Spring 2021 – From the Eagle’s Nest Newsletter




Elveda Martinez, Walker River Paiute, Southwest Region Director

It’s Springtime! The warm weather has been welcomed here in northwest Nevada. Along with the change in weather, I have hope for a better year. I am thankful that my brother George is recovering from Covid-19. I don’t think that there is one person that hasn’t felt the fear and impacts from this pandemic.
It’s also a time of new growth. I’m amazed to see the size of the Lahontan Cutthroat Trout being pulled out of Pyramid Lake. They are definitely growing; the biggest fish I’ve seen so far was 27 pounds. It’s good to see tribal anglers and others out there enjoying the water and outdoors; such beautiful scenery. Our Society has been meeting regularly with tribal fish and wildlife managers and others to discuss the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act (RAWA) and the Tribal Corridors Act. Both of these will have great impacts to tribal conservation if passed. I appreciate all who have made it their mission to keep this dialogue going; talk about “Resilient” – there is no quitting that’s for sure.
With the warm weather in the southwest, we are also looking at another year of severe drought and extreme forest fires. Both will have dire consequences for fish, wildlife, plants and people. But for now, I’m going to enjoy this beautiful weather and watch the trees and plants grow.
Thanks to all of our native people that continue to use their Traditional Ecological Knowledge in the management of their natural resources, including how to deal with forest fires. We’re going to need you all this year. It’s up to you to teach others what to do in these times of Climate Change.
My prayers are with you all. Do your best to stay healthy as we’re not out of the woods yet with this virus. Get out and hike those mountains, walk along those streams and listen to the wildlife – thank you all for your work in taking care of our tribal resources.


Julie Thorstenson, PhD., NAFWS Executive Director

Greetings Members, Partners and Friends!  I hope this finds you all healthy and optimistic.  It is an exciting time in Indian Country and so encouraging to see so many Native people being appointed to key positions.  I have been fortunate to be in a few meetings with the Honorable Deb Haaland, Secretary of the Interior the past few months and am excited for our future. We have had a busy first quarter at NAFWS.  We continue to focus on virtual events but plan for in person as well.

I presented along with other Tribal Wildlife professionals at the USDA-APHIS Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) stakeholders’ meeting.  We followed up with a comment letter to the USDA Office of Tribal Relations 321USDAOTRconsultationComment_CWD.pdf (  I was a presenter on the Special Session:  Fish and Wildlife Conservation on Tribal Lands and Waters:  Needs and Opportunities panel during the North American Wildlife and Natural Resources Conference along with Serra Hoagland, PhD.  I also presented virtually at the Wildlife Migration in the West Forum sponsored by Pew Charitable Trusts and the National Wildlife Federation on Tribal priorities and concerns.

I think I was most excited about my first business trip in over a year, as I traveled to Fort Yates, ND to meet with the Great Plains Regional Directors, Jeff Kelly and Charles Wilkinson.  We had a good meeting catching up and planning for regional activities for 2021.  (See photo below). Staff have been busy increasing our membership and membership value.  We are excited to welcome 12 new Tribes to NAFWS in 2021!  Corey and Sean have been busy building the database of resources for Tribal fish and wildlife professionals along with monthly webinars.  We are beginning to offer member exclusive opportunities, so make sure your membership is up to date.  You can join online or contact Heidi to join.  Join NAFWS Today! – Native American Fish and Wildlife Society  Ashley is planning for our newly added internships and the National Summer Youth Practicum.  Robert continues to identify training opportunities virtually as well as explore in person events later in the year.  Karen did a fantastic job with the 2020 annual report which can be viewed here Annual Reports – Native American Fish and Wildlife Society.  You can read more about staff activities within this issue. As promised, our website has been redesigned and launched March 31, 2021.  Make sure you bookmark us! We are still working on fine tuning, so please if you have comments or items to include, contact Karen or Ashley. The Board of Directors met in March, of course events, both regional and national, were a discussion topic.  We have selected a tentative site for the National NAFWS Annual Conference at the Northern Quest Resort and Casino in Spokane, WA.  Our dates are confirmed for October 4 – 7, 2021, however, we will make the final decision on whether to have an in person or virtual event by July 1, 2021.  Regional events will be determined later as well.  Please continue to watch our website and social media for updates.

The Board of Directors approved NAFWS 2021 National Initiatives at their December 2020 meeting.  We have a section dedicated to these initiatives on our website where we will provide information and updates. Initiatives – Native American Fish and Wildlife Society (

The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act (Recovering) remains a priority for NAFWS in 2021.  We had hoped to see it introduced by this time, unfortunately that did not happen.  We continue to work with NWF and the Tribal Coalition.  We hosted a webinar on Recovering on January 27 for 60 people; the recording can be viewed on our website.  The Alliance and Tribal Coalition are working hard to support Recovering in the 117th Congress.  Continued bipartisan support for Recovering and a Senate bill are very important.  We remain optimistic that Tribes will finally see dedicated, annual funding for their fish and wildlife programs. If you are interested in joining the Tribal Coalition, please contact me.

Another initiative that has seen some movement in 2021 is the Tribal Wildlife Corridors.  We have had several meetings with our NWF contacts, USFWS and Tribes who have done wildlife corridors work over the years.  Specifically, work to revise the current Interior Secretarial Order 3362 to INCLUDE Tribes.  The current version, which aims to improve wildlife corridor and habitat connectivity, excludes Tribes.

We are making new partnerships in 2021 and welcoming new members and member Tribes to NAFWS.  We continue to seek ways to better serve you, our membership, through our mission to assist Native American and Alaska Native Tribes with the conservation, protection, and enhancement of their fish and wildlife resources.  As always, if you have ideas for the NAFWS, please contact me or your regional director(s).

Pilamaye ye,
Julie Thorstenson, PhD


By: Robert Romero,  NAFWS CLEO Consultant
Greetings!  I hope this message finds you all well and in good health. During this first quarter of 2021, I’ve been working to provide virtual training opportunities for our CLEOs and other Tribal employees based on continuing COVID health and safety restrictions.  To date, the NAFWS has been able to host a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service webinar on Wildlife Disease, Biosecurity and Biosafety; as well as sponsor an Alabama Fire College webinar on Hazmat/WMD Awareness.  Although our training has been somewhat limited, I continue to work with private and Federal sources to develop future webinars that focus on women in law enforcement, search and seizure of digital evidence, and legal updates. Over the last few months, I’ve received several inquiries from various tribes asking about in-person training for our Tribal officers.  Although we have high hopes to move forward with a 40-hour CLEO training, we have not yet scheduled or planned any training as we continue to monitor risk levels associated with the everchanging pandemic. Thank you for your patience and please monitor the NAFWS webpage for training updates and opportunities.  As always, feel free to reach out to me with any CLEO training concerns, suggestions, or needs using the “Contact” link on our webpage.
Stay safe!


By: Steve Mortenson, Fish and Wildlife Director and Tanya Roerick, Wildlife Biologist

The Division of Resources Division (DRM), of the Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, came into being in the early 1970s when a court case brought by the Band against the State of Minnesota affirmed that the Band had never relinquished rights to utilize and manage resources within the Leech Lake Reservation.  Under a Consent Agreement with the State of Minnesota that was developed as part of the Court Settlement the Band regulates its members and the state theirs.  We now work cooperatively on many projects of mutual interest and concern. Over time the programs within DRM have been developed or enhanced and currently consists of: Lands, Forestry, Wildfire, Environmental, Conservation Enforcement, Fisheries, Wildlife, Plant Resources/Invasive Species, and Heritage Sites.  These programs employ about 50-60 personnel depending upon the time of year. The development of these programs has enabled the Band to do a better job of managing our resources and interacting with other natural resources agencies that we share the approximately 800,000 acres of land with.  This include four counties, the State of Minnesota, and the Chippewa National Forest.  Leech Lake is unique in the amount of National Forest Lands that are found on the Reservation.  In fact the National Forest was created as a means of the Federal Government meeting their Trust Obligations to the Band. The Leech Lake Reservation has an abundance of natural resources with about 250 lakes including Cass Lake, Lake Winnibigoshish, and Leech Lake which are some of the largest Lakes in Minnesota.  The Mississippi River also flows through the Reservation and about half our surfaced area is covered by water in the form of lakes, streams, and wetlands.  We are also known for an abundance of wild rice with about 13,000 acres of natural beds. Although we have a lot of natural resources there is concerns about some of them as much has changed since the arrival of European settlers.  Most of our native forests have been repeatedly harvested and now bear little resemblance, or ecological function, to what naturally occurred here.  Climate change is also of great concern to us as we are located near the center of the continental US, far from the moderating effects of the oceans.  It is forecasted that this area will see some of the most dramatic changes and we believe we are already seeing negative effects on our resources.

The overall mandate of all the Programs within the DRM is to protect and enhance the resources of the Reservation for current and future generations of Tribal members.  This is becoming an increasing difficult goal as competing interests among our membership as well as other people who live here often conflict.  Non-the-less we strive to do our best.  Some more details on our Fish and Wildlife Programs are outlined below.

Fisheries Program 

The Fisheries Program works to protect and enhance the fisheries and other aquatic resources on the Reservation.  There are over 50 species of fish found on the Reservation with walleye, yellow perch, northern pike, largemouth bass and pan fish being the most popular for sport fishing.  Tribal members also hold the lake whitefish, a species only found in some of the larger deeper lakes, in high regard.  This is one species that is not expected to do well as our climate changes and more and more of our lakes are infested with non-native species like zebra mussels.

The Fisheries Program annually undertakes projects to enhance or monitor fish populations in the Reservation waters.  Some of our lakes are annually stocked with walleye fry or fingerlings as well as lake whitefish.  Surveys of fish populations are conducted on an as needed basis and we participate in fish habitat restoration and improvement projects as they are identified and funding permits.

One of the more important fisheries projects we have been involved in recently was the removal of Knutson Dam at the outlet of Cass Lake on the Mississippi River and replacing it with a rock riffle structure that allows for fish passage.  This was a US Forest Service Dam originally built for logging.  Working cooperatively with the Forest Service, MN Department of Natural Resources, Natural Resources Conservation Service, MN Outdoor Heritage Program, BIA, and DRM the dam was removed and replaced with a rock structure.  With this dam removal, greater redhorse, a fish species that is becoming uncommon is now able to make it all the way to the headwater of the Turtle River which is a tributary of the Mississippi River.  We hope to work on more dam removal projects in the future.

Wildlife Program

The Wildlife Program works to protect and enhance wildlife populations and their habitat.  The Leech Lake Reservation is located near the junction of three major biomes (habitat types), including the boreal forest, northern hardwoods forest, and the tall grass prairie.  This results in us having a very high diversity of wildlife species.  There are approximately 58 species of mammals that occur on the reservation, 243 species of birds, 27 species of reptiles and amphibians, along with non-totaled numbers of invertebrates like insects.

Due to changes in our forests, and human activity, wildlife populations on the Reservation have changed over time.  This has resulted in the loss of bison, elk, moose, and caribou to name a few. All of these species were important to the Chippewa and Sioux Tribes that inhabited the region.  Currently white-tailed deer are the main ungulate species found here.  As our forest were converted to early successional tree species, deer have become more accustomed to living around people, and the climate has warmed deer number have increased.

The wildlife program has undertaken and participated in many habitat enhancement programs over the years. These activities are frequently used as a means of providing or improving habitats that are in short supply due to human impacts to the environment.

One small game species that we have focused a great deal of attention on in recent years is snowshoe hare.  Tribal members once relied upon this species as a winter source of protein. Snowshoe hare are also a keystone species due to their importance to many predator species.  They were once a common species in our conifer forests, but in recent decades their populations have declined and appear to no longer cycle.  Utilizing funding from US Fish and Wildlife Service Tribal Wildlife Grants we have conducted a study that indicated that conversion of many of our forest to simple, young, monotypic forest types, with little structural cover, are the reason for the hare decline. They simply lack sufficient cover distributed across a large enough landscape to be able to avoid heavy predation rates that keep their populations down.  In our second stage of funding we are exploring methods of creating more cover in these stands and will be working with other agencies to create and enhance more habitat for hare.

Photos: (L-R) – A trapped hare; a hare under cedar; walleye fingerlings

Photos: (L – R) – K-dam Rocks; and whitefish fingerlings and Gary


The Jicarilla: A Premiere Hunting and Fishing Destination—located in north-central New Mexico, the 850,000-acre Jicarilla Apache Reservation was established in 1887 as a homeland for the Jicarilla Apache people, who had historically roamed extensively across mountains and foothills in New Mexico and Colorado. The Jicarilla is rich in natural resources, including oil and gas, timber, rangelands, fisheries, and wildlife. Elevations range from 6,500-9,000 ft, and the landscape varies from rugged pine covered mesas and pinon-juniper woodlands to lowland sagebrush flats, several great fishing lakes, and the Navajo River. Dulce is the reservation’s sole community with a population of approximately 3,000 people, and is home to the Jicarilla Apache Nation’s headquarters.

1957: The Jicarilla has an established reputation for excellence in wildlife and fishery management, dating back to the establishment of the Jicarilla Apache Game and Fish Department (JGFD).  In the early 1960’s, the Nation became nationally known for exceptional trophy mule deer hunting.  In the late 1960’s the Nation developed the trout fishing program at Stone Lake, which soon became the premier trout fishing destination in New Mexico.  During this same time period the Nation built Horse Lake Mesa Game Park to provide some of the first elk hunting opportunities in New Mexico.

1982: U.S. Supreme Court rules Indian tribes have sole jurisdiction over fish and wildlife management within reservation boundaries (Mescalero v. New Mexico Game and Fish), opening the door for tribes to take over fish and wildlife management programs from the states. Prior to this ruling, the Jicarilla co-managed tribal resources with the State of New Mexico.  The Nation seized the opportunity and began building a respected professional wildlife management program with sole management authority over tribal wildlife resources.  The Nation enacted Fishery and Wildlife Conservation Law enforcement on the Nation, as well as hired their first professional Wildlife Biologist. The program has focused on developing sound management and enforcement programs for a variety of game and non-game species, and is widely known for its healthy and abundant fish and wildlife.

Managing the Nation’s Fish and Wildlife— The Jicarilla represents a unique opportunity for wildlife management, since the Nation has jurisdiction over both habitat and wildlife, which is an uncommon situation in the west. The JGFD currently has a staff of 30 employees, working in four (4) separate divisions; Administration, Biological, Law Enforcement and Parks and Maintenance.  The Biological Division is responsible for managing all of the Nation’s fish and wildlife, including monitoring populations, setting hunting seasons, recording harvest and conducting habitat improvement projects. The Law Enforcement Division patrols the reservation and is responsible for enforcing Conservation Law. The Parks and Maintenance maintains all of the department’s facilities, campgrounds, and fishing docks, and oversees the elk feeding program at Horse Lake Mesa.

Spectacular Hunting Opportunities— JGFD coordinates big game habitat and herd management strategies, resulting in spectacular hunting opportunities for sportsman seeking quality hunting experiences and trophy-class animals.  Although Trophy Mule Deer are the hallmark of the Jicarilla Game Management Program, hunters are offered a variety of other high quality opportunities including Elk, Black Bear, Mountain Lion and Turkey. The Jicarilla people have a long history of big-game hunting, and hunting still remains an important part of the Jicarilla culture and heritage.  In addition to tribal hunts, non-tribal “client” hunts have been conducted for over 50 years. Tribal member guides are required for all non-tribal hunts; in addition to cultural importance, hunting also has a positive economic impact to the Jicarilla people today.

Exceptional Recreational Fisheries Opportunities— The Nation has a long-standing reputation for exceptional recreational fisheries, mostly centered on trout fishing small to medium sized lakes.  Stone, Mundo, and Enbom lakes have strong following of anglers due to their consistent catch rates of high quality fish. Recreational fisheries are open to non-tribal members and many folks travel long distances for the opportunity to fish for large trout in lightly pressured lakes, and, of course, enjoy the beautiful scenery.  Other recreational fisheries include a trophy Tiger Musky population, Channel Catfish, Largemouth Bass, and Bluegill. The JGFD is responsible for all aspects of the recreational fisheries program including permit sales, proclamation development, angler community outreach and education, and on the ground fisheries management and monitoring.

Native Fisheries Conservation— while recreational sport fisheries center around non-native fishes in man-made impoundments the Nation has also dedicated itself to managing and conserving its native fish populations. The Continental Divide splits the Nations, which allows for two suites of native fish species endemic to the reservation. These include Colorado River and Rio Grande River Basin fish species.  Both basins require tailored management strategies.  The JGFD has developed a well-rounded program which utilizes the best available science and technology to manage and monitor its unique fisheries resources. The Nation is a leader in tribal and regional fisheries management, participating in many multi-jurisdictional conservation teams and Federal Endangered Species Recovery Programs.  The JGFD maintains that long term cooperative partnerships are key to achieving long-term fisheries management objectives and will continue to embrace and participate whenever possible.

Submitted by Kyle J. Tator, Wildlife Biologist, Jicarilla Apache Game and Fish



By: Maryann Wiehl, Native Village of Rampart

The Native Village of Rampart located in the interior of Alaska is place rich with history and abundant natural resources. The name Rampart comes from the range of low mountains through which the Yukon River passes and forms the “ramparts” of the Upper Yukon. It was established in late 1800’s as a river supply point for gold miners. The village currently has a population of 65 people. In 2013, the population was nine people.

Rampart Native Village and its tribal members have a responsibility to protect the land traditionally used by the indigenous people of the area in Alaska in order to ensure that their ecosystem remains intact for future generations and to continue to prosper. The people of Rampart developed a comprehensive Land Use Plan for the traditional lands of Rampart and is a living document created to provide protection of the tribe’s abundant natural resources.

The people who live in Rampart are connected to the land on many levels. The land provides for the people, traditional foods such as moose, caribou, beaver, muskrat, rabbits, bear and many other game birds and animals. The water surrounding Rampart provides fresh fish and also is used for drinking. The vast forest provides berries, medicinal plants, and fire wood; and the fur bearing animals provide traditional clothing. Traditionally the land was not to be sold but to be taken care of by the people who utilized all it has to offer. This kind of respect was learned and it will be taught to future generations for years to come.

Our mission is to revive the community of Rampart and improve the quality of life for the residents through economic development and the preservation of our culture, heritage and abundant natural resources.  The leaders of this community and the village council employees work diligently to achieve the mission of this village.

In the 1890’s when miners struck gold at Minook Creek, Idaho Bar, Quail Creek, all within 30 miles of Rampart the population was as high as 10,000 residents.  This population had Rampart listed as the second largest city in Alaska at the time.

During this population boom Rampart had a local newspaper, hotels, saloons, theaters, a library, a fire department, various stores and businesses that were common in mining towns of this era.  One thing that has always been a present in Rampart was the Native community. Because of gold strikes in other locations such as Fairbanks and Nome, people moved away from Rampart.  By the year 1903, only a Native community remained, most homes and businesses were abandoned.  The original Native community was located at the mouth of Squaw Creek. By 1917, there were only 30 Natives and 30 non-Natives living in Rampart.

The population of Rampart is predominantly Alaska Native and is very active in subsistence activities. The traditional ways of preserving fish and large game hunting are the most common subsistence activities currently in Rampart.
Other subsistence activities are gardening and gathering of seasonal berries and plants.  Many of the locals also gather chaga for tea.  Some still trap for furs such as martin, wolverine, lynx and others. There are many accomplished bead work artists and fur and skin sewers in Rampart and people often take the time to share their talents with youth.

Rampart has begun to revitalize the traditional language and teach the children songs and dances.  Many songs and dances that were done traditionally were done about the land and animals. Rampart recently started their first dance group in over 100 years.

The land use plan is for the protection of the ancestral lands traditionally used by the indigenous people in the area. Miners have been in the area for more than 100 years and the possibility of contaminating the land water is a concern for the village. The State of Alaska Department of Natural Resources Division of Mining, Land and Water Resource Assessments are available but a traditional land use plan to protect the ancestral lands of the people of Rampart for future generations was not in existence.
The comprehensive land use plan for the traditional lands of Rampart will provide land use information to assist in policies and procedures and developing land protection ordinances on a tribal level to ensure the land traditionally used by the residents and tribal members of the area adequately protected.  The planning and management strategies are outlined in the traditional land use plan.

The traditional land use plan identifies what area of land were used by the ancestors of the area. It attempts to convey that man and nature need to work together to make the world a better place to live.  Other goals include: convey the traditional values of land use to other agencies and planners that make decisions on economic development on the traditional lands; outline guidelines for future generations for tribal members of Rampart to protect and preserve traditional lands and abundant natural resources; develop policies, procedures and ordinances to protect Ancestral lands and local natural resources; identify what resource agencies would serve as appropriate allies to ensure that Rampart tribal members have a roll in regional decision-making; identify areas traditionally used by the people of Rampart using traditional names and mapping; and, identify location of sacred sites in the land use area in supportive cooperation with Rampart village Council and tribal members. It incorporates traditional practices and values to help outside agencies identify with the tribe’s cultural beliefs and practices for an improved management system for the traditional lands of the area.

Located along the south bank of the Yukon River, many large and small streams flow into the Yukon near Rampart. Many habitats are located around the community of Rampart. These habitats are home to several species of wild life and vegetation. With the agricultural experiment station established in the early 1900’s by the University of AK, many types of grains and legumes not native to Alaska grow around Rampart today. Fish and wildlife are also abundant in the surrounding habitats.

The people of Rampart depend heavily on subsistence activities for sustainability. King salmon is harvested in the early summer months, then after king season, the local residents fish for Silver Salmon. In the fall, local residents spear fish in the creeks near the village for grayling, white fish, and burbot. In the fall, moose is hunted and put away for the winter months. Caribou, black bear, and beaver are also harvested during the fall and winter months. Fur bearing animals are trapped in the winter for food and clothing. In the spring, game birds and muskrat are hunted.


Maryann said she developed the Land Use Plan because “there are always those who want to mine or drill for oil, and big companies are trying to do all of that within their hunting and fishing grounds. At the Village of Rampart there is an environmental department that operates under the I-Gap grant. When Maryann moved to Rampart in 2013 there were nine people living there and she said, “we revitalized the community by getting grants, we developed programs, and we helped to start up the tribal offices again. Since then people have been moving back to Rampart.

“We worked closely with the First Chief and we wrote for grants and a relocation program for those who wanted to move back. We put them on the housing list and they got paid $1500 for moving expenses. We got our schools reopened after 15 years with a renovation grant. We recently just opened our new tribal office.

“Our natural resources program is doing water sampling in the streams where we gather fish. We monitor the water mostly during the hunting season and we go by the hunting areas and see if people are camping and we also pick up trash. We are looking into policies about how to enforce our lands for things like that.

“Because we did not usually take our 638 dollars, and we are with our regional corporation (Tanana Chiefs Conference). How it works is we have regional non-profit organizations that support all the tribal entities and people who are in that compact can leave their 638 contract dollars within the regional organization which is a multi-billion dollar organization. So with the Native Claims Settlement Act, 13 different regional corporations were formed. There are two tribes in Alaska that didn’t want it which are Venetie Arctic Village and Metlakatla in Southeast Alaska. I would say they were the smart ones. I say that because the Native people in Alaska pretty much owned 100% of Alaska until they signed the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act when oil was discovered in Prudhoe Bay on Native land.  Basically, what happened in December 1971, is that a lot of the Native leaders went to Washington and they were wined and dined by the U.S. government; therefore, talked into signing the piece of paper which now gives us only 12% of the land in the state.”

Maryann said, “Yes, it is kind of ironic all the way around but the land that we do have we are really trying to protect.  We have the largest region in developing traditional land use plans just so that if the State wants to come in and monitor for uranium then we would have some say in the protection of our lands.”

(Photos: L-R) – Rampart Village is located in the red area indicated; a woman prepares fresh food; and subsistence hunters display the antlers of a moose they harvested.

By: Ashley Carlisle, NAFWS Education Coordinator

March 20th has come and marked the first day of Spring. Also, spring brings in the plenty of planning for the summer youth programs such as the National Native American Environmental Awareness Summer Youth Practicum (National SYP) and the NAFWS internships. The NAFWS youth programming is continuing to build and move forward.

We are planning for an in-person session of the 2021 National SYP in Estes Park, Colorado from July 25 to July 31. We are working to plan and implement the National SYP in the safest way that we can with taking COVID-19 safety precautions and abiding by CDC, State and YMCA of the Rockies COVID-19 protocols. We are also excited that we are preparing to add five interns to our work force this upcoming summer! The interns will be working on a number of projects that will focus on data collection and surveying Tribes to help NAFWS gain more understanding of Conservation Law Enforcement programs, state wildlife action plans and engagement of Native Youth. Interns will be working closely with NAFWS Staff and be participating as counselors for the National SYP. Lastly, the mentor program is within the works.

If you are interested in possibly participating as an instructor for a learning session at the National SYP, please let us know!

Submitted by: Corey Lucero and Sean Cross, NAFWS Staff Biologists

Greetings All of NAFWS!
While the Covid-19 Pandemic has us hunkered down, Sean, the other biologist and I, have been busy coming up with ideas for trainings and webinars.  We have settled on several topics for the webinars which will be no cost to the public.  Finding ways and subject matter to aid tribal natural resource personnel has been tough at times.  We are looking for trainings that would be a good fit for tribal natural resource departments. We have contracted with Dr. Mark Johnson, Global Wildlife Resources to offer a training  specifically for active NAFWS members on the topic of  Foundations of Wildlife Chemical Capture.  On March 1, 2021, we kicked-off our first course with Dr.  Johnson via Zoom with 23 participants from tribes throughout the United States.  Reviews from course attendees have been great thus far, such as:

“Your in-person classes are always sold-out by the time I hear of them, so I jumped at the chance to take this through the NAFWS. If I could have rated it a 6 out of 5 (highest rated)  I would have. I think the videos were fantastic, and your ability to distill so much great research and observation into simple steps is so helpful. Thank you for being so adaptive and creating this online course in these crazy covid-19 times.” Hope Rieden, Confederated Tribes of the Chehalis Reservation, Oakville WA.

Chronic wasting disease is a serious issue in North America and especially for tribal hunters.   We have started to form tribal chronic wasting disease working groups in the month of March with a meeting in the Great Plains Region.  Sean and I have joined the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies CWD working group and the National CWD Council to gather information and establish communication contacts to provide the most current information to tribes and their fish and wildlife staff.  We have also assumed a position on the National Aquatic Nuisance Species Council and have joined the North American Invasive Species Management Association this past quarter.

We are continuing to contact each Federally Recognized tribe throughout our respective regions and provide membership information to tribes that are not familiar with the Society.  Although it had been a hit and miss in the beginning, with the Covid-19 vaccinations, tribes are beginning to open up once again.  If you haven’t heard from us, please reach out to us so we can work on programming to address your needs.  We continue to build on our database of resources to better serve our membership with technical assistance.

Please keep looking to our updated website (, to see what we have coming up next.  Upcoming webinars are:
•    Endangered Species of Plants and Animals affected by Invasive Species-April 28th, 2021
•    CWD/RHDV2 Information and Training-May 26th, 2021
•    Regional Update-White Nosed Bat Syndrome Status Update-June 30th, 2021.

We wish you all Health and Happiness!

Career U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Biologist Recalls First Summer Programs

by: Karen Lynch, NAFWS

NAFWS summer youth practicums go all the way back to 1991. One of the first, if not the only former summer youth practicum participants whom we have caught up with is Bernard Lujan. He is from the Pueblo of Isleta. He attended the first and second NAFWS summer youth practicums in Wyoming and has since advanced himself to the Assistant Refuge Manager at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bosque del Apache Wildlife Refuge in Socorro, NM. All within the past 22 years.

The second practicum he recalled was held in 1992 and it was called the NAFWS Advanced Summer Youth Practicum and was held in Laramie, Wyoming.

“I was a junior in high school when I was recruited by a Southwest Region representative, Norman Jojola who asked if I would be interested in attending the practicum in Wyoming. It sounded like something I could be a part of.”  So Bernard traveled to Denver and then took the bus to Laramie, WY.

Back then in the 1990’s, the word “practicum” was coined by the first NAFWS Executive Director Dewey Schwalenberg who first used the word for summer programs where students could participate in a “practical” experience.

Schwalenberg’s long-term vision for the organization and the practicum is mentioned in his address to the membership in Spring 1991 about the importance of “education and training at all levels of community interaction that is needed to protect tribal long-term goals of self sufficiency.”

In 1991, Schwalenberg was approached by Vern Vivion, who at the time was doing work with the Heritage Conservancy Foundation, a non-profit in the State of Wyoming.  Vern Vivion wanted to contribute to “gaining tribal youth enthusiasm to fulfill the shoes of those who were instructors at the practicum.”  In other words, he envisioned tribal youth to someday provide instruction and serve as teachers or role-models during the summer practicums.
Schwalenberg then asked Vivion to contact Joe Jojola, a Southwest Region wildlife biologist who at the time was working with the White Mountain Apache Tribe and who is now retired.  Jojola said that after Vivion explained his idea and goal for the practicum, Vivion asked him if he would be interested in helping put things together for the summer program.  “In thinking back about it, it was kind of a challenge because I was in Arizona and he wanted to have the practicum in Wyoming,” said Jojola.

“Fortunately, I had a few contacts who expressed an interest in helping out and Vern also had some contacts with BLM (Bureau of Land Management). I also knew Dr. Fred Lindzey who at the time was at the Coop Unit at the University of Wyoming and he was eager to jump on board. We also contacted Dave Skates (USFWS) and a biologist from the Medicine Bow National Forest who I had met at an Elk Management Workshop.”

As the 1992 youth practicum program was developed Jojola said they were fortunate to have help from others in the Southwest Region who donated their time and talents, including Norman Jojola (BIA), Michelle Baca from Mescalero, Wilbur Louis from the Laguna Tribe, Tom  Watts and Eudane Vicenti from Jicarilla Apache Tribe, and Kelly Myer, who was a Fisheries Biologist at White Mountain Apache Tribe.

Others that supported and assisted were resource managers from the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management.

Bernard said he remembered the ranch where the practicum was held saying, “it was a huge ranch. We traveled around southern Wyoming. We took tours and looked at restoration areas, we camped along the river and we did fish evaluations, fish surveys, fish techniques, and the instructors hid a GPS collar in the woods and we went to go find it using telemetry equipment. Much of it was hands-on learning.

“We looked at maps and navigated our way from point-A-to-point-B. We also did goshawk surveys and elk pellet counts and learned how to trap an elk.

Eudane Vicenti, Executive Director, Jicarilla Apache Nation Game and Fish Department, was a wildlife technician back in 1991 when he and his boss at the time, Tom Watts assisted at the practicum. “We helped out with the archery shoot, we took 3-D targets and we set-up an archery range and invited the kids to come and shoot targets. We showed them how a bow works and how to shoot with one. “Even though my memory is not so good now days I do remember at least that much,” he said with a laugh.

With Bernard being probably the only student from these first practicums who has gone on to become a wildlife and fisheries biologist, one thing is for sure: he was determined that he wanted to pursue a career in natural resources.  Norman Jojola knew that “I was interested in wildlife,” he says.

Joe Jojola said he was not sure of the careers choices the other kids made of those who attended the practicum in ’92,  “hopefully the practicum had an impact on them. Although we  tried to recruit a diversity of students, I believe we were able to get kids from several regions. We ended up with seven, which may have been an appropriate number for a traveling practicum. It was beneficial because there was more opportunity to talk with the students on a one-to-one basis. Of course we also have to extend a great deal of appreciation to the folks at Wind River and the Arapaho Tribe. Their hospitality and contribution to the success of the practicum were significant.”

In his 22 years in his career with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bernard says he started out as a fisheries technician after finishing his wildlife and fisheries biology degree at Eastern New Mexico University in 1996.

Following technician work  he applied for the Water Manager position at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge which he did for five years. Then applied for the Refuge Operations Specialist which he did for six years, a position that prepared him for management and administration work at the refuge. When the Assistant Refuge Manager position came up he was glad to be outdoors again and said, “I enjoy my job and being outdoors is why I applied for this position. Although I am doing a bit more on the logistics and budget side, I also do some supervision too.”

Bernard said that at the refuge they are involved with surveys and wetland bedding plus invasive species work which means herbicide treatments, field maintenance work, mechanical work or tractor operation, mowing and clearing of undesirable vegetation in the wetland, and flooding up the wetland. “My earlier work as a water manager helped in doing  the floodups and draw downs of the wetlands and moist soil units.”

With waterfowl being the primary work at the refuge, Bernard said they provide wintering food for the waterfowl which involves growing natural wetland foods. “In the fall, we survey how much food plants produce by natural germination. The native grasses produce wetland food which we survey every fall. And in the winter we do weekly waterfowl surveys.”

There are four endangered species that live on the refuge. We are charged with managing only three which are the New Mexico meadow jumping mouse, the southwestern willow flycatcher and the yellow-billed cuckoo. The other one which we are not charged with managing is the Rio Grande silvery minnow since we do not manage the river so it is managed by another agency.

He said there are 25 different species of waterfowl at the refuge “and that’s just the ducks and doesn’t include the geese.” He added, “we manage for over 100,000 ducks, 40,000 light geese, and 15,000 sandhill cranes that overwinter on the refuge.  There are about a half dozen invasive plants and we have another six or more mammals and amphibians which are scattered throughout the middle Rio Grande Valley.  With the refuge located in part of the central fly-way, there are undesirable species that come through the valley.”

As a former student that has gone on to college immediately after high school  and then on to college, many students will need good role models and teachers to nurture their interests. That has been the purpose of the summer youth practicums. And Norman Jojola has been guiding students such as he did with Bernard, and giving students the opportunity to experience hands-on learning.  Norman said, “With Bernard’s 22 years experience with the USFWS, he moved up to the Assistant Refuge Manager position. During the tenure at the beginning of his career he came back and assisted with the NAFWS Southwest Region Summer Youth Practicums as an instructor in fisheries management.

“I really believe in the youth practicums and are there to foster their interest to get involved in natural resources and gives them positive learning experiences  on what biologists do on the ground. It jump-starts them to further their education.

“It is important to continue to have these practicums to provide the students these opportunities to make up their mind to pursue education and to respect the resources.”

Bernard Lujan at the Bosque del Apache Wildlife Refuge

By: Ty Churchwell, Mining Coordinator, Trout Unlimited

There’s an old saying, “If it’s not grown, it’s mined.”

What a profound thing to think about, and it’s true. Whether it’s the food you eat, the cotton in your trousers or the 2x4s in the walls of your home, agriculture is a foundational element of daily life. So too are the minerals and metals mined from the Earth. In fact, some minerals are mined as fertilizer to increase yields for agricultural practices, giving them a two-pronged value.

The raw materials necessary for today’s way of life must come from somewhere. Mining provides the building blocks for everything else that’s not grown. Everything else – that’s a lot. Some mined materials provide energy production, including coal for power plants, uranium for nuclear electricity production and drilled products such as oil and natural gas. Still other mined materials – metals in particular – pretty much account for everything else we use in our day-to-day lives. These include aluminum for your soda can and car components, iron for the skeleton of your office building, copper for the wiring in your house, tin for a soup can, molybdenum for your bicycle and gold for your wedding ring. The list goes on and on, of course.

I’m just going to go out on a limb here and guess the phrase “critical minerals” doesn’t mean much to you. It’s OK, the term is relatively new.

But what if I told you that critical minerals helped you check the weather forecast for the day, provided the email you received from your sister, powered the satellite giving you driving directions, stored the power for your cell phone and assisted in the MRI you just received for the bad hip that will likely require another critical mineral, titanium, to rebuild it? Going further, critical minerals are key components of renewable energy production and energy storage. Therefore, they are ‘critical’ to climate change mitigation. As examples, lithium and cobalt are used in renewable energy battery storage, rare Earth elements are used in solar panels and wind turbines, and aluminum is the lightweight metal used in EV cars to offset the weight of the heavy battery.

By definition, ‘critical minerals’ are a non-fuel mineral or mineral material essential to the economic and national security of the United States, the supply chain of which is vulnerable to disruption, and that serves an essential function in the manufacturing of a product, the absence of which would have significant consequences for our economy or our national security. Of the 35 elements on the official federal government list of critical minerals, the U.S. is import-reliant for 31, and lacks any domestic production of 14. This places the U.S. in a strategic disadvantage, both for manufacturing and for national security. What happens if supply chains run dry? What will we do if hostile governments hoard supplies? How can we call our nation eco-friendly, if the raw materials we use are sourced from countries with few, if any, environmental laws?

So, then, we all must recognize that mining for these important materials on U.S. soil comes with a price, an impact, and with a responsibility to current and future generations.

Indigenous communities have historically been unfairly and disproportionally impacted by irresponsible mining policies. Since the passage of the General Mining Act of 1872, Native American tribes have endured degraded land and water quality, loss of cultural resources, loss of wildlife and fishery habitat and loss of economic opportunity, all without a voice in the decision-making process.

Case in point – and on a very personal level – I live in the Animas River watershed in Durango, CO. I know first-hand the impacts of irresponsible mining practices and lack of sufficient mitigation of past mining mistakes. The Animas River was the site of the 2015 Gold King mine spill that sent 3 million gallons of toxic, heavy metal-laden orange mine water down from the San Juan mountains, through Durango and then downstream through the Southern Ute, Ute Mountain Ute and Navajo reservations. The impact of the spill is still being felt today by these tribes. As a trout angler, I value greatly the public fishing resource made available to non-tribal members on the Southern Ute Indian reservation. Locally, we are grateful to the Southern Ute Tribe for public access to this amazing trout fishery. As such, I feel an obligation to be a good steward of this resource in thanks to my Native American neighbors. This Animas River is, of course, just one example of a shared natural resource impacted by mining.

Now then, back to critical minerals.

The Trump administration prioritized the development and active mining of critical minerals as a first course of action to mitigate vulnerable supply chains. In June of 2019, in response to Executive Order 13817, the Secretary of Commerce issued a report titled A Federal Strategy to Ensure Secure and Reliable Supplies of Critical Minerals.
The report identified numerous actions to increase supplies of critical minerals to reduce reliance on foreign sources while mitigating vulnerable supply chains. Some of these actions, however, undermine bedrock environmental laws and put at risk important fish and wildlife habitat, cultural resources and protected public lands. Trout Unlimited (TU) and our sporting partners took note of the federal strategy and produced a report, ‘Critical Minerals – A Conservation Perspective’, as an early response to the concerning proposed actions, recommending a more-holistic, responsible approach to the issue.

In preparation of our report, TU’s GIS mapping specialists analyzed the most current USGS layers to assess the possible impacts of critical mineral development on the places where Americans hunt and fish. Of the known critical mineral deposits in the western states (excluding AK), roughly 50% exist in trout and salmon watersheds, and 1 in 10 are within currently protected public lands. Additional analysis shows there are 13 known deposits of critical minerals on tribal reservations, and six of those are within trout and salmon watersheds. Aside from the mineral deposits within tribal boundaries, many of the others are near reservations, are on ceded public lands with important cultural resources, or are up-river from tribal interests. Additionally, the mapping team evaluated other factors, such as big game migration corridors, sage grouse habitat and mining-impaired streams.

The takeaway? Irresponsible critical mineral development puts at risk the places and resources important to hunters, anglers and Native Americans. Wisely, our elected officials in D.C. have taken notice and are currently developing policies.

To avoid further land and water degradation from the previous administration’s short-sided actions, the Biden administration has an opportunity to correct-course and ensure that critical minerals are sourced responsibly. On February 24, 2021, the Biden administration issued Executive Order 14017 directing federal agencies to perform a 100-day review of critical minerals supply chain vulnerabilities and to produce a report that includes policy recommendations to address these risks

In response to this executive order, TU proposes to invite partners from the conservation community, tribes and Native American fish and wildlife management professionals to create a policy sign-on letter to the Biden administration. The letter will address ways to responsibly manage supply chain vulnerability while recommending policies and tactics for critical mineral exploration, if and where new mining is necessary.

America must have a comprehensive strategy to secure the raw materials for a clean energy future, for a strong economy and for national security – and it must include all Americans, including the previously ignored voices of Native Americans. Following the 100-day review, the Biden administration will be positioned to enact new policies and undo the previous administration’s failings. Trout Unlimited and its partners recognize this as a momentous opportunity to help steer responsible critical mineral policy, including strategies to prevent and minimize mining impacts. Additionally, with Laguna Pueblo member Deb Haaland as the Secretary of the Interior, indigenous tribes have an opportunity for their voices to be heard in a way that has eluded Native Americans for centuries.

While the recent Biden administration executive order doesn’t set policy per se, it directs federal agencies to seek input from all stakeholders, including non-governmental organizations like Trout Unlimited. Since we’ve been watching this issue for a while and actively participating in conversations with our elected officials, we are in a unique position to reach out a hand beyond our core constituency of hunters and anglers to include others, most notably, our Native American colleagues and fellow citizens.

In the 19th and 20th centuries, the primary metals of mining focus were common names such as gold, silver, copper, iron and tin. In today’s 21st century, a whole new suite of mined mineral products is poised to create the next big push to develop new mines and potentially impact important natural and cultural resources.
21st century mining requires 21st century mining policy. Join us in shaping policy that is protective of trout, salmon, wildlife and tribal resources. We can and must do better.

(Photos: L-R):  Map of critical mineral deposits in western U.S. on BLM land, Forest Service, Protected Land, and Tribal lands; cobalt ore; and a lithium mine in Nevada.

Heidi McCann, Office Manager/Membership Coordinator

Hello and Happy Spring! This week the Thunder beings made their presence known and it was a most welcomed sound! I am ready for the warm summer months after this long pandemic winter and am looking forward to what is beyond the horizon.

The Society has been receiving both Individual and Member Tribe membership applications, which is an indication that Tribes are beginning to open for business and with that happening, we are preparing for either an in-person or virtual conference in the Pacific Northwest. It also means that I can get back to the NAFWS headquarters office and continue with organizing it so that it reflects the accomplishments of the Society. Once done, I would like to plan a virtual open house for our members.

We have lots of NAFWS masks that are waiting to be sent to you, so if you’re not a member yet, please sign up on-line or download the application and mail it to the national office at: 10465 Melody Drive, Ste. 307, Northglenn, CO 80234 and I’ll send you a mask.

We are still holding the NAFWS Facebook guess-the-picture t-shirt contest. If you’re the first to identify the picture you will get a NAFWS t-shirt!

Hoping you are all in good spirits and have good thoughts!

May 5-6 (or May 4-5), 2021 – Hazardous Materials Training for tribes by the Alabama Fire College Workplace Safety Training. For more information, contact: Roy Stover, [email protected]

July 25- 31, 2021 – National Native American Environmental Awareness Summer Youth Practicum (National SYP)  – Estes Park, Colorado.

August 10-12, 2021 – Save the Dates – The NAFWS Southwest Region will be holding a virtual Southwest Region Conference. Contacts:  Elveda Martinez, [email protected], or Darren Talayumptewa, [email protected]

October 4-6, 2012 – National NAFWS Annual Conference at the Northern Quest Resort and Casino in Spokane, WA.  A final decision on whether to have an in-person or virtual event will be made by July 1, 2021.

The NAFWS Southwest Region will not be holding it’s 2021 Youth Practicum due to Covid-19.

On April 14, 2021, a memorial celebration was held for former NAFWS member in the Pacific Region, Pete Kruger, Sr. at the Little Creek Casino Event Center. A video tribute to Pete is at:

(C)2021 NAFWS
Native American Fish and Wildlife Society
10465 Melody Dr.,Ste. 307
Northglenn, CO  80234

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