Tribal Government & News

Natural Resources wins statewide award

11.14.2012 Ron Karten Natural resources

The Tribe's Natural Resources Department is on a winning streak.

After being named the 2012 Polk County Large Conservationist of the Year award winner on Aug. 23 by the Polk Soil and Water Conservation District, the department was nominated for an award at the state level.

On Nov. 2, Natural Resources Department Manager Michael Wilson was notified that his department was named 2012 Cooperator of the Year by the 46-member Oregon Association of Conservation Districts.

Wilson, Tribal Senior Forester Zach Haas and Tribal Council member Jon A. George accepted the award on Nov. 8 at the Valley River Inn in Eugene.

"This was a very nice event and a great award for the Tribe, especially as we get close to Restoration," Wilson said. "The Tribe has a strong interest in restoring both our land base and partnerships with other natural resource agencies. This award signifies progress in both areas.

"The new forest lands we acquire meet a strategic goal, but are often in need of maintenance work to bring them up to the Tribe's high standards. Working with the Natural Resources Conservation Service and Polk Soil and Water District helped us to find additional funds and create some local jobs."

In August, the Natural Resources Department was praised for implementing large-scale conservation work during the past three years that is building "on a history of dedication with smaller projects."

The Tribe was cited for working with the Natural Resources Conservation Service and enlisting Tribal personnel to carry out timber stand inventory data collection and sharing that information with the Conservation Service and Polk County Soil and Water Conservation District.

The Tribe also was praised for starting large-scale restoration projects, including oak savanna and wetland habitat while cultivating culturally significant plants.

Wilson said the Natural Resources work is made possible through several Tribal Council resolutions approving the department to pursue cost-share grant funding from the Conservation Service.

The Tribe was nominated for the Polk County award by Tom Finegan, district conservationist with the Natural Resources Conservation Service. By winning that award, Natural Resources became eligible for the state honor. Now that the department has won the Oregon title, it is eligible for national honors that will be announced in 2013.