LOS ANGELES (AP) – California's largest tribe is seeking thousands of acres of the state's national parks to build eco-lodges, gift shops and water taxis that travel into the backcountry along the Klamath River.
The Los Angeles Times reports that Yurok tribe officials want Rep. Mike Thompson, D-St. Helena, to propose legislation that would give them 1,200 acres of Redwood National Park, 1,200 acres of redwood stands in the Six Rivers National Forest and Redding Rock.
Thompson hasn't signed off on the bill yet.
The tribe says it wants to build a park that meets the highest environmental and cultural standards, and their master plan creates a national scenic highway and a national marine sanctuary.
The tribe has lived along the rugged coast stretching from Mendocino County to Oregon for centuries, but lost much of its land base after a reservation established in 1855.
The boundaries of the Yurok reservation were redrawn by legislation in 1988, giving the tribe a slice of foggy coastal land – but the transfer was removed by senators who said it was too controversial.
Redwood National Park Superintendent Steve Chaney told the newspaper he worries it might be difficult for the Yurok to integrate federal and state management policies into their vision for the land, and wants more information on their intentions.
Tribal chairman Troy Fletcher told the Times that the tribe's move to create a park is “cutting-edge stuff” and returning the land to the Yurok will restore it to its original custodians, who were managing it 150 years ago.