Dec. 7 | 4 pm – Camas to Condors BroadChat (Bend, OR/Virtual)
December 7 @ 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm
Join the Central Oregon Bitterbrush Broadband for a special presentation, Camas to Condors, on Thursday, December 7, 2023, 4-5:30pm, at the Environmental Center, 16 NW Kansas Ave, Bend, Oregon. Presented by Angela Sondenaa, the Nez Perce conservation liaison, Nez Perce Tribe, Wildlife Division
The Camas to Condors Partnership (C2C) builds on a robust history of Tribal leadership in conservation in our region. Camas to Condors is a tribally-led, collaborative, multidisciplinary response to the dire threats climate change is bringing to places, species and lifeways in our shared home. The Nez Perce Tribe convened the Partnership in 2019 to interweave cultural perspectives and practices into landscape-scale climate adaptation planning in Nimiipuu homelands.
The Camas to Condors Mission is to build culturally relevant conservation power in the Nez Perce homelands; to develop and share a holistic vision for climate, cultural, and ecological resilience; and to grow an ethical, inclusive, and adaptive restoration economy (a healing economy).
The Precious Lands property straddling Joseph Canyon has been managed as a wildlife refuge by the Nez Perce Tribe’s Wildlife Division since 1996, and is a possible site for the Tribe’s proposed reintroduction of the critically endangered, slowly recovering California Condor.
Basalt caves in the canyon were historically used as sleeping places and cache sites by Nimiipuu people; they are also perfect nesting habitat for California Condors.
The name of Joseph Canyon in Nez Perce is Ananasocum – The Place Where Condors Used to Be.
The restoration of the Condor to this northern part of its historic range is population-smart (broadening the distribution of breeding populations increases the species’ overall resilience to disturbance), climate-smart (given the range shifts that climate change is already necessitating for many species) and symbolic: the California Condor was shot and poisoned down to a low of 22 individuals by 1987, and though it is still one of the rarest birds in the world, its recovery and restoration to the wild (challenged by lead in the landscape) is a story of hope and healing — a story of humans attempting to correct a (literally) toxic relationship to the more-than-human world. This is the kind of story we need, in the context of our current climate and biodiversity crisis, more than ever.
Changing our hunting and shooting habits to protect condors from lead poisoning will also protect our families who eat wild game meat, and the many other species on the landscape who scavenge varmint carcasses and gut piles, from ravens to black bears.
Lead ammunition breaks apart inside the bodies of target animals, becoming almost impossible to detect except by x-ray (bottom right). The Nez Perce Tribe is leading a hunter education program aimed at facilitating the transition to copper and other non-reactive bullets, to protect condors and many other species.
Both of C2C’s focal species, Camas and Condors, honor Indigenous sovereignty and lifeways in our focal landscape, and symbolize a whole, well, self-renewing and resilient homeland that provides seasonal cycles of abundance for all.
Camas — the beautiful blue lily, named qém’es in Nez Perce, whose starchy bulb is a historic staple of all Indigenous peoples of the Columbia Plateau — thrives in wet meadows, swales, and seasonal floodplains. Wet meadows and healthy riparian margins are ecosystems everywhere in need of restoration. They provide habitat (and connectivity between core habitats) for myriad species, all while sequestering massive quantities of carbon and also filtering, cooling and recharging streams.
Successful restoration of Camas in the watershed of Joseph Creek means restoration of hydrologic processes essential to the ecological functionality and adaptive capacity of the whole landscape.
Camas and Condors are umbrella representatives of ecosystems the Nimiipuu people have depended upon since time immemorial. They embody ecological processes and cultural practices that ensured wild foods would be plentiful and timely to sustain humans here, through many great changes. Work on their behalf benefits whole ecosystems and ecological processes, and builds on decades of Nimiipuu-led efforts to bring the essential pieces and processes of the landscape — from primary producers to obligate scavengers — back together.
These two species are important symbols. C2C partners are interested in all indigenous flora and fauna who inhibit our focal landscape. Any group of organisms that has thrived within ecological limits for thousands of years in a particular place — including a human community — is a potential umbrella species for that place .