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Osage Nation ENR Department Hosts
Watershed Forum

In cooperation with the Environmental Protection Agency, the Osage Nation hosted a 3-day watershed forum August 24-26, 2010 in Tulsa, OK; the first of its kind for this region. The forum was designed to foster collaboration between tribes and other watershed stakeholders promoting future partnerships for cooperative watershed management in multi-jurisdictional areas.

Finding Common Ground: Building Partnerships to Better Manage our Waters Resources was a success as judged by the amount of positive feedback that was received from the 120 people who attended the forum. Attendees represented tribal, federal, state, and city governments, non-profit organizations, volunteer groups, businesses, and academia.

The opening ceremonies began with the presentation of colors posted by the Marine Corps League Osage Detachment #669 Honor Guard. The opening flag song and drum were performed by the Osage Singers. Bruce Cass of the Osage Nation and Master of Ceremonies said the opening prayer. Opening remarks were made by Osage Nation Principal Chief, John D. Red Eagle; Oklahoma Secretary of the Environment, J.D. Strong; Muscogee Creek Nation Councilman, George Tiger; Senior Advisor to the Secretary of Agriculture for Tribal Relations, USDA, Janie Simms Hipp; and Associate Director of Water Quality Protection Division, USEPA Region 6, Claudia Hosch.

The opening session continued with speakers Clay Pope, Executive Director of the Oklahoma Association of Conservation Districts and Shanon Phillips, Water Quality Director of the Oklahoma Conservation Commission and led directly into an interactive and fun activity for the attendees. This activity was a traditional Osage handgame, which was MC’d by Bruce Cass. The day ended with a reception immediately following the handgame.

The second day of the forum focused on tribal watershed efforts as well as efforts outside of Oklahoma. The day started with two of the most talked about presentations given by Dr. Andrea Hunter, Director of the Osage Nation Tribal Historic Preservation Office and Meredith Garvin, Director for Tribal Environmental Management Services representing several tribes in northeast Oklahoma. Dr. Hunter spoke about the Osage’s cultural and historical perspective on water. Meredith Garvin talked about tribal nonpoint source watershed projects in northeastern Oklahoma.  The morning session wrapped with presentations from Drew Holt, Executive Director for the Elk River Watershed Improvement Association in Missouri and Colin Larrick, Water Quality Specialist with the Ute Mountain Ute Tribe.
Attendees were enlightened and entertained by Ed Fite, Administrator of the Oklahoma Scenic Rivers Commission and Kathy Tibbits, Attorney at Law during the luncheon. They talked about the Illinois River and Save the Illinois River citizen’s group.

After the luncheon, the forum attendees were divided into three work groups.  Each group was given an exercise with the goal of identifying the needs and opportunities for collaboration within the watershed management process. The discussions that took place were lively and interactive.

The third day, the work groups came together to report out their previous day’s results to the entire assembly. Then the group as a whole participated in a facilitated discussion focusing on challenges, opportunities and recommendations for moving forward. The forum was enthusiastically facilitated by Charlie MacPherson of Tetra Tech, Inc.

The forum ended on a high note with luncheon keynote speaker, Chad Pregracke, who was both inspirational and entertaining. Chad is the author of “From the Bottom Up” and founder of America’s only “industrial strength” river clean-up organization, Living Lands & Waters.


For more information call Danna Washbourne or Brad Stumph at 918-287-5333 or email at watershedforum@osagetribe.org