The Elwha River Ecosystem Restoration Project: A Case Study of Government-to-Government Co-Management
Harguth, Haley LeeAnn
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The contribution of indigenous groups in natural resource management is generally believed to enhance management practices and produce positive outcomes for its participants, by improving stewardship and encouraging power-sharing arrangements, among other outcomes. For federally recognized Native American communities, government-to-government co-management relationships with the U.S. federal government have provided opportunities to modernize the treaty trust relationship, and enrich linkages between environmental ethics and cultural heritage, building tribal capacity and autonomy. The case of the Elwha River dam removal and ecosystem restoration on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State presents an opportunity to demonstrate the progress made in consultation practices and co-management efforts on the behalf of the U.S. government, in the execution of the largest dam removal project ever attempted. For the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe, river restoration will re-connect the Tribe to the legendary salmon runs that are its cultural livelihood. The co-management relationship established between the project's two lead actors, the National Park Service and the Lower Elwha Klallam Tribe, has demonstrated the positive outcomes of a mutually respected process facilitated through power-sharing, as well as the dilemma for tribal decision-makers in maintaining cultural tradition and engaging in environmental management under congressional mandates.
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