Facebook Live discusses new hunting, fishing rights
By Dean Rhodes
The Tribe held another Facebook Live event on Wednesday, Sept. 20, to brief the membership on the new hunting and fishing rights acquired through a memorandum of agreement with the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife.
Approved on Aug. 4, the MOA significantly expands the Tribe’s ceremonial and cultural hunting and fishing areas beyond the Trask management unit from 1,300 square miles to more than 11,000 square miles.
The agreement now allows Tribal members to harvest finfish, lamprey, shellfish and crustaceans, mammals and birds in the Wilson, Trask, Willamette, Stott Mountain and Santiam wildlife management units in western Oregon. In addition, Tribal members can fish on the Columbia River from Kelly Point to the Bonneville Dam in Oregon waters.
In reaction, Tribal Natural Resources staff members – the Fast Track Team -- have been working to create the regulations and structure of hunting and fishing regulations in the new territory open to the Tribal membership for a fall 2023 season, Tribal Fish & Wildlife Program Manager Kelly Dirksen said.
“This MOA is a huge step for the Tribe and an important one,” Dirksen said. “What we’re doing today with the MOA is actually a step to solving issues that came out of the consent decree.”
On Sept. 6, Tribal Council approved emergency amendments to the Fish & Wildlife Ordinance to allow implementation of the “scaled-back” fall hunting season.
Dirksen said Tribal members must obtain new Tribal holographic licenses starting on Wednesday, Sept. 20. Natural Resources is expanding office hours on Tuesday through Thursday from 7:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. to accommodate demand for new licenses. Office hours will remain 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday and Friday.
Dirksen said Tribal members will be able to hunt during general state-sanctioned seasons for blacktail deer and elk this year, as well as harvest salmon and steelhead on 50 miles of coastline and 50 miles out to sea. Tags and informational packets should be available no later than Monday, Oct. 2.
“That license will be good for all things that just require a license under the state program,” Dirksen said, using a fishing license for trout as an example.
Tribal members who want to hunt for deer or elk will need a Tribally issued nontransferable hunting tag and those wanting to harvest salmon or steelhead will need other documentation, including harvest cards.
“What we going to do in ’23 is a scaled-back system that is not going to be as big as 2024,” Dirksen said. “We’ve done a fast track to get hunters and fishers in the field. It won’t feature everything that we hope to do in 2024. … Our motivation has been to get the membership in the field. That has always been the priority, but it’s also important that we show that we are utilizing this opportunity.”
Dirksen said Natural Resources has worked with Tribal and state police, and officers will be expecting to see and are familiar with the new Tribal hunting licenses and tags.
Dirksen also asked Tribal hunters and fishers to take pictures of their experiences in the new territories and submit them to Natural Resources to help the Tribe take the next steps in expanding hunting and fishing rights. Those who do will be entered into a drawing for a Cabela’s gift card, he added.
“It’s a much larger land base,” Dirksen said. “We have to get this right, so I hope you’ll be patient with us as we put the last pieces together to implement this in ’23 and in ’24.”
Attending the Facebook Live event were Tribal Council Chairwoman Cheryle A. Kennedy and Tribal Council members Kathleen George, Brenda Tuomi and Matthew Haller with Communications Director Sara Thompson fielding questions asked on Facebook.
Kennedy prefaced the presentation by recounting the “awful” times of the mid-1980s that the Tribe went through to regain Reservation lands, including agreeing to a consent decree that limited hunting and fishing in return for state support for the Reservation Plan.
“I just can’t tell you how awful the meetings were,” Kennedy said. “They were large in number. We were certainly the minority and we were not able to hear ourselves talk.”
George complimented Natural Resources staff members for their work in implementing a fall hunting and fishing season in the five wildlife management units.
“It sounds like we really made a huge effort on the staff side to get up a program so quickly this year,” George said. “I honestly don’t think that a lot of people expected that, including maybe ODFW, that we would stand up a program this quickly and have our hunters and fishers in this vastly expanded territory.”
The Tribe started holding monthly Facebook Live events after the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020 as a way to safely keep Tribal members informed about the Tribe and its activities. They are now held on a more irregular schedule and deal with a variety of issues.
About 65 Tribal members signed on to the 30-minute event at its attendance peak.
For more information, contact Natural Resources at 503-879-2424.