Tim Ballew: Lummi Nation protects our land for the future

The Lummi Nation in Washington is restoring its wetlands through the Wetland and Habitat Mitigation Bank, which was selected as a finalist for the 2014 Honoring Nations Award by the Harvard Project on American Indian Economic Development. Photo from Lummi Nation

Tim Ballew, the chairman of the Lummi Nation of Washington, shares word of the award-winning Wetland and Habitat Mitigation Bank:
The Lummi Nation reservation sits on about 7,000 acres of tidelands and 12,500 acres of uplands in Whatcom County, including the mouths of the Nooksack and Lummi rivers, and is home to hundreds of species of fish and wildlife. Wetlands make up approximately 42 percent of our reservation uplands, in areas already under pressure from regional growth.

The process is relatively simple but yields innumerable benefits to the land. Our bank consists of 1,965 acres on three separate sites in the Lummi and Nooksack River floodplains. As a mitigation banker, the Lummi Nation restores, enhances, creates and preserves wetlands and endangered species habitat and is awarded “credits” by regulatory agencies. We can then sell or transfer these credits to individuals, governmental agencies, and private companies — Lummi and non-native — to compensate for unavoidable negative impacts to wetlands on or off reservation. It’s not only a key way to provide for the land, but to create a path forward for our tribe’s future.

Given the need for tribal housing and the demands of commercial and municipal development, a mitigation bank is a sound and efficient way to manage our reservation wetlands for a greater benefit to all. It balances our desire to protect and restore our wetland habitat, with the need to diversify our economy in order to provide housing and essential services for tribal members. That it also offers an opportunity for a strong community partnership with local, non-Lummi government, business and industry is an incredible added value.

Get the Story:
Tim Ballew II: Award-winning Lummi program gives back to our land and our community (The Bellingham Herald 11/10)

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