The USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) in California has partnered with California''s tribal nations to make $1 million available to help tribal farmers and ranchers put additional conservation on the ground. Tribal nations have historically had unequal access to financial resources, due to the unique and tradition-based conservation practices typical ly practiced by tribes, and this additional funding will improve access to federal conservation dollars.
"Tribes often have different conservation priorities than other state producers and frequently have culturally based priorities, such as the management of Traditional Native American Food Plants that are not priorities for mainstream producers," said Juan Armand, President of the Klamath Trinity Resource Conservation District. "This targeted funding will provide enhanced opportunities for California Tribes to remain major players in conservation issues in the state, ranging from water usage to fire management."
Applications will be accepted through Feb. 3, 2012, for consideration. Funding will be distributed through two statewide and three landscape tribal resource priority areas. The statewide priorities are aimed at restoring and managing native plant species, improving water quality, reducing soil erosion, and a handful of other resource concerns.
"NRCS is committed to providing exceptional support and assistance to our Tribal partners to help them meet their conservation needs and conserve California natural resources," said Ed Burton, NRCS California state conservationist. The three Landscape Resource Priorities are aimed at improving and managing forest health and reducing wildfire threats, as well as rangeland health and water quality. The three priorities areas are:
- Northern Coastal Tribes Forests and Rangeland in Del Norte, Humboldt, Trinity, Mendocino,Western Siskiyou, Lake and Sonoma counties.
- Intermountain and Central Sierra Tribal Forests and Rangeland in Amador, Butte, El Dorado,Modoc, Eastern Siskiyou, Western Shasta, Kings, Lassen, Placer, Plumas, Sierra, Madera,Fresno, Tulare and Tuolumne counties.
- South Coast and Desert Tribal Forests and Rangeland in Inyo, Mono, Imperial, Riverside, San Bernardino and San Diego counties.
The two Statewide Resource Priorities are aimed at reducing soil erosion, improving irrigation water efficiency, water quality, restoring and managing native plants for traditional Native American food and fiber production. The two statewide priorities are:
- Statewide Tribal Poly-farms: small biologically diverse farms and medium size agricultural operations for subsistence, intra-tribal and external commerce.
- Native Plants Restoration: culturally important tribal plants for food and fiber.
The California EQIP Tribal Initiative provides financial and technical assistance to Tribes and tribal producers who voluntarily agree to NRCS guidelines for installation of approved conservation practices that address program priorities related to addressing soil, water, air quality, domestic livestock, wildlife habitat, surface and groundwater conservation, energy conservation, and related natural resource concerns. There are 109 Federally Recognized American Indian Tribes in California. There are at least 69 Non-Federally Recognized Tribes in California petitioning for federal recognition. The Federally-recognized tribes have jurisdiction over 635,739 acres of Tribal Trust Land in California. NRCS has provided leadership in a partnership effort to help America''s private land owners and managers conserve their soil, water and other natural resources since 1935. For more information on NRCS, visit www.nrcs.usda.gov.
SOURCE USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service