Terry Willams Receives Lifetime Achievement Award for Salmon Habitat and Puget Sound Preservation

Tulalip Tribes Board of Director, Bonnie Juneau, presented Terry Williams with the award, custom-made with spawning salmon design, created by Camano Island artist, Molly LeMaster.

By Kalvin Valdillez, Tulalip News

On a gorgeous evening in Mukilteo, a considerable amount of conservationists attended the annual Snohomish Conservation District’s Better Ground Showcase on April 12. The showcase was held at the Rosehill Community Center, providing a beautiful view of Possession Sound where Washington State ferries were traveling from Mukilteo to Clinton. The Conservation District works with farmers, city residents as well as rural and suburban landowners to promote and encourage conservation and responsible use of natural resources. During the showcase, the Conservation District honored a number of Snohomish County citizens for their work in protecting the environment, presenting awards for Conservation Leaders of the Year, Youth Conservation Leaders of the Year and Volunteer of the Year as well as Lifetime Achievement Awards. Among the evening’s honored guests was Tulalip tribal member, Terry Williams. 

Terry received a Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of his decades of dedication to protecting our Mother Earth and preserving the salmon habitat. Since the early ‘80’s, Terry has been an advocate for the conservation of natural resources for future generations. He has led the Tulalip Natural Resources department in a variety of positions including Tribal Liaison to the Environmental Protection Agency as well as his current position as Commissioner of Fisheries and Natural Resources. Terry has built strong partnerships with local environmentalists and has also created a number of commissions and committees within the county. 

Tulalip Board of Director Bonnie Juneau presented Terry with a unique award that was constructed from tile and depicted spawning salmon. The handmade award was created by Camano Island artist, Molly LeMaster, and did not leave Terry’s possession for the rest of the entire evening. 

“This whole event was really wonderful,” Terry beamed. “Working with all of these folk has been extremely educational not only for me but also for the Tribe. I think it’s terrific. I’m really glad to see everybody here, it shows that community support. We’ve got so many problems to fix and everyone does a wonderful job when we all work together.”

Daryl Williams accepted an award for his work with Qualco Energy.

Terry was also essential in helping establish Qualco Energy, a local company that also received an award at the showcase for Conservation Leader of the Year. Accepting the award, along with his business partners, was Tulalip tribal member and Terry’s brother, Daryl Williams. 

“Qualco Energy is three-way partnership between the Tulalip Tribes, Northwest Chinook Recovery and the Sno/Sky Agriculture Alliance,” explains Daryl. “The partners came together to create a bio-digestive project where we collect cow-manure from Werkhoven Dairy. We capture methane that comes off of it and use that to create electricity and we store the liquids that come out for irrigating the fields during the growing season. Our main goal is for water quality purposes to get the raw manure off the fields. Over the last year we built a large rain garden at our facility to treat roof water coming off the farm, plus some of the runoff on the driveways. So, we’re just trying to clean up the water that’s coming off the farm.”

Daryl also shared his excitement for his brother stating, “I started working for the Tribe in ’77, so he must’ve started in ’82 or ’83. We’ve worked together for a long time. I’ve stayed on the habitat side of things, but Terry has done a blend of everything that encompasses Natural Resources. He’s done whatever it took to allow our fisherman enough time to harvest what they need and to protect the habitat so the fish have somewhere to go when they head upriver.”

“My dad always used to say treat your neighbors like you’d have them treat you. It’s the same with the environment,” expressed Terry. “To produce all the things that we really love and enjoy, we need to take care of it. And the more we take care of the environment, the better we’re going to be.”

Tribes and Snohomish County working together on Sustainable Land Strategy

 

Terry Williams introduces USDA Deputy Under Secretary of Agriculture Butch Blazer at the Jan. 23rd presentation of the SnoCo SLS.

Terry Williams introduces USDA Deputy Under Secretary of Agriculture Butch Blazer at the Jan. 23rd presentation of the SnoCo SLS. Photo: Andrew Gobin

By Andrew Gobin, Tulalip News

Over the last three years the Snohomish County Sustainable Land Strategy (SLS) has gained national attention for innovative planning to preserve and protect both agricultural interests and the county watershed.  What started as a small project now will drive national agriculture policy. Collaborators of the SLS met with United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Deputy Under Secretary for Natural Resources & Environment, Arthur “Butch” Blazer, on January 23rd to discuss the progress of the SLS so far and their future plans. Historically, Snohomish County and area tribes have a reputation for innovative strategic planning, yet this is the first strategy that is beneficial to everyone’s interests.

The SLS is a collaborative project between the Tulalip Tribes, the Stillaguamish Tribe, and Snohomish County that “balances the need to restore vital salmon habitat while also protecting the viability of local agriculture,” according to Snohomish County’s brochure on the SLS. Salmon and farming are noted as having key roles in the history and economy of the county and can both be protected through the SLS.

Qualco Energy is one example of a collaborative effort to protect salmon habitat without burdening or infringing on agriculture. The energy company, located a few miles southwest of Monroe, is a non-profit partnership comprised of the Tulalip Tribes, Northwest Chinook Recovery, and the Sno/Sky Agricultural Alliance. In February of 2008, after 10 years of planning and research, Qualco installed an anaerobic digester that converts cow manure into energy and natural gas. Cow manure has devastating impacts on salmon habitat and typically has to be hauled away or diverted to a lagoon. Now, the manure can go right to a digester, keeping it out of the watershed without incurring time and monetary costs to farmers.

“Local communities are also happy with the reduced agricultural smells, now that the waste goes to the digester and isn’t sitting in open lagoons,” added Qualco Vice President Daryl Williams, a Tulalip tribal member who also works for the Tulalip Tribes Natural Resources department.

The Qualco example also demonstrates the support the SLS has from the state legislature. The land on which the project is located is an old dairy farm donated to the project by the state. State permitting laws were changed for the project in order to allow the project to expand to food waste, now allowing the Qualco digester to run 30% food waste without need a solid waste permit.

Co-Facilitator of the SLS, Dan Evans, said, “When you bring together the tribes and agriculture, you have tremendous bandwidth. With that, you have the key to push things through legislation,” referring to the political influence of the SLS.

That political momentum has caught the attention of the USDA, which only adds to it.

“The primary purpose I am here is to listen. This presentation is material I can take back with me [to Washington DC] and help you continue doing what you’re doing on a national policy level,” said USDA Deputy Under Secretary Butch Blazer.

The SLS has the potential to expand to other counties; Skagit and King are currently expressing an interesting in developing their own SLS.

In addition to peripheral county influence, the SLS is a gateway for future innovation in the fields of sustainable land use and clean, renewable energy.