Yakama Nation Provides Testimony in Washington D.C.

Press release

Earlier this month, Jeremy Takala, Chair of the Tribal Council Committees for Legislative, Fish & Wildlife, and Law & Order traveled with the CRITFC delegation to Washington D.C. to attend Congressional hearings and meet with legislators.

Joined by Executive Director, Aja DeCoteau and Intergovernmental Relations Director, Paul Ward, During the visit to DC, they met with at least 15 Offices, including the Senator/Representatives of Idaho, Oregon, and Washington.

Most of the discussions related to Sea Lion impacts on our Salmon, Columbia River Hatchery Deferred Maintenance, and an Energy Vision for our future. Our message included the $1.154 billion in needed work at USACE Columbia and Snake Facilities for salmon/anadromous fish passage and survival. Breaking it down would be about $144.1M annually over the next 8 years. Four of those categories included Columbia River Fish Management, Hatchery Programs, Lamprey, and Operations/Maintenance.

Another point that was made during the visits was the need to continue funding for predator management. Predator management includes invasive fish species such as northern pike, bass, walleye, etc., and this also includes avian predation. The proposed need is around $3.2 million for monitoring predator management programs and about $8 million for implementing predator management in the Columbia River. The Yakama Nation and the 3 Treaty Tribes will continue to advocate for what is needed for the survival of our Salmon, Steelhead, Lamprey, which are very important to our people. These first foods need our voice because they are being threatened by pressure from climate change. Overall our advocacy focused on important upgrades, like fish ladder repairs, spillway repairs and improvements, fish screen and juvenile bypass system(s), sediment management and cold water refuges, estuary restoration, and hatchery modernization upgrades and maintenance. For the Lamprey specifically, we requested a detailed breakdown of each hydro-system area. The last conversation consisted of the Operations and Maintenance needed for the Treaty Fishing Access Sites/In Lieu Sites. Yakama Nation did utilize some of these meetings to check-in on some ongoing work we are continuing with respected leaders.
They visited the following representatives from the 3 States within the Columbia River Basin or on important Congressional Committees:
-Department of Energy-Office of Indian Energy, Wahleah Johns (Director) and David Conrad (Deputy Director)
-WA Representative Dan Newhouse, Travis Martinez (Legislative Director)
-ID Representative Mike Simpson, Reilly Lamp (Senior Legislative Director)
-OR Representative Earl Blumenauer, Kaila Hood (Senior Legislative)
-ID Representative Russ Fulcher
-OR Representative Suzanne Bonamici, Morgan McCue (Legislative Assistant)
-WA Representative Marie Glusenkamp Perez
-OR Representative Cliff Bentz
-WA Senator Maria Cantwell, Nicole Teutschel (Senior Policy Advisor)
-WA Senator Patty Murray, Rishi Sahgal (Senior Counsel)
-OR Senator Jeff Merkely, Lucas Smith (Legislative Director)
-Interior Department/Asst. Secretary for Indian Affairs Bryan Newland staff Rose Petoskey (Senior Advisor) and Tracy Goodluck (Senior Advisor)
-The White House Senior Policy Advisor for Native Affairs, Daron Carreiro.
-Biodiversity Funders Group (Last minute request to have Yakama Nation be a Panelist for, “Natives in Philanthropy, CAP, and Biodiversity Group”, highlighting tribes/recipients of the, “America the Beautiful Challenge Grant” that Yakama Nation Fisheries received and will utilize towards Habitat and Restoration Projects. Yakama Nation joined the Santa Clara Pueblo as they were also recipients.)
-The Nature Conservancy Reception

Although Yakama Nation joined the CRITFC delegation, the timing was a perfect opportunity to provide testimony on behalf of Yakama Nation in the US House of Representatives Appropriations Subcommittee For The Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies. I testified directly to the Chair, Congressman Mike Simpson, and Committee members Representative Pingree and Fmr. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke. The Yakama Nation's long-time D.C. Lobbyists, George Waters and Chris Lambert, scheduled this Subcommittee testimony and we met before the budget hearing.
Yakama Nation Testimony was well spent discussing many related issues/concerns shared by Tribes across Indian Country, mainly Law Enforcement needs. Others for us included the need for increased resources which have been flat-funded for decades, especially when it comes to law enforcement. We also spoke on the issues of Appraisal Backlog at Yakama, and many other Tribes are also feeling the impacts of current funding levels that only provide a single appraiser. I also addressed concerns with Forest Management, degraded In Lieu and Treaty Fishing Access Sites, and Water Resources. Additionally, the Bureau of Indian Education and our need for a new Yakama Nation Tribal School was a big message to advocate for -- and many Tribes are in desperate need of school infrastructure. You can find the Written Testimony attached.

The Native’s in Philanthropy invited Yakama Nation to join as a panelist with the Governor of Santa Clara Pueblo, Michael Chavarria, to highlight YN Fisheries being a recipient of, “America The Beautiful Challenge Grant”. The discussion highlighted the use/plans for the funds towards Tribal Projects where Yakama Nation Fisheries will utilize the Grant to implement seven habitat restoration projects on 1, 540 acres, functionally reconnect the land and water on more than 6, 000 acres, build capacity for Yakama Nation’s near and long term leadership of this work at the landscape scale, and ensure climate resilience for people, wildlife and habitats.

The discussion was very engaging as recognize that a lot of Fisheries work wouldn’t be possible if it wasn’t for opportunities such as this or grant programs, especially to achieve large scale projects whether it’s a match program option. The partnership and building relationship is very important for these projects, especially if it could allow more than one partnership to complete projects for the benefits our Salmon and other species. Yakama Nation appreciates these opportunities to share its ongoing Fisheries work where partners are present or new partnerships are created.

We like to thank Joel Moffet, and the Natives in Philanthropy, Biodiversity Funders Group, and attendees.

You can watch the archived live stream here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MAHdPEew6-A