Environmental Development with the Villages

KANA Receives EPA Funding to Develop Village Environmental Programs

In 1992, Congress passed the Indian Environmental General Assistance Program Act. This act authorized the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to provide General Assistance Program (GAP) financial and technical assistance to tribal governments to assist in developing environmental programs, particularly addressing hazardous waste issues. Priority funding is provided to federally-recognized tribes, with remaining funds granted to inter-tribal consortia programs. 

KANA has been awarded IGAP funds to develop a consortia program for Kodiak’s ten federally-recognized tribes. Seven of our ten tribes—Village of Old Harbor, Native Village of Port Lions, Native Village of Ouzinkie, Kaguyak Village, Native Village of Akhiok, Native Village of Larsen Bay, and Native Village of Karluk—are located off of the Kodiak road system. Native Village of Afognak, Sun’aq Tribe of Kodiak, and Tangirnaq Native Village currently receive solid waste services from the Kodiak Island Borough. Communities not on the road system have varying degrees of waste management activity. 

Each of the village communities experience waste management challenges in similar ways. By creating a central consortia, KANA can organize communications and provide technical support to assist Tribes and municipalities in addressing these waste management challenges as well as other environmental challenges.

“We will assist in communicating, promoting collaboration, and sharing information on priority environmental issues,” says Stephanie Mason, KANA’s Regional Environmental Coordinator. “It is in our current work scope to focus on developing a sustainable solid waste/hazardous waste back-haul program and a regional water quality sampling project.”

With a degree and background in Community Psychology, Stephanie attributes her experience as the former Executive Director at Threshold Services as sparking her environmental passion. 

“I look forward to addressing Kodiak’s environmental and public health concerns while assisting villages to develop self-sustaining solid waste management programs in their communities,” she said. “Facilitating communication processes will help improve the efficacy of existing environmental protection efforts, increase efficiency, and hopefully reduce the costs.”

Since receiving the grant, KANA has established relationships with the Tribal Environmental Coordinators of each village to become familiar with their existing programs, community goals, and concerns. Hazardous waste and water quality will be the consortia’s focus for 2018.

KANA and Kodiak Island Borough recently partnered in a massive island-wide cleanup of hazard household and industrial waste, including a total of 2,625 tons of scrap metal and 27,939 pounds of lead-acid batteries. 

However, as villages continue to receive commodities, solid and hazardous waste will continue to accumulate.

Meanwhile, warming ocean conditions and lowering pH is creating a stressful environment for marine life. The warming of the ocean temperature is specifically creating an environment for the growth and spread of harmful algae. Researchers are investigating if harmful algal blooms are connected to the recent mysterious deaths of marine mammals in the region.  

Stephanie was also appointed as board member with the Solid Waste Advisory Board (SWAB) in Kodiak. “Technically speaking, Stephanie will serve in this role in a personal capacity,” says KANA Economic Development Manager Tyler Kornelis. “However, her service on this board will have relevancy to her Environmental Coordinator role at KANA. It could certainly be possible to raise necessary issues and concerns of the village communities at the SWAB meetings and be a communication conduit from the Borough to the villages regarding solid waste issues.”

Stephanie expressed excitement to see the results of this important community project. “The rural communities are already doing amazing work,” she said. “I look forward to assisting them in ways that will build their programs’ capacities and provide a healthier environment for their people.”