Oregon Fish and Wildlife Expands Cooperation With Tribes

OR Fish Wildlife Commission meeting
Photo credit: Bob Swingle, ODFW.

SALEM, OR – The Fish and Wildlife Commission approved agreements with the Confedered Tribes of the Coos, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw Indians, and the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians during a recent meeting in Newport, OR. Consideration of a similar agreement with the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde was delayed until the Aug. 4 meeting to allow more time for coordination, including discussion between tribes.

The agreements will advance the government-to-government relationships between the State of Oregon and the tribes, enhance tribal sovereignty and give each tribe a stronger voice in protecting and enhancing fish, wildlife, and their habitats. The history and culture of the nine federally recognized tribes in Oregon closely aligns with the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife’s (ODFW) mission to protect fish, wildlife and their habitats. 

“Our tribe has always been a protector of those resources that are loved by all people in Oregon,” said Delores Pigsley, Chairman of the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians.

Each agreement sets up a framework under which tribal members will participate in subsistence and ceremonial harvest of fish and wildlife resources that is licensed and managed by the tribal government in cooperation with ODFW and the Oregon State Police. Within certain areas set out in the agreements, enrolled members will participate in hunting, fishing, shellfishing, and trapping licensed by their tribe. Annual limits and areas for harvest by tribal members will be set by mutual consent between the tribe and ODFW. 

“I grew up in a hunting and fishing family and have memories of going out with my grandfather and now my grandnephew,” said Chair Brad Kneaper of the Confederated Tribes of the Coos, Lower Umpqua and Siuslaw Indians. “Being able to do that under the umbrella of tribal responsibility is extremely important to me and I know it’s the same for other members too.”

The proposed agreements are comparable in scope to what the commission adopted with the Coquille Indian Tribe and the Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians in 2022 and are intended to support tribal sovereignty and cultural expression related to fish and wildlife.

Also at this meeting, the Commission took the following actions:

  • Coastal pelagic species regulations: Adopted regulations for July 2023-June 2024 for pelagic species based on federal regulations that include the eighth year of continued closure of the directed Pacific sardine fishery and updated Oregon’s rules to reflect the new scientific name of Pacific sand lance.
  • OCRF funding: Approved funding for Oregon Conservation and Recreation Fund (OCRF) projects recommended by OCRF’s advisory committee that support a broad range of conservation and recreation efforts throughout the state.
  • R&E project approval and board appointment: Approved funding for Restoration and Enhancement projects recommended by the board to enhance fisheries and appointed Troy Laws of Seaside as representative for commercial fishing interests on the board.
  • A&H project approval: Approved funding for Access and Habitat projects recommended by the board that open hunting access or improve wildlife habitat on private land.
  • Auction and raffle tags: Approved the 2024 big game auction and raffle tags. The auctions will be hosted by hunting groups that keep a small portion of auction tag proceeds to support their non-profit work enhancing wildlife habitat. The remaining portion goes to ODFW programs supporting research and conservation or hunting access.