Georgiana Kautz, a champion for salmon recovery and fish habitat protection in the Nisqually River and Puget Sound, will receive an honorary doctorate of science from the University of Puget Sound during the school’s 2017 graduation ceremony May 14.
UPS officials said they chose Kautz because of her work spanning several decades. For instance, as the Nisqually Tribe’s natural-resources manager for the past 26 years, she has been at the forefront of historical legal battles over fishing rights and other tribal issues while helping foster model partnerships with landowners on the river’s watershed. She helped lead the most ambitious estuary restoration process seen in the Pacific Northwest, including 410 acres at the Nisqually estuary and 750 acres in the Billy Frank Jr. Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge.
Born into a family with 11 children and raised in a two-room house with no electricity or running water, Kautz grew up watching her parents struggle to make a living by fishing for salmon.
As a young woman, she joined in civil disobedience actions to press for treaty fishing rights and ultimately saw the triumph of the 1974 Boldt Decision, which validated those rights and gave the tribe co-management of fisheries with the state.
Under her leadership, land up and down the Nisqually River that's in conservation stewardship has increased from 5 percent in 1990 to more than 75 percent today.