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Senate panel holds hearing on legislation to help protect Warm Springs Reservation from wildfires

KTVZ file

WASHINGTON (KTVZ) – The U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources held a hearing Thursday on Sen. Ron Wyden's legislation that would protect the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs reservation from wildfire and empower the Tribe to restore cultural and forest resources on Mt. Hood.

The legislation is also co-sponsored by Sen. Jeff Merkley.

"This legislation is about honoring Tribal Treaty rights and making sure the deep knowledge of Tribes like the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs is integral to any forest management plans on the mountain," Wyden said of Thursday's hearing. "Since time immemorial, the Warm Springs people have managed the forests around Mt. Hood, and as the largest community neighboring Mt. Hood, they are often the first affected by wildfires that spark in the area. They need to have a say on how to reduce wildfire risk and restore important cultural and forest resources in the area."

“The Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs are the largest neighbor to the Mt. Hood National Forest, and have a unique interest in maintaining and protecting its cultural and ecological resources,” said Merkley. “This legislation is an important step in fulfilling our treaty and trust responsibilities to the Warm Springs community by creating a framework for them to take an active role in co-managing the forest and utilizing their knowledge and expertise to improve forest management.”

Wyden and Merkley's Wy’east Tribal Resources Restoration Act directs the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Forest Service to enter into a memorandum of understanding with the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs and develop a management strategy on parts of the Mt. Hood National Forest that incorporates the Tribe's traditional knowledge of the area and reduces wildfire risk. 

This hearing is a key step to get a committee vote to send this legislation to the full Senate for consideration.

Article Topic Follows: Warm Springs

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