KAMIAH — The Nez Perce Tribe and Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests recently signed a Good Neighbor Authority (GNA) agreement that will allow them to share and build capacity for important work in the Nez Perce Tribe’s ceded territories. This is the first GNA agreement with a tribe in the Forest Service’s Northern Region, and among the first in the nation.
“The Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests are among the homelands of the Nez Perce Tribe and we share a common interest in healthy and resilient ecosystems,” said Cheryl Probert, Forest Supervisor. “The Good Neighbor Authority is a great tool for helping us co-steward these important lands.”
First authorized in 2001, Good Neighbor Authority allows the USDA Forest Service to enter into agreements with state forestry agencies to do critical management work to keep our forests healthy and productive. The program was expanded to include Tribes and counties in 2018. Funding was made available in the 2022 Bipartisan Infrastructure Law to partner with Tribes to implement fuels reduction and other mutually beneficial projects.
“The Nez Perce Tribe has been a steward of its land and resources since time immemorial,” stated Samuel N. Penney, Chairman of the Nez Perce Tribal Executive Committee. “The GNA agreement is an affirmation of the Tribe’s expertise in managing our homelands and is an additional intergovernmental tool to improve watershed health for fish and wildlife habitat, treat insect-infected and disease-infected trees, and reduce hazardous fuels.”
The initial focus of GNA work between the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests and the Nez Perce Tribe will be on fuels reduction projects, with future plans to conduct heritage surveys and contract administration for projects in areas of highest significance to the Tribe.
“We’ve enjoyed a very long and productive aquatic restoration partnership with the Nez Perce Tribe’s Department of Fisheries. I’m excited to work toward a similar partnership with their Forestry, Fire and Cultural divisions,” said Probert.
The Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests has existing GNA agreements with the Idaho Department of Lands and Idaho Department of Fish and Game, making this agreement with the Nez Perce Tribe the forest’s third GNA agreement. To learn more about the Good Neighbor Authority, visit https://www.fs.usda.gov/managing-land/farm-bill/gna.