June 2010

Calif. tribe awarded funds to study transit system concept

by METRO Staff

The Yurok Tribe, located in Northern California adjacent to the Redwood National Park, has been awarded federal funds to perform a feasibility study to determine whether a transit system could be used in Redwood National Park.

The $120,000 comes from the Paul S. Sarbanes Transit Grant in Parks Program, founded to enhance the protection of national parks and federal lands and increase visitors' enjoyment.

In April, the Federal Transit Administration (FTA) announced $24.8 million in federal funding for national parks, forests and wildlife refuges. Twenty states re-ceived funds from the program to implement public transportation within their facilities.

To receive the funding, the Yurok Tribe responded to a solicitation for proposals in 2008.

Javier Kinney, transportation manager, Yurok Tribe, said that currently, the tribe is planning to begin the feasibility study within the year.

The Yurok tribe will collaborate with the Redwood National Park to explore viable methods of ground transportation linking the ancestral territory of the Yurok Tribe to the Park.

"We have the full support of the Red-wood National Park," said Kinney. "The Yurok Tribe as well as the Park are excited about this opportunity to take on this planning, which will hopefully lay out some of the essential strategies as well as some of the needs in the region."

The transportation options on the Yurok Reservation are limited: the Yurok Tribal Transit System consists of one small passenger bus that runs along a route on the eastern side of the Reservation and links to Klamath Trinity Non-Emergency Transit System, Redwood Coach Transit and the Humboldt Area Transit Authority.

"What we're trying to address in the feasibility study is all aspects of the new alternative transit in the parks and other public lands, including motorized and non-motorized transit: bus, traditional canoes, maybe a trolley," explained Kinney.

The study will not only look at viable transportation — which currently is non-existent - in the Redwood National Park, but will also examine ways of coordinating the various existing services available, he added. "We're trying to build on the limited infrastructure and the need that we have, but we're reaching out in other aspects as well," Kinney said.

Another aspect of the feasibility study is creating the river transit taxi system, utilizing the tribe's traditional mode of transportation along the Klamath River, which runs through the Yurok Reservation and ancestral territory and traverses the Redwood National Park.

Given that the Park sees a significant number of domestic and international visitors every year, the Yurok Tribe works to ensure that individuals from other countries visiting their land get an indigenous perspective. They also work closely with the neighboring tribes to that end, Kinney said.

"One of the principles the Yurok Tribe has always operated on is [educating] individuals about the Yurok people...As indigenous people from the region, we want to make sure that perspective is translated throughout alternative transit systems," Kinney said.

The grant will also be supported by work from Joseph L. James, transportation planner, Yurok Tribe.

The tribe was also recently the first in California to be awarded the National Scenic Byways Planning Grant and is a FTA tribal transit grant awardee.

 


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