Native American Lands Environmental Mitigation Program (NALEMP)
In recognition of the need to address tribal concerns in DoD environmental programs, Congress has, since 1993, inserted a provision in the DoD Appropriations Act requiring the DoD to devote funds annually to mitigate environmental impacts to Indian lands and Alaskan Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA)-conveyed properties.
Most environmental programs use site evaluation and assessment processes that are consistent with national environmental regulatory requirements, but do not consider the potential effects past military operations may have on traditional cultures, such as risks to subsistence activities. Some remnants of DoD activities, such as abandoned buildings and debris, typically rank lower or are not eligible for assistance under current cleanup priority systems. In addition, because many Indian lands and ANCSA-conveyed properties are located in remote areas with low population densities, impacts on these lands are often considered to be lower priority sites.
In 1996 the DoD began a program aimed specifically at addressing the effects of past military operations on Indian lands and ANCSA-conveyed properties. The resultant program is known as Native American Lands Environmental Mitigation Program (NALEMP). The Native American Management System for Environmental Impacts is the web site used to track and maintain potential impacts on Native American lands.
As part of the DoD's mission to defend our nation, certain defense activities and operations may have had adverse effects on tribal environmental health and safety, as well as tribal economic, social and cultural welfare.
The DoD created the Native American Lands Environmental Mitigation Program (NALEMP) to address environmental impacts on Indian lands and Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA)-conveyed properties from former DoD activities and facilities.
The DoD has an ongoing commitment to address impacts from weapons testing, practice bombing, field maneuvers, and other activities through the government-to-government consultation process. Through NALEMP,the DoD will work closely with tribes to mitigate environmental impacts with the maximum tribal participation possible.
How Does DoD Mitigate Environmental Impacts on Indian Lands?
Department of Defense (DoD) activities, including weapons testing, practice bombing, and field maneuvers, have affected Native American lands. DoD initiated the Native American Lands Environmental Mitigation Program to address these environmental impacts.
Most impacts from past DoD activities are addressed through the Formerly Used Defense Sites Program, administered by the United State Army Corps of Engineers. The Formerly Used Defense Sites Program reduces, in a timely, cost-effective manner, the risk to human health, safety, and the environment resulting from past DoD activities. Many Indian land sites are in the Formerly Used Defense Site inventory of projects, but are not scheduled to be addressed for an extended period of time. Because of this situation, Congress has expressed concern and has directed special funding to address impacts of significance to the tribes.
When such funding is available, DoD will review potential impacts reported in the Native American Management System for Environmental Impacts (NAMSEI). Funding decisions are based on information available to DoD as a result of its ongoing information gathering efforts and consultation with federally-recognized tribes. Since FY96, DoD has worked with tribes to address the environmental impacts in a variety of partnership opportunities. Several different types of partnership mechanisms exist, each offering the tribe a range of control and responsibility over the mitigation project. Before any formal decisions are made, DoD will consult with the affected tribal government concerning various options for addressing their impacts.
In addition, environmental impacts to Indian lands may be mitigated under other DoD or federal agency environmental programs, as projects meet those eligibility requirements.
The impact must be on eligible lands. These include any lands held in fee by any Indian tribe or individual; any lands held in trust by the United States for the benefit of any Indian tribe or individual; any lands held by any Indian tribe or individual subject to restrictions by the United States against alienation; any restricted townsite lots held by Alaska Natives pursuant to the Alaska Native Townsite Act; any lands owned by Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act regional or village corporations; and any lands and waters covered by a treaty right that has not been extinguished.
To Ensure that NALEMP's limited resources address both environmental impacts and associated subsistence, cultural, health and safety needs of Native Americans, DoD has excluded certain site situations from NALEMP funding consideration:
- Impacts already addressed under another DoD environmental program
- Impacts on active installations or closing bases
- Impacts associated with commercial activities
- Civil Works projects, such as dams built by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE)
- Lands conveyed under ANCSA and reconveyed to a non-native entity or enterprise
- Lands acquired by an Alaska Native Corporation outside of ANCSA
An interested party, Tribe or Village can report a potential environmental impact through one of the following methods:
- Online internet access to the Native American Management System for Environmental Impacts (NAMSEI) database at www.namsei.com
- Contact the DoD Senior Tribal Liaison of the USACE NALEMP Manager
- Contact with an applicable local or regional USACE Formerly Used Defense Sites (FUDS) Office
The DoD researches historic records, documents, and related literature while documenting interviews to evaluate all information about the reported impact. An onsite investigation occurs if additional information is needed. The subsequent reports are reviewed by all parties for accuracy and are entered into the NAMSEI database. NAMSEI helps manage mitigation efforts and share information between the DoD and tribes.
All eligible sites are screened annually for available funding. When congressional funding becomes available, the DoD will decide which sites to accept based on the information available in NAMSEI. The DoD will decide which sites to accept based on the information available in NAMSEI. The DoD considers factors other than risk to human health and the environment for cleanup sites on Indian lands including impacts to traditional practices, subsistence lifestyles, and economic viability.
Once sites are selected, the DoD works on a government-to-government basis with the tribe on specific projects to determine the best course of environmental impact mitigation. If the site in ineligible for funding under NALEMP, the DoD will assist the tribe to obtain other appropriate resources, if available, to address the reported impact. Additional potential funding sources may include other DoD, federal agency, or state environmental programs.
How to Report a Potential Environmental Impact - N.A.M.S.E.I.:
The Native American Management System for Environmental Impacts is a database system, developed by Keres Consulting Inc., for The Office of the Deputy Under Secretary of Defense (Installations and Environment) to track and maintain information on potential impacts to Native American Lands. This web site provides information on reported environmental impacts on American Indian and Alaska Native lands and resources resulting from Department of Defense activities. (Some contents may require a login name and password).
NAMSEI is located at: www.namsei.com
1-888-623-8748 (Toll Free)
DoD has assessed over 900 of nearly one thousand reported potential impacts to determine NALEMP eligibility, mitigated impacts at more than 100 sites, completed cleanup at 54 sites, and trained more than two thousand DoD personnel in the skills to initate effective consultation with tribal governments
NALEMP Environmental Mitigation Cycle (DOC)
Visual flow chart depicting the major steps involved in the NALEMP Environmental Mitigation process.
Recognizing Tribal Sovereignty and Cultural Traditions
Working to Fulfill Federal Trust Responsibilities
Protecting Natural and Cultural Resources
Consulting with Tribal Nations