Good Neighbor Project with BLM Part of Bipartisan Infrastructure Law

Allie Hostler, Two Rivers Tribune

A view across a valley at sunset. The clouds and hills are lit in a bright golden light.

Many forest land stewardship projects are underway in and around the Hoopa Valley Indian Reservation. One recently announced will reduce the threat of Sudden Oak Death spreading onto the Hoopa Reservation from the Redwood Valley area.

On Friday, the Bureau of Land Management announced $100,000 from President Biden’s Bipartisan Infrastructure Law will go toward completing restoration and improvement projects in the Lacks Creek Management Area near the southwest border of the Hoopa Valley Indian Reservation.

The projects will support fire resilience and advance Tribal co-stewardship, with forestry crews from the Hoopa Valley Tribe completing projects on public lands within its ancestral territory. Projects will include fuels reduction, prairie and oak woodland restoration and maintenance of previous fuels treatments completed by the Tribe.

A map of the BLM Lacks Creek Project

Hoopa Valley Tribe Forestry Director Jeff Lindsey said the department has worked diligently over the years to treat areas susceptible to Sudden Oak Death. Treatments include reducing understory brush and removing some species, such as bay laurel, that provide a vector for the SOD pathogen’s spread.

“Because tanoaks and their acorns are such a vital part of Hoopa culture, we’re doing everything we can to protect them from Sudden Oak Death,” Lindsey said. “The goal is to reduce the amount of species susceptible to SOD in the understory to provide less opportunity for the pathogen to get a foothold.”

Lindsey added that they will take all of the necessary safety precautions, such as having equipment professionally steam cleaned before it returns to the Reservation. And, work on the approximately 150-200 acre treatment area will begin in late fall of 2023 and early summer of 2024. The project, which includes additional treatment areas will span the course of five years.

“The Hoopa Tribe is proud to coordinate with the Bureau of Land Management to conduct forest health activities in the Lacks Creek area within Hoopa ancestral lands,” said Hoopa Valley Tribe Vice Chairman Everett Colegrove Jr. “Our forestry department has a long, mutually beneficial working relationship with the BLM and the Tribe is proud to continue that relationship.”

The work completed by the Hoopa Tribe has the long-term benefit of reducing wildfire risk and improving the health of forests, woodlands and prairies. These projects have reduced high fuel loads and thinned dense tree populations to minimize risk of high severity fires. They also help restore historic ecosystem conditions, treating conifers that increasingly spread into oak woodlands and prairies.

BLM California State Director Karen Mouritsen said the agency values the partnership with the Tribe and looks forward to upcoming accomplishments.

“We are pleased to continue our partnership with the Hoopa Tribe, which has already contributed significantly to improving conditions in the Lacks Creek Management Area near the Hoopa Reservation,” Mouritsen said. “Members of the Tribe and public will benefit from improved conditions well into the future.”

The 8,600-acre Lacks Creek Management Area is within the Park Protection Zone for Redwood Creek, which flows through the old-growth redwood stands in Redwood National and State Parks.