DEMING (March 24, 2005) – In the latest example of cooperative work to prevent a garbage dump from polluting the Nooksack River, Congressman Rick Larsen has joined the Nooksack Tribe and local governments in pushing for much-needed cleanup funding.

Larsen met with tribal, federal and local officials today to tour the site.

“Teaming up with the county and the federal government, we can handle the problem from all angles,” said Nooksack Tribal Chairman Narcisco Cunanan. “We are very pleased that Congressman Larsen has responded so quickly to this crisis, and the Nooksack Tribe will work closely with him to make sure this is resolved.”

The dump is situated on the banks of the Nooksack River near the tribe’s Deming reservation. Over the past few months, erosion has increased the likelihood of solid waste falling into the river, creating risks to fish and public health.

“Seeing the Nooksack River dump site in person reinforced how important it is to clean up this dangerous health and environmental hazard. We have an excellent team of stakeholders who are committed to cleaning up this site, and the momentum is there to make it happen,” said Larsen. “I will continue my efforts on the federal level to help fund this critical effort and will keep working with Nooksack leaders, and local and county officials to solve the dump site problem.”

Because the site is land held in trust for a group of individuals by the federal government, the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA), not the tribe, has jurisdiction over the property.

“Though the tribe did not authorize this open solid waste dump, our focus is now on the cleanup,” said Patrick Check, tribal administrator for the Nooksack Tribe.

The tribe has consistently called for a team effort between multiple jurisdictions to solve potential environmental harm from solid waste at the site, and has teamed with the Whatcom County Council and federal Environmental Protection agency in developing solutions.

“We view this as no different from any of the dozens of restoration projects we do each year to benefit the environment as a whole,” said Bob Kelly, director of Nooksack Natural Resources.

“The bottom line is, this garbage dump is creating environmental problems that need to be fixed, and need to be fixed now,” said Check.

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For more information, contact: Patrick Check, Nooksack Tribe: (360) 319-9943.