Tribal Government & News

Natural Resources receives conservation award

08.30.2012 Ron Karten Natural resources

The Tribe's Natural Resources Department is very good at conservation, according to the Polk Soil and Water Conservation District.

So conservation-oriented, in fact, that the department received the 2012 Polk County Large Conservationist of the Year award at the Aug. 23 "A Taste of Polk County" annual meeting held at the 4-H Club in West Salem.

"This award is for the Tribe's progress in applying conservation plans and practices based on soil and other resource capabilities," said Conservation District Manager Jackie Hastings in an Aug. 6 letter to Tribal Chairwoman Cheryle A. Kennedy.

In another press release, the Conservation District praised the Natural Resources Department for implementing large-scale conservation work during the past three years that is building "on a history of dedication with smaller project."

"Partnering with the Natural Resources Conservation Service, the Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde has taken a leading role on their current projects, setting higher standards than NRCS plans require and making progress at an exceptional pace," the press release said.

"They have enlisted their own personnel to carry out timber stand inventory data collection and made the data available to the NRCS and Polk SWCD. During pre-commercial stand thinning, they train fire response crews to be more prepared for sudden fire events.

"The Confederated Tribes of Grand Ronde have also begun large-scale restoration beyond forest and pasture management, which now includes oak savanna and wetland habitat while cultivating culturally significant plants. They have worked with natural resource agencies for many years, contributing significantly to Outdoor School, and making a positive impact on a large scale."

The work was made possible through several Tribal Council resolutions approving Natural Resources to pursue cost-share grant funding from the Natural Resources Conservation Service.

Tribal Environmental Resource Specialist Brandy Humphreys was cited for being chair of the Oregon Watershed Enhancement Board's Small Grant Team for several years and Grand Ronde volunteers were complimented for providing assistance to the Conservation District's restoration projects.

"The level of success would not have been possible without the Tribal Council's board members support of Michael Wilson, Brandy Humphreys, Zach Haas and Jeff Kuust," the release said.

Wilson is Natural Resources Department manager, Haas is the department's senior forester and Kuust is the Timber & Roads Program manager.

The Polk Soil and Water Conservation District, based in Dallas, was formed in April 1966. It promotes the wise use of natural resources in Polk County by offering technical assistance and conservation planning to resources owners and communities and provides education and outreach related to natural resource issues in the county.

"The staff at the Tribe's Natural Resources office puts a lot of thought and effort into caring for the membership's land," Wilson said. "I am happy to see their hard work recognized."