The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has awarded $32 million to assist tribes in Alaska, Idaho, Oregon and Washington in developing environmental protection programs.
The so-called capacity-building grants were part of the Indian Environmental General Assistance Program (GAP) and also serve to foster government-to-government relationships between tribes and the EPA, the federal agency said.
“The funding helps tribes develop environmental protection programs and make informed decisions about issues that impact the health of their people and the quality of their environment,” the EPA said in a statement on January 14.
“The Indian Environmental General Assistance Program empowers tribes to build the capacity to support successful environmental programs that protect public health and their lands,” said David Allnutt, Director of the EPA Region 10 Office of Ecosystems, Tribal and Public Affairs, in a statement on January 14. “The GAP program is vitally important in this region because about half of the federally recognized tribes in the nation are in Alaska and the Pacific Northwest.”
Among the projects being funded are ones that help develop sustainable solid waste management programs, create alternatives to open dumping, document climate change, strengthen emergency response planning, protect watersheds, understand air quality issues and address other environmental challenges, the EPA said. Staff development, environmental plans, technical assistance and community outreach and education are also part of the mix.
Below are some of the projects that have benefited from such funds in the past.
• Akiak Native Community, Alaska: community recycling and hazardous waste collection and disposal
• Chalkyitsik Village Council, Alaska: recycling appliances, batteries, electronics and other hazardous materials
• Koyukuk Native Village, Alaska: cleaning up a landfill with a burn unit
• Native Village of Tetlin, Alaska: using a burn unit and trash disposal cages to eliminate improper dumping
• Native Village of Kwigillingok, Alaska: establishing a tribally-enforced environmental code to educate residents and remove eyesores from the village
• The Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians, Oregon: improving geographic information systems (GIS) to better track environmental projects and subsistence resources.