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NALEMP- Native American Lands Environmental Mitigation Program

In recognition of the need to address tribal concerns in the Department of Defense (DoD) environmental programs, Congress has, since 1993, inserted a provision in the DoD Appropriations Act requiring the DoD to devote funds annually to mitigate environmental impacts to Indian lands and Alaskan Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA)-conveyed properties.

Most environmental programs use site evaluation and assessment processes that are consistent with national environmental regulatory requirements, but do not consider the potential effects past military operations may have on traditional cultures, such as risks to subsistence activities. Some remnants of DoD activities, such as abandoned buildings and debris, typically rank lower or are not eligible for assistance under current cleanup priority systems. In addition, because many Indian lands and ANCSA-conveyed properties are located in remote areas with low population densities, impacts on these lands are often considered to be lower priority sites. The DoD created the Native American Lands Environmental Mitigation Program (NALEMP) to address environmental impacts on Indian lands and Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA)-conveyed properties from former DoD activities and facilities.

Tribes

The Pueblo of Laguna has reported significant environmental impacts, resulting from historic use of their lands by the Department of Defense (DOD).  The impacted Pueblo of Laguna land contains nine sites that were either formally used by the DOD or have been impacted by undocumented DOD- related activities.  The amount of impacted land has been estimated to be up 5,877 acres.  The Pueblo of Laguna and the Native American Land Environmental Mitigation Program (NALEMP) can claim successful remediation of three sites containing approximately 3,900 acres to date.  The accomplishments include investigation and clean up of historic bombing ranges dating back to World War II.  One more site is scheduled to be completed by the end of 2014.  The Pueblo of Laguna and the DOD have entered into NALEMP cooperative agreements to address these impacts since 2005.  The sites remaining to be addressed, include an estimated 337 acres, and will be addressed as Congressional provided funding allows. The major advantage of the NALEMP over other DOD restoration programs is that remote sites, such as those on the Pueblo of Laguna can be addressed more expediently, and allows the Pueblo to have valuable input through consultation in decision making and the cleanup process.

The Pueblo of Zuni is currently working under a Native American Land Environmental Mitigation Program (NALEMP) Cooperative Agreement (CA) to mitigate environmental impacts on Pueblo lands resulting from Department of Defense (DOD) activities occurring over 50 years ago.  The Pueblo of Zuni and the DOD entered into the first CA in 2009.  Since then, a site inspection and removal action has been conducted at a former communication annex that resulted in mitigation of environmental conditions, such as asbestos and lead based paint at the former DOD facility.  In 2013, the Pueblo of Zuni will issue a contract for confirmation sampling beneath the site of the former annex building.  Depending on the results of soil sampling, and yearly Congressional appropriations, there may be a need for future CAs, until the DOD impacts are eliminated. The advantage of NALEMP over other DOD environmental restoration programs is that remote lands, such as those at Pueblo of Zuni become higher priority, and the Native Americans, whose lands are impacted have a higher degree of involvement in the cleanup process.