Forest Service-Tribal MOU Conceptual Agreement
In December 1998, the Forest Service (FS) and 9 federally recognized Tribes of the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission (GLIFWC) signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) regarding the standards of consistent interaction between the Tribes and the FS and regarding tribal gathering of wild plants on national forest lands in Wisconsin and Michigan under treaty-reserved rights. The provisions of the MOU were the subject of substantial public information and comment prior to final ratification by the Tribes. Public comments resulted in amendments that clarified or improved the MOU last March. The comments have been reviewed, considered, and incorporated into implementation of the components of the MOU over the past year.
A list of included campgrounds would be attached in an Implementation Plan. The list includes those campgrounds within the ceded territory where fees are charged for overnight camping. The list also identifies concessionaire campgrounds within the ceded territory; they are not part of the Implementation Plan Agreement until the concessionaire contracts are renewed (See below).
Treaty-reserved rights are the property of the Tribe, not the member. The tribes, in issuing camping permits to the member, will determine whether activities of the member are associated with the exercise of off reservation treaty-reserved rights. In lieu of fee payment, a tribal member at the campground fee station would place a sticker or fee waiver in/on the campground fee envelop. A sticker, or fee waiver, is required for each day (or the total number of days) that the member would use an individual campsite.
Each Tribe would identify the number of stickers or fee waivers it requires for the season. Campground use would be monitored in this manner.
No person legally camping in a site or with a valid reservation would be displaced or bumped. The agreement does not include provisions for priority use. All sites would be available on a first-come, first served basis, or by reservation.
The Forest Service agrees to include the provisions of the MOU fee and length of stay waivers in the solicitation for bid request as concessionaire permits are readvertised. The provisions of the MOU would be incorporated into new concessionaire permits.
Where a particular Tribal concern or interest exists in a current concessionaire campground, the Forest Service could approach the concessionaire regarding inclusion of campsites into the provisions of the MOU. Inclusion of the provisions for fee and/or length of stay waivers by the concessionaire would be voluntary.
The agreement identifies campgrounds where a 14-day length of stay restriction between June 15 and August 15, would remain because of concerns of high use and competition for sites among the users. All other (non-concessionaire) campgrounds within the agreement would waive length of stay restrictions for tribal members (14-days on all but the Huron-Manistee sites - where a 16-day restriction is in effect).
Reservations: The majority of national forest campgrounds in Wisconsin and Michigan under the National Forest Reservation System contain a limited percentage of sites available for reservation. Other sites within the campground and those sites that are not reserved within 5 days of use are available to recreationists on a first-come, first served basis. Tribal members could use the Forest Service National or local systems for reservations but camping and reservation fees would not be waived.
The Tribes would work with the local Forest to administratively hold or reserve campsites on a Forest reservation system for tribal members to exercise the Tribes ceded territory rights, where there is a particular need, including a demonstrated inability to obtain campsites on a first-come, first-served basis. The Forest Service is not obligated to establish a campsite reservation system where one does not presently exist.
The Tribes would prohibit tribal member camping in closed campgrounds (campgrounds outside the normal season of use and closed to public use). With Forest Service consent, a Tribe could issue a special permit allowing a member(s) to camp within a closed campground while exercising off-reservation, treaty-reserved rights. The Tribe would work out agreement with the local Forest Service Ranger District to address issues of sanitation, hazard trees, waiving liability, trash, etc.
To supplement the protections already provided by the Tribes Off-Reservation National Forest Gathering Code, the agreement would incorporate Tribal regulations into the MOU which parallel federal regulations found in 36 CFR Part 261 and implement Forest Service Orders. These regulations would govern tribal camping in the exercise of ceded territory rights and generally relate to behavior while camping, fire prevention, sanitation, protection of facilities, etc. Enforcement of regulations would follow the procedures established in the MOU whereby a GLIFWC Tribal warden or a Forest officer can enforce campground rules and regulations.
The Tribes and the Forest Service would monitor implementation of the
agreement, and apply the dispute resolution process outlined in the MOU