Red Lake Nation News - Babaamaajimowinan (Telling of news in different places)

A tale of restored tribal lands turns bittersweet in the wake of an Oregon wildfire


August 22, 2019

The smell of scorched soil and burnt wood filled the air. Michael Rondeau, CEO of the Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians, looked over the damage, clad in forest-green pants and a lemon-yellow jacket with “Douglas Forest Patrol” on the back. The Milepost 97 Fire, which started just days earlier with an illegal campfire, had consumed almost 13,000 acres in southwest Oregon. Almost a quarter of that was on the Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians Reservation — land so recently acquired by the tribe from the Bureau of Land Management that no conservation work or logging had yet occurred.

The tribe lost a good stand of timber, and officials estimate that replanting and recovery could cost millions of dollars. Less than two months earlier, I had visited this tract of land, touring it with Rondeau and Tim Vredenburg, Cow Creek director of forest management. Then, it had been lush with evergreens and wildflowers — lupine, beargrass and paintbrush. Now, that was all gone.


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