Tribal Department of Planning & Community Development

Director: Vernon Vera
Assistant Planner: Priscilla Quintero

Mission Statement: “Consider future generations when planning for the needs, wants, and desires of the tribal community. Sustainably develop future social and economic opportunities while preserving the cultural traditions of the past…and to always remember that we are borrowing the Earth Mother from our grandchildren and great-grandchildren…”


Master Planning Program

The Tule River Tribe has embarked on a mission to improve the quality of life of Tribal members. Through the initiation of the Master Plan, tribal leaders have worked with their community to create objectives in several key areas to continue to elevate their members from poverty and sustain their way of life for generations to come. This Master Planning Program is a living document which reflects the Tule River Indian Tribe’s desire to plan for progress while preserving and honoring the past.

The Master Plan is centered on several critical planning principles, including:

  • The stewardship of natural resources
  • The establishment of quality housing for Tribal members
  • The conservation of water resources
  • Making decisions considering the impacts to three future generations
  • The protection and preservation of the Painted Rocks and the Red People (Redwoods)…

By relying on these planning principals, common Tribal interests are combined to move the community forward in a balanced and organized manner. Reacting to planning challenges on an issue by issue basis can lead to an unbalanced society – one problem is solved at the expense of another. This Master Plan creates a balanced approach to growth, and is a touchstone for future development for the Tribe.

So Why Plan?
The simple answer is planning assists in creating communities that offer quality choices for where and how people live. Planning is composed of both a process and a technical evaluation. It

represents timeless visions leading to specific achievements. Planning is best served with community discussions, dialog and debate which results in well thought out solutions and designs…and in the best sense, planning allocates scarce resources and encourages, economic growth while balancing environmental as well as cultural concerns.

Planning as practiced is an evolving concept. As such, it passes through eras and follows trends, which directly mirror culture and society. Garden city, modernism, new towns, new urbanism, smart growth, and sustainable development are all examples of these trends and each has a place in today’s planning perspective. Of particular focus for this effort is the concept of sustainable development, which is the philosophy of designing the built environment and services to comply with the principles of social, economic, and ecological sustainability. The authors of this document have identified and recommend incorporating the following Smart Growth Principles, which include:

  • Create a range of housing opportunities and choices
  • Create walkable neighborhoods, scenic riverwalks, pathways
  • Create distinctive, attractive communities with a strong sense of place, nature, and spirit
  • Make development decisions predictable, fair, and cost effective
  • Mix land uses
  • Preserve open space, natural beauty, and critical environmental and cultural areas
  • Provide a variety of transportation choices
  • Take advantage of compact, and smart-growth building design
  • Participate in and take advantage of the economic vitality of the region
  • Support actions that encourage sound environmental resource management

The authors of this Master Plan, including tribal member input, feel that these principles represent the basic principles of Tule River Tribal philosophy for generations. While applicable to a modern city or county, they are very reflective of the Tule River Tribe’s relationship with their natural surroundings and many of the Tribe’s goals for the future.

The Tribe’s historic relationship with the land, plant and wild life, waters, and mountains is unique in that it represents the perspective sought by cities and counties throughout the State. The Tule River Tribe has maintained this sustainable interface with the land since time immemorial. This Plan, given the nature of the Tule River Reservation’s formation, its membership, current and predictive territorial expansion – which currently extends far beyond present Reservation boundaries – expands on the notion that many public agencies and private groups, perceive the Tule River Tribe as the local stewards of Indian history and culture for large portions of Tulare, Kings, Kern, and Fresno Counties.

Given that history, unique perspective and perceptual stewardship, a study area was established beyond the legal boundaries of the Reservation. The study area reflects some of the historic tribal territory and includes influence areas surrounding Reservation. The study area also includes off-Reservation property owned by the Tribe which will be maintained or developed in the future. The study area was developed to establish a sphere of influence which reflects the Tribe’s commitment to the stewardship of both cultural and natural resources for future generations. The Study area encompasses approximately 204,400 acres. The Study area is bordered by the Sequoia National Forest to the east, Giant Sequoia National Monument to the north, the City of Porterville to the west and Deer Creek to the South. The boundaries also reflect the interdependence between forest lands to the north and east of the Reservation. The study area will allow for additional economic development opportunities to be fully integrated with the Tribe’s future planning efforts.

A Master Plan is an evolving long-term planning document. The Plan establishes the framework and key elements for the development of a community that reflects a clear vision created and adopted in an open process this Master Plan holds additional significance as the Tule River Indian Tribe is a Sovereign Nation, responsible for determining its own future and welfare of its members.

As a Sovereign Nation, the Tule River Indian Tribe is not governed like a typical community. The Reservation is an area where tribal sovereignty applies and state power is limited. Day to day actions is governed by regulations enacted by the Tribal Council.

This document represents the first comprehensive Master Plan for the Tule River Indian Tribe and as such, a number of considerations were integrated into the planning process. A few of these considerations include history of the land, history of the Tribe, and the significance and influence of this reservation’s planning efforts on the local and regional scale. This scale is kept in consideration in terms of biological and natural preservation as well as planned development and economic growth.

While the day to day operations of public works, housing, tribal gaming, public safety, forestry, and environmental departments are already in place, there is a growing need to identify current conditions and common challenges that face Tribal members. The intent of this document is to serve as a definitive guide for future decision making. The Master Plan will ensure that despite inevitable changes in leadership over time, critical Tribal decisions are made in a consistent manner. This document will provide the framework for the development of the Tribe’s future to ensure that the best and highest use of resources is accomplished. Its purpose is to reflect a clear vision of the community by synthesizing Tule River Indian Tribal culture and the communities’ aspirations while also understanding community specific factors that need be effectively managed – in other words, doing it the Right Way is the Tule River Way

To improve the safety and quality of all modes of transportation on the reservation and address all pertinent transportation issues that arise. To provide transportation services for the Tule River Reservation community.

Tule Master Plan – Administrative Draft