Photo: Land Trust.

Nurturing a New Partnership with the Klamath Tribes

Mar 07, 2024 by Rika Ayotte
As we get ready for our March Nature Night talk about the Klamath Tribes, Executive Director Rika Ayotte reflects on our new partnership with the Klamath Tribes.

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In 2022 the Land Trust purchased and protected Paulina Creek Preserve just north of La Pine, OR. Although the Land Trust has other conservation projects nearby, this purchase represented our first Preserve located within the ceded lands of the Klamath Tribes.

Since time immemorial, Native Americans, including the Klamath Tribes (Klamath, Modoc and the Yahooskin-Paiute), have lived or visited the area we now call Paulina Creek Preserve to hunt, fish, gather foods, and trade. In 1864 the Klamath Tribes Treaty defined the Klamath Indian Reservation and recognized the sovereignty of the Klamath Tribes (Klamath, Modoc and the Yahooskin-Paiute) and their right to a homeland. Though the Tribe was terminated in 1954, they regained federal recognition in 1986 and the associated rights to harvest and manage fish, wildlife, and other foods on accustomed lands. Their reservation lands were not returned to the Tribe as part of their restoration.

The Land Trust considers the Klamath Tribes important partners in management and restoration of our protected lands. We are committed to ensuring that our efforts at Paulina Creek Preserve and elsewhere in our conservation are in alignment with the inspiring conservation and cultural work being accomplished by the Klamath Tribes.

For example, over the past year, we have been fortunate to partner with the Klamath Tribes on the earliest phases of our restoration planning for Paulina Creek Preserve (pictured above). We've participated in a regional gathering around conservation efforts for the Leona’s Little Blue butterfly near Crater Lake. We've also partnered with Chiloquin Elementary whose students planted dozens of native pollinator plants from the Land Trust as part of the Oregon School Yards Program.

In the future, we look forward to continued collaboration as we honor and learn more about the past, present, and future of the Klamath Tribes, and find ways to work together through conservation, restoration, and interpretation. I hope our upcoming Nature Night by the amazing Gabrian Hall will allow attendees to better understand the history and culture of the Klamath Tribes and get them excited about the conservation and restoration efforts they are making possible.

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