Luncheon Speaker: George Walter, Nisqually Tribe
George Walter, of the Nisqually Tribe, is the luncheon speaker. He is discussing the Nisqually partnerships and restoration work as well as his work with the Nisqually Land Trust.
Nisqually Watershed Coordinating Committee was created in the 1970s, of which Walter got involved in for the Nisqually River. The relationship with Tacoma Power was tenious at the time. But Walter worked with the tribe to become experts of the hydroelectric project as much as Tacoma.
A sidenote: the tribe tried working with Fort Lewis to develop a hatchery on the military property. Persistence paid off and a hatchery was eventually allowed. After working with the military, the tribe approached Tacoma Power again about a partnership on a proposed hydroelectricity project and eventually a partnership was developed.
Another major partnership was the development of the Nisqually River Council. Monthly, since 1987, the group has been meeting to talk about Nisqually River issues. The group has involved not just tribal leaders but Wilcox Farms, representatives from the forestry industry and local government officials. We found out that everyone had a shared vision; they liked what they saw in the Nisqually watershed and wanted to make it better.
Walter discusses the Nisqually Land Trust. The idea of a nonprofit created for the purposes of land conservation peaked Walter’s interest. The group started in 1989, including folks such as Lou Whittaker, officials from the city of Yelm, major local farmers and then-county commissioner Karen Frasier. The group started with 5 acres and am now own 3,500 acres.
“The landowners in the Nisqually need to understand they’re part of a bigger proecess,” he said. “They have reasons to be involved and we can’t make them be involved so we have to persuade them to be involved.”
Intesreted landowners have has helped protect 62 of 84 miles of shoreline. These folks include Nisqually National Widllife Refuge, Fort Lewis, Tacoma Power, Nisqually INdian Tribe, Centralia City Light, Washington State Parks and Nisqually Land Trust.
Latest thing NLT has been working on, using various funding sources to purchase 2500 acres west of mt rainier to create the Mt Rainier Gateway Forest Reserve.
“Land trusts can but don’t have to be watershed based. The biggest one is the Cascade Land Conservancy,” he said. “But I think the best partnership in on a local level. A land trust can be a real fine tool to use work toward the bigger picture.”
It takes patience and persistence, which are key. Be sure to do your homework. Our goal is to be seen as a source of good reliable information. And building partnerships – we can’t do it all ourselves. Never be embarrassed to take half a win – take it and keep going.
“I like to say to encourage every body to resist from poking others in the eye in the stick because you don’t know who you are poking.”