The main responsibility and goal of the Environmental Program is to protect Tribal members and resources. We accomplish that by working to ensure that Red Lake Nation is in compliance with federal environmental regulations. The program maintains a permanent staff of four; a Program Director, an Air Quality Specialist, an Environmental Response/Brownfields Coordinator and an Environmental Specialist. Program staff works closely with other DNR programs to assure that Tribal resources are well protected. Some of the Environmental Programs goals and objectives include; develop and promote waste reduction, recycling and household hazardous waste management, develop renewable energy capabilities through the solar energy pilot project, protect tribal groundwater and surface waters from contamination, manage an Underground Storage Tank (UST) Compliance Assistance, Inspection and Technical Support Program to ensure all regulated USTs are in compliance with federal regulations, protect the health and safety of individuals and the environment from accidental chemical releases by maintaining and practicing our Tribal Emergency Response Plan, monitor dwellings and office buildings for radon, lead, asbestos, and other contaminants, and develop and monitor Source Water Protection Areas for three tribal public water systems.
CURRENTLY, THE ENVIRONMENTAL PROGRAM IS MANAGING SEVERAL PROJECTS:
The Air Program is monitoring ambient air quality by operating and maintaining both a Clean Air Status and Trends Network (CASTNET) site and a fine particulate (PM2.5) continuous monitor. These monitoring projects allow the program to track ambient air quality changes and to send out air quality notifications.
Alternative Energy - A solar energy pilot project is in progress at the Red Lake Boys and Girls Club. The Environmental Program is working with a contractor to install a 3 kilowatt solar energy system at the Boys and Girls Club. The project will determine the feasibility of installation of additional solar energy systems in the future for energy cost savings, self-sustainability and carbon footprint reduction on the Reservation.
Recycling - A municipal solid waste characterization study was conducted last fall. This study collected valuable data on what Red Lake Nation’s waste stream consists of. With that knowledge, we can determine how much could be diverted from the waste stream for recycling, composting, and other higher value use instead of landfilling. In addition, it is our goal to recycle a large portion of the household furniture that has collected over the years at the Transfer Station. Finally, monitoring the surrounding groundwater of the four closed landfills is conducted to determine if any is being monitored for any potential release.
The Climate Change Adaptation plan is focused on water and forest resources. This project is being conducted in collaboration with the Climate Solutions University Model Forest Policy Program. The plan will eventually be expanded into a guideline for other environmental, development, and planning programs on the Reservation. The program has collaborated with the Great Lakes Integrated Sciences and Assessments (GLISA) to host a workshop focused on how climate change will affect the Red Lake Nation and what we could be monitoring to accurately show what those changes are. The program has also been working with the University of Minnesota to produce a downscale model of climate trends for Red Lake Nation lands.
The Environmental Response/Brownfields project is designed to investigate and inventory sites where illegal dumping causes concern for potential environmental contamination. The project utilizes the Tribe’s Hazardous Substance Control Act (HSCA) for oversight and enforcement on such sights in an effort to prevent further contamination, remediate the sites for future use, and to protect human health and the environment.
The UST Program is a project that is designed to provide compliance assistance and federally credentialed inspections as well as technical support to Underground Storage Tanks (UST) owners and operators on the Reservation as well as other Minnesota reservations. The program’s goal is to ensure all UST owners are within significant operational compliance with federal regulations 40 CFR Part 280-281 in order to help protect groundwater resources from contamination.
The Hazardous Waste Collection project is working to develop and implement a Household Hazardous Waste Collection Plan to help reduce and manage hazardous wastes. We shall also study different hazardous waste disposal options.
The Emergency Response Planning and Community Right to Know project is currently finalizing our Tribal Emergency Response Plan to present to the Tribal Council for adoption. Additionally, we need to have annual emergency response exercises and reviews of the plan. The Environmental Program also conducts Emergency Planning and Community Right-to-Know Act (EPCRA) programs on the Reservation and provides information to tribal members.