Tribal Government & News

Tribal Council OKs agreement to let state use portion of Blue Heron property to manage Falls fishery


By Dean Rhodes

Smoke Signals editor

Tribal Council approved a services agreement with the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife during its Wednesday, Sept.  30, meeting that will assist state efforts in the capture of sea lions that prey on endangered salmon, lamprey and sturgeon at Willamette Falls.

Tribal Fish & Wildlife Program Manager Kelly Dirksen said during the Tuesday, Sept. 29, Legislative Action Committee hearing that the state has been successful in removing California sea lions from the falls.

However, a new, larger predator has moved in – Steller sea lions.

“Steller sea lions are larger and require substantially bigger traps and support equipment,” Dirksen said.

Because the state Department of Fish & Wildlife is limited in where it can store equipment, boats and other items, it has requested to potentially use part of the 23-acre Blue Heron property, which the Tribe purchased in August 2019.

Dirksen said the Tribe and state Department of Fish & Wildlife are joint parties to the latest permit under the Marine Mammal Protection Act that provides for control of the sea lion population at Willamette Falls.

“ODFW has documented positive impacts to Native fish populations through sea lion removal and these efforts are scheduled to continue for the foreseeable future,” says a staff report seeking approval of the agreement, which will last through 2022.

“I was looking at ways to help and to build and maintain our partnership with ODFW while staying active managers at the site,” Dirksen added.

In other action, Tribal Council:

  • Appointed former Spirit Mountain Community Fund Director Shelley Hanson Sneed and current Community Fund Program Coordinator Angela Sears to the five-member Editorial Board, which supervises the editor of Smoke Signals. Sneed’s term will expire in March 2023 and Sears’ term will end in March 2022;
  • Appointed Tribal Council Secretary Jon A. George as the Tribe’s principal delegate to the Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians and approved the payment of $7,500 in annual dues;
  • Approved a management plan for the Tribe’s 425-acre Chankawan conservation property located on the North Santiam River. The Tribe used Bonneville Power Administration funding in 2016 to acquire the property in Marion County and the management plan was developed in conjunction with the Power Administration and Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife;
  • Authorized Finance Officer Chris Leno to resume payments on Tribal loans made to Spirit Mountain Gaming Inc. The payments were suspended during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic in March, but now that Spirit Mountain Casino has been re-open for four months, the SMGI Board of Directors has informed Tribal Council that payment suspension is no longer necessary due to improved cash flow;
  • Approved applying for a $50,540 Oregon Department of Veterans’ Affairs grant that will help fund outreach efforts by the Tribe’s new Veterans Services Officer Ramona Quenelle;
  • Approved applying for a $500,000 COVID-19 Response Equity grant from the Oregon Health Authority that would pay for eight items, including separations in the Tribal dental clinic and supplies for an ambulance at the Grand Ronde Fire Station;
  • And approved numerous enrollment-related issues, including three blood quantum adjustments, an emergency non-infant determination, two infant determinations, 17 non-infant determinations and one non-infant re-enrollment.

Tribal Council approved the agenda for the 11 a.m. Sunday, Oct. 4, General Council meeting that will be held virtually over the Zoom teleconferencing program. The annual Baird financial update of Tribal investments will be the presentation.

To view the entire meeting, visit the Tribal government’s website at and click on the Government tab and then Videos.