[10/22/21] Rangeland Returned To Colvilles

Posted in Environment

More than 9-thousand acres of rangeland between Riverside and Omak in Okanogan County has been returned to its original tribal owners.

Earlier this month, Seattle-based Conservation Northwest closed on the purchase of 9,243 acres in the Tunk Valley of Okanogan County. The property was bought with $4.6 million raised from private donors. The deed to the land was transferred directly to the Colville Confederated Tribes, whose reservation is just south of the property.

The property was sold by Figlenski Ranches LLC, who had owned the property since 1904.

Colville Business Council Chairman Andy Joseph Jr. said at the closing, “Our tribal members have close ties to their homelands through familial experience, knowledge of the history and of gathering areas, and stories learned from their Elders.”

The land was part of the original Colville Reservation that stretched to the Canadian border until Congress shrunk it in 1892 by removing the 1.5 million acres known today as the “North Half.”

The property is the east-west habitat corridor linking the Cascade Mountains to the Kettle River Mountain Range. Carnivores like lynx and wolverines reside on the property.

In February of 2021, Figlenski died while tending to his cattle in the frigid cold; he was 65 years old.

Tribes plan to use conserve the land and use it for hunting, fishing, medicine gathering and rituals.