Parsons Family Ensures Forest Will Stay As Is

Parsons Family Ensures Forest Will Stay As Is

By MARK FREEMAN
Mail Tribune

ASHLAND, Ore. (AP) _ When Jud Parsons took over management of the family's forestland on the flanks of Mount Ashland in the 1950s, southern Oregon was in the midst of a timber boom that saw clear-cuts on large swaths of private and industrial forestland with few reforestation successes.

Parsons saw this cut-and-run mentality of the time and he wanted no part of it for a simple reason.

``We didn't want to run,'' Parsons says.

Six decades later, the family's Mountcrest Forest remains a working piece of land where selective logging without clear-cuts allows for sustained timber production, with a light hand and an eye toward more than just the bottom line.

The family's approach has created healthy habitat for rare threatened and endangered animals, as well as clean water for wild salmon, in 1,771 acres smack-dab within the land bridge between the Klamath, Siskiyou and Cascade mountains.

And it's going to stay that way.

A new and unique $2.5 million conservation easement arranged by The Pacific Forest Trust and funded primarily with public money ensures the forest will remain in timber production but that it won't be broken up or developed and that the Parsons family ethic will govern here in perpetuity.

Selective logging will be done to enhance stands, leaving trees for rare Pacific fishers to snooze their days away on mistletoe brooms normally removed as parasites and a light touch on the ground to continue delivering clean, cold water that has become a rarity for wild salmon and steelhead, particularly in the Bear Creek Basin.

``It doesn't mean we can't harvest, but it'll be a lighter harvest,'' says Parsons, 82. ``It'll have all those benefits, no matter who owns it.''

Five years in the making, the easement creates a model for how private, working forests can simultaneously be managed for the public benefits of better wildlife habitat and watershed health _ stewardship values largely left to public lands.

``Wildlife don't care about property lines,'' says Constance Best, the San Francisco-based trust's co-chief executive officer. ``It's where the habitat is, and Mountcrest has a lot of great habitat because of the way it's managed. But there was no guarantee it would be around tomorrow. That's how conservation easements can help preserve habitat and reward (landowners) for doing good things for wildlife and watersheds.''

The easement was funded by $1 million in Land and Water Conservation Fund money through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, as well as $900,000 from the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board, Best says. The Doris Duke Charitable Foundation and M.J. Murdock Charitable Trust each contributed $300,000, she says.

The easement's appraised value was more than $3.4 million, with the difference listed as a gift from the Parsons corporation, Best says.

Most conservation easements are to keep lands ``forever wild'' or to strip off development rights, Best says. This is the first time in Oregon a publicly funded easement has gone to land that will remain in forest production.

``In this case, it's used to keep the land in excellent management,'' Best says.

Photo Credit: Mike Hupp

The Parsons family bought the first piece of Mountcrest in 1919, with a consortium of family members eventually adding more parcels. However, several clear-cuts on the property in the 1940s didn't fare well in their eyes.

Gophers, deer, drought and weeds all conspired to cause setback after setback in replanting efforts, Parsons says.

``We saw all the problems with reforestation on the work done back in the 1940s,'' Parsons says. ``It was difficult.''

Eventually the forest was leased for grazing, in part to reduce wildfire threats in grass and brush areas within the old clear-cuts, Parsons says.

In the 1970s, the forest moved more toward timber production _ all selective logging, Parsons says. Last year, the family logged 223,000 board-feet of mostly Douglas and white fir, Parsons says.

``That was a fairly light year, but we've probably never taken more than 500,000 (board-feet) in a year,'' he says.

Marty Main, who is the Parsons family's consulting forester, says the logging focuses on removing trees that compete with older, larger trees that create forest conditions that promote rare species like fishers and foster cold, clean runoff to streams.

That's the opposite of conditions during the cut-and-run 1950s.

"Parsons and his family didn't do that and that's to their credit,'' Main says. ``His choice not to liquidate it is the story. That's why this conservation easement means so much.''

In 2013, Parsons as well as three other family members bought out the forest's remaining shareholders and began negotiating the easement with the trust.

``We bought it with the intention of having a conservation easement to protect it,'' Parsons says.

The land historically had been a land bridge for everyone from Native Americans to Hudson Bay trappers crossing between the Siskiyou, Cascade and Klamath mountains. Today, Pacific Crest Trail hikers traverse the southern corner of Mountcrest Forest.

It remains an important bridge for wildlife, connecting the Rogue River-Siskiyou National Forest to the flanks of the Cascade-Siskiyou National Monument.

Those aspects will remain for current and future imperiled wildlife seeking habitats like a still-productive Mountcrest, Main says.

``Jud and his family from the inception have managed for a host of values, including wildlife,'' Main says. ``He has a long history of attachment to his land and the critters there, and he's sincere about it. It's pretty cool.''

___

Information from: Mail Tribune, http://www.mailtribune.com/

About Mr. Parsons: With his family, Jud Parsons is a leader in the conservation of Oregon’s farms and forests. Through his work with Pacific Forest Trust, the conservation of the 2,036-acre Mountcrest Forest was accomplished. Mountcrest is a beacon of exemplary forest management, sustaining timber, wildlife habitat, and watershed values.

Learn more about Pacific Forest Trust 

Cover Photo and Jud Parsons Photo Credit: Pacific Forest Trust

Cigna Grant Combines Prenatal Care, Drug Education with Traditions

Kassie Runsabove, a community health worker at St. Vincent’s Hospital, reviews Native-themed books for the unique program. 

The Cigna Foundation announced it will provide a $100,000 grant to the St. Vincent Healthcare Foundation in Billings, Montana to help improve the health outcomes of Native American women and babies through increased access to early prenatal care, drug education and intervention when needed.

“Addiction is a national crisis, and tribes are experiencing its impact along with the rest of the country. St. Vincent’s is a mission-driven health care facility dedicated to serving the Native American community, and Cigna Foundation is helping us develop a sustainable maternity care delivery model,” said Vicki Birkeland, St. Vincent Healthcare Director of Women’s Services. “This is important work and we look forward to seeing improved health outcomes for the moms and babies we serve.”

Baby moccasins made in classes at the hospital for families with babies. Other traditional activities have included prayer, smudging, signage and building a teepee during Native American Heritage Month.

Previously, the Cigna Foundation provided grant funding to St. Vincent Healthcare Foundation to support an American Indian Health Disparities Coordinator who serves as a community health worker. St. Vincent’s chose Kassie Runsabove for this role to work as an advocate and cultural liaison, and to be responsible for implementing projects to identify and reduce health disparities.

Runsabove (center) with two hospital staffers at a healthcare event. 

Chantielle (center), a midwife from St. Vincent's attending a baby fair at the Northern Cheyenne Lame Deer Reservation.

The new Cigna Foundation grant provides an additional year of funding to help St. Vincent’s further its mission to improve the cultural competency skills of maternal health care providers, and to work with tribal community partners to provide prenatal education on healthy nutrition, stress management, and other healthy lifestyle topics. The program is expected to result in measurable outcomes, including:

  • Earlier access to prenatal care with the goal of improving birth weights
  • Increased participation at designated prenatal clinics, including St. Vincent's Midwifery & Women’s Health Center, the midwifery clinic on the Northern Cheyenne Reservation, and at the health care facilities of community partners including Indian Health Services (IHS)
  • Decreased numbers of NICU admissions
  • Decreased numbers of babies born prematurely
  • Increased participation in substance abuse recovery programs

Cigna Foundation's Executive Director, Mary Engvall.

“We are focused on improving health equity and are working with organizations such as St. Vincent’s to eliminate disparities that create barriers to health care,” said Mary Engvall, executive director of the Cigna Foundation. “St. Vincent’s community health worker is integral to effectively coordinating care between the rural reservations and an urban hospital setting in a culturally sensitive manner, while building a safe environment of trust for patients.”

About the Cigna Foundation

The Cigna Foundation, founded in 1962, is a private foundation funded by contributions from Cigna Corporation and its subsidiaries. It supports organizations sharing its commitment to enhancing the health of individuals and families, and the well-being of their communities, with a special focus on those communities where Cigna employees live and work.

For more information on the Foundation’s partnership with St. Vincent’s, see the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b-RT9qlLQCA&feature=youtu.be

Lead and article photos courtesy of Cigna Foundation. 

Boys and Girls Club Finds New Site for Rosebud Students

By CHRISTOPHER VONDRACEK
Rapid City Journal

PARMELEE, S.D. (AP) _ Rosebud recently had its tribal election in Rosebud. The DJ on 96.1 KILI Radio had updated listeners on primary vote totals.

``Upper Cut Meat has 13 voters,'' he announced. ``He Dog with 25 voters. Swift Bear has 1 voter.''

In the Community Center in Parmelee, a sign hung from the wall, ``Vote Here.'' Poll workers stood outside. But in a cramped, busy adjacent room, hunched around tablet computers or math worksheets, more than a dozen children in this small town of 562 Census-counted residents busily worked on their studies.

``We don't want them to lose their skills over the summer,'' said Rose Elk Looks Back, the supervisor for the Boys and Girls Club in Parmelee.

This Parmelee site is the newest edition to the Boys and Girls Club's offerings on the Rosebud Indian Reservation, the Rapid City Journal reported. A few years ago, due to financial constraints, the Parmelee site closed. In June, however, Director Glen Marshall secured financing to open this small site that operates for four hours a day, four days a week. Now, Parmelee, a small town in Todd County that is 97 percent Native American, has a place for children to go in the summer.

And kids are hungry for it.

``These boys walk in seven or eight miles,'' said Georgia ``Dete'' Guerue, pointing to twin brothers sitting next to each other, completing math exercises. Guerue is Elk Looks Back's sister and also coaches the boys on the baseball team. ``Their mom just got a car, so she's now able to drive them home after the game.''

Across the treaty lands for the Sicangu Lakota, the high school graduation rate hovers around 50 percent. Unemployment is north of 80 percent. For Katelyn Bladel, art director at the club, that's why learning takes precedence.

Staffers and kids during the renovation of the Parmalee Chapter.

``We focus more on academics than other Boys and Girls Clubs,'' she said. ``We want to close the achievement gap.''

The Boys and Girls Club serves mostly elementary and middle school children (though the club opened a teen center in Mission), and space in Parmelee, staff admit, is tight.

In one corner of the room, half a dozen children wearing blue headphones operate tablets running Stride Academy, a learning tool to assess student learning. Elk Looks Back walks among others handing back times tables. In late July, students can get fidgety. The staff incorporates an hour a day of physical activity. And they go on kayaking trips to nearby dams and Eagle Feather Lake. REDCO (the Rosebud Economic Development Corporation) has been coming in to cook through Shawn Sherman (a.k.a. the Sioux Chef's) new cookbook with the kids.

``We've done wild rice sorbet and gone mint harvesting in creek beds,'' Bladel said.

A group of Catholic missionary students from Omaha high schoolers mostly recently engaged with students. Bladel is grateful for the help but is diplomatic about the tensions of accommodating a new group of new faces into a tight space every week ready to help.

``It's best when they come to help out with our programming.''

Art Director and professional photographer, Katelyn Bladel, serves to help close the achievement gap (Photo Credit: Katelyn Bladel)

In June, three women from the East Coast brought photography equipment and loaned each of the students a digital camera and sent them out to take photos. Some photographs shot by students, including humorous images of a boy between archery targets and a girl in a wrap reading ``Miss Antelope'', hang on the wall in the gymnasium at the larger club in Mission.

The Boys and Girls Club arrived on Rosebud in 2004 and, according to its website, is the only ``after school program'' for the just shy of 10,000 people living on the 1,900-square mile reservation (not counting trust lands). According to the recently released Kids Count Data Book, rates of childhood mortality are high on Rosebud. Car crashes and suicide are leading causes. Type-II Diabetes is also a threat.

(Photo Credit: Katelyn Bladel)

But in Mission, in a converted bowling alley, Lisa McKnight makes grilled cheese sandwiches for an early supper and students can connect with Vance Giroux, who is a monitor for the summer in the teen center.

``I'm like an uncle leksi,'' he said, pronouncing the Lakota translation.

Giroux grew up mostly with his mother's tribe on Standing Rock but spent summers on Rosebud, his father's tribe. He moved down to Rosebud to invest more deeply into what he terms the ``old ways'' and just finished his second Sun Dance a few weekends earlier.

``People see a lot of trouble in Parm','' he said, ``But I think there's a lot of good, too.''

Guerue, back in Parmelee, echoes this sentiment.

``The community is excited to have them back open.''

Site Director, Beth Elk Looks Back, poses during a fishing excursion. 

Since June, they've signed up 22 kids for the site. A mat of carpet sits near an activities box. Letters spell out ``Mitakuye Oyasin'' (''all are related'' in Lakota) and ``LOVE.'' Underneath fly paper strips hanging from the wall, Elk Looks Back talks about her work as a paraprofessional at nearby He Dog Elementary School. She drives the bus and grew up in Parmelee.

``I do it for the kids,'' she said.

She acknowledged recent vandalism. At night, the Rosebud site needs to bring in the basketball hoops after-hours.

``I do take the laptops home each night,'' she said.

But she points to the glistening certificate on the wall dated June 25: the official Boys and Girls Club stamp.

``Take a picture of that,'' Elk Looks Back said.

After they switch stations, she exits to show off the Boys and Girls Club's next project. Outside it's a stunning portrait of a sky with rolling clouds. Cars are streaming in to vote. Parmelee is greener this summer, as are many South Dakota towns, with the rainfall. Last week, they finally got someone to mow the overgrown yard, so they can play kickball outside. A girl bikes past, while a young boy walks toward the swings.

``That's the famous boy's brother,'' Elk Looks Back said. Last week, the Todd County Tribune carried the photograph of a little leaguer his ponytail dipping below his helmet mid-swing; he'd hit a home run over the fence, the first time anyone can remember that happening.

``This is our next project,'' said Elk Looks Back, pointing to a turquoise blue building sitting behind a fence and a mask of graffiti. ``We want to buy it and clean it up and have our own space again.''

The building needs some TLC, but momentum is good with the Boys and Girls Club on Rosebud. Walking back to the community center, Elk Looks Back stops to talk to the poll workers, as a woman with her dog comes in to vote.

``Hey Rose,'' a poll worker said.

``Hi Violet,'' said Elk Looks Back.

They stop and chat, the sounds of the children's voices spilling out of the building. Two futures are at work in Parmelee, the immediate and the long-term. But, on a nice sunny day, there's always time to say hello to a neighbor.

___

Information from: Rapid City Journal, http://www.rapidcityjournal.com

Cover and Selected Photos: Boys and Girls Club of Rosebud

Introducing Miss Indian World 2018-2019 Taylor Susan

Before a sold-out crowd of 10,000+ attendees, including a record 3,600+ registered dancers, Taylor Susan, age 25, was crowned the 35th Miss Indian World. A member of the White Mountain Apache/Walker River Paiute tribes, Susan was one of 30 contestants vying for the prestigious title. Taylor, who hails from White River, Arizona impressed the judge's panel throughout the competition which spanned four days. Taylor is a student at the University of Arizona and is the daughter of Anize Susan and Lloyd Susan.

The Miss Indian World Pageant takes place annually at the world's largest Native American powwow, Gathering of Nations, in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The inaugural Miss Indian World pageant was held in 1984 and since its inception, young Native American women ages 18-25 have traveled from all regions of the continent to represent their tribes and compete for the coveted crown. Its purpose is to give young Native American women an opportunity to showcase their tribes and cultures; while serving as a cultural Ambassador of Native Americans by demonstrating the pride and continuance of the diverse cultures of Native people. This program is about Native American culture and positive imaging for the young ladies who compete for the title.

The Miss Indian World pageant has a reputation for crowning winners who display a profound knowledge of her tribe's traditions, history, ancestors and culture. Throughout the 4-day competition, contestants accumulate points based on strong showings in the areas of public speaking, traditional talent, interview, essay and dance. Qualifying contestants must be of native or indigenous American descent, single, with no kids, and have never been married. In addition to the title, contestants are able to win individual awards based on their scores. The following women were also recognized during the crowning ceremony.

1st Runner Up – Lori Martin Kingbird, Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, Cass Lake, Minnesota

2nd Runner Up- Dinée Dorame, Diné Nation, Albuquerque, New Mexico

Public Speaking Award- Dinée Dorame, Diné Nation, Albuquerque, New Mexico

Best Interview Award- Shenise Arthur, Diné Nation, Black House, Mesa, New Mexico

Traditional Talent Award- Piiyuuk Shields, Yupïk, Toksook Bay, Alaska

Best Dancer Award- Tyra Nicole Quetawaki, Zuni Pueblo, Zuni, New Mexico

Best Essay Award- Beedoskah Stonefish, Ottawa/Chippewa/Delaware/Pottawatomi, Peshawbestown, Michigan

Miss Congeniality- Piiyuuk Shields, Yupïk, Toksook Bay, Alaska

The Gathering of Nations Directors advised “The title of Miss Indian World is iconic and shall always be distinctly apart of the Gathering of Nations, Ltd.  We are proud of all 30 contestants and look forward to working with Taylor Susan this year as she travels Indian Country representing all Native women and the Gathering of Nations organization.”