Nearly 2,500 Acres of Land Returned to the Yurok Tribe, Adding to 34,000 Acre Contiguous Yurok Community Forest

April 21, 2021
SAN FRANCISCO

The Yurok Tribe today announced that 2,424 acres of privately owned culturally and ecologically significant timberlands in Northern California will be transferred to the Tribe for permanent ownership. The return of this significant forest area to the Tribe’s ownership is the result of a unique partnership by the Yurok Tribe with investment firm New Forests, who acquired the land in 2016 on behalf of institutional investors, and The Trust for Public Land, who supported the Tribe in accessing funds from the California State Resources Agency to finance the purchase.

Since time immemorial, the Yurok Tribe has resided in this part of the state and holistically manages more than 75,000 acres of forest along the Klamath River. With 6,311 enrolled members, the Yurok Tribe is California's largest federally recognized Tribe. During the past decade, the Yurok Tribe has successfully recovered a portion of their original lands and is now actively engaged in multiple forest rehabilitation projects on the recently recovered properties.

“The Ke’pel Creek watershed has an immense biological and cultural value. We sincerely thank The Trust for Public Land and New Forests for helping us regain this incredibly important property. Wok-hlew'. This watershed is invaluable to us because it provides drinking water to our families and is adjacent to an ongoing forest restoration project site. Now, we will be able to extend the project to create several thousand continuous acres of productive habitat, where deer, elk and many other species will thrive. It is a good day for the Yurok people,” said Joseph L. James, the Chairman of the Yurok Tribe.

New Forests is an international forestry investment manager whose U.S. business manages more than $300 million of California forestry investments as part of its $4.5 billion global portfolio. New Forests has been a partner with the Yurok Tribe on multiple projects since 2011, including financing and developing the first-ever forest carbon offset project under the California regulatory cap and trade system on 7,600 acres of land held by the Yurok Tribe in 2014.

New Forests’ U.S. Managing Director, Brian Shillinglaw remarked, “As part of a larger timberland investment in the region, New Forests identified the opportunity to return the Ke’pel Creek property to tribal ownership, while also enrolling the land into a long-term climate mitigation project. The forest carbon offset project we developed at Ke’pel Creek will continue to provide climate mitigation benefits and generate income for the Tribe from sustainable forest management and additional carbon offset sales as the trees continue to remove carbon from the atmosphere. The return of this land to the Yurok would not have been possible without California’s world-leading climate programs.”

New Forests engaged The Trust for Public Land for its expertise and land for people mission to support the transaction and conveyance of the property to The Yurok Tribe, who will now own and manage it in perpetuity. The Trust for Public Land was instrumental in identifying and securing funding from the State of California to support the transaction.

“We are proud to have worked with the Yurok Tribe and New Forests to return this land to tribal ownership. Returning this land to its original owners is another example of our focus on equity in land conservation, we know that the property will be protected in perpetuity while also providing income to the tribe through sustainable timber harvest,” said Guillermo Rodriguez, California state director for The Trust for Public Land.

The Trust for Public Land has a long history of working with tribal communities in California to return culturally important land, including the Sinkyone Intertribal Wilderness and the Kashia Coastal Reserve. In Northern California and across the country, the organization has partnered with more than 70 tribal governments and organizations to restore ownership and management of more than 200,000 acres.

The Tribe will employ a highly effective blend of Traditional Ecological Knowledge and western science to re-create the environmental conditions that existed in this region. This farsighted approach to restoring the landscape aims to reestablish the old-growth forests, pristine creeks and sweeping prairies that sustained an extraordinary abundance of native fish, bird and mammal species for millennia prior to the Gold Rush ushering in clear-cut logging, compromising much of the best habitat. The new property contains stands of mature evergreen trees, which are vital for carbon sequestration and provide ideal habitat for local wildlife, including the imperiled Pacific fisher and Humboldt marten.

About the Yurok Tribe

The Yurok Tribe is currently the largest Tribe in California, with more than 6,300 enrolled members. The Tribe provides numerous services to its citizens and the local community. The Tribe’s major initiatives include: holistic forest management, fisheries protection, restoration and management, Klamath dam removal, condor reintroduction, natural resources conservation, cultural preservation, sustainable economic development and land acquisition. To learn more, visit www.yuroktribe.org/

About The Trust for Public Land

The Trust for Public Land creates parks and protects land for people, ensuring healthy, livable communities for generations to come. Millions of people live within a 10-minute walk of a Trust for Public Land park, garden or natural area, and millions more visit these sites every year. To support The Trust for Public Land and share why nature matters to you, visit www.tpl.org.

About New Forests

New Forests is a sustainable real assets manager offering leading-edge strategies in responsible forestry with USD 4.5 billion in AUM across a global portfolio of nearly 1 million hectares (2.4 million acres) of forestry and conservation investments. As global demand for resources grows, there is a need to increase productivity while ensuring the conservation of the world’s remaining natural forests. New Forests seeks to create investment strategies that provide lasting solutions to this challenge. Through responsible management of forests and other real assets, we create shared benefit for investors and local communities alike. New Forests is a Certified B Corp with offices and assets in Australia, New Zealand, Southeast Asia and the U.S. To learn more, visit www.newforests.com.au.

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