The Jamestown S'Klallam Tribe is the first tribe in the nation to achieve certification of a watershed plan from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
The purpose of the plan, Protecting and Restoring the Waters of the Dungeness, is to characterize the Dungeness watershed, highlighting the causes of non- point source pollution, while describing goals and management ideas for protecting water quality and restoring impaired areas.
"The tribe has two watersheds, the Dungeness and
Sequim Bay, in which we planned to prepare these watershed-based plans (for the EPA)," Jamestown environmental planner Hansi Hals said. "We completed the Dungeness plan in 2007 and, since its completion, we learned it was the first in the nation to be submitted and certified."
In 2000, the EPA asked tribes to assess their reservations for general non-point source pollution such as agriculture or failing septic systems. In 2006, the EPA requested that tribes submit watershed-based plans focused on specific projects and areas, including those outside of the tribe's land, such as the Dungeness watershed.
The EPA is authorized to award grants to assist tribes in non-point source management programs based on participation in Clean Water Act planning. The Jamestown S'Klallam Tribe has received $30,000 a year for general non-point source work, with additional grants awarded for specific project work such as river-edge restoration. The tribe's newly certified watershed plan is likely to increase the tribe's ability to obtain federal Clean Water Act funds.
"The (plan's) goals are to protect and enhance the natural resources of the Jamestown S'Klallam Tribe, including the fisheries and hunting/gathering opportunities," Hals said. "Much of the tribe's involvement with non-point source pollution stems from our goal to have Dungeness Bay waters clean enough for safe shellfish harvest and consumption."
Hals calls the Dungeness plan an excellent resource for planners associated with the watershed. It presents information gathered over a number of years, previously available in different studies, all in one document.
"It includes discussion of agriculture, hydromodification, habitat alteration, roads, bridges, urbanization, forestry and both wetland and riparian management," Hals said. "The final section of the plan presents milestones for implementing needed actions and identifies key partners."
The tribe serves as a principal facilitator of the Dungeness River Management Team, which celebrates its 20-year anniversary in 2008. Team members include the tribe, the city of Sequim, Clallam County, state departments of Ecology and Fish and Wildlife, well drillers, irrigation system representatives and nonprofit groups representing sport fishermen and natural resource conservation.
The plan will be presented at the Feb. 13 team meeting. The management team meets from 2-5 p.m. the second Wednesday of each month in the Dungeness River Audubon Center at Railroad Bridge Park. Hals said the plan also will be available in local libraries.
"By forging unique partnerships and using science to guide its decisions, the Jamestown S'Klallam Tribe continues to provide exemplary environmental leadership to the Dungeness," EPA regional administrator Elin Miller said.
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