The 2015 North Star Fire on the Colville Indian Reservation desecrated historical huckleberry sites where tribal members’ families picked the berries for generations. 

Nearing the one year anniversary of the fire, several Tribal and BIA programs gathered in the burned scarred area of Upper Gold Creek in hopes of reintroducing huckleberries (also known as vaccinium membranaceum) back to the area.

On July 13-14, Jon Meyers Project Lead/Resource Specialist for the BAER Team and History and Archeology accompanied by his staff, Mount Tolman Fire Center, Forestry Reforestation Offices and TANF Summer Youth Workers assigned to Forestry planted 1,880 huckleberry plants purchased from the University of Idaho with funds from the BAER Emergency Stabilization Fund.

If 50 percent of the plants survive, this project will be considered successful.  

“Fortunately the weather pattern has been wetter than what we had experienced in the past. MTFC is taking every opportunity to re-establish the huckleberries. With the weather conditions, this will be perfect timing to take advantage of the moisture and plant the huckleberry plugs,” stated Rebecca Peone.

The summer rain has moistened the soil allowing for cooler temperatures in elevations ranging between 3,500-4,000 ft. where nutrients and shade from slash left behind from fires and logging sites will once again see the return of the huckleberries as Mother Earth heals the land.

Beginning the week of July 18,  Forestry Department Summer Youth Workers will pick five gallons of huckleberries to send to the University of Idaho. 

UI hopes to extract the seed from the berry and plant it for the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation. 

If successful, the newly grown huckleberry plants will be ready to plant in 2019 within the burned area of the North Star Fire. These areas will include: Central Peak and Moses Mountain. 

The Upper Gold Creek area will be reevaluated. This will give time for the soil and other plants in the area to replenish while providing  nourishment and protection to the new huckleberry plants.

For more information on this project contact: Rebecca Peone, MTFC BAER Team Lead 509-634-3113 or rebecca.peone.mtfc@colvilletribes.com.

This release came from the Colville Tribes’ Environmental Trust and Mount Tolman Fire Center.

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