Home of the Warm Springs, Wasco, and Paiute tribes, the Warm Springs Reservation is located in Central Oregon. Most of the 4,000 tribal members live in or around the town of Warm Springs, which is located about 100 miles southeast of Portland.
The Warm Springs Reservation is approximately 640,000 acres. The Tribal economy is based primarily on natural resources, including hydropower, forest products and ranching, with tourism and recreation also making important contributions. Extension educators offer a variety of services to adults and young people in the areas of agriculture and natural resources, family and community health, and 4-H youth programming. The partnership between Oregon State University and the Confederated Tribes of Warm Springs has existed for more than 50 years.
Early Detection & Rapid Response
Invasive weeds have severely damaged countless acres of productive rangeland on tribal reservations, including Warm Springs. These weeks take over productive rangeland from beneficial native plans, reducing forage for wildlife and cattle and forcing producers to feed more hay. They also provide organic fuel for fires. Range fires, which used to be rare, are now common from early summer to late fall, and the Tribal Council at Warm Springs has made it a priority to control the spread of fire and invasive species that threaten tribal lands and native ecosystems.
Extension agents have been educating Tribal members about invasive species through the EDRR program. Early detection of new invasive weed infestations requires education, vigilance and regular monitoring of the managed area and surrounding ecosystem. Extension hosted an invasive species workshop in Warm Springs, which included invasive weed identification, safe handling of pesticides, how to read a pesticide labels and the correct techniques for using personal protective equipment.
Equine Infectious Anemia (EIA) testing
Equine Infectious Anemia is an incurable, often fatal disease that threatens horse, donkey and mule populations. Even if the animal survives the initial effects of the disease, it carries the virus for the rest of its life. Dr. Leroy Coggins was the first to develop an effective test for antibodies specific to EIA in 1970. Since then horse owners have been required to get a “Coggins test” when they cross state lines or register for a horse show or rodeo. It is also recommended that horses be tested annually. Horses that test positive typically are euthanized to protect the rest of the horse population.
In the early 1980s EIA was discovered in wild horses at Warm Springs Reservation. Hundreds of horses had to be euthanized at a great economic loss. Since then the USDA periodically tests horses to ensure the disease is no longer present. The average cost of the test is about $125. Each spring, Extension offers low-cost Coggins testing and vaccinations on the reservation, saving tribal members more than $3,300 per year.
Community Learning Gardens
The gardens demonstrate how community members can grow healthy produce and reduce their food bills while saving a 30-mile round trip to the nearest grocery store. The gardens include raised vegetable boxes, blueberry bushes, raspberries, blackberries, strawberries and more. They serve as outdoor classrooms for tribal members as adults and children learn gardening skills and how to prepare healthy meals.
Extension-facilitated grant funds have supplied deer fencing, supplies, equipment, seeds and plants as well as helped provide emergency water supply after a ruptured water line had cut off supply on the reservation. Extension has held STEM-in-the-Garden classes for youth, which generated enthusiasm to explore, inquire and investigate in a garden environment. Fresh produce has been provided to youth who participate in the learning garden as well as to the Warm Springs Children Protective Services. Additional goals are to provide fresh produce to the school salad bar and community elders.
Extension is working with families on the reservation to help them choose a balanced, nutritious diet. Many traditional Native American foods have morphed into unhealthy dishes that are quite different from the originals. Extension is helping families to adapt the recipes for these foods using the guidelines of Food Hero, an Extension campaign that provides healthy recipes on its website, on social media and through community outreach. The goal is to make the recipes accessible to tribal members and the larger community.
Tracy Wilson – Program Director