Because all things are connected, the 1854 Treaty Authority is charged with protecting the health of the environment. Natural resources must be safe for current treaty rights harvest and available for future generations and therefore we must work together to preserve and protect the air, water, and land.
While not opposed to economic development, the 1854 Treaty Authority is tasked with ensuring that land management and industrial activities are done with minimal impact to the rich natural and cultural resources in the 1854 Ceded Territory. We remain involved in early and meaningful consultation on projects that might affect the health of the environment. This includes the environmental review of activities like mining of precious metals, taconite (iron ore) mining, power generation, land management (timber cuts, habitat restoration, public access, etc.), general development (roads, buildings, etc.) and changes to public land ownership.
The 1854 Treaty Authority also weighs in on policies that have resulting impacts to the natural world. Representing the interest of the Bands we serve, we provide input on the development and enforcement of water quality standards from commercial, industrial, and municipal water discharge. We are most concerned with how discharge might affect traditionally utilized waterways, like wild rice waters or fishery resources., We remain active in providing input to the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) as they consider changes to the wild rice water quality standard for sulfate, including having a seat on the Wild Rice Advisory Committee. See the MPCA website for more information on this topic.
NATURAL RESOURCE DAMAGE ASSESSMENT
Industrial projects can leave a lasting impact on the environment. When negative impacts have been identified, companies may be required to compensate the public for lost natural resource services. The 1854 Treaty Authority works with other natural resource trustees (Federal, Tribal and State agencies) to determine necessary restoration of these resources. For instance, work is ongoing on sites within the St. Louis River estuary in Duluth, like the St. Louis River Interlake Duluth Tar site, also known as Stryker Bay, or the U.S. Steel remediation at Spirit Lake where the cultural monument Spirit Island is located.
ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY MONITORING
Not all of our environmental work is done in meetings and board rooms. Environmental staff gather data through ongoing monitoring activities such as water sampling from areas throughout the ceded territory. Analysis results show changes in water quality over time or impacts from discharge. Other activities include fish sampling and analysis for contaminants including mercury.
LAKE SUPERIOR PARTNERSHIP
The 1854 Treaty Authority is also involved with initiatives facing Gichi Gami. Formerly The Lake Superior Binational Program, the Lake Superior Partnership is a conglomerate of Federal, Tribal, State and Canadian agencies from around the lake to work together on issues within the basin. Through lots of communication, coordination, planning and prioritization, the organization recently completed a five-year 2015-2019 Lake Superior Lakewide Action and Management Plan, where partners undertake projects to meet goals in specific areas.