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Tribal Assistance

NRCS has expertise in agronomy, range management, forestry, agricultural engineering, soils, water management, wildlife habitat management, aquaculture, resource inventories, and watershed and flood protection.

NRCS field office personnel provides assistance upon request to private landowners and operators, Indian tribes and Tribal members. Assistance provided includes, but is not limited to, the following: Conservation planning on cropland, pastureland, and rangeland and assistance to apply rangeland management and improvement practices, irrigation water development structures and management, brush control, erosion control structures, agriculture, forestry, farmland protection, wildlife habitat improvement, and wetlands restoration.

American Indians and Alaska Natives are eligible to participate in all NRCS programs and may have special status as provided by statute or regulation. The demand for NRCS services by American Indian tribal groups continues to increase as the value of NRCS assistance becomes better understood.

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NRCS Programs for Tribes and Tribal Members

The NRCS provides technical assistance 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 can assist tribes and tribal members in conservation work, and how to apply for NRCS programs such as the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) which has fund pools designed specifically for tribal Conservation goals with acknowledgement of tribal traditional lands management. 

In California, we have worked with tribes in more conventional agricultural landscapes such as orchards, and row crops, but we have also sought to acknowledge the unique relationships that California’s first peoples have with the land, traditional methods of land stewardship and agriculture and traditional ecological knowledge that have been passed on for generations. With that in mind and in coordination with our Tribal Advisory Committee, we have developed and continued to refine fund pools designed specifically for tribal Conservation goals. Tribal Traditional Plant Restoration, Tribal Diversified Farms, Tribal Forestland, and Tribal Rangeland EQIP fund pools focus specifically on Indigenous lands management and agricultural production.

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California Tribal Advisory Committee

Initiated in 2015, the California Tribal Advisory Committee (TAC) is a forum for the Native American Tribes and tribal members in California to address natural resource issues on tribal lands. The TAC provides tribes an opportunity to voice conservation issues that are important to them directly to the State Conservationist and in doing so, help to shape the NRCS California Tribal Program. At our biannual meetings, the TAC receives updates on USDA and NRCS specific policy and programs, and can provide feedback that will be taken into account for the purpose of tribal programs management including ranking criteria, practice and practice scenario application, as well as broadening the NRCS planning process to better assist tribes. 

Tribal Conservation Advisory Committees were first authorized in the 1996 Farm Bill as advisory bodies to USDA agencies including NRCS on Tribal issues.

California Tribal Advisory Committee Documents

American Indian/Alaska Native Heritage Month Posters

American Indian Heritage Month is observed from November 1 through November 30. American Indian Heritage Month is celebrated to recognize the intertribal cultures and to educate the public about the heritage, history, art, and traditions of American Indians and Alaska Natives. American Indian Heritage Month enhances our efforts to honor tribal sovereignty by working on a Government-to-Government basis with American Indians and Alaska Natives. We honor the rights of Indian tribes and work to protect and enhance tribal resources. The Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) creates a poster every year to from the artwork of an American Indian artist to celebrate American Indian and Alaska Native Heritage Month in November.

2019 NRCS AIH posterThis year’s winner of the American Indian Heritage poster is Kathy Sturch, of Durant, Oklahoma. Sturch is a member of the Choctaw Nation. Sturch stated, “Art is a way of expressing my American Indian culture on canvas and it was an honor to enter the contest.” The NRCS selected Kathy’s artwork titled “Water for Life” as the National Native American Poster.

Click poster at left to enlarge.

The theme for this year’s poster was, “Water for Life:  We teach our children to respect and preserve natural resources because they hold in their hands the future of a healthy and thriving nation." Sturch shared her inspiration for the artwork, “I believe human beings are charged with the care of this earth we inhabit, to nurture it, care for it, and to treat it as the gift to us that it is.  Preserving and taking care of the resources of this earth is necessary for survival for our children and their children. Teaching our children to care about and take care of these resources is part of our responsibility as wise people. Native Americans have always respected the earth and her resources and we must continue to do so.”

“The posters are showcased in every NRCS office across the Nation and a copy is provided to all the Tribes across the Nation. These posters honor the conservation work of Indian tribes to protect their natural resources and their vision for future generations. NRCS has a strong working relationship with Tribes and we are honored to assist them with technical assistance and programs to enhance their efforts to preserve their lands,” stated Dr. Carol Crouch, NRCS Oklahoma State Tribal Liaison.

Previous American Indian/Alaska Native Heritage Month Posters

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NRCS Plant Material Centers

Natural resources on tribal lands may be culturally and historically sensitive. The NRCS Plant Materials Program (PMP) provides technical assistance to federally-recognized tribes in these areas. Assistance to tribes from the Plant Materials Centers (PMC) may include: 1) collecting seed and/or plants of concern, 2) determining propagation protocols, 3) selecting for desirable attributes, and 3) developing plant establishment and maintenance guidelines. 

There are four plant materials centers serving the many bioregions of California:

Publications To Support NRCS California Tribal Programs

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Updated: 08/03/2020