VOICES: Opinion by Felice Pace, Klamath
Dear Two Rivers Tribune,
Thank you for your excellent article on ’ista:ngq’eh-k’itiqowh (Hoopa – translation: “log-along-it scampers”) also know as the “Fisher” (English). Members of the Hoopa Tribe should be proud of the contribution their Tribe has made both to scientific understanding of Fisher ecology and to providing habitat for this rare and culturally important species which is at risk of extinction throughout its western range.
The first study completed by J. Scott Yager under tribal auspices concluded that “timber harvest strategies should attempt to maintain scattered groups of the largest diameter trees, dense canopy cover, in close proximity to drainage- bottoms.” Yager also recommended that “homogeneous stand management should be minimized because local structural and growth characteristics of different tree species may affect fisher resting habitat availability.” (S.M. Mathews, 2012).
Retention of acorn trees and protection of stream-side forests by Hoopa Tribal Forestry as well as the presence of extensive Old Growth on nearby national forest lands are the main reasons the Hoopa Reservation still has a Fisher population; the species has been all but extirpated on industrial forest lands.
Hoopa Fisher monitoring focused next on a major decline in the Fisher population on and near the reservation beginning in 2008. Researchers believe the Megram Fire and post-fire clearcut logging was the most likely cause of the decline. More openings (clearcuts and intensely burned stands) helped Bobcats hunting female Fishers. Greater Bobcat hunting success led to a decline in Fisher breeding, reproduction and population size.
I walked and studied the Megram Fire; most of the fire destroyed stands were Forest Service backburns and burnouts. Like most fires in the Klamath Backcountry, the natural Megram Fire burned mostly at low intensity.
The most important current threat to Fishers in and around the Hoopa Reservation appears to be industrial marijuana grows. These growers use old logging roads to get to and from their grow sites. Gates don’t stop these folks; the Tribe and Six Rivers National Forest should close roads which are not being used with tank traps. They can put these roads into storage by also pulling the culverts but leaving them nearby so that the roads can be reopened if needed to fight fire or for other management.
I am thankful for what the Hoopa Tribe has done for ’ista:ngq’eh-k’itiqowh. Hopefully, the Tribe will continue to manage the Reservation’s forests in a manner that provided for humans as well as for the plants and animals which share the forests with us.