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Within the National Forest System there is a network of protected areas known as Research Natural Areas RNAs. These are ecological communities that contain unique and high-quality features that may be rare or no longer com- monplace across the landscape. RNA selections are not limited to any one type of ecological community. It is however the goal of the RNA program to eventually haveprotectedareasthatarerepresentativeofallecosystemtypeswithinthenation. By permanently protecting RNAs ecosystems can be preserved and managed only by natural processes. These sites can then help us 1 better understand the ecology of uncontrolled ecosystems and 2 serve as a comparison to similar eco- systems that have undergone various different management activities. As defined by the USDA Forest Service The Forest Service Research Natural Areas RNAs network protects some of the finest examples of natural ecosystems for the purposes of scientific study and education and for the maintenance of biological diversity. RNA Designations Established An RNA has been officially designated. Candidate Areas to be reviewed and recommended by the Regional RNA Committee. Proposed New areas in a forests plan andor recommended for designation by the National Forest. Nominated Areas currently under consideration. Designating an RNA Every National Forest has as Forest Plan that describes the goals of the forest as well as the management activities that are planned in order to fulfill them. These Forest Plans are reviewed and revised every 10-15 years in order to ensure the forest is being managed accordingly. It is during this revision process that newly established RNAs as well as new candidate RNAs cRNAs are identified. These candidates are then reviewed for potential establishment. Nationally there are more than 450 designated RNAs on 175 National Forest Service lands. Of these 175 National Forest Service lands four National Forests are located within the ceded territories under the 1836 1837 and 1842 Treaties Chequamegon-Nicolet Ottawa Hiawatha and the Huron-Manistee. The Forest Service recognizes the exercise of treaty rights such as hunting fishing and gather- ing within the ceded territories through a Memorandum of Understanding MOU with the 11 GLIFWC signatory tribes. Tribal RNAs In the MOU the tribes acknowledge their mutual interest in encouraging researchcoordinationonNationalForestlandwithinthecededterritories.Together with the Forest Service they recognize the importance of inventorying and moni- toring the status high-quality ecosystems evaluating the impacts of harvest on the resources subject to the Tribestreaty rights and evaluating the effect of other land management activities on those resources. Again RNAs are invaluable as comparison study sites for this type of monitoring. In2014theChequamegon-NicoletNationalForestcollaboratedwithGLIFWC to develop a process for forwarding newly designated RNAs in order for the tribes to consider designating them as Tribal RNAs. This process is as follows When new RNAs are officially designated by the USFS the USFS will provide a description justification and map of the RNAs to GLIFWC The Tribes will review these RNAs at the Voigt Intertribal Task Force meeting and consider adding them as Tribal Research Natural Areas If adopted they will be added to the list of Tribal Research Natural Areas in the following document Tribal Wildernesses Tribal Research Natural Areas and Tribal Vehicle Permit Areas on National Forests The co-designation of Tribal RNA is unique to GLIFWC member tribes as there are no other Tribal RNAs currently designated within the nation. This title not only provides an added layer of enforceable protection to an RNA but it is also demonstrates the tribes commitment to maintaining these valuable ecosystems. The number of established candidate and tribal RNAs on each forest National Forest Established RNAs Candidate RNAs Tribal RNAs CNNF 17 13 12 Ottawa 2 - 1 Hiawatha 3 9 3 Huron-Manistee 3 10 3 Gathering in a RNA In general the Forest Service does not prohibit gathering in RNAs nor have they requested tribes stop doing so. However the language that was agreed upon by the tribes in the original MOU stated Gathering of wild plants is prohibited within designated research natural areas except for religious or ceremonial use with permission from the Tribe. It was during the 2014 annual MOU meeting with the Forest Service and GLIFWC that it was discussed that the tribal gathering restrictions in the Tribal RNAs were more restrictive compared to gathering restrictions in RNAs for the general public and a change to the language was proposed Gathering of those species for which a general gathering permit is issued by the Tribes is allowed. Examples include fruits nuts leeks ferns berries and seeds. This excludes products that are covered by a non-timber forest product permit such as firewood bark boughs and lodge poles. In recognizing that traditional tribal gathering practices have been consid- ered to be part of the natural process of an ecosystem this change in the language opened tribally designated RNAs to general gathering while maintaining the goals of the RNA program. For more information on the federal Research Natural Areas program and for RNA locations visit www.nrs.fs.fed.usrnaabout and for more tribal treaty harvestings regulations visit www.glifwc.orgRegulationsregulations.html. For additional information on 2015 National Forest closures and campground rules and regulations see page 22. Essential Ojibwemowin wiigwaasi-mitigbirch tree maniwiigwaasegather birch bark wiigwaasbirch bark RESEARCH NATURAL AREAS Research natural areas reserved for scientific study By Alex Wrobel GLIFWC Forest Ecologist Marvin Defoe Red Cliff carefully removes bark from a wiigwaasi-mitig birch tree. Traditional gathering practices are valued by the Ojibwe tribes today and they recognize the importance of research areas to the overall preservation of important plant species. photo by Melissa Rasmussen Forest Service research natural areas and co-designated tribal research natural areas PAGE 7 MAZINAIGANSUMMER 2015