MEDIA SHARE FROM SHOBAN NEWS
By ROSELYNN YAZZIE
POCATELLO — Over 200 people attended the celebration of the Waterwheel Property Opening on Saturday, June 18 with lunch served, tours of the property, and door prizes raffled to tribal member guests.
Virginia Monsisco, Waste Activity Coordinator, said it was great to see the hard work and efforts made by the staff and volunteers who coordinated and implemented this Open House at the Waterwheel Property.
Many of the attendees claimed they enjoyed the opportunity to see what the Tribal investment was for and how it will help the future generations to broaden their horizons in various STEM opportunities.
They were happy the Tribes would have a monitoring location to determine if contaminants from the EMF sites are impacting this property.
Fort Hall Business Council Chairman Nathan Small attended the event and said he was able to come to the site when they were first looking at the property with the only concern being the water and its potential for contamination, however, after all the tests came back clear they were good to go.
The crowd at the property opening.
The EWMP collected feedback from attendees with the following said:
According to Elma Thompson, “This is a very beautiful property with tons of potential. I’m glad we went on the long walk where we saw lots of members out there and glad to see the event was well attended.”
Bev Wadsworth said, “Very well-organized activity and raffle. It was a very beautiful property.”
Janine (Mongo) Big Day said, “Enjoyed all the walking trails and how it could be used for a variety of walking and running trails and relaxing.”
The Waterwheel Property is 111.51 acres along the Portneuf River, located on Tank Farm Road and is an investment for the Shoshone-Bannock Tribes.
The Tribes purchased the property for less than the asking price.
Kelly Wright, EWMP Manager, explained the Waterwheel Property was purchased in accordance with the Tribes’ Waste Management Act. Fees collected by the Act can be used to purchase property to ensure protection of human health and the environment particularly impacted by hazardous waste. These fees allow the Tribes to evaluate impacts associated with the Eastern Michaud Flats Superfund Site.
Environmental Waste Management Program Manager Kelly Wright (left) with Fort Hall Business
Council Chairman Nathan Small.
The Environmental Waste Management Program (EWMP) was excited the Fort Hall Business Council chose to purchase this property. EWMP will be responsible for monitoring the air, water, soils and aquatic organism at the location to determine what, if any contaminants are being transported on to the site. The property is northwest of the Eastern Michaud Flats Superfund Site. The Tribes will use the site as an office and monitoring site. The data gathered to determine if the J.R. Simplot Don Plant and the FMC Operable unit are impacting this off-site location.
The property has 12 springs located on it and it’s believed the planned monitoring will achieve EWMP’s mission statement: To protect human health and the environment.
Land Use Department is also working with the Fisheries Department to utilize the existing fish hatchery with the idea that trout can be replenished to the Fort Hall Bottoms for future subsistence opportunities.
In the future, the Tribes are evaluating using this property as a Research & Development Park to encourage youth to become aware and actively involved with environmental aspects associated with the property. We will have an opportunity to show them environmental monitoring (for air, water, soils and vegetation), grounds keeping/enhancements, and fisheries. This may assist the youth with future employment opportunities and encourage them to further their education.
EWMP is working to get their building set up and has been working to get the electronics, building up to code, and an ingress/egress for safety concerns.
EWMP is working to transition into the space. It will take some time for staff to be located at this new location and some will remain at their current location on Mission Road.
Inside the hatchery on the Waterwheel Property.
Some challenges foreseen in maintaining a property of this size is it will require a lot of continual work to keep the yards mowed, trails cleared, weeds maintained, roads maintained, monitoring spots cleared and maintained. It will be more than a full- time position to keep the property functioning.
Wright would like to give a special thanks to the EWMP Staff and volunteers, who spent a great deal of time and effort getting the property ready for the opening and hosting the event. EWMP could not have done it with some of the other Tribal Departments such as Transportation (Sonny Dixey), Public Works, Law Enforcement, EMTs, Solid Waste (Warrior Appenay) and Tribal Enterprises’ Hotel/Event Staff, who catered the event with great food and spirits. BAHM Electric for getting the shop up to electrical code and improve the lighting.
A special recognition goes to Casper Appenay, past LUPC Chairman, for his hard work and effort to get the property ready for show to the membership. He spent a great deal of time out there.
Lastly, a very special thank you for the Fort Hall Business Council for allowing the EWMP to share with the membership and understand why it’s an important asset to have acquired.