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8th Annual Tribal Lands and Environment Forum Wraps Up in Spokane, Washington

Forum Opens a National Conversation on Tribal Land and Water Resources

08/16/2018
Contact Information: 
EPA Press Office (press@epa.gov)

SPOKANE (August 16, 2018) – Today, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) concluded the 8th annual Tribal Lands and Environment Forum (TLEF) in Spokane, Washington, continuing an important dialogue with our tribal partners on land and water resource management. The TLEF is an annual conference co-hosted by EPA and the Northern Arizona University/Institute for Tribal Environmental Professionals.

“EPA is more effective and efficient at implementing our core mission when we work together with our partners” said Barry Breen, Acting Assistant Administrator for the Office of Land and Emergency Management. “EPA is proud to co-host this annual technical training opportunity for tribal governments to build capacity and share best practices in implementing successful environmental programs in tribal communities.”

This year’s conference covered solid/hazardous waste management, underground storage tanks, Brownfields and Superfund site assessment and cleanup, emergency management, water quality, addressing per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), drinking water infrastructure, and habitat restoration. EPA's PFAS session provided an overview of current activities EPA is undertaking to address PFAS. It also included a brief discussion on identifying PFAS, solutions for addressing PFAS, and communicating PFAS – similar to the Agency’s National Leadership Summit in May and subsequent community engagement events around the country this summer.

"Participants in this conference had access to the greatest collection of environmental knowledge on the entire planet,” said Mark Junker, Chairperson, Tribal Waste and Response Steering Committee, Sac and Fox Nation of Missouri in Kansas and Nebraska. "You could not turnaround without running into a person who could help you do a Brownfields assessment, inspect a tank, develop codes, or tell you how earlier generations related to and respected the land."

“Historically, Native people have always been on the first frontier and will be the final frontier for protecting Mother Earth,” said Ernest L. Stevens III, Council Member, Oneida Nation. “This event brings professionals from across Indian country together— the ones who do this work every day— to exchange and bring back knowledge to their communities so that we can all move forward collectively. I’m here to support that initiative in any way I can.”

“For networking, the TLEF has been very valuable in that this is where I have met most of the tribal environmental counterparts. This is where I have established my network” said Tegan Pettis, Environmental Scientist, Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians.

Background

The TLEF is the primary vehicle for EPA to train and engage our tribal partners, as well as other federal, state, and local governments, on effective implementation of EPA’s land cleanup, emergency response, and water programs in Indian country. The TLEF serves as an important opportunity for the Agency to share information and best practices as we collaborate to protect human health and the environment in tribal communities.

For more information about the training, please visit https://www7.nau.edu/itep/main/Conferences/confr_tlef