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Wind River Reservation, Wyoming

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The reservation will soon have its own version of the Environmental Protection Agency. The Eastern Shoshone and Northern Arapaho tribes received a $204,188 grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to begin the project, said Don Aragon, executive director of the Wind River Environmental Quality Commission. It will allow the tribes a greater say in what happens to the environment when new construction is proposed, especially on lands next to streams or in wetlands, he said. "What this will help us do is to oversee all construction sites and review all proposals for construction on the reservation that may require some kind of a federal permit, or in our case, a tribal permit. This will also ensure that a cultural and archaeological assessment is made before any site is disturbed. That hasn't been done before.'' The reservation will develop its own environmental rules, regulations and policies and a person will be hired to work out of an office in the Fort Washakie area to administer the regulations, Aragon said. "These things are not being done, and construction that has occurred here, without permits, has caused problems with wetland destruction and has impacted other environmental concerns,'' he said.