Published October 21, 2022

Lomakatsi is honored to launch the Tribal Youth Ecological Forestry Training Program this week in Chiloquin, Oregon, funded by Oregon Conservation Corps. The program brings together 10 Tribal young adults who have dedicated the next 18 weeks to working on Klamath, Modoc, and Yahooskin-Paiute homelands, learning the ins-and-outs of forest restoration, ecological fuels mitigation, and prescribed and wildland fire.  

Here are some photos of participants, crew managers, Tribal leaders, and Lomakatsi staff celebrating the program kick-off Monday, from the welcome ceremony and training session at The Klamath Tribes Goos Olgi Gowa Community Center to the first field visit on the ancestral Klamath village traditionally known as “plaikni koke,” Edison Chiloquin Trust Lands—an important Tribal community site that will be a focus of program restoration efforts this fall.  Work will also take place on adjacent private lands as part of the Chiloquin Community Fuels Reduction Project. We express our gratitude to the tribal community and the Edison Chiloquin Trust family for their partnership, hospitality, and support for Lomakatsi in launching the OCC program. 

Situated along the Sprague River adjacent to town, the Chiloquin Land Trust retains significant ancestral memory, and remains a symbol of cultural revival sought by many for its spiritual significance. In 1980, the presidentially designated Chiloquin Act—the only of its kind in the nation—was enacted to protect the cultural integrity and ecology of this 580-acre area. The land is administered by the Fremont-Winema National Forest and co-managed by the family of Edison Chiloquin through a Memorandum of Understanding. Read more about Edison Chiloquin here. 

On Monday, Tribal community leaders shared with the group the history and cultural significance of the earthen lodges, storage pits, and ceremonial spaces located across the landscape, near forest stands where participants started work this week protecting aspen and Ponderosa pine, and piling understory hazardous fuels.   

This program is funded through the Oregon Conservation Corps (OCC) grant program, part of the 2021 Oregon Senate Bill 762 legislature designed to reduce the risk wildfire poses to communities and critical infrastructure, create fire-adapted communities, and engage youth and young adults in workforce training. Each participant will emerge from the program with the certifications to enter a career in wildland fire, cultural resource monitoring, or forest restoration. Additional support for the program is provided by funding through the Roundhouse Foundation and Center for Disaster Philanthropy.

“These young adults are learning to work in the woods with tools that protect land, communities, and ecosystem services: integrity, Indigenous Traditional Ecological Knowledge, and the technical skills that open doors to careers in the vast and growing field of forest restoration and fire management,” said Belinda Brown, Lomakatsi Tribal Partnerships Director. “The deep trust and partnership at work here, supporting this training model, is shifting the thinking entirely about what’s possible around workforce development, equity, and ecocultural fuels management, with the health of our Tribal youth and young adults at the core.”  

The Tribal youth program builds on Lomakatsi’s existing model and leverages partnerships with a range of state and federal agencies, Tribal Nations, municipalities, nonprofits, fire districts, landowners, community members, and others to accomplish strategic ecological fuels reduction where it is needed most. 

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