Over the past four years, The Wetlands Conservancy has been working with The Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians on research, assessments, and restoration in the Siletz and Yaquina Basins. Our most recent collaborative effort to bring back the native Olympia oyster in the Yaquina estuary, led us to discover that the majority of TWC’s Central Coast and Willamette Valley identified Oregon’s Greatest Wetlands match the present set of focus areas where the Tribe is examining conservation actions. This initiated conversations about interests, goals and objectives for wetland conservation in perpetuity. We learned that a major focus for the Tribe is opportunities to achieve cultural conservation through wetland conservation and enhancement.
Examples of cultural preservation include the ability to access basketry materials as well as traditional foods (camas) found in wetlands and native oysters in the estuary. Wetlands historically used by tribal members have been tiled, ditched and drained. Most of these wetlands are not located on tribal land and thus access has been limited or non-existent. These factors threaten the Tribe’s ability to preserve its culture specific to wetland resources. The Wetlands Conservancy will work with Confederated Tribe of Siletz Indians to support cultural preservation through wetland conservation by developing a joint wetland prioritization and conservation plan. The plan will assess current and historical natural and cultural resource conditions. The Plan will guide future conservation actions to implement our common visions and action steps for protecting or enhancing wetlands of the Central Coast and Willamette Valley.
Bringing the cultural knowledge and resources into conservation planning is a new approach TWC and the Tribe are excited to explore and share with other coastal tribes, natural lands managers and non-profits in Oregon.