YRITWC Spring 2017

YRITWC Works on Behalf of Tribes in Washington, D.C.

by Kelly Donnelly

     The YRITWC sent a four-person delegation to attend the National Environmental Justice Conference March 8-10, 2017.  Maryann Fidel, Environmental Scientist, and Sarah James, YRITWC Elder Advisor and Tee Drin Jik TCD Board Member presented on tribal conservation districts as a food sovereignty strategy.  The conference also included several strands on youth development, impacts of climate change, and federal partnership opportunities.  The team left the conference inspired with ideas for how some of the projects described could be developed in the Yukon Basin.

     While there, the team—which included Karen Kriska, YRITWC Treasurer, and Kelly Donnelly, Executive Director—met with members of the Alaska Congressional delegation, as well as the National Science Foundation.  Sen. Murkowski, in particular, remains committed to seeking solutions to rural Alaska’s solid waste challenges, as well as protecting key federal programs which support Alaska tribes in protecting and restoring the environment.  She emphasized that the president’s budget was just a proposal, and that Alaskans should not become worried that the EPA is going to be eliminated.  Sen. Sullivan’s 

Kelly, Maryann, and Karen had a great meeting with Alaska US Senator, Lisa Murkowski

staff was particularly interested in the effects of river erosion on communities.  Much has been described about coastal erosion, but impacts of river erosion was something that had not yet been considered with any depth.  Lastly, Rep. Young, although fundamentally disagrees with concerns about the EPA, did agree to support efforts to protect Alaska waters through transboundary work with the Yukon and British Columbia.

     Lastly, the YRITWC team offered support and encouragement to the Lower 48 tribe members who were protesting the Dakota Access Pipeline.  Each evening after meetings and conference sessions, the team joined the protesters in the spirit of unity in protecting our waters. 

Maryann (top) and Sarah gave a presentation on the importance of Tribal Conservation Districts