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Good InfoCA Redwoods to Be the First National Park Co-managed with a Native...

CA Redwoods to Be the First National Park Co-managed with a Native American Tribe That Used to Own it

Caption – (left) Save the Redwoods President and CEO Sam Hodder, Redwood National and State Parks Superintendent Steven Mietz, Yurok Chairman Joseph L. James and California State Parks North Coast Redwoods Superintendent Victor Bjelajac sign the landmark agreement at ‘O Rew.

The Yurok will be the first Tribal nation to co-manage land with the National Park Service under a historic memorandum of understanding signed on Tuesday by the tribe, Redwood national and state parks, and the non-profit Save the Redwoods League, according to news reports.

The Yurok tribe has seen a wave of successes in recent years, successfully campaigning for the removal of a series of dams on the Klamath River, where salmon once ran up to their territory, and with the signing of a new memorandum of understanding, the Yurok are set to reclaim more of what was theirs.

Save the Redwoods League bought a property containing these remarkable trees in 2013, and began working with the tribe to restore it, planting 50,000 native plants in the process. The location was within lands the Yurok once owned but were taken during the Gold Rush period.

Centuries passed, and by the time it was purchased it had been used as a lumber operation for 50 years, and the nearby Prairie Creek where the Yurok once harvested salmon had been buried.

Currently located on the fringe of Redwoods National and State Parks which receive over 1 million visitors every year and is a UNESCO Natural Heritage Site, the property has been renamed ‘O Rew, a Yurok word for the area.

“Today we acknowledge and celebrate the opportunity to return Indigenous guardianship to ‘O Rew and reimagine how millions of visitors from around the world experience the redwoods,” said Sam Hodder, president and CEO of Save the Redwoods League.

Reconstructed Yurok plankhouse made of redwood boards harvested from dead trees – NPS

Having restored Prarie Creek and filled it with chinook and coho salmon, red-legged frogs, northwestern salamanders, waterfowl, and other species, the tribe has said they will build a traditional village site to showcase their culture, including redwood-plank huts, a sweat house, and a museum to contain many of the tribal artifacts they’ve recovered from museum collections.

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Believing the giant trees sacred, they only use fallen trees to build their lodges.

“As the original stewards of this land, we look forward to working together with the Redwood national and state parks to manage it,” said Rosie Clayburn, the tribe’s cultural resources director.

MORE YUROK NEWS: Largest Dam Removal in History Begins Restoring Salmon and California Tribal Way of Life

It will add an additional mile of trails to the park system, and connect them with popular redwood groves as well as new interactive exhibits.

“This is a first-of-its-kind arrangement, where Tribal land is co-stewarded with a national park as its gateway to millions of visitors. This action will deepen the relationship between Tribes and the National Park Service,” said Redwoods National Park Superintendent Steve Mietz, adding that it would “heal the land while healing the relationships among all the people who inhabit this magnificent forest.”

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