MINNESOTA – USDA Forest Service Acting Regional Forester Bob Lueckel and Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe Chairman Faron Jackson Sr. signed a memorandum of understanding as part of a unique federal-tribal relationship that presents opportunities to balance the social, economic and cultural well-being of the Band, while addressing the agency’s multiple-use mission.
“We will work together to identify shared priorities and implement shared projects focused on forest and watershed restoration, fish and wildlife habitat improvement and preserve socially and culturally significant places,” Lueckel said. “The overlap of boundaries and jurisdiction provides us with an opportunity to implement shared stewardship practices and enhance our partnership with the Band.”
The signing builds on a 2013 agreement between the Chippewa National Forest and the Band by formalizing the consultation process and build trust about forest management decisions.
The agreement provides a framework for cooperation between the Forest Service and the Band for natural resource management, economic development and employment, training and education, maintaining Ojibwe cultural lifeways, and regulatory jurisdiction on National Forest System and trust lands within the boundaries of the Leech Lake Reservation.
Congress created the Chippewa in the early 20th century from lands that had been set aside to serve as a treaty-guaranteed reservation for the Band. Today, about 90% of the reservation lies within forest boundaries while 45% of the forest lies within the reservation.
“The challenges we face today, such as wildfire and invasive species, go beyond the shared forest and Reservation boundaries and effect people beyond the jurisdiction of any single agency or organization,” Lueckel said. “This necessitates working closely together to find new ways of doing business at a greater pace and scale for the greatest benefits to resources and people.”