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The Confederated Tribe’s (CTCLUSI) proposal to establish a Traditional Cultural Property (TCP) Historic District should raise concerns for all community members, not just the 1000+ private property owners with assets lying within the TCP.

The unintended consequences and potential impacts upon the public’s future use of, and access to, our area’s recreational resources cannot be overstated. To gain insight one needs only to look at litigation undertaken several years ago in a Washington State District Court by the Yakama Nation and Umatilla Tribes against The United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS).

In this case, the USFWS desired to sponsor highly supervised and limited seasonal tours for biologists and members of the public to observe and photograph spring wildflowers found within the Laliik TCP Historic District. From the start, The Yakama and Umatilla vigorously opposed the planned tours and brought suit against the USFWS for failing to adequately “confer” with TCP sponsors. This litigation spanned over 3 years and resulted in a federal judge ruling that certain National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) provisions were not properly adhered to by the USFWS. Result: Wildflower tours denied!

Now let’s get back to CTCLUSI’s proposed TCP Historic District. The TCP envelops 20+ square miles of surface area within, and contiguous to, the Coos Bay Estuary. Creation of the TCP will empower CTCLUSI to act as sole arbiter, subjectively determining on a case by case basis, which intangible aesthetics of the view shed and human activities along the bay are acceptable and do not conflict with their spiritual practices and cultural resources. These determinations could potentially impact all industrial, commercial & recreational uses along and within the bay.

If an issue arises regarding a TCP determination, CTCLUSI will be empowered by the National Historic Preservation Act to instigate legal action against non-tribal members and public entities. Not unlike the case where the Yakama Nation & Umatilla Tribes objected to the USFWS conducting spring wildflower tours into the Laliik TCP.

Presently, Oregon law (Statewide Land Use Goal 5) and the Coos Bay Estuary Management Plan provide rules to protect all cultural resources. Therefore, this TCP proposal is unnecessary.

Concerned property owners and community members interested in finding out whether their property or recreational activities are within the proposed TCP Historic District should visit: www.coosconcernedpropertyowners.com, call (541) 808-0116 or stop by the Coos Concerned Property Owners office at 281 S. Broadway, Coos Bay before May 1.

Todd Goergen

Coos Bay

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