy of the U.S. Forest Service)

Collaboration is aimed at conducting fuel reduction projects, the U.S. Forest Service said

The Nez Perce Tribe and the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests have reached a Good Neighbor Authority Agreement, one of the first of its kind in the U.S.

The agreement will allow for more partnerships for fuels reduction projects. Other goals of the agreement include conducting heritage surveys and to begin planning projects that benefit the most important areas to the tribe.

“The Nez Perce Tribe has been a steward of its land and resources since time immemorial,” Samuel Penney, chairman of the Nez Perce Tribal Executive Committee, said in a U.S. Forest Service press release. “The GNA agreement is an affirmation of the tribe’s expertise in managing our homelands and is an additional intergovernmental tool to improve watershed health for fish and wildlife habitat, treat insect-infected and disease-infected trees, and reduce hazardous fuels.”

Only six other Good Neighbor Authority agreements with federally recognized tribes are in effect since the program’s expansion to include tribes in 2018.

The program is designed to improve cooperation between agencies and landowners for “boundary-less management” concerning watershed restoration and fire management, among other types of land management. It was first piloted in 2000 and 2004 in Colorado and Utah, then was made permanent in 2014.

As part of the Columbia River Inter-Tribal Fish Commission, the Nez Perce Tribe has played key roles in restoring populations of coho salmon to the Clearwater River basin, bringing back populations of Pacific lamprey to the Columbia River Basin and several other restoration projects.