The Environmental Sciences section of the Natural Resources Department essentially consists of two sub-areas, the Air Resources Program and the ecological sciences staff. This section of the department is primarily responsible for implementing the technical environmental functions of the department, including such tasks as: conducting environmental monitoring and research; assessing the potential environmental impacts of proposed land alteration projects; providing environmental management recommendations to Executive Council and other FCPC Departments; coordinating with federal and state agencies and other outside organizations to promote environmental protection on and around FCPC lands; planning and coordinating resource, habitat, and recreational enhancement projects; implementing the Tribe’s federally authorized environmental programs; and ensuring Tribal compliance with applicable environmental laws and regulations.
Since 2002, the Air Resources Program has gradually been adding monitors to detect various pollutants in the air, including fine particulates, ozone, sulfur dioxide, vaporous mercury, as well as acid and mercury deposition. The air monitoring site also includes a tower for measuring meteorology. Data collected has been used by staff in the Natural Resources and Legal Departments to provide important information regarding the effects of emissions from pollution sources on the quality of the air and the impacts on natural and cultural resources on FCPC lands.
The Air Resources Program is also responsible for reviewing air pollution permits issued to pollution sources to determine if emission control measures are adequate to protect the health of tribal members and the ecological communities that inhabit FCPC lands. The program provides written comments on proposed federal regulations and policy in relation to air quality management when appropriate.
The Tribe obtained Class I Re-designation in 2008. This designation provides greater protections to the natural and cultural resources on FCPC lands plus better air quality for the health of the community through federal laws that regulate air pollution sources and their emissions.
The ecology staff consists of three Natural Resources Biologists and two Natural Resources Technicians. Each biologist serves as the department expert in a respective specialty area, those being: aquatic sciences, botany & wetlands, and wildlife, while also providing assistance in the other specialties whenever possible.
The biologists and technicians partner to coordinate and implement an extensive resource monitoring program, including: conducting plant, wildlife, and fish community surveys; evaluating the chemical concentrations and physical properties of the FCPC’s waters and wetlands; coordinating the analysis of fish and wildlife samples for diseases and harmful pollutants; and assessing habitat conditions.
The ecology staff also: coordinates and conducts scientific research projects to learn more about environmental issues of significant importance to the Tribe; develops and implements management plans and habitat improvement projects; delineates environmentally sensitive areas and provides management recommendations to protect those areas; identifies and manages invasive species; and administers grants and consultant contracts to support the goals of the department.