There are many miles of rights-of-way on the Warm Springs Reservation—power and other utility lines, roads and railroads, for example.
A right-of-way gives the outside entity—BPA or CenturyLink, for instance—access across a specific, narrow path through tribal land. They pay for the right, which lasts for a term of years.
The BIA helps administer the process, and BIA Realty keeps a data base describing many of the reservation rights-of-way.
Tribal Council met last week with Randy Scott of tribal Land Services Office, and Jimmy Tohet Sr. of the Land Use Planning Committee, for discussion of the right-of-way issue. Wendell Jim and Mary Sando-Emhoolah of the Warm Springs Tribal Employment Rights Office were also hand.
There are aspects of the reservation right-of-way situation that should be reviewed, the parties agreed. For instance: Some of the rights-of-way were established decades ago, and may need to be renewed.
Jimmy Tohet said there may be revenue aspects as well: This could be in terms of renewal to a more current fair market value, and in regard to the possibility of a tribal taxation opportunity.
There are tribes in the Dakotas, he said, that generate revenue for tribal operations through a tax on rights-of-way.
Tribal Council wants to have a workshop on the matter with the Land Use committee, BIA and tribal Realty, and management. The information once compiled can then be shared with the membership at a community meeting.