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«Promoting the Indian Use of Indian Resources 11/2008 The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) prohibits discrimination in all its programs and ...»

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Allows the district to enter into formal agreements with NRCS, other agencies and organizations, to secure technical and financial assistance.

Maintains sovereignty and freedom from suit.

This approach is most responsive to reservation problems and solutions.

District recognized by state and federal agencies.

Operation of the district is under Tribal customs and standards.

CONS Depending on the individual state, state funds for district operation are generally not made available.

Tribal governing body must support the cost of operation.


1. An interim board is appointed by the Tribe or by the participating landowners or users to carry out activities until a formal election can be held.

2. Research what the state law requires and surrounding states require conservation districts to carry out.

3. Research other Reservations nationally who have formed districts and how their districts are formulated by Tribal law.

4. The Tribal Governing Body authorizes the reservationwide conservation district by Tribal resolution or ordinance.

5. Prepare a duplication of the MA (Appendix A) to be signed by the Tribal Chairman and the Secretary of Agriculture. This document and the Tribal Resolution are forwarded to the NRCS Native American Liaison, who secures the Secretary’s signature and returns the document to the district.

6. Establish conservation district by-laws based on local concerns and the research done on other state and Tribal districts. A part of the by-laws must include the voter districts from which one supervisor per voter district is elected.

7. Elect a board of supervisors made up of reservation landowners and individuals leasing reservation land.

8. Establish a cooperative working agreement with the NRCS State Conservationist. (Appendix B can be utilized as a format but must be modified to fit the needs of your district and abilities of the NRCS to meet those needs.)


The USDA provides numerous services of value to rural America and American agriculture, at all levels. The primary provider of conservation services from the USDA is the NRCS, created to provide technical assistance and leadership to private landowners and land users on programs, which improve and sustain our natural resources and environment.

The NRCS also can provide financial assistance through many programs such as the the Conservation Technical Assistance Program, Environmental Quality Incentive Program, Agriculture Management Assistance Program, Conservation Security Program, Emergency Watershed Protection Program, Watershed Protection and Flood Prevention Program, Farm and Ranch Lands Protection Program, Grassland Protection Program, Healthy Forests Reserve Program, Wetlands Reserve Program, Resource Conservation and Development Program and Soil Survey Program. Additional information on NRCS Programs can be found at http//www.nrcs.usda.gov/programs/Index.html.

Prioritizing local needs and assisting in directing NRCS services at the local level where service is actually provided to individuals, is the function of the Conservation Districts, authorized by Federal Statute and created usually under State Charter. Improving Indian access to the important conservation assistance programs of the NRCS requires improving and nurturing the working relationships between the Tribal Governments, individual producers, landowners, and the conservation districts. If your Tribe or organization would like to have assistance in considering how best to gain support of a conservation district in directing NRCS services, please contact the IAC, at the address on the next page.

Intertribal Agriculture Council 100 N 27th Street, Suite 500 Billings, MT 59101 Telephone (406) 259-3525 E-Mail: info@indianaglink.com As stated in the foreword, this booklet is designed to assist Tribal governments and individuals in gaining an understanding of conservation districts and the impact such a district can have in directing programs put forth by the Natural Resource Conservation Service. Further information can be obtained through your local conservation district or by contacting the IAC or the Indian Nations Conservation Alliance.

Indian Nations Conservation Alliance 350 Nye Road Twin Bridges, MT 59754 Telephone (406) 684-5199 E-Mail: inca@3rivers.net APPENDIx A This agreement is the formal recognition by the Secretary of Agriculture of the intent of a Tribe in the formation of a conservation district. This agreement must be in place prior to NRCS at the state level negotiating a cooperative working agreement. The Mutual Agreement is the same agreement signed by the Secretary with all conservation districts, with the exception of the Tribal specific language.

It is recommended that the agreement language pertaining to USDA is not changed in content or context because of the extensive legal reviews completed on the document as it is written. However, Tribes can add their recognized authorities such as “Federally recognized Tribe organized under the 1934 Reorganization Act” as an example. The terms that provide the legal authority to the respective Tribe to develop a conservation district can be added as well.

One will note there are signature requirements for the conservation district although the district is not formed.

This signature can be an interim board member appointed to represent the board for this occasion.

Once the Tribal Resolution has been passed and published, attach one copy of the resolution to each of the two signed

copies of the agreement and forward the package to:

Director Resource Conservation, Development and Outreach Division Natural Resources Conservation Service US. Department of Agriculture 1400 Independence Avenue SW, Room 5245-S Washington DC 20250 Phone 202-720-6700

Questions may be directed to:

Edith Morigeau NRCS Tribal Relations Coordinator USDA, Natural Resources Conservation Service 1400 Independence Avenue SW, Room 5245-S Washington DC, 20250 Phone: 202-690-2152 Approved 6-30-06

–  –  –

This Mutual Agreement (Agreement) is between the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), the _______ Nation (Nation) and the _____ Soil and Water Conservation District (District).

Pursuant to the constitution of the ______ Nation, the _____ Tribal Council has the power to negotiate with federal, state and local governments on behalf of the Tribe. The authority of the District to enter into this agreement is ______ Tribal Council Resolution No._______.

The USDA enters into this agreement pursuant to Executive Order 13175, Consultation and Coordination with Indian Tribal Governments, dated November 6, 2000; Memorandum of Understanding between the United States Department of the Interior and the United States Department of Agriculture, and their various agencies, relative to planning and implementing community development and natural resources management and conservation programs on Indian lands, dated May 9, 1988.


The parties have the common objective of assisting people in their efforts to utilize and manage tribal resources in accordance with their capabilities and needs for protection and improvement. Each party is independent, has its respective responsibilities, yet recognizes the need to coordinate as partners for the successful delivery of all USDA programs.


Broad based community development and conservation programs delivered through the cooperation of the USDA and the Tribe are vital to the protection of the natural resources, economic stability and well-being of this country.

The parties reaffirm the relationship between the USDA and the Tribe. The Secretary of Agriculture intends to continue, within the terms of the various statutes administered by the USDA, to carry out broad programs of assistance encompassing technical, research, educational, and financial assistance to landowners and users. The parties also recognize and encourage a commitment from the Tribe in aiding the administration, coordination, financing, and delivery of all USDA programs related to community development and natural resources management and conservation programs.

This agreement is not intended to, and does not create, any right, benefit, or trust responsibility, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or equity, by any party against the United States, its agencies, its officers, or any person.

It is understood that any financial assistance agreements entered into with the USDA in furtherance of this agreement shall require a written assurance from the recipient that all programs and activities will be conducted in compliance with all applicable Federal civil rights laws, rules, regulations and policies.

This agreement supersedes any prior memorandum of understanding or agreement and it is effective upon the signature of the parties. It may be modified at any time by mutual consent of both parties and can be terminated by either party by a sixty (60) day written notice to the other party.

The parties will encourage other community development and natural resources related agencies to develop similar agreements.



Secretary of Agriculture Date: ________________________

_________ NATION By: _______________________________________

Tribal Chairperson Date: ________________________

____________________ TRIBAL CONSERVATION DISTRICT By: _______________________________________

Conservation District Chairperson Date: ____________________________

–  –  –

WHEREAS, The ___________________ Tribal Business Council is the duly constituted governing body within the exterior boundaries of the _____________ Indian Reservation; and WHEREAS, The ___________________ Tribal Business Council has been organized to represent, develop, protect and advance the view, interests, education, and resources of the _____________________

Indian Reservation, and WHEREAS, The ___________________ Tribal Business Council recognizes the importance of addressing Food, Agriculture and Natural Resource needs on the __________________ Reservation through the utilization of the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) programs and other federal programs and technical assistance and to increase Indian farmers and ranchers opportunities to own, operate and retain farms and ranches, and WHEREAS, Technical and cost-share assistance provided by the USDA is most effectively provided through a Tribal Conservation districts’ leadership and Long Range Natural Resource Plan, and WHEREAS, A _______________ Tribal Conservation District will have the authority to work cooperatively with other agencies, Tribal Resource Specialists, Tribal college, and boards, etc, to develop a Natural Resources Long Range Plan for the ______________ Nation which will establish priorities under which the USDA agencies will operate on the ___________ Indian Reservation, now THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED: The _______________ Tribal Business Council hereby establishes the ____________________ Tribal Conservation District, defined by the exterior boundaries of the _____ ________ Indian Reservation and authority of the ____________Tribe of the __________________ Indian Nation and will enter into a mutual agreement with USDA.

THEREFORE BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED: The _____________ Tribal Conservation District is empowered to enter into Cooperative Working Agreements with the USDA Agencies and others, with the Tribal Business Council approval, to carry out the Tribal Districts Long Range Natural Resource Plan, and BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, The _________________ Conservation District shall develop and implement By-laws for establishing and governing the ____________ Conservation District Board of Supervisors.

–  –  –


APPENDIx B This document provides a guideline for the parties to utilize in the development of a Cooperative Working Agreement. The headers (Bold Print) represent topics for discussion and agreement. The print following the headers is meant to be the general purpose of that particular topic. The parties will find it necessary to address each of the topics with language more descriptive of their particular desired relationship.

–  –  –

THIS AGREEMENT is between the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS), an agency of United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the ____________ Conservation District, collectively referred to as the parties, to define the roles and responsibilities of the parties.


NRCS is authorized to cooperate and furnish assistance to the parties in the conservation of natural resources as referenced in the Soil Conservation and Domestic Allotment Act, 16 U.S.C. 590; The Department of Agriculture Reorganization Act of 1994, Public Law 103and Secretary’s Memorandum No. 1010-1, Reorganization of the Department of Agriculture, dated October, 1994.

The Tribal authority for participation is defined in ____________

Tribal Resolution _______ passed on ____, 20___.

The purpose of this agreement is to supplement the Mutual Agreement between the United States Department of Agriculture and the _________ Conservation District. This cooperative working agreement documents those areas of common interest of the federal and Tribal partnership in natural resource conservation.

The customers of the parties to this agreement are individual landowners/land users, federal and Tribal land management agencies, other individuals, groups, and units of government. The parties mutually agree to provide leadership in resource conservation. To accomplish this, we share a commitment to listen, anticipate and respond to our customers’ needs; anticipate, identify, and address issues; maintain decision-making at the lowest level; advocate comprehensive resource management planning, maintain and improve our grass-roots delivery system; build new alliances to expand our partnership; foster economically viable environmental policies; improve the quality of life for future generations;

and conserve and enhance our natural resources.

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