EPA awards 15 Northwest tribes nearly $2 million for water quality improvement and wetland program development

September 30, 2021

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(Seattle - September 30, 2021) The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has awarded 15 Northwest tribes a total of $1,939,944 to boost programs that restore habitat, protect tribal water quality and wetlands across four Northwest states. The funding was awarded through EPA’s Tribal Clean Water Act Nonpoint Source and Wetland Program Development Grants.

“We are very pleased to support our tribal partners in their efforts to protect and improve water quality and fish habitat,” said Michelle Pirzadeh, EPA’s Acting Northwest Regional Administrator in Seattle. “Water quality is the foundation of healthy communities, and we know this funding helps tribes “fuel” on the ground, tangible projects that will move the needle and make a difference. Congratulations to the grantees.”

Grant funds have been awarded to the Chugach Regional Resources Commission, Coeur D’Alene, Nez Perce Tribe, Klamath Tribes, Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians, Confederated Tribes of the Coos, Lower Umpqua, and Siuslaw Indians, Confederated Tribes of Umatilla Indian Reservation, Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, the Lummi Tribe of the Lummi Reservation, Quinault Indian Nation, Squaxin Island Tribe, Snoqualmie Tribe, Stillaguamish Tribe of Indians of Washington, and Tulalip Tribes of Washington.

Below are the projects funded in this year’s round of grants:

Non-Point 319 Wetlands Grants - $799,580 total

Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation - $100,000

The Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation propose nonpoint source water pollution control work to improve water quality in the Armstrong Creek, Smith Creek, and Pe’el Creek watersheds by decommissioning approximately four miles of roads along numerous creeks. Project work will improve water quality by reducing sediment delivery from roads to streams through reduction of road mileage, which will restore natural hillslope hydrology and watershed hydrology by removing impediments to natural flow including an unnecessary culvert. This project also includes support for the tribe’s Nonpoint Source Management Coordinator to monitor and administer regulation of nonpoint source pollution generating activities across the 1.4 million-acre Colville Indian Reservation.

Lummi Nation - $100,000

To improve temperature and habitat complexity in Water Resource Inventory Area 1 (WRIA 1), the Lummi Nation Natural Resources Department will provide final designs and implementation for 11 engineered logjams, including one channel spanner, to restore habitat in the South Fork Nooksack
River. The Upper Fobes Reach Phase 2 project is located between river miles 19.4 and 19.0 on the main stem of the South Fork Nooksack, near Hamilton, in Skagit County, Washington, and is listed on Washington State’s list of impaired waterbodies as temperature impaired. High water temperatures in the South Fork are detrimental to fish and other native species that depend on cool, clean, well-oxygenated water. The primary goal of this project is to restore natural channel and floodplain processes to maintain salmon spawning, rearing, and holding habitat, while improving late summer flow and thermal refugia for Chinook and steelhead. To achieve this goal, this project will improve connectivity with off-channel habitat, increase available thermal refuge for salmon during summer months, and increase key habitat quantity by creating pools associated with logjams as areas of refuge for salmon.

Nez Perce Tribe - $100,000

The Nez Perce Tribe proposes to reduce nonpoint source pollution in the headwaters of Lolo Creek by removing 40 acres of livestock access to Jim Brown Creek. Removing livestock access will help meet water quality targets by limiting future impacts, improving hydrologic function, and stabilizing stream banks by planting native vegetation in the heavily degraded riparian area along the creek. Project work also includes evaluating the effectiveness of best management practices through performance trend monitoring to establish which practices are most effective. Planned education and outreach about the project will promote adoption of similar water quality improvement practices and projects by adjacent landowners and others in the community.

Squaxin Island Tribe - $100,000

The goal of this project proposed by the Squaxin Island Tribe is to transform a gas station runoff stormwater basin into a bioretention facility, in collaboration with Mason Conservation District and Washington State University, to remove pollutants from runoff. Project work would also help prevent petroleum and metals-laden runoff from reaching Little Creek and Skookum Creek. Water quality and water quantity analyses will provide data on water quality parameters to inform the overall performance of the bioretention facility throughout the period of the project. Future work would include using this bioretention facility retrofit as a model for future larger projects by the Squaxin Island Tribe.

Tulalip Tribes of Washington - $100,000

The Tulalip Tribe proposed a project to remove pollution sources from Tulalip shorelines to help re-open shellfish harvesting for tribal members and enhance and restore an area of shoreline within Tulalip Bay. The tribe will work with a consulting firm to inform the actions needed to remove pollutants from Tulalip beaches, and restore a 32,246 sq. ft. shoreline buffer with a planting plan that includes two years of monitoring following the planting, and an 11,000 sq. ft. invasive plant removal plan. The project will also install three to five interpretive signs along the restoration site. This project implements work from a nine-element watershed-based plan (buffer restoration) and implements a watershed project (shoreline development analysis) that is a significant step towards solving nonpoint source impairments or threats on a watershed-wide basis.

The Klamath Tribes - $99,992

The Klamath Tribes will use grant funds to purchase and install a cost-effective solar powered water pump to lift high nutrient agricultural tailwater from an irrigation canal and irrigation drain into a water treatment wetland. The pump and treatment wetland are part of a larger effort led by Oregon Department of Agriculture in collaboration with the landowners, the Klamath Tribes, Natural Resource Conservation Service, Trout Unlimited, Klamath Soil and Water Conservation District, PacifiCorp, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Klamath Watershed Partnership to design and implement best management practices to minimize external nutrient loading from the agricultural properties around Upper Klamath Lake.

Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians - $100,000

The five-year goal of this Phase 1 project is to enhance and create complex channel habitat in the Siletz River to support juvenile salmon and lamprey during key periods of mainstem habitat use. The Tribes will construct 25 additional large wood and boulder structures at three sites within a one-mile river reach to slow velocities and capture sediment under channel forming conditions (2- year flow events and greater). With the addition of these structures, the project will increase riverbed roughness, increase bed complexity and sediment sorting, create sand bar and island habitats, and increase habitats with preferred rearing velocities for salmon fry (velocity below 0.75 ft/sec).

Confederated Tribes of the Umatilla Indian Reservation - $99,587

This project supports ongoing monitoring and ecosystem restoration to improve the water temperature of Meacham Creek. The goal of this project is to restore floodplain access and function for one mile of the Meacham Creek riparian zone between River Mile 10 and 11, and thereby increase the stability of riparian zone soils, which will support an enhanced riparian habitat on the streambanks. The project will be in conjunction with ongoing efforts to reestablish functioning floodplain ecosystem processes in lower Meacham Creek. This project will fund temporary bridge installation, stream dewatering and all other erosion and sediment control best management practices to reduce turbidity as the larger restoration work is completed.

Wetland Development Grants - $1,140,364 total 

The Klamath Tribes - $152,417

The Klamath Tribe grant agreement is for a two-year Phase 2 groundwater and surface-water monitoring study for the Klamath Marsh in Oregon. It expands monitoring begun in 2020 to include additional sample locations; installation of dataloggers for seasonally inaccessible sample sites; and extends the monitoring period to 4 years. The tribe is collaborating with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) on an investigation focused on monitoring groundwater adjacent to the Klamath Marsh, assessing long-term changes in marsh and open water area and changes in irrigated agricultural lands adjacent to the Klamath Marsh. The tribe will prepare a report summarizing marsh surface and groundwater levels in the Klamath Marsh and analyze water balance components to support the tribe’s wetland program in conducting future restoration and acquisition projects. The tribe will also update their 2014 EPA-approved Wetland Program Plan to cover the 6-year period of 2021- 2026.

The Confederated Tribes of the Coos, Lower Umpqua, and Siuslaw Indians - $240,917 The Confederated Tribes of the Coos, Lower Umpqua, and Siuslaw Indians (CTCLUSI) grant agreement is for a two-year project designed to increase the tribes’ organizational capacity and enhance their collaborative efforts to manage, restore, and protect wetland throughout their ancestral territory in southwest Oregon through development of a Wetland Program Plan. The plan will include goals, strategies, and priorities for addressing wetland restoration and protection efforts on lands under the tribes’ jurisdiction. The project includes development of Tribal ordinances for the protection of wetlands; hosting a stakeholder’s summit; production of up-to-date wetland maps; development of wetland monitoring processes and protocols; development of processes and protocols for deploying Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) into restoration/protection strategies; and development of Tribal specific training materials and tools for program staff.

Chugach Regional Resources Commission - $122,495

The Chugach Regional Resources Commission (CRRC) grant agreement is to improve wetland conservation and management through comprehensive mapping and wetland assessment in the Chenega region of Alaska. CRRC plans to update geospatial wetlands information covering their traditional lands. Alaska is home to 65 percent of the nation’s wetlands, which cover 45 percent of the state’s surface area and support a diversity of important plants and animal species. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s National Wetland Inventory for Alaska is outdated for the Chenega IRA Council’s traditional lands and needs to be updated to allow for meaningful monitoring and management. The project includes a contemporary National Wetlands Inventory in the region for use by tribes to manage their wetlands.

Coeur D’Alene Tribe - $115,540

The Coeur D’Alene Tribe will update to their Wetland Program Plan and support funding activities that are included in the Tribe’s current EPA-approved plan. The tribe will host Coeur d’Alene Tribal Wetland Workgroup meetings; conduct outreach within the Tribe and to landowners regarding their wetland/aquatic resource conservation programs; identify reference wetlands through their monitoring program for different wetland types on the Coeur d’Alene Reservation; conduct wetland assessments on at least five new wetland sites, including reference wetlands, develop a Standard Operating Procedures manual to enroll lands into conservation programs, and research establishing a Coeur d’Alene Tribe Conservation District. The final products will be an updated Coeur d’Alene Tribe Wetland Program Plan for a 6-year period, a report summarizing the wetland assessments and conservation enrollment results, a Standard Operating Procedures manual, and a report on the results and recommendations from the research to establish a Coeur d’Alene Tribe Conservation District.

Quinault Indian Nation - $207,776

The Quinault Indian Nation will develop a Wetland Climate Change Adaptation Plan, and develop a more extensive remote monitoring program including updating their wetland mapped inventory with the use of an unmanned aircraft system or drone. This 12-month project will focus on developing and refining the Quinault Environmental Protection Department’s capacity to manage wetland resources as identified in the tribe’s updated Wetland Program Plan (2022-2028) as well as to implement Quinault Nation’s other rules and regulations to protect wetlands. Two deliverables will be development of methods and studies to address at risk or vulnerable wetland ecosystems, aquatic resources, and wetland-dependent priority species due to hazard mitigation/flood/drought planning, and development of improved wetland inventory and maps. This project will sustain the current effort at Quinault Indian Nation to make science-based decisions to protect wetland resources and their functions.

Snoqualmie Tribe - $76,354

The Snoqualmie Tribe grant agreement is to continue to lead the Pacific Northwest Tribal Wetlands Working Group (TWIG) for two more years. The Snoqualmie Tribe has been leading the PNW TWIG for four years. The PNW TWIG is a tribally run peer-to-peer network that formed in 2010 to assist Tribes in managing wetlands. The goal of the PNW TWIG is to foster a community of support for Tribal wetland managers, assisting tribes that are beginning, in process, or succeeding in their Wetland Program Plans and wetland management. Some of these ways include by participating as a key stakeholder in the Association of State and Wetland Managers proposed tribal outreach advisory working group, which will help to identify and address national tribal wetland training needs; leveraging the experience of the PNW TWIG to work with other groups across the nation in an advisory capacity; creating important professional support networks within EPA regions; and coordinating workshops and trainings of the PNW TWIG, open to tribal staff throughout EPA’s Region 10 (AK, ID, OR, WA) over a two year period. Additionally, this grant will be used to enhance TWIG’s online presence by sharing TWIG trainings, virtual workshops, and other visual video materials, making them available to Tribes and others across the nation.

Stillaguamish Tribe of Indians of Washington - $224,865

The Stillaguamish Tribe will develop and implement avian monitoring and assessment of estuarine wetlands and update their existing Wetland Program Plan. The objectives of the project are to develop an avian monitoring framework and sampling design for estuarine wetlands that will allow the Stillaguamish Tribe to improve its wetland management in estuarine habitats, and to identify management actions, including identifying priority approaches for restoration. This project will advance the Tribe’s understanding of estuarine restoration impact on bird communities. The grant tasks include: gathering information on avian species and their needs to establish management priorities that can guide the development of monitoring; develop, implement, and evaluate sampling designs and field protocols for monitoring estuarine birds; exploring avian monitoring data management and warehousing needs; update the Stillaguamish Tribe’s current (2019-2024) Wetland Program Plan to include estuarine wetland restoration and protection goals; and conduct outreach to managers, agencies and monitoring practitioners involved in wetland management.

For more information, visit EPA's wetland program development grants page.

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