Indian Time - A Voice from the Eastern Door

Public Meeting for Environmental Restoration Project

 


For the last few years, different environmental programs have been collaborating to help with restoring and healing the environment. The programs working in collaboration with Saint Regis Mohawk Tribe and Akwesasne Cultural Restoration are National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration, United States Fish and Wildlife service, and the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. They collectively make the St. Lawrence Environmental Trustee Council. The purpose of this meeting was to show the progress that they have made and future projects for the benefit of the environment for not only Akwesasne but also St. Lawrence County.

The St. Lawrence Environmental Trustee Council (SLETC) assessed of several geographic areas where years of pollution have accumulated. This was explained by the representative of the program of NRD (National Restoration Damage) and went into the importance of these assessment areas and how they plan to use that information. So far there have been 3 areas assessed, Alcoa East, General Motors, and Alcoa West. In 2013 the NRD completed two case settlements for the General Motors and Alcoa lands.

Mike Morgan, a biologist for the NOAA, spoke about the findings and hopes for preserving and saving various wildlife in Akwesasne and the surrounding areas. One of the completed projects included Murphy Island to address predator control (cormorants, raccoons) and management of vegetation to enhance common tern, great blue heron and common egret and platform construction to provide nesting sites for bald eagle, osprey.

Morgan mentioned that they are also working in Wilson hill to improve turtle and muskrat population to grow and thrive in their natural environment.

Next, Anne Secord spoke about making fish passages where fish barriers have been built. This is to repurpose these structures to help fish such as walleye, salmon, and other species to reach their mating grounds, habitat for feeding, and survival. Secord’s department is also working to evaluate any other fish barriers in the St. Lawrence watershed to turn them into fish passages.

The final presentation was by Amber-Dawn Lafrance, Office Manager of the Akwesasne Cultural Restoration Project. She explained the basics of the their program as well as what other programs they have funded over the last few years, all in an effort to encourage the youth of Akwesasne to be more culturally aware as well as learn about natural herbs and plants and teaching children about hunting, trapping and preparing animal meat, fur and hides. Something that has turned out to be very popular among the kids. ACR is hoping to gain funding to continue these programs to promote environmental awareness and cultural awareness. She also mentioned that there is another apprenticeship program in the works announcing a community meeting in July.

Future projects from the Trustee Council include recreational, ecological and Cultural Restoration Projects. Other projects include conducting watershed-wide assessment to prioritize aquatic resource restoration sites.

In the future, the Council hopes to also focus on high priority sites to restore wetlands back to normalcy. They are also identifying potential priority sites along the St. Lawrence River and identifying existing wetlands that are contagious to protected areas that could bleed into them, in hopes of restoring them back to their natural state. These projects will take time and the Council hopes that they will be able to continue to restore the St. Lawrence River, surrounding environments, and species for future generations.

 

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