The California Valley Miwok Tribe (located at 10601 N. Escondido PL, Stockton, CA, as listed in the Bureau of Indian Affairs’ BIA/DOI Spring 2011 Tribal Leaders Directory), a federally recognized tribe eligible to receive and distribute services from the federal government – on Wednesday, June 1st, 2011, attended a meeting in Los Banos, CA; hosted by the United States Department of the Interior’s Fish and Wildlife Service. The Fish and Wildlife Service is one of the many departments of the Interior service, and in keeping with “Executive order 13175” (Consultation and Coordination with Indian Tribal Governments), initiated by then-President William Jefferson Clinton and re-addressed with a personal commitment by President of the United States Barack H. Obama during his address to the country’s Native American tribal leaders at the White House Tribal Nations Conference that was hosted on November 5th, 2009, by the Department of the Interior at the Sidney R. Yates Auditorium in Washington, D.C.

Mark Petz, Chief Refuge Planning, Pacific Southwest Region of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, initially invited the Tribe to attend and to be involved in the planning and implementation of the proposed expansion of the San Joaquin River National Wildlife Refuge (Refuge), with additional correspondence provided by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Natural Resource Specialist Richard Smith. There are two segments being considered and the study is expected to take eighteen months to complete. This project will greatly enhance the existing refuge lands connecting them with the current Grasslands Ecological Area, a 160,000 acre mosaic of Central Valley floor habitats in the historic floodplain of the San Joaquin River. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is further hoping to strengthen this endeavor by developing conservation agreements with landowners with lands in proximity to this project.

This project will help to expand the habitat for many indigenous plants, fish, birds and animals that once thrived in our region. In recent years, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has already seen a voluntary re-introduction of some such wildlife that have re-discovered and now make the existing refuge and grasslands their home. Another benefit that the representatives answered to one of the Tribe’s questions was that the acquiring of additional lands will also benefit local residents with floodplain protection, helping to alleviate the stress on local levees at critical flood stage.

The Tribe appreciates the invitation to become involved in this project at such an early planning stage and looks forward to working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service through to the completion of this project.

Note: For more information on the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service San Joaquin River National Wildlife Refuge Project, please see the above .pdf accompanying this story.

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San Joaquin River National Wildlife Refuge