Tribal Enterprises Resources
Fisheries and Shellfish
Fuel Management and Gas Stations
Tribal government enterprises allow tribes to foster economic development while simultaneously maintaining control over the enterprises' impacts on the environment, natural resources, and tribal cultural values. Tribal enterprises provide much of the financial resources needed to manage day-to-day government operations as well as a full governmental infrastructure. Tribes around the country operate numerous facilities, such as schools, medical facilities, utility departments, businesses, factories, and other revenue producing ventures. Some tribes encourage economic development and have micro-loan organizations that provide assistance to tribal members who have business plans intended to contribute to Indian country's growing self-sustainability. The popularity of the gaming industry has provided the capital necessary to attempt other forms of economic development, and many tribes have been quite successful. Additionally, revenue sharing with non-gaming tribes has provided start-up costs and matching funds for smaller tribes that do not have casinos.
Many tribal governments with forests on their reservation are responsible for regulating forestry operations and related activities. In other cases, forests are the responsibility of tribal members, non-tribal members, and the federal land management agencies, including the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Other federal agencies, including the U.S. Forest Service (Department of Agriculture) and the Bureau of Land Management and the National Park Service (Department of the Interior) manage forests near Indian reservations. Regardless of regulatory responsibility, forests often contain areas of spiritual or religious value, medicinal or ceremonial plants, archaeological sites, and areas of traditional hunting, fishing and gathering use, as well as areas of scenic and aesthetic value.
Where tribes are responsible for regulating forest uses, tribes can meet their political, spiritual, social, and economic needs concurrently through sustainable forestry management - the use of forests in a way and at a rate that maintains their productivity, biodiversity, regeneration capacity, and potential to fulfill relevant ecological, economic, and social functions. For more information on sustainable forest management, visit the U.S. Forest Service Web site. As an economic incentive to encourage sustainable forest management, tribal forestry operations might consider certifying their management practices through one of several independent organizations . A case study on a tribal sustainable forest management program is found at the Forest Stewardship Council's news and media site and an example of sustainable forest management is Menominee Tribal Enterprises "The Forest Keepers": The Menominee Forest-Based Sustainable Development Tradition (PDF) (25 pp, 402K, About PDF).
For specific information, see "Forestry Production Industry: Operations, Impacts, and Pollution Prevention Opportunities" in The Profile of the Agricultural Crop Production Industry at EPA's Profile of the Agricultural Crop Production Industry Web site.
Forestry activities can contribute to nonpoint source pollution and water quality degradation through erosion, removal of streamside vegetation, destruction of habitat, and the use of pesticides and nutrients, primarily commercial fertilizers. Additional information about these issues is available in Surface Water Protection and in Pesticide Management.
Gaming is a form of economic development that has provided income for tribes and job growth on certain Indian reservations. Some tribes currently conduct a range of gaming enterprises, including bingo, horse and dog racing, and casinos. The Indian Gaming Regulatory Act of 1988 (IGRA) regulates gaming on Indian reservations. Under IGRA, tribes must have a gaming board that creates rules and regulations, reports to the federal government, and conducts the background checks necessary to make sure the tribe's casino is in compliance with federal standards. Additionally, IGRA provides standards for compacting with state governments for gaming enterprises, and sets the appropriate taxation rates for individual gaming revenue. Finally, the IGRA requires, in part, "the construction and maintenance of the gaming operation, and the operation of that gaming [be] conducted in a manner that adequately protects the environment and the public health and safety."
The IGRA created the National Indian Gaming Commission (NIGC), an independent federal regulatory agency, with responsibility for regulating gaming activities on Indian reservations. Among its other responsibilities, NIGC is authorized to conduct investigations; undertake enforcement actions, including the issuance of notices of violation, assessment of civil fines, and/or issuance of closure orders; conduct background investigations; conduct audits; and review and approve tribal gaming ordinances. IGRA also provides the NIGC the responsibility for overseeing gaming operations conducted by tribes.
Gaming revenues are allocated by tribal governments for many different uses within several major use categories. Many tribes put the revenue back into the tribe's infrastructure and build administration offices, healthcare facilities, housing, and recreation sites. Other tribes distribute gaming revenue to their members directly through a "per capita" allotment process or on an "as needed" basis to members who apply. Gaming revenue proceeds are also used to encourage the development of other tribal business ventures. For some tribes, the proceeds make up a substantial portion of annual tribal revenue.
Gaming enterprises do not typically have any unique potential to impact the environment; instead, gaming operations have the potential to impact the environment in much the same way as other similar buildings - during the building construction phase and through building operations, including dealing with stormwater and other drainage issues, and air quality impacts associated with motor vehicle traffic and boiler operations. Go to Construction/ Property Management for common environmental impacts and applicable regulations associated with building construction and operation.
Tribes engage in a wide array of agricultural operations. These operations include raising animals and growing fruits and vegetables for sale, as well as overseeing animal farms, medicinal herb gardens, and the production and collection of rare indigenous flora, such as blue corn and wild rice. The environmental impacts, and relevant regulations, of agricultural operations are the subject of separate EPA Sector Notebooks providing resources and other compliance assistance tools, which can be found at the EPA's Compliance Assistance Agriculture Sector site.
Agricultural operations are subject to the requirements of many federal environmental statues. Under the CWA, there are five program areas that potentially affect agricultural operations, including point source discharges, storm water discharges, nonpoint source pollution, wetland regulation, and sludge management. The Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) has a significant impact on the day-to-day operations of may agricultural operations. Other relevant statutes pertaining to the agriculture sector include RCRA, CERCLA, EPCRA, CAA, Toxic Substances Control Act (TSCA), and Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA). Agricultural operations should review the information on Underground Storage Tanks, Aboveground Storage Tanks, Water Resource Management and Pesticides. In addition, agriculture operations should review other relevant EPA Sector Notebooks, including The Profile of the Agricultural Crop Industry, The Profile of the Agricultural Livestock Industry, and The Profile of the Agriculture Chemical, Pesticide, and Fertilizer Industry.
The following presents a brief discussion of agricultural pollutants and their environmental impacts:
- Nutrients. Excess nutrients in water (i.e., phosphorus and nitrogen) can result in or contribute to low levels of dissolved oxygen (anoxia), eutrophication, and toxic algal blooms. These conditions may be harmful to human health and ecosystems and may adversely affect the suitability of the water for other uses
- Sediment. Sediments affect the use of water in many ways. Suspended solids reduce the amount of sunlight available to aquatic plants, cover fish spawning areas and food supplies, clog the filtering capacity of filter feeders, and clog and harm the gills of fish. Turbidity interferes with the feeding habits of fish. These effects combine to reduce fish and plant populations and decrease the overall productivity of waters
- Animal Wastes. Animal waste includes the fecal and urinary wastes of livestock and poultry; process water (such as from a milking parlor); and the feed, bedding, litter, and soil with which fecal and urinary matter and process water become intermixed. Manure and wastewater from animal feeding operations have the potential to contribute pollutants such as nutrients (e.g., nitrogen and phosphorus), organic matter, sediments, pathogens, heavy metals, hormones, antibiotics, and ammonia to the environment. Decomposing organic matter (i.e., animal waste) can reduce oxygen levels and cause fish kills
- Salts. Salts are a product of the natural weathering process of soil and geologic material. In soils that have poor subsurface drainage, high salt concentrations are created within the root zone where most water extraction occurs. The accumulation of soluble and exchangeable salts (i.e., metal compounds in the soil that can chemically change) leads to soil dispersion (i.e., movement of soil in air and water), structure breakdown, decreased infiltration, and possible toxicity; thus, salts often become a serious problem on irrigated land, both for continued agricultural production and for water quality considerations. High salt concentrations in streams can harm freshwater aquatic plants just as excess soil salinity damages agricultural crops
- Pesticides. The primary pollutants from pesticides are the active and inert ingredients, diluents, and any persistent degradation products. Pesticides and their degradation products may enter groundwater and surface water in solution, in emulsion, or bound to soils. Pesticides may, in some instances, cause impairments to the uses of surface waters and groundwater. Some types of pesticides are resistant to degradation and may persist and/or accumulate in aquatic ecosystems. Pesticides may harm the environment by eliminating or reducing populations of desirable organisms, including endangered species.
Tribes often provide the public the opportunity to visit Indian reservations. Tourist enterprises include indoor recreation facilities - casinos, hotels, spas - and outdoor recreation facilities and activities - ski resorts, golf courses, and expeditions. While there are no potential environmental impacts or regulations that are unique to tourist enterprises, these activities have the potential to impact the environment in similar ways to corresponding non-tourist enterprises. Construction and Property Management, including buildings and outdoor recreation facilities, can create environmental impacts and be regulated.
Tribes may want to use EPA's Environmental Enrichment for the Lodging Industry: A Toolkit Web site to improve the day-to-day operation and maintenance of hospitality and food service facilities. The toolkit includes approaches that can save money, improve the quality of guest experiences, and ensure the site's sustainability as an attraction and environmental asset.
Fisheries and Shellfish
Tribal governments manage fisheries and shellfish resources for economic development, and to support cultural, subsistence, and religious activities. Tribes regulate and coordinate fishery and shellfish management programs within the exterior boundaries of their reservation and within specific adjudicated usual and accustomed fishing and shellfish grounds. In addition to federal and tribal law, tribes with treaties maintain guaranteed rights to harvest fish and shellfish in the places they had traditionally utilized. Some tribes also co-manage fisheries and other natural resources with states. In many instances tribes cooperate with federal, state, private, and public parties to protect, restore, and enhance the productivity and diversity of the ecosystems supporting fisheries and shellfish.
Compliance with applicable federal and tribal environmental laws, as well as effective land, water, fish and shellfish management, is important to species survival and the maintenance of sustainable fisheries and shellfish beds and productive hatchery operations. EPA's Marine Protection Compliance Monitoring Web site offers information on conducting inspections of ocean dumping of all materials and more.
Tribes often have two types of fishery activities: (1) commercial, and (2) ceremonial and subsistence. Commercial operations are for profit - fish and shellfish are sold to buyers, who in turn either sell directly to the public or to other commercial entities (i.e., wholesalers, restaurants, other distributors). Tribes collect taxes from tribal members who sell the fish or shellfish and those taxes are returned to the tribal programs to help pay for natural resource management. Ceremonial and subsistence fishing are intended for tribal use only. For many tribes, fish and shellfish have a central role in tribal gatherings (e.g., naming ceremonies, funerals, honoring elders).
Fish hatcheries produce fish for stocking in tribal and non-tribal waters. The stocks are used to rehabilitate declining populations and to provide additional fish for commercial and ceremonial and subsistence uses. Fish hatcheries need a steady source of water to sustain the operation and typically consist of ponds and tanks and tanks and cages of various capacities for hatching and rearing aquatic species. Of course, the design of each hatchery reflects a tribe's priorities, the type of fish being raised, and the fish's life cycles.
The water used to raise fish in hatcheries is returned into the stream or river from which it originated. This "wastewater" discharge, that has been in contact with cultured fish and contains hatchery fish wastes, can create a number of environmental problems. As a discharge to navigable waters of the United States, CWA NPDES permits are required generally with EPA or tribes issuing permits for discharges in Indian country and states generally issuing permits for discharges outside Indian country. EPA's NPDES program Web site provides information concerning NPDES permits.
Hatchery waste products can include: uneaten food, fish carcasses, fish feces, nutrients (especially phosphorus), algae and benthic macrophytes, parasites, disease organisms, drugs and other chemicals. Solid and liquid pollutants are byproducts of raising fish in high densities within a confined facility. Although both fish and their wastes occur naturally in free-flowing systems, the unnaturally high concentrations of such wastes from fish raised in a concentrated setting can pose environmental problems. When flushed into waterways, the solids can settle beneath or downstream of the facility. These solids increase the turbidity and nutrient concentrations in streams and may decrease dissolved oxygen. The rich nutrient concentrations of phosphates and nitrates encourage the explosive growth of algae and benthic macrophytes. The growth of algae and benthic macrophytes changes the habitat and consumes oxygen in the water that other fish and plants need to survive.
Chemicals and pharmaceutical drugs used to treat fish for parasites, as well as other drugs and chemicals used in aquaculture, also flow into downstream waters. The use of settling ponds greatly reduces or eliminates water quality concerns, and is an integral part of any tribal hatchery operation. Settling ponds are vacuumed before the water is released back into the water body; vacuumed waste is then disposed of in a landfill.
Fuel Management and Gasoline Stations
Tribes are often responsible for fuel management. Fuels managed include: gasoline, diesel fuel, fuel oil, and, in some cases heavier grades of oils. Fuel management operations include tank and pipeline management, management of runoff and environmental controls, and management of tank filling and refueling operations. Some of the wastes commonly generated in fueling operations, include tank bottom water, tank bottom sludges, spent solvents, and waste petroleum products.
One of the major concerns of fuel management is associated with runoff from rainwater and other environmental controls. Care should be taken in the design of fuel management areas to minimize the potential that runoff from "dirty" areas (those areas where fuel is managed) will make its way to areas where fuel is not managed. Clean runoff is discharged directly to stormwater systems. Runoff from fuel management areas generally should be discharged to treatment units, where fuel and other contaminants can be removed before the runoff is discharged to the storm water system. The treatment units may be as simple as gravity-based oil-water separators, or they may be extensive treatment systems designed to salvage the fuel for reuse. Increasingly, environmental controls are being installed to treat other wastes generated from tank farm operations, such as tank bottoms.
For related information visit EPA’s National Indian Country Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Priority site and EPA’s Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Program in Indian country site.