News from the Pacific Northwest

Energy assistance funds available

SEATTLE – Some $461,268 in federal block grant money has been allocated to help families in Washington state, including Native communities, pay their home energy bills.

The funds are administered by the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, a program of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

The funding is part of an additional $1 billion in assistance program funding for 2006 released to states, tribes and territories nationwide, pursuant to a law signed by President Bush on March 20.

“[The program] helps millions of America’s most needy families,” Assistant Health and Human Services Secretary Wade Horn said in a press release. “This aid will address the current increases in home energy costs throughout much of the nation and ensure the continued health and well-being of families in need in Washington.”

Individuals interested in applying for assistance should call (866) 674-6327, e-mail energyassistance@ncat.org (include city, county and state in the e-mail message) or visit www.acf.hhs.gov/programs/liheap.

Schools receive funds to prevent underage drinking

SEATTLE – Schools on two reservations in Washington state will each receive $130,000 a year for five years to develop programs to prevent underage drinking.

Kingston Middle School (Port Gamble S’Klallam) and Mount Adams Middle School (Yakama) are among 12 schools that applied for and will receive funding from the state Department of Social and Health Services’ Division of Alcohol and Substance Abuse.

The selected schools are within school districts where more than 23 percent of eighth-graders reported recent alcohol use, according to the 2005 Washington State Healthy Youth Survey. Statewide, 18 percent of eighth-graders reported recent alcohol use.

“When parents, community groups and schools join in educating youth and adults about the consequences of underage drinking and restrict alcohol access and marketing in their communities, our young people are more likely to make healthy choices and be successful in school,” said Doug Allen, acting director of the Division of Alcohol and Substance Abuse.

Working with a substance abuse prevention coalition and coordinator, each community will plan prevention strategies. Communities will implement programs proven to increase healthy behavior among youth and parents and change local attitudes to be less accepting of underage drinking.

Stillaguamish wins grant for ecology program

STILLAGUAMISH, Wash. – The Stillaguamish Tribe has won a $4,744 grant for an ecology program for high school students.

Stillaguamish is one of 12 recipients of Public Involvement and Education Fund money awarded by the Puget Sound Action Team, a state agency that is working to improve the health of Puget Sound. In 2006 – ’07, the team will fund nearly $487,236 programs designed to educate and involve the public in protecting and restoring Puget Sound.

Stillaguamish will work with 60 students from Arlington and Stanwood high schools to analyze water samples in retention ponds and streams that receive parking lot runoff and effluent from school car washes.

Students will research solutions, present their analysis and recommendations to Stillaguamish and will work with Stillaguamish to reduce pollutants. They will conduct an outreach campaign in the community to promote environmentally friendly cleaning products and practices.

Some other programs: The Seattle Aquarium will teach 100 volunteers about beach ecology so they can educate beach-goers. Friends of the San Juans will provide 5,000 shoreline landowners with on-site guidance and education materials on how to protect and restore shoreline habitat. The Jefferson County Conservation District will work with 100 small-farm owners and rural landowners to improve management practices for livestock, landscaping and control of stormwater runoff.

Richard Walker is a correspondent reporting from San Juan Island, Wash. Contact him at rmwalker@rockisland.com.