Conserving this Nation’s fish and other aquatic resources cannot be successful without the partnership of Tribes; they manage or influence some of the most important aquatic habitats both on and off reservations. In addition, the Federal government and the Service have distinct and unique obligations toward Tribes based on trust responsibility, treaty provisions, and statutory mandates.
Indian Environmental General Assistance Program Act
The Indian Environmental General Assistance Program Act of 1992 provides programmatic authorization for the General Assistance Program (GAP), which was previously implemented as the Multi-Media Assistance Program. GAP provides an opportunity for tribes to build capacity and management capability to develop environmental programs and is administered by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Under the Program, tribes can tailor capacity-building to address their environmental priorities. GAP provides the opportunity for a tribe to plan, develop, and establish an integrated environmental management program including the capability to manage specific regulatory programs.
GAP is one part of the continuing effort of the EPA to facilitate tribal establishment of environmental programs. GAP has become both a core tribal environmental program and a core EPA program, representing the largest single source of funding for Tribal environmental programs awarded by EPA. GAP has increased from an original funding of $8.4 million in 1994 to $57 million for the year 2007. The current overall funds expended for the GAP program total over $640 million.
GAP provides financial resources in the form of direct funding to federally recognized tribes and intertribal consortia. In its administration of GAP, EPA also provides technical assistance to tribal governments and intertribal consortia to develop multimedia programs that address environmental issues in Indian Country.
GAP enables tribes and intertribal consortia to:
• Identify baseline environmental needs in order to build capacity to administer an environmental program or develop a tribal environmental program that is tailored to individual tribal needs.
• Establish the administrative, legal, technical and enforcement capability of tribes to develop and implement a tribal environmental program, including the capacity to manage EPA-delegated programs.
• Foster compliance with federal environmental statues by developing appropriate tribal environmental programs, ordinances and public education, and outreach programs.
• Establish a tribal communications capability to work with Federal, State, Local, Tribal, and other environmental officials.
• Establish the tribal capacity to develop and implement management programs through program-specific assistance.
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