Testimony on SB 5921: Tribal Representation on the State Conservation Commission

Today, WACD Executive Director Tom Salzer submitted the following testimony on Senate Bill 5921: Concerning tribal representation on the state conservation commission.

The Washington Association of Conservation Districts’ position on SB 5921 is OTHER because the proposal came forward after our annual meeting and our association was unable to consider adopting a unified position on behalf of all forty-five conservation districts.


What I can say is that during my 31 years in the conservation district world, our conversations and processes have improved because of the support and engagement of two tribal members appointed by the Governor to serve on the Washington State Conservation Commission. Jim Peters (Squaxin Island Tribe) and later Daryl Williams (Tulalip Tribes of Washington) have had long and distinguished tenures on the State Conservation Commission.


I doubt that conservation districts would be as deeply involved in salmon and orca recovery were it not for the leadership provided by these two people. They brought a different awareness to our community, one that helped highlight the connection between people and natural resources. That awareness helped our community grapple with the many challenges faced by people in the important work of conserving these critical keystone species. Put simply, the conservation work of our member districts and their service to all Washingtonians is made better because of Jim and Daryl’s leadership.


No matter the outcome of SB 5921 in this legislative session, it is my hope that future governors will continue the practice of including tribal perspectives on the State Conservation Commission. The Commission is a place where disparate interests can come together to collaborate on solutions that work, and having tribal voices included is key to long-term success in this space.