Tuesday, 15 January 2002
Community-Based forestry in Hoopa, CA
Nolan Colegrove Sr., Forest Manager of Hoopa Tribal Forestry in Hoopa, CA, walks along a forest floor amongst green understory vegetation under a canopy of 250+ year old Douglas-fir, the primary commercially-harvested tree found on the 95,000 acres of FSC-certified forest land owned by the Hoopa Valley Tribe.
He ferrets out a piece of beargrass for a visitor, a tall, tough stem used by the tribe for weaving baskets. And he points out the striking difference between an older clearcut and a variable retention harvest unit the Tribe now practices on its land.
Almost every plant in the forest has a practical use for tribal members. In addition to Douglas-fir, the Hoopa forest harbors tanoak, whose nuts are used for making traditional acorn soup. The range of variable retention harvest units still allows for plenty of habitat for the Pileated woodpecker and the Pacific fisher, wildlife species revered by the Hoopa Tribe.
The Hoopa Reservation exemplifies community-based forestry as recognized under the FSC system. Every tribal member receives benefits from the forest and its management, many being directly employed in forest management or protection activities. Timber provides 95% of the discretionary money for the tribe annually.
While the Hoopa Tribal Council makes decisions regarding the land, the Hoopa forest is much like any other forest operation in that it operates under a regulated management plan with an annual timber harvest goal. Annually about 500 acres are harvested under a variety of harvest prescriptions, producing about 10-million net conifer board feet and 1.5-million board feet of hardwood timber.
Most wood goes to mills in the local log market. Some logs go to furniture craftsman Jim Jungwirth, an FSC chain-of-custody holder, and to Almquist Lumber, a local certified lumber yard. As local timber mills have declined in number, the Tribe is looking to find a broader market for old-growth Douglas-fir and tanoak, preferably an FSC-certified one. The magnificent Douglas-fir and other native trees are grown without chemical applications, and benefit from 60-80 inches of rain per year. Managing the forest the way they do, the Hoopa Tribe should continue to benefit from it for many decades to come.