The Western Regional Partnership (WRP) was established in 2007 when the Department of Defense partnered with representatives of federal, state and Tribal leadership in the states of Arizona, California, Nevada, New Mexico, and Utah.
The WRP was expanded in 2015 to include the state of Colorado. One of the founding federal agencies, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE), specifically, South Pacific Division (SPD), has been a participant since the first Principals’ meeting. WRP’s mission is to provide a proactive and collaborative framework for senior policy level federal, state, and Tribal leadership to identify common goals and emerging issues in the region.
The WRP region contains significant military assets, federal and Tribal lands, infrastructure systems such as energy and transportation, and wildlife ecosystems making WRP valuable in leveraging resources and linking efforts to help partners share best practices. The region is homeland to 172, approximately 30 percent, of the nation’s federally recognized tribes, creating an excellent venue for engagement with tribal governments, and also an ideal strategic partner for the TNTCX. Dr. Ron Kneebone, Director, TNTCX, has been a regular USACE participant since its inception.
The goals of WRP are the following: promote collaboration among and communication between the region’s many governments; address common goals; identify and solve potential conflicts, and develop remedies that protect the region’s natural and cultural resources, while promoting sustainability and mission effectiveness. Organization meetings provide a forum for information exchange, issue identification, problem solving and recommendations across the WRP region. The outcome of these efforts is the adoption of regional strategic priorities, the leveraging of existing resources and linking of efforts to better support key projects.
WRP committees meet regularly to pursue the goals of the organization. The partnership has three standing committees: Military Readiness, Homeland Security, Disaster Preparedness and Aviation, Energy and Natural Resources.
The Military Readiness, Homeland Security, Disaster Preparedness and Aviation Committee supports the nation’s military and the region’s disaster preparedness missions. The committee works to enhance the partner awareness of the regions’ numerous and varied Department of Defense missions, and the land uses compatible with them. The region’s respective homeland security/disaster preparedness missions are supported through the encouragement of interdependence, and the sharing of existing resources and tools. Because of the multiple overlapping demands on the region’s airspace, the committee provides a forum for aviation users to share information and coordinate activities across the WRP region.
The Energy Committee monitors changes in energy policy and upcoming trends, promotes awareness of new energy projects (conventional and alternative and transmission planning efforts) and planning processes, as well as opportunities for engagement. A specific goal of the energy committee is to address or mitigate impacts from rapidly developing energy activities, especially those impacts on the military’s ability to test and train, the region’s natural and cultural resources, and Tribal lands.
The Natural Resources Committee serves to coordinate and leverage conservation efforts to maximize regional scale efficiencies and economies of scale. The committee serves as a resource for WRP partners in pursuit of regional, or landscape-level, conservation efforts. Because much of the region is arid, and since ‘water is life,’ the committee promotes an ongoing dialogue on western water sustainability and security.
The WRP proactively seeks the participation of the region’s 172 Native American governments. The organization serves as a forum that empowers technical staffs from multiple agencies to find innovative, cross-program solutions to challenges faced by Tribal governments. WRP, and its participating agencies, honors the government-to-government relationship unique to Tribal sovereign nations, and fosters a collaborative atmosphere that respects Native American self-determination. Tribes engaged in WRP have identified and applied responses to priority challenges that would not have been otherwise possible. In November 2018, WRP created the Tribal Engagement Temporary Working Group (TETWG) to actively promote the participation of Tribal governments in the region by addressing some of the challenges they face, including disaster preparedness, energy development, natural resources, and federal/state/tribal relations.
TNTCX participation in the WRP arises from our mutual principles and goals for Native American collaboration. The TNTCX in WRP seeks to increase Tribal participation and provide more information on all topics to assist Native American communities in making informed decisions regarding their individual engagement opportunities. The two organizations recognize the sovereignty and individuality of Native American governments. Past cooperative efforts include disaster preparedness and emergency management issues, and better/quicker responses to Tribal governments. The TNTCX conducts multiple webinars about USACE programs, resources, technical assistance opportunities.
The principal organizations of the WRP are: Office of the Secretary of Defense, U.S. Army, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Navy, U.S. Air Force, Department of the Interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Bureau of Land Management, Bureau of Reclamation, Natural Resources Conservation Service, USDA Forest Service, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, U.S. Geological Service, Federal Aviation Administration, Federal Highway Administration, Federal Emergency Management Agency, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, Department of Energy, National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Environmental Protection Agency, Inter-tribal Council of California, Navajo Nation, Western Governors Association, and the States of Arizona, California, Colorado, New Mexico, Nevada and Utah.
For more information about the Tribal Nations Technical Center for Expertise, please visit our webpage: https://www.spa.usace.army.mil/Missions/TNTCX/