Cooperative management of Toppenish Creek wetlands in central Washington
Siegel, James Joshua
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This dissertation is a study of the inuence of history, culture, and sovereign rights on the negotiation of a cooperative agreement for managing neighboring federal and tribal wetlands. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the Yakama Nation (YN) have entered into an agreement to coordinate management activities for Toppenish National Wildlife Refuge (TNWR) and surrounding wetlands on Toppenish Creek, a Yakima River tributary on the Yakama Reservation. Using an analysis of political history, an analysis of interview discourse, institutional ethnography, and participant observation, I examined the wetland management approaches employed by the two entities. The FWS and YN continue to disagree on how best to manage TNWR. The FWS has applied a waterfowl impoundment approach to the TNWR for 40 years. In contrast, the YN is applying a restoration approach on its Toppenish Creek wetlands, reconnecting blocked historic creek channels and re-establishing native vegetation to benet wildlife and sh. One area of disagreement is how to accommodate steelhead, a threatened anadromous trout valued as a traditional food by the YN, in the management of TNWR impoundments. The alternative management approaches chosen by the two agencies cannot be simply attributed to their differing resource objectives. I show that their differing management approaches are grounded in the specic historical and cultural trajectories of their agencies, including the worldviews and cultural values of their employees and leadership, and the scientic i paradigms and land management ideals they embrace. My historical analysis of the management of Toppenish wetlands by the YN and FWS indicates the importance of key formative periods, the institutional direction provided by key actors, and their application of particular land management paradigms in setting the course of wetland planning for their agencies. My analysis also reveals a clear zone of tension between the exercise of Yakama tribal sovereignty over reservation resources and the prerogatives of the FWS exercising control over national migratory bird refuges located on the reservation. This study also shows that the FWS-YN cooperative agreement is not a subtle new form of U.S. state formation in the region, but a manifestation of growing Yakama sovereignty and nation power.
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