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EPA HONORS SANDIA PUEBLO WITH PARTNERSHIP FOR ENVIRONMENTAL EXCELLENCE AWARD

Release Date: 12/17/1997
Contact Information: For more information contact the Office of External Affairs at (214) 665-2200.

The U. S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 6 has awarded its Partnership for Environmental Excellence award to the Sandia Pueblo for outstanding success in developing an environmental management program to protect and manage tribal natural resources on 23,000 acres of tribal lands located north of Albuquerque in the heart of New Mexico. Ernest Woods, EPA Regional Native American Office, presented the special Environmental Excellence Award plaque and the coveted blue and green Environmental Excellence Award flag to the Sandia Environmental Department at the tribal council meeting in September.

Acting Regional Administrator Jerry Clifford stated, "I am extremely pleased that EPA has selected the Sandia Pueblo to receive this prestigious honor. The Sandia Environmental Department has made great strides in developing a sustainable environmental management program which integrates with the tribal community, and which is unquestionably one of the best of its kind in Indian Country."

The Sandia Pueblo's Environmental Department has developed and successfully implemented numerous projects: assessing potential leaking underground storage tank sites; reclaiming land areas affected by surface mining; constructing wetlands for wastewater treatment; monitoring air quality ; creating a recycling program to benefit the Pueblo's youth group; hosting community cleanup days and a household hazardous waste disposal day; developing a GIS program, closing open dump sites, opening a solid waste transfer station; and establishing baseline environmental information relating to roads, fence lines, streams, housing and wells.

Clifford said, "The Sandia environmental program was established as a community- based program, and the Sandia tribal members that live on the reservation actively participate in the activities. This provides a lot of learning opportunities for tribal members of all ages, which is especially important to assure that the environmental improvements are lasting." For example, the environmental program staff has given presentations on ground water protection, drinking water, wastewater treatment, and air quality to youth groups, middle school students, and high school students. For the past two summers, the environmental program has also hosted summer interns from the Pueblo to work with staff members on a variety of water quality activities.

Since 1994, the Pueblo's environmental program has had the mission of developing a self-sufficient, sustainable program to protect and manage tribal natural resources by applying sound management principles and practices. Like other Indian tribes, the Sandia Pueblo regards itself as a sovereign nation; and in developing its environmental program, the Pueblo has worked diligently with EPA to establish and maintain a well-coordinated, government-to-government relationship.

EPA's Environmental Excellence Awards program is in its 12th year recognizing outstanding environmental contributions in EPA's Region 6, which includes Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas.

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