During his 21 years as a California Highway Patrol officer, Bob Goodwin eased tensions during traffic accidents, issued verbal warnings and made arrests—all in a calm and cool way.
Now, as Tribal relations advisor for the U.S. Forest Service’s Pacific Southwest Region, Goodwin is again relying on those valuable people and negotiating skills to build relations between Tribal entities and the federal government. Goodwin’s easy-going demeanor, “can do” attitude, and ability to resolve challenging issues make him perfect for the job.
As tribal relations advisor, Goodwin, 50, who grew up in Northern California, provides advice and guidance to the regional forester on issues that concern Native Americans. He also works with the region’s national forests and ranger districts on projects that may have an effect on traditional, cultural sites. Goodwin is often called upon to ensure smooth relations when the interests of tribal entities and the Forest Service conflict.
He is currently working with the tribes as the Forest Service implements the Forest Plan Revision on the region’s Inyo, Sequoia and Sierra national forests. The Forest Plan instructs the Forest Service on how to manage the resources of a national forest. While the issues have been challenging, Goodwin views the exercise as an opportunity for the Forest Service to strengthen relationships with its tribal partners.
“My experiences with the (California Highway Patrol) got me into situations that were very stressful or difficult, where I had to look at all the possibilities on how these things could be resolved,” said Goodwin.
Along with his experience with the highway patrol, Goodwin, who is an enrolled member of the Karuk Tribe part Karuk, was elected to the Karuk Tribal Council and served two four-year terms. Despite his tribal connection and experience, he was uncertain about applying for the position with the Forest Service because he wondered whether he could serve the needs of both the agency and the Tribes. But after careful consideration, he determined that his unique experience brings an understanding that would be valuable for both parties.
Goodwin says he is particularly interested in protecting natural resources and developing stewardship opportunities for all tribes across the state.
“Bob has first-hand experience from the tribal side which gives him a leg up in the job,” said Leaf Hillman, director of Natural Resources and Environmental Policy for the Karuk Tribe. “He handles tough situations calmly and doesn’t get rattled.”