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Warjone: Building trust, Billy Frank Jr.'s honorable achievement

The Washington Forest Protection Board of Trustees sends their congratulations to Billy Frank Jr. for receiving the first American Indian Visionary Award.

We couldn't think of a more deserving individual who has made a bigger impact for Native American peoples and other citizens of Washington state. Billy's "voice for salmon," "can-do" attitude and demonstrated respect for Indian cultural values has propelled natural resource management in Washington out of a contentious arena, into one of cooperation and sustainability. This benefits all of us.

With respect for all people and natural resources, Billy as tribal leader, was the first to join with representatives from the forest community, environmental groups and state natural resource agencies to craft a consensus-based solution for protecting timber, fish and wildlife (TFW). The 1987 TFW Agreement was a unified recommendation to the Washington State Legislature and Forest Practices Board for changes to our state's environmental forestry regulations.

In addition to that, all of the stakeholders realized they shared many common goals for maintaining a responsible timber industry, protection of our streams and rivers and maintenance of abundant and healthy fish and wildlife resources. This set Washington upon a new course of cooperative vs. contentious management of its natural resources.

Under Frank's leadership, the Tribes built a relationship and earned the respect of all the stakeholders interested in forest practices in Washington state. The Tribes also received formal recognition of their interest in resource protection and of the significance of archaeological and cultural resources.

Building upon friendships gained and trust earned through the TFW process, a decade later the same groups came together, with inclusion of the federal natural resource agencies, to develop a cooperative protection plan for salmon and clean water on non-federal lands.

The goals were simple, the task was daunting; develop a system in Washington to manage its fisheries resource to avoid federal intervention. Since salmon had been listed under the Endangered Species Act, and water bodies were polluted under the Clean Water Act, maintaining local control of our resources would only be assured if an acceptable plan was developed to meet the requirements of both Acts.

The resulting Forests & Fish regulations in 1999 represent the highest level of fish and water protections of any state in the country. The new program incorporated the use of science and Adaptive Management, setting specific goals for protecting the requirements of fish and cool, clean water. The beauty of the program is that we will "go where the truth takes us" and that truth is the science, as told by Frank.

Billy Frank Jr. has worked with private timber landowners for several decades to solve multi-faceted natural resource problems in a creative and fair manner. We wish to thank him for his work and extend our most sincere congratulations on his selection for this honorable award.

John Warjone, president of Washington Forest Protection Association, was born in Washington, D.C. in 1944, and grew up in southern California. He attended California State University and received his bachelor of arts in Anthropology in 1972. That same year, Warjone joined the Port Blakely Mill Co. (predecessor to Port Blakely Tree Farms), and has held a variety of management positions since then, culminating in his appointment as president of the Timber Division in April of 1996. Warjone is on the governing boards of the Washington Forest Protection Association, Oregon Forest Industries Council, World Forestry Center, and Olympia Federal Savings and Loan.