GAP funding has supported the Sauk-Suiattle Indian Tribe since an initial grant in 2000 helped create the tribe’s environmental department.
Another GAP grant enabled the tribe to establish a new fisheries program in 2011 by hiring a fisheries biologist. The new position has helped expand Sauk-Suiattle’s capacity for handling a variety of fisheries projects, from harvests to restoration, among others. The new position augments the professional expertise that has been provided to the tribe for many years by the Skagit River System Cooperative, which also serves the Swinomish Tribe.
During the annual salmon season-setting process with the state of Washington, the Sauk-Suiattle Tribe has found it valuable to have its own biologist at the table. The fisheries biologist also keeps track of the tribe’s allotment after the fishing season has started.
Having a fisheries biologist on staff has led to a more direct and consistent accounting of not just the number of fish, but also the regular collection of scale samples for ongoing research.
Adding the fisheries program also expanded the tribe’s ability to train staff to do fish habitat and population surveys, as well as seek additional funding.
The Sauk-Suiattle Natural Resources Department, as it is now called, is in the middle of its eighth GAP grant. The department has 11 people on staff working for three programs: wildlife, water quality and fisheries.
Jason Joseph, Sauk-Suiattle natural resources director, said the tribe has leveraged GAP funds over the years on a number of successful projects including water quality and fisheries data management, floodplain planning, waste management improvements, and cleaning up the reservation’s septic system.