Tribal Forestry Workforce Development

Bringing together partners with from economic, natural resource management, research, and education backgrounds to address urban and community tribal forestry workforce needs

Project partners:

2018 – March 2023

David Lewis, a forester with Hoopa Valley Tribal Forestry, prepares to fell a tree. Photo credit: Sean Gutierrez

Tribes across the country are expanding their investments in natural resources as they continue to rebuild and grow their economies. Increasing the amount of tribal controlled land and actively managing agricultural and forest lands is one significant area of economic development and career development in Indian Country. However, with an aging workforce and lack of a new generation joining the workforce, farmers and foresters are looking for new ways to attract a younger generation and those who may be underemployed.

In 2018, Ecotrust and our partners, the Intertribal Timber Council (ITC), Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians-Economic Development Corporation, United South and Eastern Tribes, and Heritage University on the Yakama Indian Reservation, began a joint collaborative project, Growing the Tribal Forestry Workforce in the PNW and Beyond, to shift the trend of a diminishing workforce and create new economic development and career opportunities in tribal urban and community forestry. This project is nationwide in scope, but our focus is on Washington, Oregon, and California.

The project supports the implementation of the ITC’s strategic workforce plan which identified communication and collaboration as direct challenges in recruitment and retention of tribal forestry staff. The project has three phases:

Gap and Opportunity Assessment

Indigenous Forestry Mentorship Programming

– Key Stakeholder Interviews

A photo of a person cutting into a log with a chainsaw

Lawrence Edwards cuts wood as part of a firewood collection program for Swinomish elders. Photo credit: Sean Gutierrez

Timber harvested by Hoopa Valley Tribal Forestry. Photo credit: Sean Gutierrez


Project Partners

ITC is a nonprofit dedicated to improving the management of natural resources important to Indigenous communities. 

HU is a nonprofit, independent, non-denominational, accredited institution of higher education offering undergraduate and graduate education within Yakama Nation homelands.

ATNI-EDC is a separately-financed subsidiary from Affiliated Tribes of Northwest Indians and provides financial and technical assistance in areas of community and economic development.

USET is dedicated to enhancing the development of federally recognized tribes, improving the capabilities of tribal governments, and assisting USET members and their governments.

Ecotrust Project Team & Services

Want to learn more? Check out the full Ecotrust Staff & Board and all of our Tools for Building Collective Change.

Ecotrust project team
Photo of Stephanie Gutierrez

We build and deliver mission-aligned projects in partnership.

We contribute tools, analyses, and frameworks that move projects forward.


Report showing a smiling person in the forest, title "Building a Tribal Forestry Workforce in the Pacific Northwest and Beyond"


This study seeks to better understand what kind of tribal forestry workforce development projects and programs exist, who is leading these efforts, and what the key needs, resources, and gaps are for these projects and programs to succeed.

A grainy digital photo of a male elk walking across a grassland, with burned trees and female elk in the background


Matching Yakama Nation Tribal School students with Native Heritage University undergraduate student mentors throughout an Indigenous science and forestry online course 

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