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NRCS Chief Dave White Visits Alabama

By Fay Garner, Public Affairs Specialist, NRCS, Auburn, AL


NRCS officials and PBCI Tribal Elder visits Magnolia Branch.
Billy Smith (c), Poarch Band of Creek Indians Tribal Elder and Manager of the Tribe’s Magnolia Branch Wildlife Reserve, talks with NRCS Chief Dave White (r) and Alabama NRCS State Conservationist Dr. William Puckett (l) on the visit to the reserve.

NRCS Chief Dave White visited Alabama to meet with NRCS personnel and to attend the United South and Eastern Tribe's (USET), Inc., semi-annual meeting in Mobile, Alabama, June 14-17, 2010.

The members of the 25 USET Tribes are dedicated to enhancing the development of Indian Tribes, improving the capabilities of Tribal governments, and assisting the member Tribes and their governments in dealing effectively with public policy issues and in serving the broad needs of Indian people.

On June 15, Chief Dave White; Alabama NRCS State Conservationist Dr. William Puckett; Assistant State Conservationist for Field Operations Charlie Ramsey; and NRCS Public Affairs Specialist Fay Garner met the Mobile County NRCS Soil Conservation Technician Marshall Colburn and SWCD District Administrative Coordinator April Griffin, along with Steve Cauthen, J.O. Norris, and Frank Nalty, Jr.; Chair of the Alabama Soil and Water Conservation Committee, and Roy C. Kendrick, President, Alabama Association of Conservation Districts, for a tour of the cooperative garden planted behind the Mobile County Service Center. 

The garden has many varieties of fruits, vegetables, and flowering plants in composted dirt and raised beds.  The garden is irrigated by a cistern that harvests rainwater collected from the Service Center buildings.  The garden is tended by area youth who plant and pick the garden.  The garden is a beautiful place to stroll and it provides Service Center personnel fresh snacks just outside their door. 

After enjoying lunch, the group toured some conservation practices in Mobile County. 

After the Mobile County tour, NRCS Assistant Chief Walt Douglas; NRCS Tribal Liaison David Elliott; Tim Martin, Chief Executive Officer of Poarch Creek Indian Enterprises; and Tribal Elder Billy Smith joined Chief White and NRCS personnel to view practices installed using NRCS financial and technical assistance on the Poarch Band of Creek Indian’s (PBCI) property (a federally recognized tribe in Atmore, AL). The sites included cross-fencing, watering facilities, and livestock shade structures on Perdido River Farms and improvements on the Magnolia Branch Wildlife Reserve’s timber property and recreational facilities.

On June 16, after a having breakfast with Soil and Water Conservation District personnel from Mobile and Baldwin County, Dave White spoke to the USET Board of Directors to renew the NRCS commitment to provide technical and financial assistance to implement conservation activities on Tribal lands that conserve soil, water, air, and wildlife resources.

Chief White also helped present the PBCI with three prestigious awards for forestry management on the Magnolia Branch Wildlife Reserve. They earned the Alabama Natural Resources Council’s TREASURE Forest Award, the USDA-Forest Service’s Forestry Stewardship Program, and the Alabama Forestry Association’s Tree Farm Program.

Chief tours Service Center Cooperative garden.

The group looks at asparagus plants in the Service Center garden.

A rainwater harvesting system collecting water from the Service Center's roof system is used for irrigating the garden.

PBCI were awarded three signs to hang in forest.

The PBCI's were awarded the Alabama Natural Resources Council’s TREASURE Forest Award, the USDA-Forest Service’s Forestry Stewardship Program, and the Alabama Forestry Association’s Tree Farm Program.

Timber improvements were made to the PBCI Magnolia Branch Wildlife Reserve.

Members of NRCS and Poarch Band of Creek Indian officials viewed timber  improvements made to the Magnolia Branch Wildlife Reserve on a tour
June 15, 2010.