Choctaw Nation Forestry DepartmentChoctaw Nation Photo

The new CNO Forestry Department opens the doors to their new HQ in Talihina, Okla.

Choctaw Forestry Department moves into new home

By Assistant Chief Jack Austin Jr.
April 5, 2024

The Choctaw Nation Tribal Forestry Department recently moved into their new home in Talihina. The new building provides a standalone office for the firefighting team, which previously shared a building.

The department has grown so much since it was founded in 2022 that more space was needed for growth and the overall efficiency of the program. The Tribal Forestry Services Department is a forestry wildland fire-fighting unit within the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. Located in Talihina, Oklahoma, the department serves the CNO Reservation. The department provides services such as wildfire suppression, wildfire prevention programs, forest timber assistance, Hazardous fuels reduction, and feral swine removal assistance. I’m pleased (and more than a little proud) to say our Tribal Forestry Services Department is the nation’s first tribal-led wildland fire module, sponsored by the U.S. Forest Service. The team of experts will travel across the country to prevent wildfires and focus on fuel management.

The Choctaw Nation firefighters are almost like a SWAT team but for firefighting. The unit is made up of tribal members, expertly trained to prevent wildfires.

The team will be geared toward improving forest health, whether that’s prescribed burning, removing hazardous trees or reducing the risk of wildfire through fuel reduction projects.

A statement from the U.S. Forest Service, when the Choctaw Nation Tribal Forestry Services Department was founded, highlights the value our team’s services provide: “We are proud to continue our partnership with the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma. The potential to create a tribal wildland fire module would build on our more than 30-year collaboration. The tribal fire module would provide a skilled, efficient workforce that carries out prescribed fires and reduces the risk of wildfire. Most Southerners live near a forest. They value forests for producing clean air and water and for providing a home for wildlife.”

The Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma is committed to being great stewards of the land and protecting our natural resources is the best way to show that. Our Tribal Forestry Department is trained to handle what nature has in store and we are committed, as a tribe, to fire safety and the protection of our lands.