[The Nature Conservancy] Significant Washington Land Returned to the Colville Tribe, its Original Stewards

In Washington state, nestled in a habitat corridor linking the Cascades to the Rockies, in the heart of the Tunk Creek Valley, there’s a conservation story that is closely tied to the peoples connected to this land—and continues to breathe with the transfer of Indigenous lands back to the original stewards. It takes place on a large ranch, owned by the Figlenski family for over four generations, who have their own stories connected to the valley.

In October 2021, the 9,243-acre Figlenski Ranch in Okanogan County was returned to its original stewards, the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation. How we got to this point is a winding story that represents an evolution among some conservation organizations—that fostering a healthy landscape is inseparable from honoring the people who call it home. This is their story.

Achieving a successful transfer was years and years in the making. Conservation Northwest had cultivated a healthy relationship with the Colville Tribe’s Natural Resource Department for many years, based in trust and reciprocity—trust in the process and trust that eventually meetings and fundraising would lead to the return of the land to the Colville Tribe. After raising over $4.5 million and with a gift of land from The Nature Conservancy in Washington—a part of the ranch that was gifted earlier from Eddie Figlenski to TNC with the intent it be preserved and stewarded— Conservation Northwest purchased and transferred the whole of the Figlenski Ranch back to the Confederated Colville Tribes to honor Indigenous conservation and their connections to these lands.

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