Casino hosting EPA Tribal Leaders' Summit
By Ron Karten
Smoke Signals staff writer
Approximately 250 federal and Tribal leaders and staff are expected for the Environmental Protection Agency’s Region 10 Tribal Leaders’ Summit, slated for Monday, April 30, through Friday, May 4, at Spirit Mountain Casino.
There are 271 federally-recognized Tribes in the Northwest region, which includes Alaska, Washington, Oregon and Idaho.
This is the first Tribal Leaders’ Summit that the Grand Ronde Tribe has hosted, said Brandy Humphreys, Environmental Resources specialist for the Tribe’s Ceded Lands program, and this year’s summit coordinator.
“We have arranged this as a dual-conference,” she said. “Monday and Tuesday will focus on leader-to-leader interaction, while later in the week presentations on technical subjects are scheduled. Some of the technical issues covered are pesticides and alternative energy, Tribal wetlands programs and Tribal marine debris projects.”
Five topic areas for technical presentations are solid waste, toxics, sustainable growth and communities, building blocks of Tribal programs and hot topics.
“The purpose is to provide an opportunity for focused communication between EPA regional leaders and Tribal leaders regarding environmental issues that include human health issues related to the environment,” said Humphreys.
“Brandy has been working with Tribal Council and many others to bring this together,” said Tribal member and Natural Resources Department Manager Michael Wilson. “This event is important to build partnerships, but also for Grand Ronde to take a leadership role in protecting our environment.”
Summit attendees will have the opportunity to see how Natural Resources staff members handle fish monitoring at the fish weir and habitat restoration throughout the Agency Creek watershed.
“This year,” Humphreys added, “we have tried to boost the productivity of these discussions by including other federal agencies whose resource responsibilities overlap those of EPA and the Tribes.
“A purpose that was not originally part of the Tribal Leaders Summit, but has evolved over time, is the opportunity for environmental staff to attend technical sessions for the purpose of education, training and networking.”