Hoh, Makah, Quileute will receive canoe trees from trust land

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OLYMPIA, Wash. – Hoh, Makah and Quileute will acquire three large-diameter cedar trees from the Olympic Experimental State Forest for use in carving traditional canoes and for other cultural and spiritual purposes.

The trees were acquired at appraised value by the Potlatch Fund, a nonprofit that promotes cultural preservation, education and health of Northwest Native peoples and their communities.

The state forest is called “experimental” because habitat conservation and forest management practices are tested there. Trees harvested generate revenue for public education.

A 2006 settlement between environmental advocacy organizations and the state Department of Natural Resources prohibits the harvest of old-growth trees from the forest. However, the parties to that settlement agreed to support the harvest of three trees for cultural and spiritual purposes.

The tribes will be required to restore the site and plant new trees. The state Board of Natural Resources also approved a process for federally recognized tribal governments to acquire cultural trees from state trust lands in certain circumstances.

“Using these trees is part of a resurgence of the culture, health and well-being of our tribal communities and I’m delighted DNR is a part of that,” the Potlatch Fund’s Colleen Jollie said following the harvesting approval.

– Richard Walker is a correspondent reporting from San Juan Island, Wash. Contact him at rmwalker@rockisland.com.

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