Region 1: EPA New England
Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians
Location and Land status
The Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians was federally recognized on October 10, 1980. They are located in the towns of Littleton and Houlton, Aroostook County, ME. The total Tribal roll consists of 869 members with 462 members living on or near tribal land. Currently approximately 854 acres are held in trust by the United States on behalf of the Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians with an additional 389 acres awaiting formal trust designation.
The Tribe has a council composed of six members, headed by a Chief. The tribal administrator oversees the daily business of the administration.
Agricultural lease payments are a source of revenue for the Tribe. The land is fertile with potatoes as the primary crop, in rotation with barley and clover. HBMI recently purchased and has begun operating a local roller rink and is redeveloping 125 acres as a campground and cabin rental facility.
HBMI/EPA Partnership – Milestones
A multi-media grant received in 1992 marks the beginning of the Tribal/EPA partnership for developing a tribal environmental department. The Tribe received their first performance partnership grant in 1996, which is the mechanism the Tribe uses to manage the various environmental projects funded by EPA. The Tribal/EPA agreement (TEA) signed in 1997 identifies the goals of the tribal environmental department and EPA's commitment to work on a government-to-government basis with the Tribe to fulfill these goals. The Tribe has been approved by EPA to receive Treatment in a manner similar to a State (TAS) funding in the following areas: the Clean Water Act 106 (1997) and the Clean Water Act 319 (2000).
Environmental Accomplishments - Last 15 Years
The Tribe has had many great environmental accomplishments over the last 15 years in the areas of non-point source management, water quality, environmental health/solid waste, environmental education, emergency planning and pollution prevention.
Non-point source management accomplishments include: 7 acres of riparian buffer by planting tree seedlings -- 16 acres of tree planting on highly erodible land -- 3 waterways, 7 sediment basins/level lip spreaders, 1 plunge pool, 1 nutrient and sediment control structure – 23.7 acres of environmentally sensitive agricultural land enrolled in USDA's Conservation Reserve Program – 1 "beaver deceiver" exclusion device installed to protect road erosion – 3 unstable banks re-graded and seeded or cobbled – an unstable section of road re-graded and armored – a third culvert on Bell Road designed to direct runoff into a stream buffer rather than directly into the stream – well-sized and shaped road ditching along Bell Road – a large concrete culvert to handle spring runoff and facilitate beaver exclusion at the crossing of Suter Brook and Bell Road – cobble on the stream bank adjacent to the large concrete culvert – a beaver exclusion device to keep sections of a gravel road from washing into a wetland – 1 acre erosion control plant materials center established – Tribe's latest BMP installations include improved stormwater management and erosion control along a farm road adjacent to a 2-acre pond/wetland complex in 2002 and cooperative work on phase 1 of a large gully wash mitigation project completed last summer on upstream public lands owned by the Town of Houlton and adjacent to the Meduxnekeag.
Watershed Initiative Success Story: After ten years of environmental capacity building via the General Assistance Program authority, HBMI successfully competed for one of twenty Watershed Initiative (aka targeted watershed) grants awarded in 2003 in the amount of $700,000. The grant proposal addresses water quality impairments in tribal waters (and in the entire Meduxnekeag watershed) identified by the Band, including high levels of nutrient, sediment and bacterial contamination resulting from upstream agricultural activities and an illicit sewer connection on a municipal storm drain. The grant award itself is a measure of the success the Tribe has achieved in partnership building, grants management and administration, and the characterization and quantification of its water quality impairments. To date, as a result of grant activities: 1) bacterial levels in the targeted upstream storm drain have declined from an average of 16,000 to a approx. 350 colonies per milliliter (the illicit sewer connection was located and removed); and 2) 20 farmers have applied winter cover (in the form of mulch or cover crops) on 7902 acres of crop fields, keeping approx. 2371 tons of farm soil out of the Meduxnekeag River. 3922 acres and 1177 tons of farm soil were protected in 2006.
Water quality accomplishments include: Monitoring the Meduxnekeag watershed over the past 12 years for pH, temperature, DO, alkalinity, conductivity, total suspended solids, turbidity, and e-coli bacteria. Also assessing low flow impacts, algae growth and macro invertebrate community – Providing Maine DEP all water quality data, State currently relies on us for their temperature/DO data collection. – Coordinating water quality monitoring with local waste water treatment plant effort. – continuing a watershed-wide non-point source assessment.
Environmental Health/Solid Waste accomplishments include: 72 homes tested for radon – 50 children tested for blood lead contamination – 3 household hazardous waste workshops provided – 1 composting and recycling workshop provided – Fish in the Meduxnekeag watershed tested for a variety of toxic contaminants with a focus on mercury. Contaminated soil from an old underground injection site was identified in 2004, assessed in 2006 and cleaned up during the summer of 2007. HBMI completed a solid waste management study in 2006. Tribe just completed an assessment of drinking water in 5 wells on Trust lands and a locally frequented spring.
Environmental Education accomplishments include: An interpretive nature trail highlighting Tribe's non-point source management activities and a Natural Resources Department web page and quarterly newsletter that describes HBMI's environmental protection activities and provides environmental education.
Future Environmental Plans
Tribe has a number of pollution prevention projects in mind (pending funding availability) including energy efficiency improvements beginning with an energy audit for tribal facilities and housing, tree planting for shade and wind breaks, oil tank leak catchments and a salt and sand shed. Also the Tribe is looking for ways to implement one of the waste management options identified by their recently completed solid waste management study.
HBMI is in the process of developing a wetlands program. Wetlands are a culturally significant natural resource. Many medicinal plants grow in wetland areas as do brown ash, the source of material for basket making, a very important tribal tradition which still provides income for a number of tribal members.
HBMI would like to restore a natural sea-run Atlantic Salmon population in the Meduxnekeag. To support this goal, Tribe would like to implement a fluvial geomorphology study of the watershed to better assess fish habitat impairments and identify restoration opportunities. Expanding the water quality and aerial deposition monitoring capabilities would help us better identify the sources of non-point source pollution which are currently degrading the habitat for Salmon in the Meduxnekeag River.