U.S. Department of the Interior (DOI) Deputy Secretary Michael Connor signed an agreement today to create a cooperative management demonstration project with the Ahtna Intertribal Resource Commission (AITRC). The agreement formalizes the subsistence wildlife management partnership between the DOI and the AITRC regarding the allocation and harvest of moose and caribou on federal lands in the Ahtna region, providing for a greater tribal role in the management of subsistence wildlife resources.
“This is good news for the people of the Ahtna region and good news for Alaska. A great step forward,” said Julie Kitka, president of the Alaska Federation of Natives.
“Co-management and cooperative agreements like this are the future. Success with this project will lead to more such collaboration between governments and tribal organizations that understand the local needs of the people as well as the essential need for sustainable wildlife resources in Alaska,” Kitka said.
The agreement follows DOI secretary Sally Jewell’s announcement at the AFN Convention in October of the release of Secretarial Order 3342, which requires Interior Department agencies to include tribes in the management of federal lands and resources.
The Ahtna Cooperative Management Demonstration Project is the first cooperative agreement established nationwide under the DOI Secretarial Order No. 3342. It recognizes that tribes have special geographical, historical, and cultural connections to Federal lands and waters, and that tribes have traditional ecological knowledge and practices regarding resource management that have been handed down through generations. It was established for the benefit of healthy ecosystems, wildlife populations, the Ahtna traditional way of life and all those that wish to enjoy the federal lands that lie within Ahtna’s traditional territory.