Environmental Services Department
Protecting the natural resources and improving the social, economic, and environmental well-being of the Elk Valley Rancheria is the mission of the Environmental Services Department. Through the administration of numerous Environmental Protection Agency (“EPA”) grants, the Department is responsible for surface and groundwater monitoring, stormwater management, wildlife observation, solid waste management recycling and composting, invasive species management environmental response and indoor air quality. Environmental Services collaborates with other Tribal departments as well including wetland monitoring, drone mapping, and museum artifact preservation.
A watershed is the geographical area in which water flows across and drains to a common body of water, may it be a creek, river, lake, or ocean. For Elk Valley Rancheria, the common body of water is the ocean. This means that all the water flowing across tribal land and the surrounding areas drains ultimately to the ocean by way of Elk Creek and the Crescent City Marsh. The health of our watershed is crucial for a prosperous urban, rural, and natural environment. Preserving natural resources, reducing the impact of natural events (such as flooding, fires, and storms), providing habitat for wildlife, recharging groundwater supply, and filtering out water pollutants are some of the many benefits of a healthy watershed!
The ES Department’s approach to watershed management is three-fold, concentrating on water quality, forest management, and minimizing non-point source pollution.
The water quality program endeavors to ensure that all water flowing through Rancheria lands remain free of contamination and degradation. In addition, the program serves to maintain a healthy habitat for aquatic species. This is achieved through monthly and quarterly testing of surface and groundwater sites by examining physical, chemical, and biological characteristics.
Elk Valley Rancheria’s Forest Management Plan concerns safeguarding cultural resources and protecting the forestland from degradation, wildfire, water contamination, and illegal dumping.
Nonpoint Source Pollution
Nonpoint source pollution is the #1 threat to water quality. The term “nonpoint source pollution” stems from the idea that there is no single point from which the pollutant comes. Examples of nonpoint source pollution are excess chemical fertilizers from agricultural fields, bacteria from livestock waste, faulty septic systems and acid drainage from abandoned mines.
Since 2014, the ES Department has been targeting noxious, invasive weed species that are listed by the California Invasive Plant Council as having negative impacts on native ecosystems. The species specifically scheduled in the Noxious Weed Program include scotch broom (Cytisus scoparus), tansy ragwort (Jacobaea vulgaris), and Canada thistle (Cirsium arvense). To date, over 60,000 pounds of noxious weeds has been removed from tribal lands through a process of manual pulling and mowing.
Scotch broom (Cytisus scoparus)
Tansy ragwort (Jacobaea vulgaris)
Canada thistle (Cirsium arvense)
Stormwater runoff is generated when rain and snowmelt flow over impervious surfaces (paved streets, parking lots, and building rooftops), collecting debris, chemicals, sediments, and other pollutants and deposits them into streams, rivers, and ultimately the ocean. It is the goal of the ES Department to minimize stormwater runoff on tribal lands to lessen its impact on water quality. The approach to stormwater management is unique to each case. Most notably, after the heavy rains of 2016, the ES Department placed straw wattles in strategic locations around the Rancheria to intercept runoff and slow the flow of sediment runoff into nearby streams. We are in development of plans for landscape features that will act as natural barriers and filters for runoff events. These permanent structures will add a pleasing aesthetic while performing an essential ecological function.
Heavy currents push water through culverts as result of heavy rains
Straw wattles placed at the corner of the casino parking lot to slow the flow of stromwater runoff
Road flooding from massive storm in 2016
The purpose of the Tribal Environmental Response Program is to identify, inventory, assess and clean-up underutilized sites with existing or perceived contamination. These sites, known as brownfields, include old/abandoned buildings, old gas stations, illegal dump sites, buried tanks, and suspected or known illegal drug labs/marijuana grows to name a few. Since 2015, the ES Department has been mitigating Rancheria properties to remove contaminants from general solid waste to asbestos-contaminated material and lead-based paint.
The entire public record of completed mitigated sites can be found at the Elk Valley Rancheria Administration Building. More information about individual sites can be found by clicking the pictures below.
If you are concerned that a property on Tribal Land is a brownfield site, please download, complete, and email or mail the form below:
Digital mapping is an essential tool for managing, preserving, and protecting tribal land. The ES Department uses GIS (Geographic Information Systems) and Unmanned Aerial Systems (drones) to carry out a range of projects. Current projects include wetland monitoring, noxious weed mapping, and wildlife habitat monitoring.
Still from a drone flight showing elk roaming around
Drone out in the field
Proper disposal of solid waste is necessary for a healthy community and environment. The Solid Waste Management Program is committed to reducing the amount of waste leaving Rancheria facilities. This is accomplished through:
Minimizing the Rancheria’s contribution to the landfill
Implementing a comprehensive recycling program
Creating a food waste composting program
Developing Tribal Waste Management Codes and Ordinances
Conducting annual solid waste audits
The ES Department composting casino organic food waste
The ES Department with the help of the Maintenance crew conducting a solid waste audit in June 2018