We are thrilled to announce that our project, The Yurok Tribal Community Forest and Salmon Fishery Preserve, has won the Novogradac Journal of Tax Credits Community Development QLICIs of the Year Award in the Non-Metro category!
These awards recognize community development organizations that made exceptional qualified low-income community investments (QLICIs) in the past year, exhibiting a well-executed vision and measurable community impact as well as showing a commitment to establishing positive change in bringing more people and places into the economic mainstream. This specific category focused on projects located in a rural area as defined by the CDFI Fund.
The Yurok Tribal Community Forest and Salmon Fishery Preserve is a California North Coast enterprise focused on sustainable forestry, fisheries habitat protection and restoration, and ecosystem services over a largely remote, forested landscape surrounding the Klamath River. In February 2018, Opportunity Fund closed the third phase of its partnership with the Tribe and Western Rivers Conservancy, which provided $15.9MM in QLICIs to help the Yurok Tribe purchase approximately 4,400 acres. From 2013 to 2018, over three phases, and in partnership with Western Rivers Conservancy and the Yurok Tribe, Opportunity Fund provided almost $41MM in QEI to help the Tribe manage and eventually own over 47,000 acres in this area.
For thousands of years, the Yurok Tribe employed complex natural resource stewardship strategies to maintain massive salmon runs on the Klamath River, but this role was forcefully removed from Yurok hands due to the encroachment of traders, conflicts with gold miners and ranchers, disease, and eventually by the federal government with the forced evacuation of what remained of the Tribe to a reservation.
In less than 200 years, non-Native Americans decimated numerous native fish and wildlife populations in the region. The Tribe’s loss of its original land, assimilation pressures, inability to legally practice subsistence fishing, and other challenges have resulted in high poverty and unemployment rates.
With the reacquisition of its ancestral land, the Tribe – California’s largest with more than 5,000 members – will be engaged in a far-reaching endeavor to reverse the negative impacts that historic natural resource extraction industries have had on the Klamath, its forest, and fisheries, while creating much needed jobs for the community. This project is also part of the largest forestry carbon sequestration project in the State of California as set out under the state’s global warming laws. Tens of thousands of new trees are being planted by Tribe teams. Along with forestry jobs, the project will create jobs in habitat restoration, fisheries, fire protection, the service industry, and government administration. Ultimately, this project will create, retain, and support 685 jobs, stimulating the local economy in a severe distress area where unemployment is 30.8%, or 3.71x the national unemployment rate.