Meet Our Natural Resources Department

Natural Resources Department

The Buena Vista Rancheria of Me-Wuk Indians Natural Resources Department (NRD) was established in 2007 to promote a safe, healthy, and sustainable environment for Tribal members. The mission of the NRD is to “preserve, protect and enhance ecosystems, human health and cultural resources on Tribal land for the Tribe, community, and future generations through pollution prevention, restoration, community education and partnerships.” The Environmental Resources Department shares a vision with the Tribal community to foster a greater appreciation and understanding for natural resources and tribal heritage amongst Indians and non-Indians alike. The Tribe’s overall goal for strategic resource management is to restore and preserve resources for this and future generations. The NRD adapts traditional cultural management strategies with contemporary and science-based methods to attain healthy ecosystems. The NRD works to build healthy functioning ecosystems on the Tribal properties and surrounding lands that enhance lifeways, resource management, and educational programs.

Michael DeSpain

Chief Operations Officer

Michael DeSpain has Over 30 year’s professional experience in all aspects of Natural Resources, Environmental, Housing, Emergency Management, Wildland Fire, Transportation, and Historic Preservation and is a graduate of the Emergency Management Institute Advanced Academy (NEMMA). Mr. DeSpain is currently the Tribes Chief Operations Officer and acts as the Tribe’s natural Resource Director, he oversees the water/wastewater treatment plant, fire station and supports the Tribe’s economic development. He is a certified instructor for NIMS, CERT, Cultural Resource Management, Wildland Fire and Aviation (NWCG), and an adjunct instructor for FEMA and Pierce College in the State of Washington. He also serves as a Tribal Representative for the California Office of Emergency Services First Responders Network, a member of the CalFire Hdqtrs Tribal Policy working group, Region 9 Tribal Operations Emergency work group lead, and Emergency Manager for Global Vision Consortium. He has written, awarded and administered numerous U.S. EPA, P.L. 83-638 Contracts with the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Indian Health Service, Bureau of Reclamation, HUD, National Park Service, Natural Resource Conservation Service, and has been a grant proposal reviewer for the FEMA Tribal Homeland Security Grant Program in 2010, 2012, 2014, 2015, and 2016 and NTIA grant reviewer for Broadband 2021 and 2022.

Meghan Smith

Environmental Program Coordinator

Meghan began working for the Tribe in December 2023. She has a bachelor's degree in environmental science and policy with a concentration on Climate and Air quality from the University of California, Irvine. Her main role in the BVR NRD is to manage the General Assistance Program and Air Quality on the Reservation. Meghan enjoys environmental fieldwork and engaging in the restoration and monitoring projects that occur on the Reservation.

Dennis Goeman

Reservation Facility Manager

Dennis Goeman is the tribe’s reservation facilities manager and has been working for the tribe since 2015. He works with multiple departments of the tribe for projects and development of the reservation. He also works with other tribes for cultural development projects such as the tribal Dance Arbors, Sweat Lodges and Riggen Shacks. Dennis has always had a love for the reservation, dating back to when he was a young child, especially now that he takes care of it as an adult. He takes pride and enjoys helping the tribe and its future generations take care of and nurture the Buena Vista land.

Michael Delaney

Facilities Maintenance

Michael is a part of the Reservations Facilities team where he takes care of landscaping and maintenance tasks. He also assists with other projects and other locations the tribe owns as well. He has been with the tribe for 5 years working on the reservation and also for the Harrahs Northern California Casino for 3 of those 5 years. He is also a member of the Buena Vista Fire Department.