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Tribal Programs in Washington State

Tribes offer a unique perspective on the issue of stewardship, both from their historical and cultural heritage as long-time residents of the Washington landscape and from their strong technical background in fisheries management and habitat protection.

Opportunities may exist to work with tribal governments on actions to protect and restore areas of value to Washington’s biodiversity, including salmon habitat and other natural resources.

Under treaty obligations, Washington’s Indian tribes are entitled to the legal right to take fish at all usual and accustomed grounds. They received this right in exchange for giving up ownership of most of their lands in Washington.

Many tribal nations are actively engaged in salmon habitat recovery, both inside and outside reservation lands. Tribal treaty rights extend beyond reservation boundaries, so many tribes work with others in a watershed community to help meet the growing need for habitat protection through stewardship.

Activities within watersheds that improve salmon habitat, such as streamside re-vegetation, estuarine wetlands restoration, and removal of blocked access to spawning grounds, are often of interest to tribes.

When engaging in a conservation or restoration effort, contact the tribe(s) nearest to where the project is located. The tribal environmental division, natural resources department, or fisheries division is a good place to make inquiries about a tribe’s interest and potential to provide help with the project. Recognize that not all tribes have the staff resources to assist, but some do and others are expanding their capacity.

Tribal governments are eligible to apply for many of the programs listed on this website. In addition, a few programs are targeted to tribes:

Environmental Protection Agency Tribal Assistance Grants

EPA Tribal Assistance Grants are given to build tribal capacity to administer environmental regulatory programs or to provide technical assistance to address environmental issues on tribal lands.

Projects that have been funded include: environmental assessments to identify problem areas or areas to protect, monitoring to establish baseline data, developing regulatory policies or ordinances, and developing pollution prevention or education programs. 

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Tribal Landowner Incentive Program (TLIP)

The Tribal Landowner Incentive Program funds federally recognized tribal governments to implement actions that protect and restore habitats to benefit federally listed, proposed, or candidate species, or other at-risk species on tribal lands.

Types of projects this program could support include fencing to exclude animals from sensitive habitats, planting native vegetation to restore degraded habitat, prescribed burning to restore grasslands, etc. Tribes may implement TLIP projects on a variety of lands, including reservations, and individual allotments.  

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Tribal Wildlife Grants

Tribal Wildlife Grants support the efforts of federally recognized tribal governments to develop or augment the capacity to manage, conserve, or protect fish and wildlife resources. These are Conservation Grants to States and Tribes under provisions of the Fish and Wildlife Act of 1956 and the Fish and Wildlife Coordination Act.

Activities may include planning for wildlife and habitat conservation, fish and wildlife management actions, fish- and wildlife-related laboratory and field research, natural history studies, habitat mapping, field surveys and populations monitoring, habitat preservation, land acquisition, conservation easements, and outreach efforts. Priority funding is for those species with the greatest conservation need identified by the tribe.

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