Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians
7500 Odawa Circle
Environmental policy is one of the tools used to ensure the wise use of the Tribe’s natural resources and environment in order to promote, honor and respect our traditional, spiritual and physical relationship with the land and waters. Environmental policies advance LTBB’s environmental capabilities; expand our coordination and collaboration with other tribal nations, governments, and the public; integrate traditional, spiritual and physical values into today’s activities; and promote an understanding and awareness of the environment from a tribal perspective.
LTBB NRD staff conduct research, develop and implement regulations, serve on workgroups and committees, participate in conferences and meetings, review and comment on proposed actions by other governments and agencies, and strive to stay informed on environmental trends and issues affecting LTBB. Focus areas include climate change, natural gas fracking, mercury in Great Lakes fish, water quality uses, invasive species, and several others. In particular, we are building LTBB’s capacity to focus on Great Lake issues through a Great Lakes Restoration Initiative project. Staff work with the Natural Resource Commission and Tribal Chairman’s Office on environmental policy issues.
Great Lakes Policy Initiatives
The Great Lakes have been a defining characteristic of Odawa culture for generations. From inhabitance on Great Lakes’ islands to transportation and subsistence fishing, the Great Lakes are influential to the Odawa way of life. Together the five Great Lakes create one of the largest freshwater systems in the world – containing 20% of the world’s surface freshwater. Despite their size and benefits, the lakes face serious problems. Invasive species, impaired water quality, and habitat loss require coordination and collaboration among governments, researchers, nonprofits, and industry. The lakes span two Countries, eight U.S. States, two Canadian Provinces, dozens of Tribes and First Nations, and local municipal governments. With so many sovereign governments, active coordination and collaboration is required to develop and implement policies that protect and restore the Great Lakes.
Environmental Services Program (ESP) staff participates in a variety of issues and initiatives. Broadly speaking, staff bring a tribal perspective to planning initiatives and protect tribal interest in the Great Lakes ecosystem. ESP staff also provides education and outreach on Great Lakes issues. Below is information on a few of the more prominent Great Lakes policy areas we are working on.
Lake Michigan Management Planning
Through collaborative partnerships and participation in Great Lakes initiatives, the ESP help restore and protect the integrity of the Lake Michigan ecosystem. The Great Lakes Policy Specialist serves on the Lake Michigan Lakewide Action and Management Plan (LAMP) committee, participates in LAMP meetings, and provides tribal input on relevant documents and Great Lakes policies. The Great Lakes Policy Specialist also regularly represents LTBB on the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement’s Great Lakes Executive Committee and Great Lakes Restoration Initiative (GLRI) planning efforts.
Lakewide Action and Management Plans (LAMPs) were created in accordance with the 1987 amendments to the Great Lakes Water Quality Agreement (1972), between the United States and Canada. The agreement committed both countries "to restore and maintain the chemical, physical and biological integrity of the waters of the Great Lakes basin ecosystem." To meet this commitment, the two governments agreed to develop and implement LAMPs for each Great Lake and Remedial Action Plans (RAPs) for specific geographic Areas of Concern (AOCs). LAMPs are intended to identify critical pollutants that affect beneficial uses of the lakes and to present strategies, recommendations and policy options to restore those beneficial uses. The Lake Michigan LAMP was developed in 2000 and has been updated every two years through 2008. LAMPs are now on a five year rotation with the Lake Michigan LAMP scheduled to be updated in 2019. The Lake Michigan LAMP uses an adaptive management approach with the goal of making it a more useful resource - to incorporate new data and public input. Because Lake Michigan is completely within the United States, it is the only LAMP implemented without direct Canadian involvement. The Lake Michigan LaMP vision is “to create a sustainable Lake Michigan ecosystem that ensures environmental integrity and that supports and is supported by economically viable, healthy human communities.”
Aquatic Invasive Species (AIS)
Staff work on a variety activities to reduce the impact of current and potential impacts of AIS on Tribal resources. Recently, specific focus has been given to ballast water regulations, Asian carp, and the Great Lakes Mississippi River Study (GLMRIS). Activities include: advocating for increased/improved AIS control and prevention, raising AIS as a priority in the region, and working to improve management and collaboration across jurisdictional boundaries.
Staff has been actively involved in the Asian carp issue for several years. LTBB has held the position that physically separating the Great Lakes and Mississippi River basins at the Chicago canal system is the preferable way forward. LTBB has held that physical separation (also called hydrological or ecological separation) is the best option to prevent cross basin invasive species transfer. LTBB’s activities on the subject have included:
There is a large network of pipelines running throughout the Great Lakes region; one of which runs close to LTBB lands and reservation boundaries. The 645 mile Line 5 runs from Superior, WI, east across Michigan’s Upper Peninsula before turning south at the Straits of Mackinac and through the Inland Waterway, across the Lower Peninsula eventually ending at Sarnia, Ontario. The potential for an oil spill in the 1836 Ceded Territory is real. ESP staff are particularly concerned about Line 5 at the Straits of Mackinac, where it runs along the lake bottom for 4 miles and is exposed to shifting currents, sand movement and pressure from deep water. Staff activities include: working with local organizations to raise awareness, increase oil spill response capabilities, and working to strengthen oil pipeline regulations and safety.
Oil threatening the health of the Great Lakes and other natural resources is certainly not limited to Line 5 or other Enbridge pipelines. Pipelines run though the entire region and are largely unnoticed by the public. For example, a MarkWest pipeline runs 250 miles though the 1836 Ceded Territory from Manistee, MI to northeast of Gayling, MI where it connects to Line 5. In the last couple of years other energy companies have been exploring the feasibility of shipping oil across the Great Lakes by vessels due to the increased production coming from Canada and North Dakota, although no oil is being shipped currently. As oil production continues to increase in North America, so too will the need to transport it. The Great Lakes region is located in the center of the continent and has historically played an important role in the movement of goods and services within North America and across the globe. Oil is no exception and with the increasing production, the Great Lakes region should expect further interest in using the region to move oil across the continent.
On January 23rd 2014 the Chippewa Ottawa Resource Authority unanimously passed a Resolution opposing transportation of diluted bitumen and other heavy petroleum products in the Great Lakes.
7500 Odawa Circle
Harbor Springs, MI 49740
© 2014 Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians