Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Sunrise Over Lummi Island in the Salish Sea. A dramatic autumnal sunrise over the Bellingham area including the Lummi Indian Reservation and the San Juan Islands to the south.

Washington | Tribal Assistance

NRCS can assist tribes and tribal members in conservation work, and how to apply for NRCS programs such as the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP).

NRCS Programs for Tribes and Tribal Members

The NRCS provides technical and financial assistance to private landowners and operators, tribes and tribal members to assist them in protecting and improving natural resources such as soil, water, air, plants, and animals.

NRCS and American Indians share a common interest in conserving and managing natural resources of our earth. NRCS is committed to providing assistance to American Indian producers and tribes in planning for and managing natural resources. To help meet our goal of providing high quality conservation planning and program services to American Indian operators,

Map of Native Tribes in Washington

The USDA Resource Guide for American Indians and Alaska Natives (AI/AN) was developed to provide tribal leaders and tribal citizens, 1994 Land-Grant Tribal Colleges and Universities, AI/AN businesses, and non-governmental organizations serving AI/AN communities with a tool for navigating USDA resources.

The Indigenous Stewardship Methods guidebook helps field planners learn technology from indigenous people which could improve or expand existing NRCS practices or create new ones.

NRCS Washington working with Tribes

NRCS: Sacred River
Thunder Road
NRCS Washington Tribal Conservation Advisory Council Banner

Washington Tribal Conservation Advisory Council (WATCAC)

Initiated in 2011, the Washington Tribal Conservation Advisory Council (WATCAC) provides a forum for twenty-nine (29) Native American Tribes in Washington to address natural resource issues on Tribal lands. The WATCAC provides a tribal voice to the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) on conservation issues that are important to Washington tribes at the state and national levels.

Tribal Conservation Advisory Councils were first authorized in the 1995 Farm Bill as advisory bodies to USDA agencies including NRCS on Tribal issues.

WATCAC Meetings

The WATCAC holds meetings once a quarter on the day before the State Technical Advisory Committee meetings. The Tribal Advisory Council meets face-to-face 2 times a year, alternating between the east and west sides of the state. Virtual options are also available. The meetings are open to all tribes, however, those tribes who have passed resolutions to participate in the WATCAC have voting privileges. Each tribe appoints two representatives who provide council and technical voices to NRCS.

Upcoming Meetings

Basis for Tribal Conservation Advisory Councils

NRCS’s mission is to help people help the land. To carry out this mission effectively with Tribes at the state and local levels, NRCS will:

  • Provide quality service through financial, educational, and technical assistance
  • Assist the Tribes in building Tribal capacity in natural resources conservation.
  • Coordinate with Tribes so they have the opportunity to provide input on NRCS policy.
  • Work cooperatively with Tribes to achieve program compliance.
  • Advocate natural resource stewardship, while working within Tribal religion, standards, values, and culture.
  • Provide services to all clientele equitably.
  • Support practical, voluntary solutions to natural resource problems.
  • Deliver the best available resource technology.
  • Promote strong partnerships and teamwork.
  • Deliver programs in cooperation with other Federal, Tribal, State, and local entities.
  • Provide a quality work environment for its diverse work force.
  • Cooperate with Indian Tribes, conservation districts, resource conservation development councils, and State conservation agencies to deliver services.

Additionally, NRCS will work with Tribes and provide assistance, upon request, to help them establish a Tribal Conservation Advisory Council (TCAC) or tribal conservation district. Tribes may designate a TCAC to provide input on NRCS programs and the conservation needs of the Tribes and Tribal producers.

At the local level, TCACs can–

  • Provide leadership on conservation needs, programs, and priorities to NRCS Tribal Liaison.
  • Maintain communications with the NRCS Tribal liaison.
  • Engage NRCS in resource assessments.
  • Develop conservation plans and priorities for implementation.

At the State Level, TCACs can–

  • Maintain communications with the State Conservationist.
  • Communicate conservation needs, plans, and priorities to the State Conservationist.
  • Engage the State Conservationist in developing annual budgets for natural resource conservation.
  • Advise regional level conservation advisory councils of natural resource programs and budget needs.

At the Regional Level, TCACs can–

  • Maintain communications with the Regional Conservationists
  • Communicate with State- and national-level Tribal conservation advisory councils regarding conservation programs, legislative needs, and budgets.

For More Information

NRCS Washington Tribal Liaison
Robin Slate
1011 E Main St. Suite 306
Puyallup, WA  98372
Phone: 360.704.7780