Fort Apache fuels crew gathered for a group photo after being awarded the prestigious Pulaski Award. (BIA)
BY KATY O'HARA
November marks National Native American Heritage Month and during this time we celebrate the diversity of culture, rich traditions, and histories of these great Americans. Native people make important contributions to our country, our communities, and our lives. The theme for this year’s Native American Heritage Month celebration is Honor the Past, Embrace the Future.
In 2019, The Fort Apache Agency and Bureau of Indian Affairs were recognized with the prestigious Pulaski Award, presented by the governing body of the National Interagency Fire Center. This marked the first time the Bureau of Indian Affairs has been recognized with this award. Through collaboration and coordination across both tribal and agency boundaries, these firefighters effectively planned and implemented a fuels project designed to create a resilient and sustainable oak savanna ecosystem. The fuels project had a direct impact on the sustainability of the Emory oak. The acorn produced by this tree, also known as Chi Ch’il, is an important traditional food source for the Apache people.
Pulaski Award recognizes outstanding performance in interagency collaboration, cooperation, and coordination; safety of wildland firefighters or the American public during a wildfire; outstanding group performance in fire management and fire operation activities; outstanding performance on a wildland fire management project; and development of partnerships or communication tools.
Katy O’Hara is the Partnership Program Lead for the Office of Wildland Fire. Katy also serves as a Public Information Officer with the Pacific Northwest Type 1 Incident Management Teams and is an active member of the Navy Reserve.