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Poarch earns three forestry awards

By Lisa Tindell

The Poarch Band of Creek Indians has an entire department dedicated to ensure the environment of properties owned by the tribe are maintained and enhanced to provide recreational offerings for members and the community as well as ensuring the natural habitat for many animals in the forests.

The foresight of PBCI has been recognized and awards touting their hard work were recently presented by members of the Alabama Forestry Association and Alabama Natural Resources Council.

PBCI received certification June 16 for the ANRC Treasure Forest Award, the USDA-Forest Service’s Forestry Stewardship Program, and the American Tree Farm System’s Tree Farm Program.

Linda Casey, state forester with the Alabama Forestry Commission, presented the awards and congratulated the Tribe for their efforts.

“I wan to recognized the hard wok that has gone into receiving not only the Treasure Forest Award but also the Tree Farm and Forest Stewardship certifications,” Casey said.

“This is the first time that a landowner has received all three certifications at one time. I commend the Tribe for this achievement.”

Tribal Chairman Buford Rolin accepted the honors on behalf of the tribe during the recent United South and Eastern Tribes meeting held in Mobile. He said the work done by the Tribe that has been recognized have been rewarding on its own.

“The projects that we have worked with NRCS on have really been rewarding to the Tribe,” Rolin said. “We appreciate this recognition. I encourage all of the USET Tribes to take advantage of this agency, because they have a lot to offer. They are our friends.”

Dr. William Puckett, NRCS state conservationist, said the Tribe’s efforts put them in an elite group of landowners.

“The PBCI are the epitome of good land stewards,” Puckett said. “They have put their commitment of preserving our natural resources into action. NRCS is proud to be a partner with the PBCI.”

The awards were made in connection with forest management activities on the Magnolia Branch Wildlife Reserve, property owned by PBCI. The Reserve is mostly timberland and is used as a recreational area for the Tribe and their guests. By working with various state and federal agencies, the Tribe has sustained, protected and enhanced 4,156 acres of timberland and 50 lakes, NCRS officials said.

PBCI partnered with NRCS to secure financial and technical assistance for site preparation of 800 acres planted to longleaf pine and to install firebreaks and prescribe burn over 1,200 acres of pine plantation. The wildlife accomplishments included planting 30 acres of food plots to cool and warm season forages, building numerous wood duck boxes and birdhouse and thinning 1,280 acres to improve wildlife habitat.

Rolin said the four plaques received at the awards presentation will be displayed in Tribal offices and three signs will be posted in the Magnolia Branch Wildlife Reserve to demonstrate the Tribe’s commitment to land stewardship.

The Treasure Forest award is a flagship program of the ANRCS, a Natural Resources Conservation partner. The program was developed in 1974 to recognize landowners who are practicing sound, sustainable, multi-use forest management. To date, approximately 2,000 landowners have received the Treasure Forest certification, representing just over 2 million acres in

Alabama. There are over 400,000 non-industrial private forest landowners in the state; to be one of the 2,000 landowners to have achieved this status is

an accomplishment, officials said.

Since 1935, the NRCS conservation delivery system has advanced a unite partnership with state and local governments and private landowners delivering conservation based on specific, local conservations needs while accommodating state and national interests.