During an eight-day trip, Toby Bloom, Forest Service International Programs specialist, led four delegates from the Chilean Forest Commission to the Southwest Region to learn ways to involve indigenous groups in public use planning and environmental outreach. The group visited the Jemez Pueblo Visitor Center, Zuni Pueblo, and several national forests and reserves with significance to Native American tribes. The visitors met with the Kaibab National Forest Cooperative Management team to discuss their roles in collaborating and communicating with the seven tribes bordering the forest.
Local and regional Forest Service staff shared with the Chileans the types of conflicts or concerns they deal with on a daily basis, such as how to manage sacred sites and cultural resources/plants within the forest, how to keep tribes informed about Forest Service activities, and how to solicit feedback on management activities including fuel reduction, concession infrastructure, hunting and other permits.
“This is a win-win for both the Forest Service and the Chilean Forest Commission,” said Bloom. “The Forest Service staff were inspired that others are using their hard work as an example, showing that people living and working in forests face similar issues and challenges all over the world.”
Discussions focused on the importance of respecting local cultures and ceremonies, giving tribes special access to the forest, and allowing for temporary closure of forest trails and areas during tribal ceremonies or in specific areas. Open communication, relationship development, and trust building between the Forest Service and tribes were all common themes during the trip. This tour was a follow up to an earlier workshop which took place in Chiloe, Chile in December 2011, which introduced Forest Service methodologies and tools for public use planning and outreach.
The tour was organized by the Forest Service International Programs office, and funded by the U.S. Department of State.