The Timber and Roads Department have two primary missions. The first mission is to plan and implement sustainable timber harvests on the Tribes’ forest and maximize the revenue obtained from the sale of timber while preserving habitat for fish and wildlife and ensuring a healthy forest for future generations. Secondly, the Timber and Roads Department is responsible for managing forest roads for transporting timber to markets, to maintain access for managing the forest, for protecting the forest from fire, and for recreational access by the tribal membership and the public.
The Tribe practices even-flow, sustained-yield management of their timber resource. The Tribe’s 2013 thru 2022 Natural Resources Management Plan (NRMP) allows an average annual timber harvest of 7.12 million board feet. The harvesting program includes regeneration, salvage, and commercial thinning practices. Within the current NRMP, commercial thinning is implemented on timber stands between 30 and 60 years of age. Regeneration harvests are permitted when the average stand age is at least 70 years old. Riparian management rules are adhered to so that water quality of the Tribes’ streams is maintained. Wildlife trees and other unique habitat found within regeneration harvest areas are preserved to provide habitat for various wildlife species.
The Reservation has 94.6 miles of forest roads. Roads provide a means for moving logs from the forest to markets and provide access for various forms of recreation. The Tribes’ Reservation is open to the public for recreation, including hiking, mountain biking, ATV riding, hunting and fishing. The Tribes’ Reservation has become more popular as a recreation site in the last 10 years with development of hiking trails, the Big Buck Campground, and because private timber companies and the US Forest Service have closed much of their land over the last decade or more. Because of this increase in use and popularity of the Reservation, the Tribes have implemented a vehicle access management policy. This policy closes some roads to vehicle traffic although the public is still allowed to recreate on the Reservation behind these road closures as long as it is done without the aid of motorized vehicles. Of the 94.6 miles of forest road on the Reservation, 16.7 miles are closed for various reasons such as to protect soils, water quality or wildlife, while other roads are closed to reduce maintenance costs and open road density. Another 19.5 miles of road are gated to reduce the vehicle traffic impacts to wildlife, recreationists, and wildlife. During general bow and rifle deer and elk seasons approximately 66.2 miles of road are open to motorized vehicle traffic, representing 85% of the Tribes’ roads that are suitable for vehicle traffic.
New roads on the Reservation are carefully designed using forest road engineering standards. Road maintenance is funded by fees assessed to timber sales proportionate with the volume and use of the Reservation Road system and by user fees of Tribal roads. The roads are maintained by Tribal personnel and equipment when available and through service agreements with local Contractors.