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News Release

Poarch Band of Creek Indians Receive Forestery Honors

Auburn, Ala. June 25, 2010

Poarch Band of Creek Indian Officials accept Forestry Awards.
The Poarch Band of Creek Indians Receive TREASURE Forest, Stewardship,
and Tree Farm Awards. (l-r) Escambia Co. Alabama Forestry Commission
(AFC) Forester Madeline Hildreth, NRCS State Conservationist Dr. William Puckett, Escambia Co. AFC Wildlife Biologist Randall Seal, Poarch Band of Creek Indians (PBCI) Elder Billy Smith, NRCS Tribal Liaison David Elliott, NRCS Chief Dave White, CEO of PBCI Enterprises Tim Martin, AFC State Forester Linda Casey, NRCS State Staff Forester Tim Albritton, and PCBI Chairman Buford Rolin.

Leaders of the Poarch Band of Creek Indians (PBCI) in Atmore, AL, were surprised by the announcement that they had achieved three prestigious certifications for their stewardship and forest management activities on the Magnolia Branch Wildlife Reserve. At the June 16 United South and Eastern Tribe’s (USET) meeting in Mobile, the PBCI received certification for the Alabama Natural Resources Council’s TREASURE Forest Award, the USDA-Forest Service’s Forestry Stewardship Program, and the American Tree Farm System’s Tree Farm Program.

The TREASURE Forest award is a flagship program of the Alabama Natural Resources Council, a Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) partner. The program was developed in 1974 to recognize landowners who are practicing sound sustainable multiple-use forest management. To date, approximately 2,000 landowners have received the TREASURE Forest certification, representing just over 2 million acres in Alabama. There are over 400,000 non-industrial private forest landowners in the state; to be one of the 2,000 landowners to have achieved this status is quite an accomplishment.

In presenting the certifications, Linda Casey, State Forester with the Alabama Forestry Commission, said, “I want to recognize the hard work that has gone into receiving not only the TREASURE Forest Award but also the Tree Farm and Forest Stewardship certifications. This is the first time that a landowner has received all three certifications (at one time). I commend the Tribe for this achievement.”

Dr. William Puckett, NRCS State Conservationist, said, “The PBCI are the epitome of good land stewards. They have put their commitment of preserving our natural resources into action. NRCS is proud to be a partner with the PBCI.”

The Magnolia Branch Wildlife Reserve is mostly timberland and is used as a recreational area for the Tribe and their guests. By working with various state and federal agencies, the Tribe has sustained, protected, and enhanced 4,156 acres of timberland and 50 lakes. The PBCI partnered with NRCS to secure financial and technical assistance for site preparation on 800 acres planted to longleaf pine, and to install firebreaks and prescribe burn over 1,200 acres of pine plantation. The wildlife accomplishments included planting 30 acres of food plots to cool and warm season forages, building numerous wood duck boxes and bird houses, and thinning 1,280 acres to improve wildlife habitat.

Chairman Buford Rolin accepted four plaques to display in Tribal offices and three signs to post in the Magnolia Branch Wildlife Reserve to demonstrate the Tribe’s commitment to land stewardship. Chairman Rolin said, “The projects that we have worked with NRCS on have really been rewarding to the Tribe. I encourage all of the USET Tribes to take advantage of this agency, because they have a lot to offer.” When addressing the USET board members, Chairman Rolin said, “We just want everyone to know how much we appreciate this recognition, but more importantly, we want to share with our other Tribal people to take advantage of NRCS. They have a lot to offer. They are our friends.”

Additional information on the TREASURE Forest Award, Forest Stewardship Award, and the Tree Farm Certification can be found at:

http://www.forestry.alabama.gov/tree_farm.aspx
http://www.forestry.alabama.gov/stewardship.aspx
http://www.forestry.alabama.gov/treasure_forest.aspx

NRCS is celebrating 75 years of Helping People Help the Land in 2010. Since 1935, the NRCS conservation delivery system has advanced a unique partnership with state and local governments and private landowners delivering conservation based on specific, local conservation needs, while accommodating state and national interests.

Producers interested in NRCS programs should visit the nearest USDA Service Center to determine eligibility. Individuals are not eligible for EQIP until they have completed the Farm Bill eligibility requirements.  Contact your local Natural Resources Conservation Service office or Farm Service Agency Office to begin this process.