Region 1: EPA New England
Passamaquoddy Tribe - Pleasant Point
Pleasant Point Reservation is located in the easternmost region of the United States, in the town of Perry, Washington County, Maine, on a narrow peninsula leading to the island community of Eastport. The Reservation consists of 115 acres deeded to the tribe by the state plus 216 acres of annexed land adjacent to the original parcel.
The Passamaquoddy Tribe, also known as Sipayik (meaning: along the edge) is an indigenous Native American Tribe of eastern Maine/Maritime Canada. Culturally, the Passamaquoddy are one of several tribes of the Abnaki group. The Passamaquoddy people have inhabited this region of Downeast Maine and Maritime Canada since the time of their forebears and thus have a strong sense of belonging to the land.
Pleasant Point is one of two Reservations of the Passamaquoddy Tribe. Indian Township Reservation is located inland about 50 miles from Pleasant Point. Each of the two Reservations has separate governing systems, and the federal government recognizes each. Elected Tribal Council forms the major governing body for the Tribe. Tribal members elect a Tribal Governor, who serves as the chief administrator for the community. Passamaquoddy Indian Township and Pleasant Point Council hold joint council meetings with both governing bodies. Serving the Council and Governor is the Lieutenant Governor and an extensive staff of Tribal administrators including program managers for Bureau of Indian Affairs, Indian Health Service, and other federal contracts or grants.
The Passamaquoddy Tribe has an evolving land resource. The current 330 acres comprise the Reservation and annexed areas that provide for housing, economic development, and recreation to tribal members. The impact of the Passamaquoddy people on this evolving land resource will have to be carefully managed so that it will retain its environmental qualities and so that it will be preserved for future generations. The balance of badly needed economic development and long-term preservation of the environment is the focus of the Tribe’s environmental program. There are other land holdings off the Reservation, in the towns of Perry and Robbinston, which are expected to provide long-term economic benefit through sustainable development. These fee and trust lands will also have to be carefully managed. Knowledge of the actual quality and specific makeup of the various lands, waters, and air is being expanded. The Environmental Department’s GPS/GIS technician has completed accurate and precise mapping of the Tribal boundaries, and wetland delineation of the reservation, both fresh and saltwater, is completed.
The Reservation is bordered on its north side by Passamaquoddy Bay and on its south side by Cobscook Bay. These two bays are part of the traditional fishing grounds of the Passamaquoddy Tribe. In addition to these water resources are various other wetlands, lakes, and ponds on tribal lands in the towns of Perry and Robbinston
This Tribe has identified the following five objectives for developing its Tribal environmental Program: 1) All Tribal waters will be clean and healthy; 2) all Tribal lands, ecosystems, homes, and workplaces will have clean and healthy air; 3) Tribal government will work to continue its traditional practice of protecting and preserving the wondrous resources of the Great Mother Earth; 4) No waste or pollution will threaten Tribal Resources and 5) Foster environmental learning and stewardship among the Tribes youth, the community and Tribal leadership.
The Passamaquoddy Tribe at Pleasant Point Environmental Department works under these broad goals:
- Protect Tribal waters and related aquatic and marine ecosystems
- Protect foods and medicines consumed by Tribal members
- Foster environmental learning and stewardship among the Tribe’s Youth, the community, Tribal leadership, and the general public
- Protect Tribal lands and waters from improperly disposed wastes and accidental chemical spills.
EPA provides grant funding under Performance Partnership Grant (PPG), air, lead, OECA, and other programs to the Tribe to support the tribe in meeting their environmental goals. The Tribe has treatment similar to that of a state (TAS) in the EPA Lead, CWA 106, 319 programs.
Salt water testing, in cooperation with the Cobscook Bay Resource Center and the DMR, of both Passamaquoddy and Cobscook Bays analyzes fecal coliform and phytoplankton. Shoreline surveys are conducted to look for problem septic systems. These monitoring efforts are to protect and restore clam flats in the area. Salt water quality monitoring of chlorophyll and other parameters are being conducted to determine changes in primary productivity and impacts that might occur from the salmon farming industry.
Fish tissue testing has been done in both bays for heavy metals and dioxins. There are plans to expand this program in the future years. A multi-media study that incorporates air pollution modeling and monitoring to predict the types of toxins that might be in the sustenance foods, analysis of the foods, and a tribal food consumption survey is being conducted. This will help determine the risk the tribal members are exposed to and will help determine strategies to lower the risks.
Fresh Water quality parameters of streams and ponds on Tribal trust blueberry lands in Columbia Falls have been established. Monitoring of water withdrawal for irrigation is ongoing at T19. Boyden Lake water chemistry, the source of the Tribe’s drinking water, is being monitored to determine the impact of the renewed alewife run, due to the Tribe’s repair of the fish ladder in Boyden Stream.
The department is actively participating in ME DEP’s rulemaking for permitting of toxicity effluent discharges. The department has voiced concerns of sediment contamination, importance of a healthy Passamaquoddy Bay, and the need to access chemicals that are not being studied or analyzed.
Wetland delineation, function, and value assessments are being done for all wetlands on the reservation and surrounding fee lands. Wetlands support animals and plants that are culturally important to the Tribe are being identified and protected. Tribal Council has reviewed and approved the Department’s Wetlands Management Plan.
Natural Resource Inventory
Tribal lands are being surveyed to map all natural resources from soils to wildlife habitants. These inventories provide the information necessary to make land use decisions important to the Passamaquoddy Tribe.
GIS & GPS
All mapping is done utilizing GIS computer programs and a GPS unit to collect data in the field. This technology allows the tribe to have updated maps for the Tribal infrastructure, housing, and natural resource information.
This program is conducted in conjunction with the Health Center. Tribal children are tested for lead. Testing is available for housing and soils. Lead hazard awareness is done through the health center, housing authority, and the daycare center.
Air Quality Program
The department goal is to contribute to the regional air quality monitoring in Washington County, Community awareness of ozone and alerts for high ozone forecasts using Sipayik News Bulletin and Tribal TV. The Tribe has an air quality analysis shelter monitoring weather data, ozone, PM2.5. The Tribe submits data directly to the AQS system, and real-time data is available from the Tribe’s website.
The Environmental Department has 2 licensed technicians for sampling indoor air quality, specifically for mold and radon contamination. A number of older homes on the reservation have unhealthy levels of these toxins, almost certainly contributing to respiratory illness and potentially cancer and other diseases.
FERC Dam Relicensing
Two dams affecting Tribal lands are in the process of federal relicensing; GNP at Canada Falls Lake and Domtar at the St. Croix River. Both environmental departments monitor these proceedings, attend meetings, and report to Joint Council.