Jump to main content.


Tule River Indian Tribe

Tule River Reservation logo

Planning and Outreach Make Transfer Station a Success

Looking for solutions to its waste disposal problems, the Tule River Indian Tribe found answers in its solid waste management plan. Using the plan’s detailed recommendations and analyses, the tribe chose a transfer station as the optimal solution. When the tribe closed its five open dumps in the early 1990s, it knew that it had to provide another waste disposal option to its more than 800 tribal members to avoid continued illegal dumping. The tribe first provided 30-cubic-yard roll-off containers for trash disposal. These containers, however, proved difficult to use for some community members because they had to throw trash up and over the edges of the six-foot-high bins. As a result, trash often ended up around the bins instead of in them, giving dogs and other wild animals easy access to the trash.

“Plan around your community’s needs. Also, plan thoroughly and give yourself time to be successful. Start small. It’s better to be successful at a small level than to start large and set yourself up for failure. Just be reasonable with your goals and expectations.” - Karri Vera, environmental program manager

Tribe Turns to Solid Waste Management Plan

The tribe soon realized these roll-off sites did not meet the community’s needs and instead created problems of their own. To find a suitable solution to its waste disposal dilemma, the tribe turned to its existing solid waste management plan developed in 1997 with assistance from Indian Health Service (IHS). In addition to assessing the tribe’s waste generation and waste disposal costs, the plan presented several recommendations for improving waste disposal on the reservation and the associated development and maintenance costs for each recommendation. According to Karri Vera, the Tule River environmental program manager, “The most useful and crucial part of the plan was probably the cost analyses which accompanied the recommendations for improvements to our solid waste management. These analyses helped us to plan for total initial costs as well as annual maintenance costs.”

A Transfer Station is the Answer

Based on the recommendations and cost analyses in the solid waste management plan, the tribe decided that a transfer station offered the best solution. Ms. Vera explains, “We knew a transfer station would provide an area that could be fenced and locked to keep animals out and to try to prevent illegal dumping.”

Spaces for vehicles to back up to edge of roll-off bins to dump their waste.

Spaces for vehicles to back up to edge of roll-off bins to dump their waste.

The transfer station was built by IHS with funds from its Sanitation Deficiency System program. Tule River Indian Tribal Public Works contributed by preparing the site prior to construction. The tribe also made siting and design decisions, which allowed it to factor in the community’s needs. For example, the tribe sited the transfer station in a central location and established seven-day-a-week daylight hour operations to encourage tribal members to use the facility. Designing easily accessible recycling bins for glass, cardboard, and plastic also helps keep the site clean, and eliminates the unsightly roadside drop-off sites.

The transfer station is free to all tribal and community members and tribal businesses. Residential waste collection service is not currently available on the reservation, so residents must self-haul their waste to the transfer station. The station is a paved, open-air, multi-level facility and is totally enclosed with a chain link fence and three locking gates. The waste tipping area consists of two 30-cubic-yard roll-off bins situated in an excavated area, which allows tribal members to back up their vehicles and dump their waste directly into the bins. A ramp gives transfer vehicles access to the bins, and allows the bins to be removed and replaced when full.

The station also has three recycling bins for glass, plastic, and cardboard and three overflow/storage bins for storing recyclables when the receiving bins are full. In addition to household waste and recyclables, the transfer station accepts refrigerators, used tires, and office paper from the tribe’s administrative offices. Used tires are stacked neatly and taken to a recycling facility at least every six weeks. The tribe also pays a licensed contractor to remove hazardous fluids, such as freon and oils, from old refrigerators and appliances brought to the transfer station. Currently, household hazardous waste is not accepted. The tribe is, however, working to coordinate a cooperative effort to host some one-day collection events in the future for household hazardous waste.

Top of Page

Side view of roll-off bins and access ramp.

Side view of roll-off bins and access ramp.

Spreading the News

To promote use of the recycling center and transfer station, the Tribal Environmental Program publishes articles and announcements in community newsletters that educate and inform the community. To ensure that tribal members began using the transfer station as soon as possible, the Tribal Environmental Program began its outreach and education campaign one year before the transfer station opened. Early newsletter articles focused on waste generation on the reservation and discussed why residents should be concerned. Later articles provided information specific to the transfer station such as hours of operation, the types of waste that would be accepted, and plans for recycling at the station. Articles focused on the “why” and “how” of waste reduction and provided tips for reducing household waste. The tribe also publishes photographs and “thank you” notices in the newsletters to recognize individual community members and groups that play an active role in waste management. Ms. Vera recommends, “Keep your community informed and involved in your solid waste management plans, and let them know the “whys” of your work. Without their support, your efforts, however well-intended, will not be successful.”

For more information, contact Karri Vera, Tule River environmental program manager, at 559-781-4271, or tuleriverenv@govisalia.com.

Top of Page


Local Navigation




Jump to main content.