Ancestors of the Coquille Indian Tribe played shinny, a game resembling field hockey, using a curved stick called a “sekwetse.” They gave the same name to a local river with a curving mouth and the forested area around the river became known as Sek-wet-se.
The Coquille Tribe has long treasured this Sek-wet-se forestland in Curry County, Oregon. An area once thriving in biodiversity, the forestland boasted a mix of timber, culturally significant plants, salmon habitat, and hunting and foraging habitat that was a valued part of the Tribe’s ancestral homeland. The Tribe has found evidence of a cultural site at the confluence of Dry Creek and the Sek-wet-se river (renamed the Sixes River by white settlers).
However, the Coquille Tribe lost ownership of their property as Federal treaties creating a Coquille homeland were never ratified and most members of the tribe were forced to move to what is now the Siletz Reservation.
When our team at Ecotrust Forest Management (EFM) acquired the Sek-wet-se land in 2006, our ultimate goal was to sell the property back to the Coquille Tribe. We worked to restore the land’s ecological attributes that are at the heart of the Tribe’s land repatriation strategy.
In 2015, we successfully sold the 3,200 acres of Sek-wet-se forestland to the Coquille Tribe – an action that not only restored a critical part of the Tribe’s ancestral homeland, but also significantly improved wildlife habitat by connecting the property with adjacent wilderness areas.
By transferring ownership to the Coquille Tribe, who will protect the land’s natural forest ecosystems, this sale benefited the U.S. and global community as well as the Tribe. The world’s forests contain more carbon than exploitable oil, gas, and coal deposits – research shows that reforestation and improved forest management together could provide 18% of cost-effective mitigation needed to keep global temperatures under 1.5 degrees through 2030, as outlined in the Paris Agreement. The forests in the western U.S. especially are a nationally significant carbon sink, sequestering 10–13% of the country’s annual emissions with the capacity to sequester much more.
Given the critical importance of forests for a climate-smart future, our team at EFM works to protect and enhance natural forest ecosystems across the western U.S. We invest in commercially, ecologically, and culturally significant landscapes, primarily forests, and then use conservation finance tools to reduce risk, create alternative forms of income, and improve land resilience. We also build strategic partnerships with organizations — such as local land trusts, public agencies, governments, and tribes — with the goal of selling our properties to these responsible stewards.
Through projects such as the Sek-wet-se forestland, we engage in responsible forestry stewardship to unlock value for ecosystems, communities, and investors by practicing climate-smart forestry for a carbon-constrained future.
Kim Foley is the Director of Investor Relations at EFM, leading the team’s capital raising and investor relations efforts.