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Environmental

EPA Indian General Assistance Program (GAP)

Assistance is provided under this program only for activities which the agency determines are appropriate to carry out the purposes of the Indian Environmental General Assistance Program Act of 1992, Public Law 102-497, Section 11, 42 USC 4368B, as amended, Public Law 103-55.

The annual Indian General Assistance Program (GAP), funded by the Environmental Protection Agency, offered aid to federally-recognized tribes up to $110,000.  The primary purpose of these assistance agreements is to support the developmental elements of a core environmental program.

2013-2014 Work Plan Deliverables Completed

Project Period: October 1, 2013 – September 30, 2014

  • Compiled and submitted annual report to EPA.
  • Prepared over 10 different grant applications/proposals.
  • Performed an inventory of Environmental equipment.
  • Maintained current and complete Quality Assurance / Quality Management Program documentation.
  • Managed cost accounts for all grants.
  • Attended numerous training sessions in the Environmental field. .
  • Participated in Regional Tribal Operations Committee meetings (RTOC) and the EPA Region 6 Tribal Summit.
  • Attended National and Regional meetings.
  • Attended Tar Creek Conference and planning meetings.
  • Establish Core Information Management Practices in compliance with 40 CFR Part 31.
  • Develop a Tribal Environmental Profile.
  • Attended Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) meetings.
  • Held and/or attended Native American Tribes United to Restore the Environment (NATURE) meetings in which local Tribal Environmental Departments meet.
  • Attended special meetings regarding the Tar Creek Superfund Site.
  • Monitored baseline water quality by placing freshwater mussels in Spring and Neosho Rivers to see if they could survive.

2014-2015 Current Activities

Project Period: October 1, 2014 – September 30, 2015

  • Compile and prepare annual report.
  • Prepare ten or more grants to build Tribal capacity.
  • Maintain current and complete Quality Assurance / Quality Management Program documentation.
  • Perform inventory of Environmental equipment.
  • Manage cost accounts for all grants.
  • Based on training needs assessment on current needs of the Tribe and long range building of Tribal capacity, send Environmental Department Staff to various trainings.
  • Participate in EPA RTOC meetings and Region 6 Tribal Summit.
  • Attend Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS) meetings.
  • Continue to monitor baseline water quality by placing freshwater mussels in Spring and Neosho Rivers to see if they will survive.
  • Hold and/or attend Native American Tribes United to Restore the Environment (NATURE) meetings.

EPA Clean Water Act Section 106 Water Monitoring Program

The primary objective of this program is to establish a water program for the Peoria Tribe Environmental Department.  This grant enables the Environmental Department to perform water quality analysis of streams in Ottawa County and report the analysis to the EPA.

2014 Work Plan Deliverables Completed

Project Period: October 1, 2013 – September 30, 2014

  • Submitted a new CWA 106 grant for fiscal year 2014
  • Submitted quarterly reports to EPA.
  • Completed training opportunities to develop tribal capacity.
  • Provided articles for tribal newsletter for education/outreach.
  • Continued sampling on the Spring River, Tar Creek, Warren’s Branch, and Flint Branch.
  • Conducted Bio-Assessment.

2015 Anticipated Activities

Project Period: October 1, 2014 – September 30, 2015

  • Provide quarterly reports that reflect the activities undertaken by the Tribe.
  • Compare and reconcile water quality data obtained with the data Quality objectives identified in the QAPP.
  • Continue the development of a Tribal clean water program.
  • Continue to conduct a baseline assessment for the Spring River, Tar Creek, and Neosho River
  • Continue to conduct a Bio-Assessment in Tribal Jurisdictional waters.
  • Collaborate with 6 other area Tribes on a small sedimentation testing project.

EPA Clean Water Act Section 319 (Base)

Non-Point Source Pollution Program

Many NPS pollution categories impair Tribal water quality. However, in the Tribe’s NPS Assessment, three have been identified as priority categories; agricultural, resource extraction, and land disposal. The specific sources of NPS pollution are described fully in the NPS Assessment document.

2014 Work Plan Deliverables Completed

Project Period: October 1, 2013 – September 30, 2014

  • Plant trees and vegetation on tribal lands including at the fish hatchery.
  • Sought additional funding for BMP implementation.
  • Educated of the public on their role in helping to decrease agricultural NPS pollution.
  • Continued the monitoring of water sources for changes in water quality as part of the 106 Water Grant.
  • Educated the Peoria Tribe members on the impact of heavy metal contaminated water on the biosphere through the Newsletter and Business Committee Reports.

2015 Anticipated Activities

Project Period: October 1, 2014 – September 30, 2015

  • Plant trees and vegetation on tribal lands.
  • Continue to seek additional funding for BMP implementation.
  • Partner with NRCS and the Ottawa County Conservation District on outreach projects.
  • Education of the public on their role in helping to decrease agricultural NPS pollution.
  • Continuing of the monitoring of water sources for changes in water quality as part of the 106 Water Grant.
  • To educate the Peoria Tribe members on the impact of heavy metal contaminated water on the biosphere through the Newsletter and the Business Committee Rep.

EPA Clean Water Act Section 319 Special Project –

NEO Project on Tar Creek

This project was focused on wetlands development for toxic substance removal on Tar Creek and developing non-point source educational programs. The Tribe and NEO proposed to restore wetlands adjacent to the current channel of Tar Creek. The project consists of approximately five acres of wetlands and retention pools. This provides natural means to assist in the removal of heavy metals and other contaminants such as water retention, plant uptake, and additional riparian zones. A second part of the project focused on developing a non-point source educational program with NEO utilizing the wetlands and retention pools for later class work. Other projects will be developed by NEO college staff and will be used as a hands-on education tool that will educate students in the importance of protecting the environment, particularly non-point source pollution. This project is in its final stages. Ponds and wetlands have been constructed, in the spring planting of designated plant species will occur. NEO will conduct the testing on plants later in the year to determine heavy metal uptake.

2015 Anticipated Activities

  • Complete construction of the NEO project.
  • Decrease heavy metal loading from the watershed.
  • Increase the number of native plant species at the location by improving the riparian zones, utilizing plants that will uptake heavy metals.
  • Increase the opportunity for hands-on education.
  • Increase the availability for scientific experimentation.
  • Increase the functionality of the project area.
  • Increase public awareness about non-point source pollution.
  • Increase the amount of habitat availability for fish and other aquatic biota.

EPA Clean Water Act Section 319 Special Project –

Golf Course and Natural Spring

This funding agreement encompassed two projects at different locations.

The first portion of this project is located at the Peoria Ridge Golf Course. The goal is to reduce the amount of pollution entering a stream that flows through the course and to thereby increase the quality of the water in the stream as well as its downstream reaches (Neosho River and ultimately Grand Lake). The two major objectives of this project were i) to create a wetland area along the drainage channel to the south of the storage ponds and ii) to increase the size of the buried drainage pipe connecting the drainage channel to the stream. The whole project has been completed.

The second portion of this project is located at the natural spring near the tribal cemetery and fish hatchery facility. The goal is to protect the spring by reducing the amount of pollution entering the spring and removing animal feces and feedlot waste due to past agricultural use. This will thereby increase the quality of the water in the spring as well as its downstream reaches (Spring River and ultimately Grand Lake). The two major objectives of this project were i) remove animal feces and feedlot waste from the spring, and ii) develop protective barriers to protect the spring from being recontaminated. In addition, the downstream flowage area of the spring was improved by removing sedimentation from animal waste and improving and repairing the riparian zone of the spring where it flows into Spring River. The removal of polluted waste was completed in the fall of 2014.

Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA)

Fish Hatchery Maintenance / Endangered Species

This funding is focused on maintenance and upgrading equipment for the fish hatchery. The most recent focus was to upgrade our fish hatchery to include rearing ponds and purchase equipment for those ponds. The Endangered Species funding is primarily focused on Neosho Mucket Mussels.

2013-2014 Completed activates

  • Completed construction on the new rearing ponds.
  • Hatchery passed its first State inspection with flying colors.
  • Upgrade and maintain equipment at Peoria Tribal Aquatic Center.
  • Installed a security fence and system at the hatchery.
  • Worked with GRDA, Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, and OSU with on projects to enhance the fisheries on Grand Lake.

2014-2015 Anticipated Activities

  • To upgrade the fish hatchery by constructing outdoor concrete raceways that are 6in thick by 36 inches tall and 36 inches wide, with security. By having these raceways we will have the capability to control predation from birds that prey on fish.
  • To upgrade our fish hatchery by purchasing bird nets that will by placed over up to 4 ponds to keep fish eating birds out.
  • To upgrade our fish hatchery by purchasing un-cleaned limestone for roadway on the pond dams to reduce runoff and erosion.
  • To upgrade our fish hatchery by purchasing 3000 feet of 6 inch PVC for hatchery water supply this price will be for pipe and installation.
  • Work with GRDA, Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, and OSU with upcoming projects to enhance the fisheries on Grand Lake.
  • Work in conjuncture with Dr. Barnhart to attempt to propagate and raise mussels for release into local water systems in the future.

Mussel Survey Conducted for Oklahoma Department of Transportation

The Oklahoma Department of Transportation contracted the Peoria Tribe’s Environmental Department to conduct a mussel survey around the Stepps Ford Bridge region of the Neosho River. The Peoria Tribe’s Environmental Department Staff were the only ones who had the credentials and certification to handle and relocate the endangered mussel species.  This took place and was completed in the fall of 2014.  Briefly, this mussel survey and relocation was focused on the endangered Neosho Mucket and threatened Rabbitsfoot, but as requested in the communication initiated by Ms. Julianne Hoagland with ODOT, included a mapped location of all mussel concentrations or mussel beds within the survey area.  The area described in the correspondence was 90 meters upstream of the proposed bridge structure and area of disturbance to a distance of 300 meters below or downstream of the direct disturbance.  This was a total length of some 390 meters equaling approximately 1280 ft. or approximately one quarter mile.

There was a total of sixteen different species indicated at this survey location.  This was ascertained by live mussels and relic shells found.  Relics were found in water ranging from one foot in depth to four and one half feet in depth.  There was a total of twelve live mussels found, of four different species.  No mussel beds were found, only singles or individuals spaced throughout the survey area.

All live mussels found were examined for damage, measured, and returned to their original location, with the exception of any Threatened or Endangered species.

One endangered Neosho Mucket was found.  It was located in Section three from the southern boundary, sweep 11 from the west river bank.  It was approximately eighteen feet off the East River bank on a small gravel bar at one foot water depth.  GPS coordinates were 36N 55.628 / 94W 57.582.  It was found at 1:08 p.m. on 9/11/14.  The mussel was a female, 12 centimeters in length, and had been damaged by a predator. There were teeth marks and shell damage on the anterior side and edge, presumably from a raccoon.  The shell also showed signs of earlier blunt force or hammer type trauma.

This Neosho Mucket was removed from this location and transported in an aerated container to a location approximately one mile upstream from the survey site, where it was relocated on a gravel bar in approximately two feet of water.  The GPS coordinates of the release site are as follows:  N36 .94359    W94 .98360

BIA Natural Resources Damage Assessment and Restoration (NRDAR)

NRDAR Progress Report; Calendar year 2014

As a Trustee of all Natural Resources impacting Peoria Tribal members, the Peoria Tribe Environmental Department is very active in all ongoing NRDAR (Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration) activities within the Tri-State Mining District Superfund Site (Kansas, Missouri, Oklahoma) and the Tar Creek Superfund Site (Ottawa County, Oklahoma). The effects of past mining operations have caused injury to, and continue to impact natural resources within the Peoria Tribal jurisdiction. This impact includes injury to air, surface and ground water resources, stream biota, wildlife, migratory waterfowl and other avian resources, soil, and vegetative resources.  These resources many times suffer harm from both subsistence and cultural stand-point because of the close affinity Native American people have with the earth and its produce.

Trusteeship and the very nature of many natural resources, stream flow, the transitory nature of wildlife, migrations of many avian species, etc., is reflected in the Federal Regulatory Legislation that regulate damage assessment and restoration.  These CERCLA regulations allow for NRD claims to be made for injury to natural resources within Tribal Jurisdiction or resources impacting Tribal Jurisdiction, on or against Potentially Responsible Parties for their present or past mining activities.  This includes mining activities within and outside that tribal jurisdiction, because certain natural resources are transitory, and because certain contaminants that cause injury are also transient.   Therefore the Peoria Environmental Department continues to be actively involved in the Tri-State Mining District Superfund Site and the Spring River Watershed Coalition, via the Trustee Councils of Tri-State, and the Tar Creek Superfund Site, via the Tar Creek Trustee Council.

As a Natural Resource Trustee the Peoria Tribe, through the Tribal Environmental Department, has, for the year 2014, been active  and continues to be involved in the preparation of, and participation in the following areas and ways involving the NRDA program:

 

  • Developing a Grand Lake Restoration Compensation Development Plan (RCDP completed mid 2014 awaiting publishing at this time.)
  • Incorporated developed Peoria Tribe Natural Resource Study of aquatic and plant resources used by tribal members for subsistence and recreational purposes into Grand Lake RCDP.
  • Worked with DOI / DOJ to provide a “Letter of Invitation to Negotiate” including a “Degree of Liability” and a “NRDAR Claim Assessment Value” to five PRPs (Potentially Responsible Parties), for mining related injury to the Grand Lake Watershed.
  • Participating in negotiations with PRP mining entities in Grand Lake NRDA claim (ongoing).
  • Developing Peoria Tribe Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration Document (ongoing development).
  • Working to develop a natural resource damage assessment study on a particular resource not previously investigated by USFW, USGS, or other tribal trustees.
  • Assisting in Natural Resource sampling activities and Assessment studies, such as; the Grand Lake Sediment sampling, Spring River Pore Water sampling, Stepps Ford Neosho Mucket Survey, (ongoing activities).
  • Reviewing and commenting on all proposed natural resource studies, such as; the USGS Spring River Overbank Sediments Study; US Fish and Wildlife Service Crayfish Study; Six Treaty Tribe Overbank Study; Six Treaty Tribe Cultural Resource Index Aquatic Study; Six Treaty Tribe Plant Cultural Resource Index; Six Treaty Tribes’ Springs Study; Tri-State Transition Zone Study; Spring River Watershed Sediment Study (ongoing activities).
  • Review, comment, and development of the Tar Creek Trustee Council Restoration Plan (ongoing development).
  • Committee member on development of Ranking Criteria for Restoration Plan Proposed Projects (ongoing development).
  • Investment of Asarco Bankruptcy Settlement Restoration funds;  to be able to have available dollars “project ready”, and to secure the safest investment (Federal Treasury Bonds) to be able to extend “dollars to put on the Ground”,  those restoration dollars.
  • Attend and participate in USEPA Region 6 Remediation meetings and conference calls as possible.
  • Provided letters of concern and comments on EPA remediation actions, i.e., EPA Chat Repository, EPA Hydro-geologic study, EPA Remediation OU4 Actions.
  • Participated in Washington D.C. EPA Optimization Review Committee of EPA Region 6 ongoing remediation activities.
  • Attend and participate in all Tar Creek Trustee Council meetings
  • Attend and participate in all Trustee Councils of Tri-State meetings.
  • Attend and participate in all Spring River Watershed meetings.
  • Attend and participate in NATURE meetings as possible.
  • Attend and participate in Grand Lake Watershed Council meetings
  • Attend Tar Creek Conference functions.
  • Attend and participated in the Department of the Interior, Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration National Workshop, April 28 through May 2, 2014.
  • Working with secured Tribal Legal Representation, (apart from U.S. D.O.I. and U.S. D.O.J.), concerning ongoing case strategy, and currently developing future NRDAR actions.   This legal support has been secured through federal funding (BIA Tribal Attorney Support, Washington, D.C. Work Group) per U.S. Federal Regulations, and is at no cost to the Peoria Tribe.
  • Worked with DOI in securing two year extension on Grand Lake Tolling Agreement to further Tar Creek Trustee Council claim development.
  • Participate in monthly Tribal / DOI, NRDAR Concerns conference call (nation-wide call).
  • Participating in developing a “Tribal Only NRDAR Workshop,” sponsored by the NRDA Work Group, Washington D.C., for Indian Tribes nationwide (Workshop to be held May, 2015).
  • Developing and positioning the Peoria Tribe Aquatic Facility, Endangered Fish and Mussel Species capabilities, for restoration activities and projects associated with the Tri-State Mining District / Tar Creek Superfund sites, and for production of a fish “Replacement Equivalency” species (in accord with the provisions of CERCLA) in lieu of the lost services of  injured fish species, and reintroduction of the endangered Neosho Mucket mussel into the native habitat of Neosho and Spring Rivers.

 

OTHER 2015 ANTICIPATED ACTIVITIES

 

NRDAR is an ongoing activity in the Tri-State Mining District, Tar Creek Superfund
Site, Spring River Watershed, Neosho River Watershed, and the Grand Lake Basin.  Also USEPA remediation activities are ongoing in these areas for the unforeseeable future, particularly in OU4 (Operable Unit 4 Superfund site) and upcoming multiple area OU5s, (which will include all of Spring River Watershed; Kansas, Missouri, and Oklahoma).  Because restoration activities can only be undertaken as specific EPA remediation activities are effected, Peoria Tribal participation in NRDAR (Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration) activities continued for the year 2014 with the ongoing activities listed above.  Some associated legal activities underwent changes recommended by the legal counsel that has been employed by the Peoria Tribe.  Other exceptions were the addition of new or more delineated natural resource studies, the study of culturally specific natural resources and injury determination there-of, and the change or adjustment of EPA Region 6 remediation efforts, as indicated by the Washington, D.C. EPA Optimization Review Committee.

 

Also included in adjustments or changes to the above list were; mediation or litigation activities with PRPs (Potentially Responsible Parties).  PRP’s have extended the Grand Lake Tolling Agreement for two years, and acknowledged the Letters of Invitation to Negotiate Settlement, and met with the TCTC mid spring 2014.  Further negotiations are anticipated to take place again mid spring of 2015.  If a negotiated settlement cannot be reached sometime 2015 calendar year, it is anticipated that a Damage Assessment Claim litigation will be filed in U. S. Federal Court for a court mandated settlement.

 

The TCTC Restoration Plan is anticipated to be completed February / March with a request for Restoration Project Proposals to be submitted shortly afterward.  After screening and evaluation by the TCTC Screening Committee, approved Restoration Projects could conceivably be funded, and “On the Ground” projects might begin with the Asarco restoration dollars from the previously negotiated Asarco settlement.

 

Elaboration on some areas of NRDAR activities cannot be discussed in this report because of litigation sensitivity and Confidentiality Agreements.  If further information or clarification is needed, please contact the Peoria Environmental Department, Environmental Specialist Larry Tippit, at your earliest possible convenience.

 

Solid Waste Activities

These activities are in addition to the solid waste clean-ups conducted using GAP funding.

The primary feature of the Peoria Tribe Environmental Department “Integrated Waste Management Plan” consists of the management / control and elimination of illegal open rural dumping in several sites within the Peoria /traditional jurisdictional boundaries. Three particular sites were targeted because of their critical location, one within Little Elm Creek watershed, which empties into a major river just outside the Peoria boundaries, and two in wetland areas within the Peoria boundaries.  This Plan enlisted the cooperation and partnership of Ottawa County Commissioners.  Three rural trash and garbage sites would be constructed in the vicinity of the illegal dump sites as an alternative to the open illegal dumping.  These sites are to be monitored and maintained by the Peoria Environmental Department in cooperation with Ottawa County Commissioners.

This rural solid waste collections serves a two-fold purpose: illegal open dumping could be reduced, if not eliminated, in those critical areas in the Peoria jurisdiction; and expenditures on man-power and equipment for cleaning roadways and right-of-ways by Ottawa County Commissioners would be reduced.   The Peoria Tribe was, and is to furnish roll-off bins as trash and garbage receptacles, a Roll-off truck for maintenance of the sites and bins, signage of regulations for the sites, any chains or incidental equipment, and man-power for an eighteen month pilot period.  At the beginning of the project, County Commissioners were, and are to construct the sites, i.e. pads, paving, access ways, chain-link fencing, and erection or posting of the regulation signage.  When all is ready and operational, the information and regulations will be published in the Tribal and local newspapers. After the initial pilot period of eighteen months, Ottawa County Commissioners will take possession of all the equipment and assume all responsibility of the three rural sites.  The intent, if the initial project is successful in eliminating the problem of illegal open dumping within the Peoria jurisdiction, is, with the cooperation of other Federally recognized Indian Tribes in the area, to expand the project out into their Tribal jurisdictions, and into the whole of Ottawa County as well.

As to the status of the project:  On the Peoria Tribe side of the partnership; the project as initially proposed, included the purchase of a new Roll-off truck.  Due to circumstances beyond our control, the full amount needed to implement the project, as proposed, was reduced substantially.  Therefore the purchase of a “new” Roll-off truck, as originally proposed, was impossible.  With the consent of the funding partners, the proposal was revamped for the purchase of a “Refurbished” Roll-off truck.  The Peoria Environmental Department spent considerable time researching, comparing, and shopping for the best possible deal on a “refurbished” Roll-off truck, and likewise, the most economical purchase of ten roll-off bins, seven 20 yard bins and three 30 yard bins.  Finally a 2000 year model Mack roll-off truck was purchased on June 23, 2014, with a two year/200K mile warrantee.  The truck was received by the Peoria Environmental Department on August 1, 2014.  Roll-off bins from a local manufacturing firm were ordered August 28, 2014.  Purchase price from the local firm was essentially the same as that of other dealers researched, but with substantial savings in shipping costs.  Also four Peoria Environmental Specialist are enrolled in a truck driving class at Northeastern Oklahoma Vocational Technical Center, October 27 through November 1, in order to obtain their Commercial Driver’s License to operate the roll-off truck.

On the Ottawa County Commissioners’ side of the partnership: The status of the rural waste collection sites is as follows;  Site Number One, belonging to Ottawa County, pad, paving, and access is completed and is yet to be fenced.  Site Number Two, the right to use has been obtained, has been surveyed, laid out, and two paved accesses prepared.  Major road construction by the County District Commissioner over this District has held up construction of the pad and paving. etc., but should be started within the next sixty days.  Site Number Three, belonging to Ottawa County, has been laid out, but as it is in the same road district as Site Number Two, further work has been held up by the major road construction the County Commissioner is obligated to.

After review, adjustments and updates to the Peoria Tribe Integrated Waste Management Plan are not required at this time.  Future updates may be initiated as the Rural Waste Collection Sites are put into operation, or, sometime after the Ottawa County Commissioners receive full responsibility for the project. Peoria Environmental Department work on solid waste activities will continue as time and funding permits.

Submitted by:

Jim Dixon

Environmental Director