Department of the Interior
|Office of the Secretary||
Contact: Frank Quimby 202-208-7291
|For Immediate Release; September 20, 2004||
Doug Zimmer 360-753-4370
Quinault Indian Nation Settlement Conserves Marbled Murrelet Habitat
WASHINGTON - Interior Secretary Gale Norton and President of the Quinault Indian Nation Pearl Capoeman-Baller today signed an agreement that will preserve 4,207 acres of sensitive forest habitat on the Quinault Reservation in Washington state for the threatened marbled murrelet and other species.
"This is the epitome of what we in this administration want to see," Secretary Norton said. "I can think of no better example of what cooperative conservation can lead to than this settlement. It brings together different levels of government and the private sector in the interest of important conservation goals."
"Everyone benefits," Norton noted. "The public gets conservation of sensitive forest habitat for an threatened species; the Quinault retain sovereignty over the land and gain support for their economic development; and Interior fulfills its responsibilities for tribal development and conservation of threatened species."
"This is one of the largest settlement resolutions I have been a part of," said Quinault President Capoeman-Baller. "It means so much to the Quinault Indian Nation to restore the land and make it manageable. This will be one of the greatest gifts we can give to the Quinault children."
The conservation easements would protect two blocks of land that contain important mid-elevation temperate rain forest in the North Boundary Area of the Quinault Reservation. Protection of these forested areas on the Olympic Peninsula will be especially valuable to complement the management of adjacent federal lands for habitat important to the recovery of species dependent on late successional forest types.
The parties have agreed to a $32.2 million settlement for the conservation easements. The total includes $1 million already paid from the fiscal year 2000 Landowner Incentive Grant funds; $10 million from fiscal year 2004 Land and Water Conservation Fund appropriations; and a planned $10 million in each offiscal years 2005 and 2006 Land and Water Conservation Fund appropriations. The Trust for Public Land, a national conservation group that is a partner in the settlement, will contribute $1.2 million.
The settlement also ends four years of negotiation stemming from a lawsuit brought by the Quinault. Because the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service had determined that marbled murrelet habitat would be in jeopardy from a proposed Quinault timber harvest plan, the suit raised the issue of whether the United States can, under the Endangered Species Act, restrict the treaty rights of a tribe to use its on-reservation natural resources. That suit will be dismissed as a condition of the settlement.
The purchase of the easements restricting timber harvests is for conservation of species associated with late successional forest habitat and is a "reasonable and prudent alternative" suggested by the Fish and Wildlife Service's "jeopardy" biological opinion for the marbled murrelet, a threatened species under the Endangered Species Act. This settlement enables the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to protect important mid-elevation temperate rain forest habitat on the Olympic Peninsula.
Also speaking at the ceremony
were Tom Sansonetti, Department of Justice Assistant Attorney General
for the Environmental and Natural Resources Division; Dave Anderson,
Interior's Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs; Edward Damich, Chief
Judge of the U.S. Court of Federal Claims; and Alan Front, Senior Vice
President of the Trust for Public Land.
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