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Intertribal Timber Council to collaborate with Department of Interior

The Intertribal Timber Council, which includes the Seminole Tribe, and the Department of the Interior signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to work together while fighting wildfires on tribal and federal lands.

As climate change creates larger, costlier and more complex wildfires, the agreement emphasizes the importance of collaborating on wildland fire management. The MOU was announced Sept. 15 during the Intertribal Timber Council board of directors quarterly meeting.

About 6.5 million acres managed by the Interior Department are in close proximity to tribal land, within 50 miles or less. That proximity and interconnectedness necessitates close communication and collaboration on wildland fire management.

“By making smart investments in critical infrastructure, wildland fire response and key partnerships, the Department of the Interior is helping lead the Biden-Harris administration’s response to the increasingly complex fire environment, including on tribal lands,” U. S. Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland said in a statement. “By strengthening our ties and improving collaboration with stakeholders like the Intertribal Timber Council, we will improve our efforts to more effectively reduce wildfire risk, rehabilitate burned landscapes, promote a better understanding of wildfire and support our firefighters.”

The Intertribal Timber Council and Interior’s Office of Wildland Fire will undertake mutually beneficial actions and work collaboratively to reduce wildland fire risk and mitigate post-wildfire impacts.

Both organizations agree to identify shared values, use information technology to improve decision making among partners, coordinate workforce development efforts and exchange perspectives and information to increase awareness, understanding and engagement.

“There is no single entity across wildland fire management that will be able to successfully manage the landscape before, during and after a wildfire without help,” Cody Desautel, Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, president of the Intertribal Timber Council, said in a statement. “The Intertribal Timber Council looks forward to the continued effort to pursue and promote stewardship of our lands for the benefit of our communities.”

The Biden administration is working with Congress on improvements for federal firefighters and wildland fire preparedness. It’s Build Back Better agenda would help to better prepare communities and ecosystems against the threat of wildland fire with investments of $600 million through the bipartisan Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act.
A statement from the Interior Department affirmed it is committed to honoring and fulfilling its trust responsibilities to tribal nations.

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Beverly Bidney
Beverly Bidney has been a reporter and photographer for The Seminole Tribune since 2012. During her career, she has worked at various newspapers around the country including the Muskogee Phoenix in Oklahoma, Miami Herald, Associated Press, USA Today and other publications nationwide. A NAJA award winning journalist, she has covered just about everything over the years and is an advocate for a strong press. Contact her at beverlybidney@semtribe.com.
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