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Texas’ Tribal Members Assist USDA in Identifying Conservation Opportunities

story by Dee Ann Littlefield

Kyle Williams, Tribal Council Chairman of the Alabama Coushatta Tribe of Texas, and Teodoso (Ted) Herrerra, “Tlatoani,” principle speaker of the Venado Clan, Coahuilteco Nation, recently attended the Regional Tribal Conservation Advisory Council (RTCAC) for the Central Region of the USDA-Natural Resources Conservation Service.

These men are serving alongside 12 other tribal leaders on the regional advisory committee to assist the NRCS in areas such as identifying regional natural resource concerns or issues on Tribal lands. The RTCAC provides a platform and opportunity for dialogue and interaction by promoting strong partnerships and teamwork, providing quality technical and financial assistance, enhancing natural resources conservation, while providing an opportunity to offer feedback on agency programs, services, and technologies.

“These men are both providing a very important service to the NRCS on a national basis that will result in enhancements to our operations within Indian Country,” states Salvador Salinas, NRCS Texas State Conservationist. “Texas NRCS is proud to have both of them on this Council.”

“I see it as an excellent forum for communicating Indian Country issues up and down and sideways even to other federal agencies,” says Herrera. “I am convinced it has great potential for improving communications for all parties concerned. I am honored to be part of this effort.”

“I believe RTCAC will help me discover and relay information of programs available to Tribes,” Williams adds. “Although every Tribe is different within their own environment, being able to share information will broaden the outlook to working together and how we would be able to resolve issues throughout Indian Country, including, strengthening and building on the relationship we have already created with the state and local agencies.”

Selected earlier this year, Williams and Herrera will both serve a two-year term. Herrerra actively serves on the NRCS State Technical Advisory Committee (STAC) for Texas as well. The STAC provides recommendations to the State Conservationist on NRCS-related issues in Texas. These issues include the implementation of NRCS programs, the development of NRCS practice standards, and others.

Texas NRCS has worked closely with the federally Recognized Tribes in Texas over the years providing quality technical assistance and funding opportunities through Farm Bill Programs. This regional position strengthens their partnership and teamwork with the Agency’s work focused on the natural resources of Tribal lands.

USDA’s Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) helps America’s farmers and ranchers conserve the Nation’s soil, water, air, and other natural resources. All programs are voluntary and offer science-based solutions that benefit both the landowner and the environment.

Regional Tribal Conservation Advisory Council

Attendees of the Regional Tribal Conservation Advisory Council recently held in Green Bay, Wisconsin. Top back row l-r, Nikkie Crowe , Fond Du Lac Tribe MN; Terence Clouthier THPO, ND; Daniel Cornelius, Regional Technical Assistance Specialist, WI; Jimmy Bramblett, Regional Conservationist, Washington DC; Pat Leavenworth, Wisconsin State Conservationist; Tom Christensen, Regional Conservationist, Washington DC; Eric Banks, Kansas State Conservationist; Bottom row l-r Teodosio (Ted) Herrera, AIANEA Elder; Dave Wise, NRCS Tribal Liaison, MN; Patrick Pelky Oneida Nation, WI; Kyle Williams, Alabama Coushatta Tribe, TX; Jack Dewayne Hicks, Oklahoma Choctaw Tribe; Ronald Hilliard, NRCS Oklahoma State Conservationist; David Anthony, Hannahville Indian Community MI.