EPA and Keweenaw Bay Indian Community announce project to build coastal resiliency
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency held its first meeting with the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community in Michigan to begin a technical assistance project funded by the American Rescue Plan. EPA and KBIC officials met to discuss risks to human health and the environment from contaminated waste and coastal erosion in specific areas along the Keweenaw Bay shoreline on Lake Superior.
“The traditional territory of the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community includes coastal and shoreline habitats which are critical places for culturally important species, foods, medicines and gathering,” said EPA Regional Administrator Debra Shore. “EPA is helping the KBIC assess the risks posed by flooding and coastal erosion and develop conceptual design options for five green infrastructure projects to protect its shoreline areas from climate change and natural disasters.”
“KBIC feels very fortunate to be selected to receive assistance through the EPA Equitable Resilience Technical Assistance program,” said KBIC CEO Brigitte LaPointe-Dunham. “This assistance will provide important cultural preservation to continue our way of living on the L’Anse Indian Reservation without concern. Additionally, we are excited for the assessment to be performed and designs to be brought forward that will complete the shoreline project and ultimately mitigate the identified risks to critical infrastructure and ecosystems.”
Portions of the KBIC’s land are contaminated with mining waste. Some areas also face significant challenges from coastal erosion which could threaten drinking water intakes and other critical infrastructure. EPA and the KBIC’s Natural Resources Department will assess environmental and human health risks along the Lake Superior shoreline. Together, they will develop design options for green infrastructure projects.
Through technical assistance programs, EPA provides vital resources, including experts, to communities in need. Equitable Resilience Technical Assistance projects build resilience against effects from climate change, natural disasters, and/or industrial or hazardous materials risk. The resilience measures will build community capacity to prepare for, withstand, recover from, and maintain its identity in the face of these risks.
EPA’s Office of Community Revitalization is providing Equitable Resilience Technical Assistance to four state and tribal governments in 2022. EPA’s assistance will be informed by community-based organizations in each location to ensure that the projects are centered on the vision of those who live and work in these communities. This effort is part of EPA’s commitment to achieving environmental justice by elevating community efforts to address legacy injustices made worse by a changing climate and the COVID-19 pandemic.