Tribal Land Trust
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE October 29, 2012
Tribal Land Trust established to protect sacred sites
and natural resources in the Santa Cruz Mountains
Sempervirens Fund, the State’s first land trust and the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band, the region’s first land stewards, forge an agreement to work together to protect the natural and cultural resources of the Santa Cruz Mountains
Los Altos, CA — Local land trust Sempervirens Fund, a nonprofit that has been protecting redwood forests in the Santa Cruz Mountains for over 112 years, announced today a partnership with the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band, the First People of the northern Monterey Bay region, to sponsor a new Tribal Land Trust that will be able to purchase, accept, restore, protect and steward natural lands in the Santa Cruz Mountains and throughout the Tribe’s larger ancestral territory. Sempervirens Fund’s sponsorship will include providing organizational support and technical assistance for up to 3 years to help the new land trust grow and develop before it fledges as a self-sufficient and separate nonprofit, tax-exempt charitable conservation organization.
Valentin Lopez, Tribal Chairman, said “this is a very important day for the Amah Mutsun people. As a landless tribe who has had everything taken from us by the federal government, we can now start to rebuild a more hopeful and healthy future for our children by protecting the sacred sites and landscapes that connect us to our past. The Tribal Land Trust will help preserve and create a future where all people may drink safely from clean flowing water and visit the land to make profound connections to the natural landscape that embodies the spirits of our ancestors and provides a portal to the larger universe.”
The Amah Mutsun Tribal Band and Sempervirens Fund have already had several successful partnerships that led to this announcement. The Tribe has been advising Sempervirens Fund during the development of the Great Park Conceptual Area Protection Plan that covers a 224,000-acre planning area across the Santa Cruz Mountains. The two groups have also jointly worked on conservation projects in Whitehouse Creek, which drains into the Pacific Ocean near the Costanoa Resort on Highway
Reed Holderman, Sempervirens Fund’s Executive Director said, “the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band is in the process of establishing an independent 501(c)(3) organization to acquire and steward land for conservation purposes within their historical geography. We want to assist them because protection of local redwoods and natural resources now depends on local solutions and efforts. The Tribe has repeatedly demonstrated their desire to keep the Santa Cruz Mountains as an intact natural ecosystem, and we look forward to continuing to deepen our working relationship with them and anyone else that shares these same values.”
During the next several years, and with the support of partners and grant funding, Sempervirens Fund will be providing financial, human resource, and land and real estate expertise as the Tribe develops the Tribal Land Trust. Diane Talbert, Sempervirens Board President said it best: “we help each other, and by doing so we will assemble one of the largest and most significant natural and scenic areas in the world right here in our own backyard.”
Sempervirens Fund is using the data gathered during its two-year long science-based planning process to identify priority land protection projects to establish the Great Park, a beautiful, healthy and connected redwood landscape between the Silicon Valley and the Pacific Ocean that is permanently protected for people and wildlife. Partnerships with the Tribal Land Trust and other local conservation groups will be critical to the creation and stewardship of the Great Park.
The members of the Amah Mutsun Tribal Band are the living descendants of Mutsun and Awaswas-speaking peoples who have continually occupied the greater Monterey Bay region, thriving for thousands of years and countless generations prior to European contact. Their ground-breaking research at Quiroste Valley, a First Contact village site in the Santa Cruz Mountains, is fundamentally changing what we know or thought we knew about native people, how they lived, and how they managed the land around them. The Tribe was also successful in having this area designated as one of the first State Cultural Preserves dedicated exclusively to protecting Native Californian cultural resources.
Sempervirens Fund is the oldest land trust in California. Its efforts have led to the establishment of California’s oldest state park at Big Basin Redwoods, the creation of Castle Rock State Park, and the recent protection, with Peninsula Open Space Trust, of the largest private property holdings in the Santa Cruz Mountains.