History in the Making – Klamath Tribes Reclaim Ancestral Lands
Chiloquin, OR.- Today, January 4, 2021, the Klamath Tribes of Oregon completed a monumental and historical land acquisition transaction, doubling its current land holdings of roughly 1,100 acres. Over the past couple of years, the Klamath Tribes has vigorously explored the acquisition of a major tract of land within the former reservation boundary. Several property owners within the region have been soliciting the sale of their property and the Klamath Tribes has been actively evaluating every opportunity. Knowing that funding limitations is the ultimate barrier to land acquisition, and several land acquisition opportunities to pursue, a judicious decision would need to be made. This past summer, a large 1,705 acre parcel of land situated in the upper Williamson River Valley was identified as a monumental opportunity for “Land Return.” After an on-site tour of the property and developing proper due-diligence documents for internal evaluation, the Tribal Council knew a move would need to be made, and made swiftly. Not only for the opportunity to return land, but more urgently, the listing agents were advising that other entities were highly interested in acquiring the land as well and offers were expected in the days ahead. In a moment’s notice, the reality became true, another buyer made an accepted full offer on the property. Speculation surrounded that the buyer of the property was basing their contract on a creative and un-secured risky finance package, providing the owners with exclusive leverage to rescind the purchase/sale agreement. Tribal Council knew they had to be ready, as it appeared there would be another opportunity to purchase this piece of land. In October, the opportunity re-emerged, the owners listing agent provided notification to the Tribal Council that the previous purchase agreement was rescinded by the owner, and the property was going to be put back on the market in the coming days. After several intense impromptu meetings between Tribal Council and staff, and the fear of another buyer pursuing on the open market, it was decided to make a move, time was of the essence. An offer was made immediately preceding the notification, and the offer was agreed to shortly after by the owner. And the rest will forever be Tribal history.
The property is known as the “Rocky Ford Ranch,’’ which provides a perfect description for where the land is located, within proximity to tribal camps near “Head of the River.” Apart from the pristine beauty of the upper Williamson River Valley, the property sits north of the main Williamson River head waters, west of Yamsi Mountain, and just southeast of the historic Klamath Marsh. The property can be accessed off Silver Lake Highway at both USFS 49 Road exits (Roughly 10 miles from Silver Lake Highway either exit). The land is a gem of all gems, and marks a significant milestone in the Klamath Tribes perpetual effort to return the former reservation.
– 3.7 Miles of Williamson River Frontage
– 431 acres of mixed conifer Timber stand
– 1,701 total deeded acres of encompassing
Riparian meadows, wetlands and timber
– 900 square foot cabin, off grid
– Home of the largest/oldest Ponderosa Pine Tree
within the former Reservation
– Near Klamath Marsh National Wildlife Refuge
– 1,200 square foot shop
– Water Rights – Claim #13 for irrigation of 112.3 acres
– Solar water stations
– Mountain spring fed, continuous flow upper
– Boarders the Fremont-Winema National Forest
– Prime Habitat for wildlife: Rocky Mountain Elk,
Mule Deer, Pronghorn Antelope, waterfowl, Sand
Hill Cranes, Eagles, Hawks, Coyote, Bear, Cougar,
Brook Trout, Rainbow Trout, C’waam.
Tribal Council has not declared a future use or immediate plans for the property, that type of discussion will take place in 2021, and will include General Council. In the coming months, several Tribal Departments and key staff will assist in the development of a draft land management plan that will be shared with the Tribal membership. For now, this piece of former reservation can be considered officially returned, creating a special moment in our Tribes history, and that is something that all Tribal members can celebrate with pride and resuscitate the cultural and spiritual healing process.
Information/article provided by: Jared Hall, Klamath Tribes Planning Director
133 1st Street, Chiloquin, OR 97624