Shared stewardship partners, project receive 2019 Pulaski Award

Man bending down to start a chainsaw
DeWayne Quintero, Fort Apache Fuels Crew. Tucson, Arizona. USDA Forest Service photo by Doreen Ethelbah-Gatewood.

NEW MEXICO – The Bureau of Indian Affairs, Western Region; Coronado National Forest, Sierra Vista Ranger District; Coronado National Forest, Supervisor’s Office and Fort Apache Agency were recently selected by the Governing Board of the National Interagency Fire Center as recipients of the 2019 Pulaski Award.

The Pulaski Award recognizes groups demonstrating outstanding performance in the areas of interagency collaboration, cooperation and coordination; safety of wildland firefighters or the American public during a wildfire; outstanding group performance in fire management and fire operations activities; outstanding performance on a wildland fire management project or activity; and development of partnerships or communication tools.

The partners excelled in the areas of interagency collaboration and outstanding performance on a wildland fire management project, which included thinning excess vegetation and prescribed burning by the Fort Apache Agency Fuels Crew to reduce hazardous fuels on the Sierra Vista Ranger District.

The lands which were treated contain a very diverse ecosystem, as well as cultural and spiritual significance to several Native American Tribes, including crew members who worked to protect their ancestral lands from potential wildland fire.

The forest embraces the concept of shared stewardship, as well as incorporating Native American perspectives into federal land management. Tribal nations continue to remind us that nature is not bound by jurisdiction.

Efforts to implement vegetation management projects within areas identified by tribal nations as “priorities” are intended to account for and mitigate potential impacts to cultural resources and to foster resilient ecological conditions that will sustain forest health and reduce the risk of catastrophic wildland fires.

Additional fuels treatment work will be done by the crew on the Douglas Ranger District and, along with the Arizona Department of Forestry and Fire Management, on Mt. Lemmon near Tucson (Santa Catalina Ranger District).  

The collaborative effort demonstrates the mutual benefits of shared stewardship and is considered, as identified by the award, to be an excellent example of Federal and Tribal partnership.

Scenic view of the desert and the mountain range in the foreground
Project area on the Sierra Vista Ranger District. Tucson, Arizona. USDA Forest Service photo by Doreen Ethelbah-Gatewood.
Men standing around, assesing are for a potential controlled burn
Fort Apache and Coronado National Forest fuels crew assess the project area. Tucson, Arizona. USDA Forest Service photo by Doreen Ethelbah-Gatewood.