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U.S. Geological Survey Activities Related to American Indians and Alaska Natives — Fiscal Year 1997

By U.S. Geological Survey

Environmental Activities

Everglades Restoration. Scientists from the USGS BRD participate on the South Florida Ecosystem Restoration Working Group with members of the Miccosukee Tribe of Florida Indians and the Seminole Tribe of Florida. Research to be undertaken is identified by the Working Group with input from the Tribal representatives. The Working Group is more collaborative than some because of the active participation by the two Tribes. In consultation with the Working Group, BRD scientists focus on landscape ecology, wetland ecology, fire ecology, ornithology and ichthyology, coral reef ecology, and long-term monitoring. USGS also had developed a set of computer landscape models to support decisionmaking models. These models include population models of the Florida panther, Cape Sable seaside sparrow, Florida snail kite, American alligator, American crocodile, wood stork, great blue heron, white ibis, and great egret.

The USGS WRD, operating from the Miami Subdistrict, has an integral role in a tri-party agreement to monitor surface water flows exiting main tributaries of the Seminole lands and entering Miccosukee lands. In cooperation with the Florida agency, South Florida Water Management (SFWMD), the USGS operates and analyzes data from three "real time" continuous acoustic flow meters which produce daily surface water flow totals. These flow budgets are coordinated with Tribal and State water quality sampling efforts and are utilized in calculating total nutrient loads by State scientists. The results are distributed in a biannual SFWMD report. The USGS reports monthly to the Seminole Working Group who's purpose is to review and isolate nutrient contamination, verify flow budget agreements, and develop pathways to decrease surface water loading to Tribal lands. USGS personnel also participate in a monthly technical subgroup to define quality assurance protocols based on the newly developed technique of flow weighting nutrient samples utilizing submersible acoustics and auto-samplers in a low flow environment. The Seminole Tribe also utilizes the USGS laboratory in Ocala for nutrient analysis in this effort. Contacts: Biological Resources: Director, Florida Caribbean Science Center, 352-378-8181; Water Resources: Mitchell Murray, 305-526-2895 ext. 44,

Migratory Needs of Sturgeon. At the request of the Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin, and the States of Wisconsin and Michigan, the USGS biologists at the S. O. Conte Anadromous Fish Laboratory are determining fish passage needs for two migratory species of sturgeon. Contact: Chief, Conte Anadromous Fish Laboratory, 413-836-9475

Effects of Lampricides on Native Mussels. The USGS BRD and the Bad River Band of Lake Superior Chippewa Indians are cooperating in a study to evaluate the effects of lampricide treatments on mussels native to waterways on the Bad River Reservation. Lampricides are chemical treatments, developed by Federal and other scientists, to reduce the population of lampreys in the Great Lakes. Lampreys are an introduced species that harm Great Lakes fisheries. USGS scientists are seeking a method of reducing the lamprey population without harming native mussels. Contact: Director, Upper Mississippi Science Center, 608-783-6451

Quantity and Quality of Water Resources for the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe. Water quality is known to be poor in some areas of the Cheyenne River Reservation. Many residents obtain drinking water from these poor quality sources. The objectives of the project are to: (1) describe the variability of streamflow within and adjacent to the Reservation; (2) inventory water use for selected areas within the Reservation; (3) determine selected aquifer properties; (4) describe and characterize the quality of surface and ground water, including suitability for drinking-water supplies, livestock watering, and irrigation; (5) describe temporal trends in water quality for the Cheyenne and Moreau Rivers; and, (6) develop a generalized hydrologic budget for the Reservation. Contact: Allen Heakin, 605-355-4560 ext. 216,

Water Resources of Part of the Rosebud Indian Reservation. Elevated nitrate concentrations have been detected in domestic wells completed in the High Plains aquifer and some other unnamed and unmapped shallow aquifers in Mellette and Todd Counties, South Dakota. Water samples taken from two community wells in the Grass Mountain area of the Rosebud Sioux lands contained dissolved arsenic concentrations, that were substantially higher than the EPA drinking-water standard. Pesticides also were found in some samples. Knowledge of the extent and thickness of the aquifers and their relationships to each other is needed to determine the extent, source(s), and direction of movement of contamination. The objective of the study is to provide reliable, current data and analyses for evaluation of the water resources to enhance the efficient use of these resources. Contact: Janet Carter, 605-355-4560 ext. 215,

Water Supply and Water-Quality Assessment of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation. Drinking water for the 13,200 residents of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation is obtained primarily from shallow wells. Northwestern parts of the Reservation lack a reliable drinking-water supply, and water-quality problems exist at scattered locations across the Reservation. There is great concern among the leaders of the Oglala Sioux Tribe that some of the drinking water consumed on the Reservation is adversely affecting human health. A comprehensive assessment of the supply and quality of reservation water is providing the baseline to evaluate future water-quality changes. Contact: Allen Heakin, 605-355-4560 ext. 216,

Surface-Water Quality on the Prairie Band of Potawatomi Reservation. The USGS provided an initial water-quality assessment at selected sites to identify point and non-point sources of contamination. It assisted the Tribe in developing the infrastructure and procedures necessary to monitor water quality within the Reservation on a long-term basis and to determine constituent loads coming into and leaving the Reservation. The USGS has also trained Tribal personnel in water-quality sampling and quality assurance/quality control procedures. As part of this training, three Tribal staff members were sent to the water-quality sampling course at the National Training Center in Denver. Contact: Thomas Trombley, 913-832-3551,

Environmental Impacts of Oil and Gas Operations: Osage Nation's Reservation. During the summers of 1995 and 1996, USGS scientists conducted limited studies of the environmental impacts of oil and gas operations at two oilfields on the Osage Reservation in northeastern Oklahoma as part of a broader project on water produced during petroleum extraction ("produced water "). The main issues on the Osage lands were salt scarring and soil erosion, ground and surface water contamination, and contamination from naturally occurring radioactive materials due to leaks and spills of brine from produced water. Preliminary geochemical and radiochemical studies of soil and water samples have been completed by the USGS though sampling is continuing. An initial report on the effects of produced waters at oilfield production sites on the Osage Reservation was published in 1997 (USGS Open-File Report 97-28). USGS representatives met with the Tribal Council in Pawhuska in April 1997 to explain the significance of the report and to assist the Tribe in determining priorities for environmental studies. Based on that meeting, the Tribe decided to conduct a reconnaissance water quality investigation on the Reservation with the USGS Water Resources Oklahoma District Office as the investigator. Although there is evidence of naturally-occurring radioactive materials contamination on the Osage lands, a more important economic factor is the overall quality of the ground and surface water resources. The USGS may also continue studying contamination by naturally occurring radioactive materials in the summer of 1998. Contact: Jim Otton, 303-236-8020,

Nitrates in the Flaxville Aquifer, Fort Peck Reservation (Fort Peck Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes). Water samples collected from the Flaxville aquifer during reconnaissance investigations contained large concentrations of nitrates. The extent and origin of nitrates in the Flaxville aquifer need to be defined. The objective of the project are: (1) determine the lateral distribution and concentration of nitrates in the Flaxville aquifer; (2) determine vertical distribution of nitrates in the Flaxville aquifer; (3) determine possible factors which might affect nitrate concentrations in the Flaxville aquifer; (4) determine nitrate sources; (5) determine hydraulic characteristics of Flaxville aquifer; and (6) describe conditions in unsaturated zone that may influence nitrate concentration. Contact: Joanna Thamke or David Nimick, 406-441-1319,,

Contamination in Unconsolidated Quaternary Aquifers In and Near the East Poplar Oil Field, Northeastern Montana. Brine from oil-production activities in the East Poplar Oil Field has been disposed of in evaporation pits or injected into subsurface geologic units (below the ground surface). Disposal of the brine apparently has resulted in contamination. The objectives of the project are to determine the areas of contamination, the chemical characteristics of the brine and the contamination, possible geochemical reactions that may occur, direction and rate of movement of conservative constituents, source areas, and the effect of the contamination on other water resources such as the Poplar River and the Fort Peck Indian Reservation (Fort Peck Assiniboine and Sioux Tribes). Contact: Joanna Thamke, 406-441-1319,

Delineation of the 100-Year Flood Plain Along Streams in the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation. The areas that would be inundated by a 100-year flood along streams in the Northern Cheyenne Indian Reservation are of interest to the Northern Cheyenne Tribe. Information is needed to adequately delineate areas prone to flooding along streams. This information will assist the Tribe in making decisions concerning the location of buildings, structures, roads, and other facilities to preclude the uneconomic, hazardous, or unnecessary use of the floodplain in connection with facilities. The objective of the project is to determine the extent of flooding that would occur as the result of a 100-year recurrence-interval flood along Lame Deer Creek, Muddy Creek, Rosebud Creek, and the Tongue River. Contact: Charles Parrett, 406-441-1319,

Bald Eagle Survey. Representatives of the Nez Perce and the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes assisted in BRD's 1997 Midwinter Bald Eagle Survey. Tribal members conducted eagle counts in portions of Idaho and Montana. The USGS scientists are analyzing data from 37 Tribal areas and States to assess regional and national population trends for bald eagles. Contact: Director, Forest and Rangeland Ecosystem Science Center, 541-750-7307

Geohydrologic and Water-Quality Assessment of Pueblo of Jemez Ancestral Lands. The Pueblo of Jemez has concerns about the quality of their present drinking water sources. This project will evaluate the present sources of water and perform a preliminary determination of possible alternative water sources. The Pueblo are also concerned about the characteristics of the geothermal resources on the Pueblo's land. This project will perform a preliminary characterization of these resources to aid the Pueblo in determining appropriate economic development alternatives. Contact: Paul Blanchard, 505-262-5347,

Exotic Species on the Navajo Reservation. The USGS BRD mapped exotic (non-native) species living on the Navajo Nation's lands in cooperation with the Tribal exotic species coordinator. The Tribal coordinator has been trained to use the BRD home page on exotics. A Navajo botanist was hired to assist with field data collection and the Navajo Nation provided volunteers to assist in collecting field data at approximately 40 sites on the Reservation. They provided information on where other exotic species might be, how to get there, and how to avoid culturally significant areas of the Reservation. The Navajo Department of Agriculture may be interested in expanding this study. The Hopi Natural Resources Department has expressed an interested in a second phase of the project. Contact: Director, Forest and Rangeland Ecosystem Science Center, 541-750-7307

Endangered Plant on Navajo Lands. In 1997, USGS and Tribal scientists monitored the status of Astragalus cremnophylax var. Hevronii, an endangered plant on the Navajo Reservation. The Tribal botanist, a USGS research scientist, and botanists from the National Park Service and Brigham Young University conducted a 3-day expedition to inventory existence of the species. Contact: Director, Forest and Rangeland Ecosystem Science Center, 541-750-7307

Navajo Nation Sedimentation and Erosion. The objectives of this USGS study for fiscal years 1997-98 are: (1) identify sources and mechanism of sediment production, (2) estimate rates of hillslope, valley, and channel erosion in tributary drainage basins, and (3) estimate sediment yields from drainage basins within the Navajo lands. Results of the study will help land-use managers and residents assess the stability of channels, and the relative erodibility of valleys and hillslopes. Contact: John Parker, 520-670-6671 ext. 271,

Fine-Resolution Mapping. A vegetation map of the Fort Apache Reservation is being produced by the USGS BRD's GAP project, in cooperation with the White Mountain Apache Tribe. The GAP project seeks to fill in data that are currently lacking ("gaps ") needed for geographic information systems (GIS). The results of this activity will be provided to the BIA field office. That office will cooperate with the Tribal Forestry Department to produce a fine-resolution vegetation map of the Reservation. BRD hired two biological technicians from the Tribe to collect data for a map-accuracy assessment on Reservation lands. The technicians clarified ambiguous data by conducting field examinations and relying on their knowledge of the local area. The final product will be integrated into the GIS as a foundation of the GAP project. Contact: Director, Forest and Rangeland Ecosystem Science Center, 541-750-7307

Apache Trout. Scientists of the USGS BRD, in cooperation with the White Mountain Apache Tribe's Fish and Game Department and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, have begun studies to assess the survival of Apache trout that have been reintroduced into streams on the Fort Apache Indian Reservation. Contact: Leader, Arizona Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Unit, 520-621-1959

Acid Mine Drainage. The USGS Nevada and California Water Resources Districts are informally consulting with the BIA and the Washoe Tribe of Nevada and California regarding contamination from the Leviathan Mine, an abandoned open-pit sulfur mine, of tribal lands along tributaries to the Carson River. Thus far, several engineering projects to contain acidic runoff from the mine pit and tailings have failed, resulting in acid and metals contamination of Bryant Creek and other tributaries in the area which traverse Tribal lands. Contact: Jon Nowlin, 702-887-7600,

Douglas County Nitrate Contamination. The Washoe Tribe of Nevada and California has lands in the Carson Valley, Nevada. Nitrate contamination from a variety of sources, including septic tanks, has affected aquifers in Douglas County, Nevada, adjacent to Tribal lands. Investigations of sources of and mechanisms for nitrate contamination of the aquifer are of interest and concern to the Tribe which has lands down gradient from the contamination. Contact: Jon Nowlin, 702-887-7600,

Fallon Basalt Aquifers Phase I, Data Synthesis and Analysis. The Nevada Division of Water Resources, the Navy, and the Bureau of Reclamation are cooperating with the USGS on this study to better define sources of water to, and controls on, the quality of water in the Fallon Basalt Aquifer. This aquifer is the sole source of drinking water for the City of Fallon, the Fallon Naval Air Station, and the Fallon Paiute and Shoshone Tribe (Fallon Colony). The Fallon Colony is contributing data to the project, is providing access to Tribal lands for drilling, and is a potential cooperator for Phase II of this study. Phase II involves developing a digital model of the aquifer and assessing the potential for in-situ reduction of arsenic, which exceed current U.S. Environmental Protection Agency maximum contaminant levels for drinking water. Contact: Carol Boughton, 702-887-7727,

Native Life and Sustainability. USGS Biological Resources Division (BRD) scientists at the Alaska Coop Unit are studying the sustainability of Arctic communities. Assisted by local indigenous people in data collection and research direction, the BRD study assesses subsistence lifestyles of Iñupiat Eskimo and G'wichin peoples that may be affected by global change, public policy, and ecological processes. Contact: Leader, Alaska Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, 907-474-7661

Muskox and Reindeer. In cooperation with the Northwest Reindeer Herders Association, USGS biologists are studying the interaction between a rapidly expanding, introduced muskox population and Native-owned, domestic reindeer on Alaska's Seward Peninsula. A geographic information system will be used to produce a muskox habitat map for the North Slope Borough, the regional government for Iñupiat Eskmos. The map will be used in planning land use on Alaska's North Slope. Contact: Leader, Alaska Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, 907-474-7661

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