The Clallam Conservation District (CCD) and the Quileute Tribe recently received a Conservation District Tribal Partnership Award for the relationship the two groups have developed to meet the conservation needs of Clallam County in Washington over the past five years.
“It’s a win-win, in that we work together as much as we can on everything,” said Meghan Adamire, district conservation planner. “We see it as they know this land better than anyone, so it’s excellent to have that background knowledge when it comes to larger projects.”
The 2020 award, presented by the Washington Association of Conservation Districts, recognized the partnership on the Hermison Road Project. The joint venture involves restoring a 180-foot wide, nearly seven-acre riparian forest buffer along the Quillayute River on tribal land.
Quileute Tribal land will be enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Enhancement Program (CREP), which will provide financial assistance for the project. Nearly 3,500 native trees and shrubs will be planted to provide habitat and shade in a river system that supports some of Washington’s strongest remaining runs of Chinook, Coho, steelhead and other salmonids.
The partnership also allows the conservation district to have a broader reach to accomplish conservation efforts. Historically, the district has not done much work on the west end of the county, as there haven’t been many landowner connections. The Quileute’s relationship with the local community and knowledge of resource issues has opened the door to connecting with local landowners located in this area. The relationship has enabled the Tribe to pass along potential projects to the conservation district, which then reaches out directly to the landowners. This coordinated approach has worked well to identify concerns, make connections with willing landowners, and implement solutions to fix the resource concerns.
“It’s been great for the Tribe to partner with Clallam Conservation District to make the funding go farther and the work to make a bigger impact,” Quileute Tribe’s water quality biologist Nicole Rasmussen said. “Working with a conservation district that is eager to get projects done on the land to help the Tribe’s treaty resources has been exciting and motivating.”
After meeting at a monthly North Pacific Coast Lead Entity for salmon (NPCLE) session, the two groups began a friendship and teamed up on a number of projects, including:
- Quileute Tribe’s successful grant proposals to the Washington Coast Restoration and Resiliency Initiative and National Fish and Wildlife Foundation for the Quillayute River Restoration Project and Bogachiel River Restoration and Resilience Assessment
- Clallam Conservation District’s successful grant applications in the Sitkum watershed to design and install structures for eight undersized and failing culverts to prevent and reduce large amounts of sediment from entering the Sitkum River
- An NRCS Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) application and conceptual Regional Conservation Partnership Program proposal to perform large-scale restoration work on the Quillayute River.
Efforts that have not resulted in funding have also strengthened the partnership, Adamire said, as they continue to provide opportunities for communication, identifying needs, and partnering to find the best solution for both groups.
“We’ve garnered a lot of trust,” she said. “They have a keen interest in the land and making sure the natural resources are protected. It’s been a really great partnership. It seems every month a new potential project comes out.”
This is the second time in five years the CCD has been awarded for its work in partnering with tribes. In 2015, the district and the Jamestown S’Klallam Tribe were recipients of the award.