Opportunity Fund Enabled the Yurok Tribe to Create a Sustainable Forestry Program and Restore a Fishery Habitat
Over five years, Opportunity Fund has invested in the Yurok Tribal Community Forest and Salmon Fishery Preserve. It’s an enterprise focused on sustainable forestry (including a carbon sequestration project), fisheries habitat protection and restoration, and ecosystem services over a forested landscape in Del Norte and Humboldt Counties, CA.
In 2018, Opportunity Fund helped the Tribe acquire 4,420 acres with NMTC to complete the final phase of the project. This is in addition to the 14,968 acres acquired by partners Western Rivers Conservancy, for which Opportunity Fund provided NMTC financing in 2013 and 2015, and which, at the end of the seven-year NMTC tax credit period, will be gifted to the Tribe, substantially increasing the size of their reservation. All told, the Tribe manages 47,097 acres, including parcels owned by Western Rivers Conservancy, as a community forest and salmon sanctuary.
A well-functioning ecosystem is of particular significance to this rural economy and to the Yurok because the forest and the Klamath River are the economic lifeblood of the Yurok and serves 5,000 members of the community. Acquisition of this land allows the Tribe to incorporate sustainable forestry practices and restore the Klamath River to conditions that will allow salmon, their food source, to thrive while creating jobs and stimulating the local economy.
In addition, the Yurok Project is part of the largest forestry carbon sequestration project in the State of California as set out under the state’s global warming laws. Carbon credits produced from this project create an additional revenue stream for WRC and the Tribe.
With a Tribal unemployment rate of up to 74% in some areas, and a poverty rate of 33%, this project is projected to provide 685 jobs for low-income Tribe members, all paying livable wages and providing benefits over the next seven years.