Robinson Rancheria Environmental Center Profile
The Environmental Center was established in 1996 and funded through a USEPA General Assistance Program (GAP) grant. The GAP is annual base funding to assist with capacity-building of environmental programs. To receive this annual funding the Tribe submits the required GAP grant application, a detailed budget and a project work plan. This funding has allowed the Environmental Center to establish many programs over the years to reach environmental goals and objectives. The Environmental Center is always applying for grants to continue to capacity-build and to further develop other sustainable programs beneficial to the Tribe.
In 2016, pursuant to the Guidance on the Award and Management of GAP for Tribes by the EPA on May 15, 2013, the EPA enteredinto an EPA-Tribal Environmental Plan (ETEP) with each GAP grant recipient. This document is intended to be a joint planning document that defines mutual roles and responsibilities for program implementation with the Tribe. Going forward this document will be used to guide GAP work plan development by the Tribe, which will ensure that future GAP work plans align with short-and long-term Tribal environmental priorities. This document is to be reviewed annually by both the EPA GAP Project Officer and the Tribe. Updates to the EPA can be made at anytime. Based on the ETEP, the following priorities are identified for the Tribe to develop the program and seek funding to implement them.
EPA TRIBAL ENVIRONMENTAL PLAN PRIORITIES:
Water; Air Quality Program; Solid Waste Management; Pesticides Application Program; Hazardous Waste Program and ; Core Capacity-Building
The following programs currently managed today:
- Environmental Center – The Environmental Center’s primary function is to provide capacity-building of environmental programs important to the Tribe that promote healthy, safe and clean environments to the tribal community. The Environmental Director oversees all programs and supervises all staff. The environmental staff engage and are strongly encouraged to be involved with local, county, state and federal agencies on representing the Tribe on related environmental issues and concerns impacting the Tribe.
The Environmental Center is also involved with Mendocino, Lake, Sonoma Tribal Environmental Program (MLSTEP), established in 2004. This is made of other tribal environmental staff that meet monthly to network, share resources, hold special presentations and lectures, provide training, etc. Each Tribe hosts throughout the year. In Lake County, the Hinthel Environmental Resource Consortium (HERC) started in 2002. HERC consists of Lake County Tribes only and used to meet monthly. Each Tribe voluntarily hosted on a rotating basis. Today, HERC meets quarterly to discuss Lake County’s environmental issues, network and share resources. The most recent environmental issues we are addressing is harmful algal blooms, water quality monitoring and sampling, cultural resources in relation to CEQA and NEPA impacts, Hitch Recovery Plan, Tribal Beneficial Uses, climate change, wildfire, and emergency response planning. Robinson Rancheria was hugely instrumental in starting MLSTEP with Sherwood Valley and HERC with Habematolel of Upper Lake Pomo.
- Recycling CRV (CA Redemption Value) Buy Back Center- Funded with a USEPA Resource Conservation grant in 2002 as a pilot project, and still in operation today. This grant funded the Recycling Coordinator position, purchased the metal building, a truck, baler, utility hookups and general supplies. Over the years, additional state and federal funding purchased a new sorter, new electrical power hookups, forklift, hauling truck and trailers. Soon after the Tribe opened up 3 new recycle CRV sites in Lucerne, Clear Lake Oaks and Big Valley Rancheria to serve community needs. Today, 2020 we are now working on expanding our operations, by developing MOU’s with City of Lakeport, County of Lake, City of Ukiah, and City of Clear Lake because of their Recycling CRV Buy Back Center’s closing down for business. This expansion will be a 2-year pilot project funded through the Cal Recycle state program. This program currently receives CRV payments for cans/bottles/plastics processed and tribal contribution for staff and supplies. Large equipment items are usually funded with grants when they become available.
In 2020, the GAP will be purchasing and installing a Do-It-Yourself Oil Tank Container, specially designed to accept waste oil (auto and light industry) from the public. The Oil Tank Container will be station near the Recycling Center as a service to the tribal community for properly disposing of hazardous waste.
- Since 2000, the Robinson Rancheria Environmental Center continues to operate the USEPA Clean Water Act (CWA) 106 and Clean Water Act 319 programs. The CWA 106 base grant is intended to help tribal water quality programs managers, staff, and other tribal environmental decision makers design and implement effective and successful water quality programs. The CWA 319 base grant may be used for a range of activities that implement the tribe’s approved Non-point Source (NPS) management program, including: hiring a program coordinator; conducting NPS education programs; providing training and authorized travel to attend training; updating the NPS management program; developing watershed-based plans; and implementing watershed-based plans and on-the-ground watershed projects.
In 2020, the CWA program will be purchasing a small size boat to use for water sampling on the lake to monitor and sample the harmful algal blooms and for hitch monitoring.
- FEMA Hazard Mitigation Planning – In partnership with Scotts Valley Band of Pomo Indians, FEMA funded 5 Lake County Tribes under the umbrella of the Scotts Valley Tribe to develop a Multi-Tribal Jurisdictional Hazard Mitigation Plan (refer to as, HMP) for each Tribe. Since May 2019 several tribal partnership meetings have taken place to start gathering information from each tribe. The process is still taking place to collect and compile as much information needed to complete the HMP. The HMP plan is being prepared by a consultant firm, who is working with all the tribes in compiling all the data needed to complete the HMP. The HMP is anticipated to be completed by October 2020. Once the HMP is completed the Tribe will be eligible to compete for other FEMA grants, but most importantly, able to access FEMA funds if and when a “Disaster is declared by the Tribe, County or State”.
- Ecological Restoration Development Workforce Pilot Program – In partnership with the New Paradigm College (located in Lucerne, CA), under this project the Robinson Rancheria EPA and Scotts Valley will become part of the Native Advisory Council to assist in designing and implementing a workforce training curriculum. The funding from a PG&E grant will launch the pilot program with a cohort of 12-15 paid trainees (with a goal of 50% tribal participation) to engage in fuel load reduction, habitat enhancement, prescribed fire, and defensible space work. This pilot program is intended to create a model that can be made available to other communities and to develop ecological restoration workforce jobs and businesses. Ultimately, this pilot project will build Lake County’s capacity to engage in ecological restoration work that mitigates the impacts of climate change and reduces the risk of catastrophic wildfires in the imminent future.
In previous years since 1997, the following is a list of programs and projects established and completed:
- Air Quality Program – Completed Emissions Inventory; Installed weather station; Completed Air Quality Treatment-as-State application (3 years)
- NAGPRA (2 years); Established Cultural Resource Monitoring Map
- Transportation (in progress since 2002)
- GIS (in progress since 2000)
- DOE-Strategic Energy Plan (1 year)
- DOE – Solar Installation for roadway lighting (1 year)
- Community Garden (3 years)
- CA Cultural Center Feasibility Study (1 year)
- ANA Environmental Ordinances (2 years)
- U.S. Fish and Wildlife-Hitch Recovery Plan (in progress since 2003)
- Wetland Restoration (2 projects-3 years)
- FEMA Declared Disaster Project-Erosion Control (2 years)