California Fish and Game Commission, tribes pave path toward the cooperative management of natural resources

Pictured: (back left) Commissioner Russel Burns, Commission President Eric Sklar, Commissioner Jacque Hostler-Carmesin, Commissioner Peter S. Sylva, (Bottom left) Tolowa Self-Governance Officer Briannon Fraley, Fish and Wildlife Deputy Director Stafford Lehr Stafford Lehr, and Tolowa Tribal Council Treasurer Cari Nelson.(Image: Tolowa Dee-ni’ Nation)

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Commission voted unanimously to adopt a definition of collaborative management

News Release

Tolowa Dee-ni’ Nation

The Tolowa Dee-ni' Nation applauds the California Fish and Game Commission for voting unanimously to adopt a definition of collaborative management, opening the door for the state and Tribal governments to form partnerships focused on the strategic stewardship of the natural environment.

"We sincerely thank the forward-looking Commission for approving the co-management definition," said Denise Richards-Padgette, the Chairperson of the Tolowa Dee-ni' Nation. "This decision paves a path for Tribes and the state to cooperatively govern natural resources within Tribal ancestral territories. It is a win for the 109 federally recognized Tribes in California and for tribal sovereignty." 

"To get this language where it's at today, it's an incredible thing. I don't know if anything like this exists anywhere else in the world and I'm super proud that we are leaders in this effort. It's really a very important moment," said Fish and Game Commission President, Eric Sklar, at the February 20 meeting.  

Two-years in the making, the definition of co-management, as it relates to fish and wildlife, was established with guidance from the Commission's Tribal Committee and Tribes throughout California, including the Tolowa Dee-ni' Nation. On behalf of the Nation, Tolowa Office of Self-Governance Director, Briannon Fraley, participated in every stage of the development of the co-management resolution. 

The following is the agreed upon definition:

"A collaborative effort established through an agreement in which two or more sovereigns mutually negotiate, define, and allocate amongst themselves the sharing of management functions and responsibilities for a given territory, area or set of natural resources."

The definition enables Tribes and the state to form agreements facilitating the cooperative management of natural resources across their respective jurisdictions. Co-management agreements have the potential to positively influence fish and wildlife populations in a number of ways. For example, Tribes and the state may elect to partner on projects to restore large mammals' migratory routes, which commonly traverse bureaucratic boundaries.

"Tribes have much to offer the state, especially when it comes to stewardship of natural resources," said Director Fraley, who contributed to the co-management language and is a Tribal citizen. "In our region, we maintained the temperate coastal redwood ecosystem to produce all that we needed to thrive for uncountable generations, until genocide was inflicted upon our people. Today, the Tolowa Dee-ni' Nation uses Tribal Science which is a dynamic blend of Traditional Ecological Knowledge and Western Science to restore fish and wildlife populations for the future.” 

Tolowa Dee-ni’ Nation - seal
(Image: Tolowa Dee-ni’ Nation)

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