After years of discussion, 40-plus acres of the historic Mount Whitney Fish Hatchery in Inyo County will be handed back over to the Fort Independence Indian Community, a distinct separate tribal government of the four Owens Valley Paiute Tribes. The Wildlife Conservation Board approved the no-cost transfer last week. Once complete, it will mark CDFW’s first-ever land return to a California Native American tribe.
Tribal Chairman Carl Dahlberg said this portion of CA land “ is inextricably entwined into” the Paiute people, serving as “a cultivation site for indigenous plants” and hopes the return of the land can restore the lost knowledge and history of the site.
The historic hatchery structures, residences, and other buildings cover approximately 19 acres. The remaining 21+ acres have native plant vegetation, including shrubland, and oak and willow riparian habitat adjacent to Oak Creek. Willow flycatcher, a special-status species, is known to use the property as a habitat.
The transfer falls within the month nationally recognized as Native American Heritage Month.