Protecting Tribal Natural Resources

Enforcing Tribal and Federal Regulations

The Natural Resources program works with community members, Tribal programs, and contractors to execute permitting and compliance activities related to a variety of Tribal and Federal environmental statutes, rules, and regulations. Natural Resources project oversight and regulatory actions are triggered through a variety of Tribal and federal actions including the following processes:

• Commercial, infrastructure, and multi-family site plan review processes (EBCI Tribal Code – Chapter 47 – Real Property – Sec. 47-2.)
• Single-family dwelling review process (EBCI “Long-form”)
• National Environmental Policy Act review triggered by federal permitting, signatory or funding actions (National Environmental Policy Act of 1969)
• Forest management activities authorized by the BIA 10-year Forest Management Plan



Water Quality Standards

The EBCI maintains a “Treatment As a State” (TAS) status through the U.S. EPA under the Clean Water Act Section 303(c) for the implementation of a water quality standards program. Natural Resources program staff periodically and systematically monitors EBCI waters to ensure compliance with federally approved water quality standards and designated use criteria. Program staff is responsible for identifying water pollution concerns and working with both community members and Tribal departments to ensure issues are addressed in a timely and effective manner.

Statutes/Regulations: Federal Water Pollution Control Act; EBCI Tribal Code – Chapter 113-E – Water Quality Code for Surface Waters, Chapter 131 – Cherokee Water Code; EBCI Water Quality Standards Administrative Rules

Primary Contact: Michael Bolt, Water Quality Section Supervisor


Clean Water Act Section 404 Permitting

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers regulates the discharge of dredged or fill material into waters of the United States, including all EBCI streams and wetlands.  Projects that have the potential to impact EBCI waters including fill for development, water resource projects, and infrastructure projects require consultation with the Natural Resources program to determine if a Section 404 permit is required.  The Natural Resources program will assist in identifying project planning and assessment needs for Section 404 permit applications as requested.  All Section 404 permits for Tribal projects must be prepared and submitted to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers by the EBCI Natural Resources program per the terms of an existing Memorandum of Agreement (2016) between both parties.  Program staff are also required to submit a binding comment letter as part of the 404 permit application to ensure planned actions protect aquatic life and fish resources.

Statutes/Regulations: Federal Water Pollution Control Act, Army Corps of Engineers Section 404 permitting rules and regulations

Primary Contact: Gary Sneed, Regulatory Specialist

Clean Water Act Section 401 Certification

All applicants for a federal license or permit to conduct an activity which may result in a discharge into EBCI waters must receive a Section 401 Certification from the EBCI.  This certification program ensures all proposed federal permits meet Tribal water quality protection standards.

Statutes/Regulations: Federal Water Pollution Control Act, EBCI Water Quality Standards Administrative Rules

Primary Contact: Michael Bolt, Water Quality Section Supervisor

Erosion Control and Site Development Permitting

Per EBCI code any land-disturbing activity uncovering one acre or more requires an erosion and sedimentation control plan approved by the Tribe. A completed SWPPP as required under the NPDES CGP meets required erosion planning needs. The plan shall be filed with the Natural Resources program at least 30 calendar days prior to the commencement of the proposed ground disturbing activity. The approval of an erosion control plan is conditioned on the applicant’s compliance with federal and Tribal water quality laws, regulations, and rules. If the submitted plan is approved a permit to conduct land-disturbing activities shall be issued in the name of the applicant. In cases where less than one acre will be disturbed, applicants for building permits on any construction are required to complete an erosion control form issued by the Natural Resources program to ensure the implementation of basic erosion control measures. Natural Resources staff perform erosion control inspections and ensure proper planning measures are maintained to protect EBCI water quality.

Statutes/Regulations: EBCI Tribal Code – Chapter 113-D – Soil Erosion and Sedimentation Control

Primary Contact: Derek Tahquette, Regulatory Compliance Specialist

National Environmental Protection Act Compliance

The National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) of 1969 requires all agencies of the Federal Government to use a systematic, interdisciplinary approach that will ensure the integrated use of the natural and social sciences in planning and decision making that may have an impact on the environment. Tribal actions often trigger the need for compliance with NEPA due to a Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) funding, authorization, or permitting action. The Natural Resources program assists programs and individuals with identifying pertinent steps for NEPA compliance. We request that project managers consult with the Natural Resources program to determine if a project triggers NEPA and what compliance measures may be required. All NEPA documents prepared for Tribal projects, including Environmental Assessments (EA) and Environmental Impact Statements must be submitted to the Natural Resources program for review and comment prior to submittal to the required federal agency to ensure all Tribal environmental and cultural resource values are considered.

Statutes/Regulations: National Environmental Policy Act

Primary Contact: Gary Sneed, Regulatory Specialist

Endangered Species Act Compliance

Compliance with the Endangered Species Act (ESA) is required for all Tribal actions. The Natural Resources program assists the BIA and other federal agencies with compliance with Section 7 of the ESA when federal actions may impact a listed species on EBCI trust property. EBCI staff perform species and habitat assessments, biological evaluations, and consultation activities with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife service to ensure Tribal projects are planned and implemented as efficiently as possible. ESA assessment letters from the Natural Resources program are also required by the BIA to complete timber permitting and NEPA compliance.

Statutes/Regulations: Endangered Species Act of 1973

Primary Contact: Caleb Hickman, Supervisory Fish and Wildlife Biologist

Floodplain Management and Development Permitting

Tribal code requires any construction or improvements proposed in a location that has a flood hazard to be designed and carried out to meet Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) requirements. Natural Resources employ certified Floodplain Administrators who are responsible for enforcing floodplain management regulations. Floodplain development permits are required and issued by Natural Resources for any development within the regulated floodplain. Applications for floodplain development permits shall be made to the Floodplain Administrator.

Statutes/Regulations: EBCI Tribal Code – Chapter 143 – Building Codes and Flood Control. Article II. – Flood damage prevention; FEMA Floodproofing Certification Regulations, Flood Insurance Studies (FIS), and Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRM)

Primary Contact: Gary Sneed, Regulatory Specialist

Environmental Reviews for Tribal Property Transactions

The Natural Resources regulatory office assesses both commercial and residential sites for their suitability for purchase and subsequent development. Upon request from the EBCI Department of Justice (DOJ), Natural Resources staff performs environmental reviews to assess current natural resource conditions and regulatory limitations to subsequent development. A final report is submitted to the EBCI DOJ and accompanies purchase documentation to be reviewed by Tribal Council. Reviews are also conducted at the request of BIA Reality department as required by certain financial transactions.

Statutes/Regulations: Variable based upon property

Primary Contact: Gary Sneed, Regulatory Specialist

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Acres We Regulate

Endangered Species Act

Endangered Species Monitored

Miles of Streams Regulated

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