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EPA celebrates 10th anniversary of Tribal grant program; Agency provides $15.7 million to tribes in Arizona, California and Nevada

Release Date: 11/20/2003
Contact Information: Wendy L. Chavez, (415) 760-5422

    SAN FRANCISCO   U.S. Environmental Protection Agency Regional Administrator Wayne Nastri today toured the Gila River Indian Community as part of a nationwide celebration honoring a decade of partnerships between the EPA and tribal governments.
    November marks the 10th anniversary of the EPA's General Assistance Program, the agency's largest program aimed at helping tribal governments protect their environment.  Since its inception in 1993, the program has helped 500 tribes nationwide and partnered with 90 percent of Southwestern tribes to protect tribal communities from environmental threats.
     This year alone the EPA is providing roughly $3.1 million in environmental program development grants to tribal governments and coalitions in Arizona through the GAP program.  The grant program will also provide more than $9.7 million and $2.9 million, respectively, to California and Nevada tribal governments and coalitions.    
     "While tribes face tremendous environmental challenges, they have also made great gains in protecting and restoring natural resources and the ways of life that depend on them," said Nastri.  "The EPA is proud to be a part of tribes' successful efforts at protecting and restoring their natural resources, the environment and public health."

     "We are committed to protecting our land, water and air," said Gila River Indian Community Governor Richard Narcia.  "We look forward to another decade of productive partnership with the Environmental Protection Agency in that effort."

     The Gila River Indian Community is one of 146 tribes in the Pacific Southwest region, which is home to over 25 percent of the nation's 565 tribes and native villages, and is made up of nearly half of all tribal land in the U.S.  The tribe is one of over 400 GAP participants throughout the U.S. that have made great environmental strides over the past 10 years.
     After establishing its environmental program with GAP funds, the Gila River Indian Community went on to develop the first tribal medical waste ordinance in the U.S.; developed a solid waste ordinance under GAP that allows for the prosecution of  illegal dumping on tribal lands; developed a community-wide groundwater protection strategy; provided technical assistance and oversight for the removal of more than 50,000 tons of burned tires; worked with the EPA to clean up 3,000 tons of soil contaminated with the pesticide toxaphene; and established three monitoring stations to assess air quality within the Community.

     During the tour, Nastri also presented the tribe with keys to a new recycling truck funded by the GAP program.  Nastri also presented the tribe with a check for $75,000 to contribute to the continued cleanup of a former leaking underground storage tank site, which is the future site of a diabetes resource and education center.  Diabetes is a serious health concern for the Gila River Indian Community and many other tribes throughout the nation.

     While much progress has been made, many challenges still face tribal leaders.  About one in 12 tribal homes lacks access to safe, reliable drinking water.  Nearly half of all tribes in the U.S. lack a solid waste management program.

     Regional Administrator Wayne Nastri's visit is one of several events that the agency will conduct throughout the nation during Native American Heritage month in November to showcase tribal achievements across the country.  For more information on these events, visit 
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