Tribal Council OKs grant applications for EPA funds in jeopardy

Tribal Council approved three grant applications during its Wednesday, April 19, meeting, including one to the Environmental Protection Agency that might be in peril considering the Trump administration’s announced plans to scale back funding for the federal entity.

Tribal Council approved applying for a two-year grant that would, if approved, bring the Tribe approximately $248,000 annually to help ensure clean water on the Reservation.

The grant funds would be used for staff wages, equipment, supplies, materials, environmental stewardship actions, water quality monitoring and staff development. The Tribe has received the grant since 1998.

However, in response to Tribal Council member Denise Harvey’s question during the Tuesday, April 18, Legislative Action Committee meeting, Fish and Wildlife Program Manager Kelly Dirksen said the funding might disappear if President Trump’s proposed federal budget, which slashes funding to the EPA, is adopted by Congress.

“Anything related to water quality is slated to be cut,” Dirksen said.

Not knowing what will happen with Trump’s proposal, Dirksen said it is prudent for the Tribe to apply for the grants just in case some or all of the funding remains in place.

Tribal Council also approved applying for a grant not to exceed $255,000 to the Environmental Protection Agency to continue the Tribe’s involvement in the Portland Harbor Superfund cleanup process. The money will fund the work of the Tribe’s technical consultant, Tribal employee participation and Tribal employee expenses, such as mileage.

The other grant application was to the Oregon Parks and Recreation Department’s Recreational Trails Program that would award a maximum of $33,367 to help fund the Natural Resources Department’s summer youth crew.

In other action, Tribal Council:

  • Approved the Portland Harbor Phase 2 funding and participation agreement because the Tribe is a trustee on the Natural Resources Trustee Council;

  • Appointed Alex Drake as the Tribe’s remote pilot in accordance with the new Unmanned Aircraft Systems policy;

  • Appointed Monty Herron to the Tribal Court’s Tribal Member Review Board;

  • Approved the Natural Resources Department purchasing a new Kenworth dump truck chassis and Lane dump box to replace a 1998 Peterbuilt dump truck that is becoming too expensive to maintain;

  • Approved letting the Tribe be responsible for any costs and assessments, including road maintenance, to the Doumard Association with its acquisition of the Rattlesnake Butte property in Lane County. The association is responsible for maintenance of the northern access route to the property;

  • Approved a memorandum of understanding with the University of Oregon that will establish a process for government-to-government consultation between the school and Oregon’s nine federally recognized Tribes;

  • And approved the enrollment of one infant into the Tribe because they meet the enrollment requirements outlined in the Tribal Constitution and Enrollment Ordinance.

Cultural Resources staff members Bobby and Jordan Mercier were joined by Jade Unger in performing the cultural drumming and singing to open the meeting.

Also included in the April 19 Tribal Council packet was a staff directive declassifying a July 2015 staff directive that provided former Economic Development Director Titu Asghar with up to $25,000 in Tribal funds to pay for legal fees when he sued Tribal member Ann Lewis, who used to work for him in Economic Development and was a vocal critic during public meetings and on social media.

“The Tribe has historically supported employees who have been sued in the course and scope of their employment,” the July 2015 directive stated. “Tribal Council believes employees who are harmed by personal attacks based on their employment should also be supported.”

The packet also included an authorization to proceed that dedicates $20,000 to the Willamina School District that will fund staff development for students with high behavior needs.

The meeting, in its entirety, can be viewed on the Tribal website, www.grandronde.org, by clicking on the News tab and then Video.