Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe, Nevada


The tribe has been recognized by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency for efforts toward protecting the environment. The tribe, the Las Vegas Wash Coordination Committee and Walt Johnson, a 40-year veteran of the Clark County Sanitation District, were honored April 18 at an EPA Earth Day ceremony in San Francisco. The tribe was recognized for initiating and organizing an agreement involving the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the tribe to manage the Truckee River and protect the endangered cui-ui and threatened Lahonton cutthroat trout of Pyramid Lake. It also developed an agreement outlining services available in the Truckee River area in the event of an emergency, such as a hazardous material spill, flood or other disaster.

Environmentalists, the tribe and rural residents sued the U.S. Army April 13 to block the annual detonation of thousands of tons of bombs, land mines and artillery shells, contending the blasts hurt the environment and shake homes for miles around. The suit, filed in U.S. District Court, said the explosions at the Sierra Army Depot, an isolated base in California near Herlong about 55 miles northwest of Reno, Nev., said exploding and burning munitions spewed toxic clouds into the air and contaminated soil and water. Special crews at the base explode or burn about 12,000 tons a year of mostly old munitions, including ordnance from the Korean, Vietnam and Gulf wars. Local residents, politicians in California and Nevada and the tribe have long complained about the explosions, which critics said intensified during the mid-1990s with the closure of other military bases. The suit says the open burning and demolition of the land mines, artillery shells, bombs, mortars, grenades ? even spent rocket engines ? violates California's health and safety code, as well as the National Environmental Policy Act, the main federal environmental protection law. The depot is seeking official permission to increase the amount of explosives it destroys, but the proposal has drawn sharp opposition in the community.