Ned Currence, a biologist with the Nooksack Tribe’s natural resources department, has been recognized for his environmental work with the Tri-State Water Council’s prestigious Scott Hall Award.

“Ned is a passionate and effective advocate for fisheries and water resources, as well as for treaty rights to those resources,” said Bob Kelly, director of Nooksack Natural Resources. “He is a strong inspiration to those who work with him, and we’re very proud that he has received this award.”


Ned Currence, a biologist with the Nooksack Tribe’s natural resources department, has been recognized for his environmental work with the Tri-State Water Council’s prestigious Scott Hall Award.

“Ned is a passionate and effective advocate for fisheries and water resources, as well as for treaty rights to those resources,” said Bob Kelly, director of Nooksack Natural Resources. “He is a strong inspiration to those who work with him, and we’re very proud that he has received this award.”

Established to recognize an individual with exceptional integrity in environmental protection, the award is named in honor of Scott Hall, who served on the council from 1993 through 1999 as a representative of the Kalispel Tribe. The award is designed to honor a person who demonstrates exceptional dedication and integrity in his or her field and sets aside personal agendas to build partnerships that lead to successful environmental outcomes. Its recipient is recognized for “bridging gaps between groups, providing inspiration to peers and friends, and facing challenges with courage, perseverance and optimism.”

Currence will receive the award at the council’s upcoming meeting on Oct. 13.

Currence has worked as a habitat biologist for the Nooksack Natural Resources since September, 1998, focusing on treaty resource protection with emphasis on reviewing timber sales and road maintenance for potential impacts to habitat. More recently, his work has broadened to include collaborating with a multitude of jurisdictions for resource protection and salmon recovery.

“Ned has years of experience in resource protection and fisheries management and an effective understanding of the policies that determine the fate of salmon and bull trout,” said Kelly. “His scientific credentials are extensive, and his record working with others to protect critical habitat is even more impressive.”

Currence was a member of the Coastal/Puget Sound bull trout recovery team and drafted Nooksack River watershed sections of the draft Puget Sound bull trout recovery plan. Ned is also an author of the draft salmon recovery plan for Watershed Resources Inventory Area 1 (WRIA 1), which includes the Nooksack River basin and certain adjacent watersheds.

He also has experience in planning processes with a broad range of stakeholders, including work to assess habitat in the Acme Saxon reach of the Nooksack River’s South Fork. Currence has also been involved in the technical aspects of the effort to restore fish passage to the Middle Fork above Bellingham’s diversion dam. Additionally, he served on a small team that rated habitat conditions for chinook throughout the Nooksack River watershed.

Currence participates in numerous local technical forums, including WRIA 1 salmon recovery groups, the Whatcom County Technical Advisory Committee for Critical Areas Ordinance and Shoreline Management Program updates, and the WRIA 1 Instream Flow/Fish Habitat Technical Team. Currence also took part in the local hatchery reform review process, and helps develop technical estimates of Nooksack salmon stock escapement.

“If there is an important issue facing fish habitat in our watersheds, you can bet that Ned will be on the front lines as an advocate for salmon and trout,” said Kelly.

Currence earned his bachelor of science degree in freshwaterr ecology from Western Washington University in Bellingham in 1988. He then worked for the U.S. Forest Service on the Darrington Ranger District monitoring stream habitat, then worked as a biologist for the Makah Tribe from 1990-1996. Between late 1996 and 1998 he was a consulting biologist.

The non-profit Tri-State Water Quality Council works on water quality issues in the three-state Clark Fork-Pend Oreille watershed of the Upper Columbia River. This is the third year the award has been given.

“Scott was a dedicated defender of environmental resources and an inspiration to all of us at the Council,” said Diane Williams, the council’s executive director. “Giving this award is our way of paying tribute to Scott’s influence, and the integrity and courage that he inspired in all who knew and worked with him.”