A Day in the Life of EPA Administrator Gina McCarthy - April 16-17, 2015: A Visit to the Pacific Northwest

Earlier this month, Administrator McCarthy visited the Lummi and Swinomish Reservations in the Pacific Northwest. Both tribes are coastal and closely connected with the Salish Sea. They face some big challenges as they’re working to protect clean water and the animals and plants that are important to their livelihoods and culture. Both tribes are finding innovative ways to preserve their local environment and create economic opportunities. During her visit, which was a part of the Obama Administration’s Generation Indigenous Initiative, the Administrator visited a shellfish hatchery, saw environmental projects at a tribal college, spoke with and learned from Native youth, and got to know some of their cultural traditions.

Administrator McCarthy and Regional Administrator Dennis McClerran, with Flavian Point, learn about the efforts of the Lummi Nation Natural Resources Shellfish Hatchery, which produces clams, oysters and geoducks. The latter is a type of saltwater clam that is native to the west coast of North America. These new all-night algae feeders were installed last winter. The geoduck seeds alone can go through 30,000 liters of algae per day. (1 of 9)
The Administrator and Flavian Point, the Lummi Bay Aquaculture manager at the hatchery, examine shellfish seed. Built in 1971 and remodeled in 1995, the shellfish hatchery can produce more than 400 million shellfish larvae per month. (2 of 9)
The Administrator and Flavian Point take a look at mature geoducks. Geoducks are the only shellfish sold for profit from the hatchery, and they are in demand both in the U.S. and internationally. The clams and oysters that are raised at the hatchery are either consumed on the reservation or bartered. (3 of 9)
Administrator McCarthy and Lummi Nation Chairman Tim Ballew II look out at the shellfish beds on Lummi Bay. Some of the shellfish beds have recently been closed because of pollution from upstream that has damaged the water quality. These closures are posing a challenge for the Lummi economy. (4 of 9)
The Administrator traveled to Northwest Indian College on the Lummi Reservation to meet with President Justin Guillory, as well as students and professors. Northwest Indian College hosts several Tribal ecoAmbassadors who partner with EPA scientists to solve environmental challenges in their communities. (5 of 9)
This rain garden is one of the Tribal ecoAmbassador projects at Northwest Indian College. It was part of a project last year to make living labs out of formerly clear-cut spaces on the Northwest Indian College campus. (6 of 9)
Administrator McCarthy also visited the Swinomish people, who live on Fidalgo Island in Puget Sound. Swinomish youth performed a song and dance for her at a potlatch dinner, which is a traditional gift-giving feast for Pacific Northwest tribes. She also met with Swinomish youth to talk about particular challenges that they face in tribal lands. (7 of 9)
Administrator McCarthy took a tour of the Skagit River around the Swinomish Reservation with Brian Cladoosby, the Swinomish Tribal Chairman and President of the National Congress of American Indians, and Tony Basabe, an air quality scientist who is part of the Swinomish Nation. (8 of 9)
Logo for Generation Indigenous
The Administrator’s trip was a part of the Generation Indigenous (Gen-I) Initiative launched by President Obama to create opportunities for Native youth and cultivate the next generation of Native Leaders. Members of his Cabinet are visiting tribal communities as a part of this initiative. (9 of 9)

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