NESPELEM — The Governor of Washington State, Jay Inslee, recently called for a leaders’ summit with tribal nations to consult on climate-related issues. The Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation is pleased to accept this invitation and commits to work with Governor Inslee on these important issues.
The Governor recently signed the Climate Commitment Act, a law which represents major progress toward a clean environment and a healthy, sustainable climate. It aims to decrease greenhouse gas emissions in Washington State through a phased approach over the next three decades. It also provides funding for management practices that will increase carbon sequestration and improve resilience to climate impacts.
Importantly, the Climate Commitment Act requires that 10% of the funding generated by the program – estimated at $8.4 billion dollars between now and the year 2040 – be dedicated to programs supported by tribes, with a priority to programs directly administered or proposed by tribal nations. This approach is the first of its kind in the nation.
The Colville Tribes applauds the work of the Governor and the Washington legislature on the Climate Commitment Act. The Colville Tribes especially appreciates the Governor’s commitment to jointly develop a government-to-government consultation process with an emphasis on protecting sites of historical and sacred value to tribes.
The Colville Tribes has, tragically, been disproportionately impacted by climate-related increases in wildfire frequency and severity. Since 2001, over 765,000 acres have burned across the Colville Reservation. 537,000 of those acres have been burned since 2015.
Rising temperatures have also negatively impacted fisheries and forest health across the Colville Reservation, and have created economic hardship. For example, in 2015 an estimated 85% of the sockeye run in the Okanogan River failed to reach their spawning habitat due to elevated water temperatures. Increased insect activity and subsequent tree mortality has resulted in lost timber revenue and increased fuel loading. As a result of wildfire in the last 6 years alone, the Colville Tribes has lost approximately 1 billion board feet of timber, which would yield more than $500 million in delivered log value in today’s market.
The Chairman of the Colville Tribes, Rodney Cawston, said, “Governor Jay Inslee has been a consistent ally to tribal people and to the environment throughout his tenure in office. The Climate Commitment Act is an example of what can be accomplished when tribal nations and the State cooperate to produce results to benefit all Washingtonians. The Colville Tribes embraces further consultation with our partners and other tribes to implement the Climate Commitment Act to protect our natural and cultural resources for our future generations.”