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Makah Tribal Perspective on Probabilistic Monitoring

David Lawes 1, Vincent Cooke 1, James Harvey 2, and Tom Heitmuller 3

1 Makah Tribe, Neah Bay, WA 98357
2 U.S. EPA, Gulf Breeze, FL 32561
3 USGS, Gulf Breeze, FL 32561

Tribes are sovereign and independent nations, many have treaty-reserved rights to hunt, fish and gather outside the borders of their reservation lands. Further, the U.S. government has a trust responsibility (recently re-affirmed by President George Bush through Executive Order: Preserve America, March 2003) to protect the health and well-being of tribes. Tribes have a history of concern for the environment and the authority to manage decisions and actions affecting the quality of their environment. Coastal tribes regularly engage in commercial and subsistence fishing and hunting and have aquatic organism consumption rates approximately 10x higher than the average American; therefore coastal tribes face greater health risks from pollutant accumulations in fish and marine mammals. Many of these pollutants originate outside tribal lands, yet still threaten tribal health and well-being. These pollutants threaten salmon, shellfish, and other natural resources on which tribes, particularly small coastal tribes, depend for their survival and for their culture. Tribal programs have conducted environmental sampling for many years, however most sampling efforts are focused on a particular site, issue or stressor. Probabilistic sampling methods, such as those offered by EPA's National Coastal Assessment Program for tribal monitoring will allow establishment of baseline conditions, identification of trends in degradation or recovery, and estimation of the areal extent of resource condition with known confidence. This type of unbiased assessment will help tribal managers and decision makers understand the spatial extent and relative importance of various stressors and impacts, and therefore better focus resource management actions.

Keywords: Tribes, Makah, probabilistic monitoring, estuarine assessment, National Coastal Assessment Program

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