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Yakama Recognized for Environmentally Sound Solid Waste Handling

In the last few years, the Yakama Nation has fought plans to ship refuse from Hawai’i to a landfill in the Columbia River Basin, and ridded the reservation of mosquito-breeding piles of discarded tires.

And now, changes in its solid-waste handling and collection methods – as well as changes in waste disposal behaviors and practices – have won honors from a state organization which helps Washington communities identify and obtain resources they need to develop, improve and maintain infrastructure.

Yakama Nation’s “Cleansing the Land,” or mataawit tiichamnan, program set five goals: Improve solid waste handling efficiency; reduce costs of waste handling; increase user participation in curbside collection; conduct education and outreach on proper waste handling and recycling; and improve relationships with federal partners at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s regional Rural Development office.

The program met its goals and “succeeded beyond the expectations of the tribe and the tribe’s partners,” the Infrastructure Assistance Coordinating Council reported. “This pilot program is now being implemented with other tribal groups across the state.”

The coordinating council presented the Yakama Nation October 20 with the Community Impact Award, one of eight awards presented annually to recognize projects and individuals that have made a difference in bettering communities in Washington state. Awards were presented in the categories of Creative Solutions, Community Facilities, Solid/Wastewater, Drinking Water, Transportation, and Lifetime Achievement.

Yakama’s solid waste efficiency program was funded in part by a $68,000 grant from U.S. Department of Agriculture-Rural Development.