By The CUJ
MISSION – A map of showing wildfires affecting ancestral lands of the CTUIR was released to members and employees in a mass email July 19.
“I think (the map) could be helpful to the community,” Stacy Schumacher told the CUJ. “I have been hearing from the Natural Resource Department that there is an increased concern for extreme fire hazard conditions and they recently closed access to CTUIR properties.”
Schumacher took a map originally sent by Eric Quaempts Director of the CTUIR’s Department of Natural Resources and added the fire information.
“I thought this would be better information for our emergency responders and the Tribal community if it had the CTUIR property boundaries on it and was accessible via the web. I think a lot of the community members identify with the broader area of the aboriginal lands for hunting, fishing and gathering activities so I also like to include that boundary in the web maps we produce.”
The surrounding blazes and — including the 12,000-acre Green Ridge Fire 30 miles east of Walla Walla, Wash. — prompted Interim Executive Director Teara Farrow Ferman to send a mass email to Tribal employees.
“There are fires currently burning throughout the west and the risk of catastrophic wildfire is extremely high on the Umatilla Indian Reservation,” she said. “The combination of extraordinary conditions at this point is still early in the season, beginning with very little spring precipitation, record breaking heat, low relative humidity, and tinder-dry fuels are creating an incredibly dangerous fire season.”
The Green Ridge fire started on July 7 after lightning strikes and is only 15 percent contained. Other fires burning in the region are the Elbow Creek fire, which has reached 22,960 acres and is 95 percent contained; and the Lick Creek (Dry Gulch) Fire, which has scorched 80,000 acres and is 90 percent contained.
The current wildland fires map of the ancestral territory of the CTUIR can be found at https://gis.ctuir.org.