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Government-to-government deal on managing wildlife and natural resources announced between Coquille Tribe, State of Oregon

Meade Commission 1.jpg
Oregon Dept. of Fish & Wildlife
Brenda Meade (right), chair of the Coquille Tribal Council, shakes hands with members of the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission on June 17 after the commission approved a co-management agreement between the tribe and state.

In what’s described as a “historic partnership”, the Coquille Tribe and Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife have agreed to jointly manage a five-county area.

The deal follows a push last year by local governments and groups near the Coquille River to help address drastically reduced numbers of salmon. The campaign urged Governor Kate Brown to back the proposal.

John Ogan is a legal representative for the Coquille. He said that effort has paid off in this new partnership.

“The governor has sought to implement policies that correct historic injustices to the Oregon tribes as much as possible, or at least in part,” Ogun told KLCC. “There’s sad history with colonialization, settlement, and displacement, and disassociation from their culture values and resources like fish and wildlife, the environment, rivers, and such.”

The counties are Coos, Curry, Douglas, Jackson, and Lane, with the possibility other tribes may seek similar agreements with the State of Oregon.

Mark Johnston, executive director for the Coquille, said they’ve already worked with the ODFW to help restore declining numbers of Chinook salmon, and are hopeful this deal will make a difference.

“And I can’t help but add, another exciting piece to that is the work that we’re doing to improving estuary to what it was once before,” said Johnston, highlighting the tribe’s $2.2 million grant through the Pacific Coast Salmon Rehabilitation fund. “We’ll be passing through to the local watershed agency, to improve what’s called the Coaledo Tide Gate project. It’ll significantly improve the estuary.”

The award was funded through the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, enacted in 2021. Implementation will begin next year.

Improving fish passage and water quality is seen as key in helping restore salmon in the tribe’s waterways.

Copyright @2022, KLCC.

Brian Bull joined the KLCC News Team in June 2016. In his 25+ years as a public media journalist, he's worked at NPR, Twin Cities Public Television, South Dakota Public Broadcasting, Wisconsin Public Radio, and ideastream in Cleveland. His reporting has netted dozens of accolades, including four national Edward R. Murrow Awards (19 regional), the Ohio Associated Press' Best Reporter Award, Best Radio Reporter from the Native American Journalists Association, and the PRNDI/NEFE Award for Excellence in Consumer Finance Reporting.
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