Our Work Protecting Wildlife and Habitat on Tribal Lands

Through our Tribal Lands Conservation Program, the National Wildlife Federation partners with sovereign tribal nations to solve today's conservation challenges for future generations. Our tribal work is headquartered out of NWF's Rocky Mountains and Prairies Regional Center, and includes staff on the ground from Montana to Arizona.

We work nationwide with tribes to:

  • Protect wildlife.
  • Advance land stewardship.
  • Safeguard water resources.
  • Provide environmental education.
  • Combat climate change.

The goal of the Tribal Lands Conservation Program is to promote environmental and economic justice for Native Americans and to address inequities and resource needs for Tribes at the local, state and national levels.

Protecting and Restoring Wildlife on Tribal Lands

National Wildlife Federation and our Tribal partners work to restore and protect wildlife and preserve key wildlife habitats and corridors.

Our work includes...

Big Horn Ram
  • Protecting bighorn sheep - NWF worked closely with the Nez Perce Tribe to advocate for bighorn sheep restoration and conservation that was threatened by disease transmission from domestic sheep grazing in the Payette National Forest in Idaho. As a result, in April 2011, the U.S. Forest Service adopted a science-based approach to maintain separation between bighorn sheep ranges and areas open for domestic sheep. The decision established sorely-needed protection for bighorn sheep, opening the door to a future that includes viable bighorn sheep herds for the use and enjoyment of Tribes and all Americans.

  • Giving Bison Room to Roam - NWF partners with Tribes to restore wild bison to Tribal Lands. NWF and Tribes share a common vision – restoring wild bison to their historical habitat and restoring Native Americans’ cultural connections to bison.

  • Restoring black-footed ferrets to the American prairie - NWF works with Tribes, including the Cheyenne River Sioux, to bring endangered black-footed ferrets back to their prairie habitat.

  • Working with the Cocopah Indian Tribe to Protect Wildlife Habitat Along the Colorado River - NWF partners with the Cocopah Indian Tribe to accomplish the cultural and environmental preservation of the 23-mile Lower Colorado River Limitrophe, including 12 miles within the Cocopah Reservation.

Spreading Awareness and Action for Global Warming Solutions

Because Tribes have the longest continual experience with climate, wildlife, land and natural resources in North America, they have significant credibility and knowledge and play an important role in facing our climate challenges. We partner with Tribes and Inter-Tribal organizations to increase awareness among Native people about climate change and generate active responses to confront it.

Our work includes...

  • Making sure Tribal Nations have a voice in federal climate and energy legislation negotiations, to  ensure Tribes get the support and resources they need to manage the impacts of climate change on their lands.

  • Convening national and regional workshops on climate impacts to tribal resources and adaptation and mitigation solutions, such as renewable energy, energy efficiency and weatherization.

  • Supporting on-the-ground renewable energy and energy efficiency projects in order to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, lower utility bills and create new opportunities for learning and jobs.

Developing Alternatives to Dirty Fuels in the Powder River Basin

Powder River Basin is the most active area in the country for coal bed methane development, a form of coal mining which requires large amounts of water and draws down the water table. The massive energy development in the region contributes more than 14 percent of the total U.S. climate pollution, disturbs the landscape, pollutes the air and endangers fish and wildlife such as the threatened greater sage-grouse. National Wildlife Federation works with Tribal members from across the Northern Plains who historically, culturally and currently are attached to the Powder River Basin landscape.

We partnered with the Northern Cheyenne Environmental Protection Department to conduct energy efficiency and renewable energy trainings for community members and make tribal buildings more energy efficient.

We are also working partners to create a Carbon Trust which would provide economic incentives for the Tribe to keep its coal in the ground and preserve its pristine habitat of grass-covered plains and rolling hills.

We hosted a summit in Billings, MT to unite regional landowners and other interested parties in a coalition to protect the Powder River Basin and its wildlife from growing industrialization. More than 150 participants attended the summit, including ranchers, conservationists, elected officials and representatives from seven Native American tribes. Stakeholders worked on a strategy for drawing national attention to the region and on an action plan to promote responsible energy development.

Providing Environmental Education to Tribal Educators and Students

National Wildlife Federation's Tribal Lands Education program goal is to empower tribal educators and students to become the next generation of environmental stewards by engaging them in habitat projects and building leadership skills.

We seek to increase Native American students' understanding of science and natural resources through the development and use of NWF's Schoolyard Habitat® and Access Nature™ programs, as well as other environmental curricula.

We assist educators and community members at tribal schools, libraries, community and youth centers, Boys and Girls clubs and other venues to adapt these learning systems to fit traditional tribal practices, optimizing environmental, native language and cultural education opportunities.

We also connect educators and students to National Wildlife Federation's Eco-Schools USA program, to help integrate sustainable principles throughout their schools and curriculum, enhance science and academic achievement, and foster a greater sense of environmental stewardship among youth.

For more about National Wildlife Federation's Tribal Lands program, contact Garrit Voggesser at voggesser@nwf.org.

Related Articles

Get Our E-Newsletter 
Certify your yard today!
Subscribe to Ranger Rick Magazines today!