The Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, a Powers client, filed a lawsuit against the United States on Wednesday seeking damages for the 2015 wildfires that burned more than 240,000 acres of the tribe’s land. Powers attorney Brian Gunn is serving as Of Counsel on the case.
The complaint filed by the Colville Tribes claims that the U.S. government failed to maintain adequate forest health, through measures such as controlled burning, which led to fires of unprecedented size and intensity. The members of the Colville Tribes rely on revenue from timber and other natural resources, and the 2015 forest fires destroyed approximately 20 percent of the commercial timber on the reservation.
Under federal law, the U.S. government is responsible for managing forest health and providing adequate firefighting resources for land held in trust for Native American tribes. The lawsuit claims that the government failed to fulfill these duties and instead prioritized fire suppression in non-trust property off the reservation. As a result, the reservation land was left susceptible to severe forest fires and was left relying on local firefighting resources for the first three days of burning.
Powers Principal Brian Gunn, who is representing the Colville Tribes in the case, is himself a member of the Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation and has long served as counsel to the Tribes. Powers associates Leela Baggett and Megan La Suer also assisted with the complaint.
To learn more, contact Brian Gunn at Brian.Gunn@PowersLaw.com or 202-872-6747.