NAFWS Enters into a Memorandum of Understanding with USFWS

Agreement to increase Tribes’ access to conservation resources

The NCTC training center (USFWS).

April 19, 2022 – The Native American Fish and Wildlife Society (NAFWS) and the U.S. Department of the Interior, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) on January 18, 2022. The MOU will increase collaboration to coordinate support, involvement, and utilization of the National Conservation Training Center.

The USFWS  National Conservation Training Center’s (NCTC) 533-acre campus is located outside of Washington, DC metro area in Shepherdstown, West Virginia. Conservation professionals meet both in-person and virtually through NCTC for trainings in habitat assessment, wildlife biology field techniques, safety and emergency response, policy, communications, and more. The NCTC also provides a wide variety of resources through the USFWS Conservation Library.

“NAFWS is excited to announce a MOU with the USFWS,” said NAFWS Executive Director Julie Thorstenson, PhD, “Tribal fish and wildlife professionals often identify access to trainings and publications as a barrier to conservation work. This MOU provides Tribal governments and their staff access to NCTC fish and wildlife resource training programs along with access to a broad range of scientific literature through USFWS library services while providing Tribal input on the types of trainings needed. This MOU provides a much-needed resource to Tribal fish and wildlife professionals.”

Since its establishment, the NCTC has welcomed Tribal Nations to the training center. The USFWS has offered training courses on Tribal lands and has hosted the Native Youth Climate Adaptation Leadership Congress since 2015. However, with limited vouchers available, tuition, transportation, and lodging costs are major barriers to Tribes participating in the program. The memorandum seeks to improve the access and relevance of NCTC resources for Tribes.

“We are thrilled to strengthen our partnership and collaboration with Tribal wildlife agencies,” said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Martha Williams. “This new MOU will bring an increased exchange of knowledge – including cultural and ecological –ultimately benefitting partners, fish, wildlife, and habitats.”

Utilizing the NCTC, NAFWS and USFWS will develop and facilitate direct training and support for Tribal natural resources employees. NAFWS members will also have access to the training center’s library with more than 20,000 professional and scientific journals, 400 recorded training videos and webinars, a growing collection of 9,000 books and eBooks, and USFWS’ gray literature.

This collaboration will foster better communications and increased collaboration between Tribal and federal agencies. It is also an opportunity for the incorporation of Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) and the expertise of Tribal governments into policy, agency actions, and determinations that have Tribal implications.

The Memorandum of Understanding between the USFWS and NAFWS is a step in the right direction to build capacity in Tribal fish and wildlife programs, while allowing for Tribal input.

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Native American Fish and Wildlife Society would like to thank those organizations that provided us with support over the years. With them we grew an effective national communications network for the exchange of information and management techniques related to self-determined tribal fish and wildlife management.

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