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Region 1: EPA New England

EPA Tribal Program in New England

Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, Natural Resources Department
Mashpee, Mass

Environmental Merit Award presented to the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe Natural Resources Department

When the Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe formed its Natural Resources Department in March 2008, water quality was the most pressing environmental problem of nearby waterways, including the Popponesset Bay. Three years earlier, the bay had seen a major fish kill as a result of nutrient overload. The tribe viewed the fish kill as imminent threat to their traditional way of life. With grant funding, the Natural Resources Department planted 200,000 oyster seeds in 2009 in partnership with the Town of Mashpee and developed a bay restoration project. This was just one of the many accomplishments of the tribe's Natural Resources Department that merit recognition. With help from water quality partners, the department also collected water quality data that led to improved water quality and inspired other communities to develop large aquaculture projects in similar estuarine systems. The environmental health and quality of the bay waters has stopped declining, an indicator of the success of the oyster farming operation thus far. The department also sought to establish a biomass environment in the bay big enough to sustain a wild population of oysters, since wild oysters had been absent for a decade. There is evidence now of a wild oyster population in the bay. The Natural Resources Department's commitment to Popponesset Bay by way of this innovative and sustainable environmental project is a monumental achievement.


Penobscot Indian Nation Receives Grant of nearly $149,000 to Improve Water Quality

Penobscot Indian Nation Receives Grant of nearly $149,000 to Improve Water Quality

(Boston, Mass. – July 25, 2012) – The Penobscot Indian Nation has received a grant from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for $148,924 to help reduce nonpoint source water pollution on their tribal lands. The grant was selected in a competitive review process among 52 proposals.  A total of 20 grants were funded by EPA.

The grant will be used to improve and protect water quality in the Penobscot River and Little Alder Stream. The Penobscot River watershed consists of approximately one-third of the state of Maine.

"EPA is very pleased to provide much-needed funding to help the Penobscot Nation do some very important work that will have a real impact improving water quality and habitat within the Penobscot River," said Curt Spalding, regional administrator of EPA's New England regional office.

"Clean water and protection of aquatic habitat is of great importance to the Penobscot Nation," said Dan Kusnierz, Penobscot Nation's Water Resources Program Manager. "The Tribe greatly appreciates this commitment from EPA that will enable us to significantly reduce eroding soils and thereby protect the quality of waters on and adjacent to tribal lands."

The EPA funding will assist the Penobscot Nation to reduce sediments and nutrients from entering the Penobscot River by stabilizing portions of an eroding riverbank and re-establishing nearby vegetation. This portion of the project will also complement ongoing efforts by the Penobscot Indian Nation to restore and improve habitat for migratory fish (including the federally endangered shortnose sturgeon and Atlantic salmon, and 10 other species).

The Tribal government will also use EPA funding to reduce sediments and nutrients from entering Little Alder Stream and its tributaries by installing "best management practices" (BMPs) on an all-terrain vehicle trail system leading to a sensitive high elevation lake with a native brook trout fishery. Installing BMPs on portions of the trail that are in close proximity to streams leading to Little Alder Stream will help protect water quality in these sensitive waters.

In New England, there are 10 federally recognized Tribes with an approximate land base of 260,000 acres. Throughout Indian Country, Tribes have primarily elected to place environmental activities within their Natural Resource Departments. The New England Tribes have done likewise. Currently, all the New England Tribes have Tribal environmental management programs. The Tribes have developed capability to assess environmental quality through monitoring, data collection, and reporting. Most of the Tribes are conducting air and water monitoring, and a few have approved assessments and Best Management Practices for non-point source pollution. The Mashpee Wampanoag Tribe, which received federal recognition in 2007, is just beginning to develop an environmental capability. The New England Tribes run across a spectrum from upland blueberry barrens to large and sophisticated gaming operations and resort hotels. Agriculture contributes to non-point pollution in rural areas whereas tribal gaming enterprises generate vehicle trips which generate air emissions. Ozone generation from upwind sources, atmospheric deposition of toxic contaminants, accumulation of persistent, bio-accumulative and toxic (PBT) compounds, and water quality are specific concerns of the tribes.

Tribal members rely on natural resources to a greater extent than the general population to provide the Tribe with food and spiritual sustenance. Many tribal members engage in hunting, fishing, and gathering. Medicine men and women and ethno-biologists gather plants, herbs and animals as part of cultural practices on tribal land and other traditionally occupied areas. Therefore, Tribal members are at greater risk due to a higher level of environmental exposures than the general population. In addition, with regard to climate change, because the New England Tribes often live in coastal or riverine areas and rely on specific ecological settings for their cultural existence and subsistence any changes in sea level or climate will be particularly felt. The Tribes also have continuing concerns about environmental contaminants and their impact on tribal health.

The Tribal Programs

Mohegan Tribe Food Waste Recycling Program
The Mohegan Tribe is one of 25 EPA Waste Wise national partners. Members are required to have an effective waste reduction program and are asked to report their waste reduction efforts each year. For the full story click on the link Mohegan Tribe food waste recycling program (PDF) (27 pp, 2.5 MB, about PDF).

We present this information about solid waste management programs for your information. For further information about the Mohegan program, contact Jean McInnis at 860-862-6112.

EPA New England Programs

Profiles of the New England Tribes

Federally Recognized Tribes with links, Tribal Locations and Land Tribal News, Environmental Programs and accomplishments

Regional Tribal Program Office

Tribal Program Structure, Function and Programs

EPA Regional Contacts, NE Tribal Contacts

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Additional Resources

Bureau of Indian Affairs

Indian Health Service

Tribal Compliance Assistance Center – OECA

Profile of Tribal Government Operations (PDF) (258 pp, 4.4 MB, about PDF)

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