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  • Writer's pictureWTS Sacramento

Recap - December 2021 Lunch Program

On December 6th, WTS Sacramento held our final monthly lunch program of the year during which we learned about the ten-year partnership journey between the Karuk Tribe, The People of Happy Camp and Caltrans District 2 in the development of the Happy Camp Complete Streets Project (HCCSP) on State Route 96 (SR-96).

The speakers included Misty Rickwalt, Director for the Karuk Department of Transportation and Kendee Vance and Tamy Quigly of Caltrans District 2.

Located within rural Siskiyou County, the ancestral lands of the Karuk Tribe are primarily served by a roadway network maintained by the County, US Forest Service, Caltrans, and the Karuk Department of Transportation. For decades, SR-96 has been the arterial lifeline for the Tribe in accessing basic amenities (including emergency services) and maintaining contact within their community. With over 109 miles of the rural highway located within the Karuk Tribe’s territory, the Karuk DOT is compelled to partner with local and state agencies to provide a safe and reliable route of travel on SR-96 for users of all mobility levels, including users of active transportation modes for commuter and recreation needs. With the identification of the HCCSP within seven regional planning documents, it became imperative to champion the proposed improvements and apply for Active Transportation Program (ATP) grant funds.

The presentation focused on several decisive elements in the successful 10-year journey of the HCCSP, including the extensive coordination among multiple state and tribal agencies and the unparalleled efforts to establish meaningful relationships with the Karuk Tribe community during early project development phases. As the presenters demonstrated, continuous engagement between the community members and tribal liaisons was critical to both identifying the unmet transportation needs of the Karuk Tribe and forming reliable partnerships that lead to successful implementation of improvements for the betterment of community infrastructure. The team also discussed the importance of understanding tribal sovereignty during interagency coordination, and the crucial role played by the Joint Powers Agreement (JPA) between the Karuk Tribe and District 2 in the HCCSP; a historical achievement by the project team in maintaining inherent tribal sovereignty. Furthermore, the team highlighted the crucial role state agencies can provide in filling a successful grant application and reducing the economic burden on the Tribe of hiring a private consultant for the ATP application process.

As the presenters highlighted throughout the program, the HCCSP grant application process and early project development phases were met with many struggles and frustrations, including a failed Cycle 4 ATP Application. Yet this unsuccessful attempt only highlighted the resilient partnership fostered between as Karuk Tribe and Caltrans District 2, as the project team revised and filed a successful Cycle 5 ATP grant application in March 2020.

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