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First Native American woman on the Colville Reservation to Install a Center Pivot Irrigation System

Highlights in Conservation icon

First Native American woman on the Colville Reservation to Install a Center Pivot Irrigation System

Installing a Center Pivot Irrigation System will help Janet Pakootas save valuable water resources in an area with limited availability.

Installing the center pivot irrigation system will help Janet Pakootas save valuable water resources in an area with limited availability.

Installing the center pivot irrigation system will help Janet Pakootas save valuable water resources in an area with limited availability.

Location icon
Okanogan County, near Nespelem

Project Summary icon
Bringing the past up to the present

Conservation Partners icon
Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), and the Colville Reservation Conservation District

Resource Challenges icon
Twenty years ago, Janet Pakootas’ family was harvesting hay on allotted land which was being irrigated with a wheel line irrigation system.  When some family members passed away, the land went into probate.  This meant that nothing could be done to the land until the probate was completed and divided up into equal parts for the rest of the family.  During that time, the weeds took over and the irrigation system deteriorated.

When Janet received control of the land she wanted to get it back into working order.  Janet, who is a beginning farmer, wanted to get rid of the weeds, upgrade the irrigation system and have better management of her livestock.  She also wanted to plant a windbreak along one side of her place to protect the wildlife against the winter weather.  Janet decided to sign-up for the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).

It took about a year to install the center pivot irrigation system due to electrical policy concerns.  “Now I can have hay for my animals and other Tribal members and not have to go off the reservation to buy it” said Janet.  She is utilizing a smaller amount of water with the upgraded irrigation system, which is good for when quantities are low.  Weed control is a major concern on the reservation and she feels she is doing her part to manage this problem.

Conservation Program Used icon
Assistance was provided by NRCS through the EQIP which helped upgrade the irrigation system.  The program also assisted with cross fencing and water troughs for livestock.  Janet is also completing nutrient and pest management plans.

Innovations and Highlights icon
It was exciting to know that NRCS looks at each producer as an individual.  Normally, in order to upgrade an irrigation system, it has to be irrigated two out of the last five years.  Because of her situation with probate laws, NRCS waived the year limits because the land had been irrigated up to the day probate took over.  It is great to know that Janet is the first person, as well as the first Native American woman, to have a center pivot irrigation system on the Colville Reservation.  Even as a beginning farmer, Janet knew that if she could install this system, it would improve the quality and quantity of water – the life source.

Results and Accomplishments icon
NRCS has always turned money back to the state from the Tribal pool because there hasn’t been enough interest in EQIP.  Since the pivot has been installed, more people have been coming in to sign-up for conservation assistance. This is the first year we have more applicants than we can assist.

Contact icon
Martin Bales NRCS Tribal Liaison, 509-634-2320


NRCS,  2-2008