Published April 26, 2023

Last week, a Lomakatsi delegation traveled to the state capitol in Salem to share success stories at a public hearing of the Joint Committee on Ways and Means Subcommittee on Education in support of Oregon Conservation Corps (OCC). OCC has funded our Youth Ecological Forestry Training & Employment Program since October 2022, providing 20 young adults from Klamath and Jackson counties with nationally recognized certifications in wildland fire, chainsaw operations, First Aid and CPR—and, for tribal participants, cultural resource monitoring.

At the hearing, Lomakatsi Executive Director Marko Bey and Tribal Partnerships Director Belinda Brown, with partners from Northwest Youth Corps and Phoenix Charter School of Roseburg, spoke to the many merits of the OCC grant program that is creating fire-adapted communities and training the workforce of tomorrow.

During public testimony section, 10 Lomakatsi tribal crew members and crew managers shared from their hearts about the value of the OCC program to the tribal community, including creating jobs, opening up meaningful career paths, and supporting indigenous peoples in stewarding the ancestral lands they rely on. Thanks to OCC funding, these crew members have spent the past 6 months working across the Rogue Basin and their homelands in Chiloquin, gaining hands-on experience in ecological fuels reduction, prescribed burning, and wildland fire while helping to protect communities and the ecosystem.

At the invitation of Senator Jeff Golden, the Lomakatsi team was then recognized during the full convening of the Senate Chamber. Check out these photos from the visit, and you can watch the testimony at the link below (the OCC presentation begins at about 0:49:00 and tribal crew members speak started at 1:07:30).

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