SUQUAMISH — Continuing its work to provide a better planet for future generations, the Suquamish Tribe was presented with the Mother Earth Award on Jan. 11 for protecting the environment.
The award, given out every year by the West Sound Conservation Council, honors people and groups whose efforts and programs maintain and improve Kitsap County’s ecosystems, said WSCC chairwoman Beth Wilson.
“This award is really appreciated,” said Suquamish Tribal Chairman Leonard Forsman. “The council spent a lot of time working to protect our habitats. We work pretty closely with other jurisdictions to be sure that the growth in the area is respecting the environment. We do this both politically and legally sometimes.”
The WSCC formed about five years ago by residents hoping to preserve Kitsap County’s unique environments, Wilson said. The council gave the first Mother Earth Award a year later. Previous honorees include Mary Bertrand, Virginia Cowling and most recently Tom Donnelly. The Suquamish Tribe was honored not only for its work on the environment, but also for the help it provided to the WSCC on various causes.
“The tribe stood with Tom on land use monitoring for years,” Wilson said. “They’ve worked with us as much as possible, and they’ve been doing extra work to protect salmon for years. They are major, major players and we were happy to present them with this award.”
The WSCC worked with the Suquamish Tribe to appeal Critical Area Ordinance provisions, and provided the council a space and telephones in its fight against Initiative 933, which was defeated in the November 2006 elections, she said.
“It’s a great award, and it’s a nice acknowledgment of what the tribe is doing to protect the environment,” said Suquamish Tribe’s Salmon Recovery Coordinator and fisheries biologist Paul Dorn. “The tribe’s also involved in salmon projects throughout the county, and in the big picture, the tribe has a large interest in protection the Puget Sound habitat.”
The tribe and its members will continue working in conjunction with the WSCC to protect the environment, Forsman said. There are still many projects that need to be monitored and completed to ensure the safety of North End ecosystems.
“We will continue to work with groups and fulfill our obligations to the future generations and our ancestors to protect our environment,” he said. “It’s difficult to battle growth in this area, we just need to make sure it’s done responsibly.”