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California redwood forest has been returned to the native tribal group

California redwood forest has been returned to the native tribal group

LOS ANGELES (AP), The descendants of Native American tribes along the Northern California coast are reclaiming a little of their heritage, which includes ancient redwoods that have stood on the land since their ancestors walked it.


What You Need to Know

  • Save the Redwoods League plans a transfer of more than 500 acres to the InterTribal Sinkyone Wilderness Council
  • This transfer is a step in the Land Back movement, which aims to return Indigenous homelands back to the descendants of those who have lived there for millennia.
  • PG&E was due to be released Tuesday after five years of criminal probation. This was in response to a 2010 explosion that was triggered by its natural gases lines and which blew up a San Bruno neighborhood.
  • PG&E was criticized for destroying large, old trees

Save the Redwoods League was planning to announce Tuesday that it will transfer more than 500 acres (202 ha) of the Lost Coast to the InterTribal Sinkyone Wilderness Council. 

The 10 tribes that have inhabited this area for thousands of generations will be responsible for the protection of the land, which is called Tc’ih Lh D (or “Fish Run Place”) in the Sinkyone language.

Priscilla Hunt, chairwoman of Sinkyone Council, stated that it was fitting that they would be caretakers for the land where her people were forced to flee or removed before the forest was largely cut for timber.

Hunter, of Coyote Valley Band of Pomo Indians said, “It’s really a blessing.” It’s like a healing process for our ancestors. I know that our ancestors love us. This was given to us as protection.”

The transfer is part of the Land Back movement that aims to return Indigenous lands to their owners, the descendants of those who lived there for millennia prior to European settlers arrived.

The league first collaborated with the Sinkyone council in 2012 when it transferred a plot of 164 acres (66 hectares) to the group. 

The league paid $37 million to a lumber company for a 5-mile (8-kilometer) section of the rugged and dangerous Lost Coast to be protected from logging and then open it to the public.

Because the property is so remote, opening access to the public is not a priority for the transfer of the property to the tribe group. Sam Hodder, president-CEO of the league, stated that this is why the league does not allow the public to have access to it. It serves an important part of the puzzle, wedged between other protected areas. 

Steep hills rise to a tributary that flows into the Eel River, which is home to steelhead trout as well as Coho salmon. The property was last logbed around 30 years ago. There are still many old-growth and second-growth redwoods on the property.

Hodder stated, “This property is one where you can almost feel that it’s healing, that is it is recovering.” “You can walk through the forest and see the ghostly stumps of old trees that were removed, but you can also see the monsters left behind, as well as the young redwoods sprouting from these stumps,” Hodder said.

The land was purchased by the league two years ago for $3.5million. Funded by Pacific Gas & Electric Co., it will be used to create habitat for the endangered northern spotted owl as well as the marbled murrelet and to reduce other environmental damage caused by the utility.

PG&E was due to be released Tuesday from five years’ probation for a 2010 explosion that erupted from its natural gas lines. This incident resulted in the deaths of eight people and a destruction of a San Bruno neighborhood. It has been blamed since 2017 with igniting more then 30 wildfires that destroyed more 23,000 homes and businesses and more than 100 people.

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PG&E has been criticized by destroying large and old trees in an attempt to reduce its liability.

“Thanks to Save the Redwoods League that seizes on any opportunity to preserve lands on the Lost Coast that were vital to its conservation,” said Michael Evenson (vice president of the Lost Coast League), which advocates for the protection of water and wildlife in the region. “But PG&E getting a Green Merit Badge after all the destruction that they’re doing… it’s not palatable.”


Hawk Rosales, a former executive director of Council, said that the new property adds significant holdings to the 4,000-acre (1,618.7 Hectare) that group protects for environmental and cultural purposes. 

More importantly, it acknowledges the importance of the tribe in caring for lands.

Rosales stated, “For so long, tribal voices were marginalized in mainstream conservation movement.” “It’s only recently that they have been invited into meaningful participation and to take on a leadership role.”

Hodder stated that the league was trying remove barriers and increase land management by tribal communities. He also said that Indigenous knowledge and practices like setting small controlled fires to clear undergrowth to make forests healthier were being returned to Hodder. 

Hodder stated that “these communities have been stewarding the lands for thousands of years.” “It was the exclusion from that stewardship through many ways that got us into the mess we are in.”

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