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Pat Pelky receives U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Silver Eagle Award

June 25, 2021

Oneida Tribal Chairman Tehassi Hill, Award Recipient Pat Pelky and Great Lakes Regional Director Charlie Wooley.
Oneida Tribal Chairman Tehassi Hill, Award Recipient Pat Pelky and Great Lakes Regional Director Charlie Wooley. Photo by Trina Soyk/USFWS.

We at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Interior Great Lakes Region are pleased to announce the presentation of the Silver Eagle Award to Pat Pelky, who serves as the Oneida Nation’s division director of Environmental, Health, Safety, Land and Agriculture. The Silver Eagle Award is our most prestigious external award and recognizes the lifetime fish and wildlife conservation achievements of special partners.

“I have worked with Pat for much of his illustrious, 26-year career, and he is truly deserving of this award,” said Interior Great Lakes Regional Director Charlie Wooley. “Pat is truly a caretaker of the land, of the natural world, and of the natural and cultural heritage of the Oneida people.”

Pelky has been a strong conservation leader throughout northeast Wisconsin, through his work restoring, protecting and advocating for natural and cultural resources. In the early 2000s, he helped establish the Fox River Natural Resource Damage Assessment case, working with other natural resource trustees to restore losses due to contaminants in the Fox River and Green Bay. Pelky coordinated tribal co-trustee involvement in the process and has remained involved ever since. His contributions to the Fox River NRDA effort have made possible lasting conservation benefits in the region.

Pelky helped grow the Environmental and Conservation departments of the Oneida Tribe over several decades by adding staff, securing grant funds and establishing foundational policies. He led the Land Management Division for the tribe over the last decade, overseeing the purchase and management of tribal lands. He also oversaw the Oneida Nation Farm, striking a balance between traditional agriculture and conservation needs on the landscape. Through Pelky's vision, tens of thousands of acres on the Oneida Reservation have been enhanced, restored, protected and sustainably farmed.

“Each day, Pat’s work touches the lives of the tribal members who live and work on the Oneida Reservation,” Wooley said. “They are able to hunt, fish, hike and partake in cultural practices thanks to Pat’s commitment to conservation. Other residents of northeast Wisconsin also experience the benefits of Pat’s work through cleaner water and abundant wildlife.”

Among the notable projects that Pelky is responsible for is construction of Oneida Lake, a 40-acre fishing lake on the reservation. He facilitated the protection and restoration of many lands and natural areas including Coyote Run, the Trout Creek Headwaters and the former State Farm properties. Pelky also worked to give tribal landowners equal footing in Farm Bill programs through establishment of the Wisconsin Tribal Conservation Advisory Council, in partnership with the Natural Resource Conservation Service within the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Throughout his career, Pelky worked with many programs within the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as he implemented his vision for restoring the Oneida Reservation. They include the Partners for Fish and Wildlife program, the Green Bay Fish and Wildlife Conservation Office, the Office of Law Enforcement and the National Fish Hatchery System facilities that supply fish to the tribe for stocking.