Over 150 years ago, the Nez Perce Tribe signed a treaty with the United States government. In the Treaty of 1855, the Nez Perce retained total fishing rights on all streams and rivers within the boundaries of the original 13.4 million acre reservation that extended outward to “all usual and accustomed places” including the mainstem Columbia River. Tribal ancestors maintained these rights because the once abundant salmon runs were vital to their way of life and future generations. Since then, salmon and steelhead runs have declined to crisis proportions due largely to hydroelectric power developments, habitat degradation, water quality impacts, and over-harvesting.
Today, maintaining a healthy 13-plus million acre watershed and improving survival of salmon and steelhead under the auspices of the 1855 Treaty, rests with the Tribe’s Department of Fisheries Resources Management program. Our vision is to recover and restore all species and populations of anadromous and resident fish within the traditional lands of the Nez Perce Tribe.
The Nez Perce Tribe Department of Natural Resources consists of the Land Services, Cultural Resources, Wildlife Resources, Forest Resources, Water Resources, and Environmental Restoration and Waste Management Divisions. These divisions focus on delivering resource management services on the reservation and participating in the planning, implementation and decision-making of land management activities affecting the Nez Perce Treaty and usual and accustomed territories. The programs provide protection of reserved treaty-rights in all areas to their best abilities. Department administration is structured to facilitate an interdisciplinary approach in meeting these needs.