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Planning Department ENVIRONMENTAL TEAM

Mission Statement

The mission of the Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe's Environmental Team is to support Tribal Council's relations with governmental and non-governmental organizations, to ensure Tribal representation in environmental issues, protect Tribal natural resources, and facilitate sustainable development. Our guiding principle is to follow our cultural teachings that tell us, "As human beings, our original responsibility is to care for our Mother Earth in the same way she cares for us." By working together to protect Mother Earth, we keep her beautiful and healthy. In turn, she keeps us all healthy, both for our generation and the next seven generations to come.

  • Planning Department
  • 2451 Nish-Na-Be-Anong Road
  • Mount Pleasant, MI 48858
  • phone: 989-775-4014
  • fax: 989-772-4151


Carey Pauquette
  • phone: 989-775-4016
  • email:
  • Please send correspondences to:
  • Saginaw Chippewa Indian Tribe
  • Planning Department
  • 7070 E. Broadway
  • Mt. Pleasant, MI 48858

SCIT Environmental General Assistance Program


The Environmental Specialist, Sally Kniffen, manages the overall environmental program through the EPA GAP grant. Funding is used to provide for Tribal capacity building and to ensure an environmental presence on tribal land. Areas of administration include the following:

  • Sustainable Development: Program areas focus on implementing a baseline strategy to address three main objectives: (1) pollution prevention, (2) energy efficiency, and (3) effective land use.
  • Natural Resources Damages and Assessment and Restoration (NRDAR): Sally is the tribal representative on the Dow/Tittabawassee River dioxin contamination NRDAR case. Education and outreach to other tribes throughout the country is an important issue for this office. SCIT hosted the first national tribal NRDA conference in 2011 and again in 2015. She has been a presenter at the National NRDAR Conference in Phoenix, AZ.
  • Policy issues and grants management: Sally represents the tribe on the Regional Tribal Operations Committee as one of two Michigan delegates to the EPA. Quarterly meetings with Division Directors ensure the voice of the tribe(s) is heard at a high level within the EPA's American Indian Environmental Office. The Tribe's Environmental Team is fully supported by grant funding.

SCIT Environmental Response Program

Community input is an important part of the program to help guide property cleanup, reuse and redevelopment activities. Identifying and responding to environmental concerns is enhanced when individual community members become involved. To report concerns regarding illegal dumping, hazardous materials, contaminated land or pollution concerns call (989) 775-4014.


The Tribal Response Program is designed to identify and address contaminated properties that are present on lands under the jurisdiction of SCIT. The goal of the program is to identify, cleanup, and reuse impacted property in a manner that protects human health and the environment. Examples of brownfield sites on SCIT lands are the Mount Pleasant Indian Industrial Boarding School (MIIBS) grounds, illegal dump sites, and a former truck stop.

The elements of the Tribal Response Program include the following:

  • Timely survey and inventory of brownfield sites
  • Development of oversight and enforcement authorities
  • Mechanisms and resources to provide opportunities for public participation
  • Mechanisms for approval of a cleanup plan and verification that cleanup is complete
  • Establishment and maintenance of a public record that includes sites at which response actions have been planned or completed

In addition to this, the Environmental Response Program is actively involved in pipeline management issues across the state. Involvement with local and regional emergency response personnel ensures that the views of SCIT are considered when decisions are made regarding our natural resources.

The program was created by an Act of Congress, specifically by the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (CERCLA). Section 128(a) of CERCLA calls for the creation of State and Tribal Response Programs, which are funded through grants from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA). The SCIT Environmental Response Program works collaboratively with USEPA Region 5 out of Chicago to ensure proper management of the program. In addition, Environmental Response Program staff regularly work with other federal, state, and local agency partners to ensure protection of human health and the environment. This collaboration is a cornerstone of the program and is essential for efficient use of resources.

What is a brownfield?

Brownfield Sites are defined as �real property, where the expansion, redevelopment , or reuse may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant, or contaminant� by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

It is estimated that there are more than 450,000 brownfield sites in the United States. Cleaning up and reinvesting in these properties increases local tax bases, facilitates job growth, utilizes existing infrastructure, takes pressures off undeveloped open land, and improves and protects the environment.


PENDING COMPETITIVE APPLICATION: 2016 USEPA Brownfields Cleanup Grant � Former Stop & Go Property, 4708 South Huron Rd, Standish, MI 48658

Public Record


Vacant - Environmental Response Program Specialist
  • phone: 989-775-4080
  • email:
Cody Yazzie - Environmental Resources Technician
  • phone: 989-775-4065
  • email:

SCIT Water Quality Program

What about the water?

About the Monitoring Program

The SCIT Water Program monitors and assesses the health of Tribal waters including rivers, streams and lakes. Monitoring surface waters is essential to understanding any potential risks to public health as well as protecting the waters from environmental degradation. The Monitoring Team samples every summer and uses a rotational basin approach. Each year the team monitors a number of fixed stations (which remain the same each year) and a number of rotating stations (which change each year) to give us a comprehensive outlook on the health of the watershed. The fixed stations are located on the Chippewa River and a couple of its tributaries. The rotating stations have a focus each year. These include, the Coldwater River, the North Branch of the Chippewa River, the Main Branch of the Chippewa River and the North and South Branch of the Salt River.

The SCIT Water Program receives funding from the Environmental Protection Agency under Clean Water Act Section 106 to monitor Tribal waters. The rivers of focus in Isabella County are the Chippewa River, the North Branch of the Chippewa River, the Coldwater River and the North and South Branch of the Salt River. In Arenac County the Water Program monitors the Saganing River which empties out in the Saginaw Bay.

The Chippewa River

The Chippewa River is scenic, beautiful, and enjoyed by many residents, student and visitors. During the summer you often see fishermen, kayakers, canoers, tubers, and swimmers in the river. In Isabella County, the Chippewa River is fairly clean above the confluence of the North Branch of the Chippewa River, where the two rivers meet. After the confluence of the North Branch the Main Branch takes on sediment, pathogens, and nutrients. This is because the North Branch is contaminated and consistently exceeds State of Michigan Water Quality Standards.

One issue that proves to be particularly problematic is the consistently high E.coli concentrations. E.coli is bacteria that lives in the gut of humans and animals and is an indicator of fecal contamination. Fecal contamination contains harmful pathogens that can cause illness and disease in humans. There are times when the E.coli concentrations in the Chippewa River exceed the State of Michigan threshold for E.coli, posing a public health concern. The exceedances typically occur downstream (east) of the confluence with the North Branch of the Chippewa River. Currently the State of Michigan and local government agencies are working towards addressing the E.coli issue in the Chippewa River with the support of the SCIT. You can find the weekly E.coli levels in the Chippewa River located in the news feed on this page or on the SCIT Facebook page. E.coli levels are sampled weekly every year from May to October.

Other Tribal Waters

The following is a table that shows which water bodies are meeting Tribal goals and designations. Currently none of the water bodies are meeting Tribal goals and designations. The Water Program is continuously working to improve water quality to meet these designated uses.

2015 Sampling Season Water Body Tribal Goals and Designations
Tribal Goal or Designated Use Chippewa River North Branch Chippewa River Coldwater River Onion Creek
Aquatic Life Not Full Support Not Full Support Not Full Support Not Full Support
Human Health Not Full Support
Recreation Not Full Support Not Full Support Not Full Support Not Full Support
Wild Rice (Potential) Not Full Support Not Full Support
*Sourced from 2015 SCIT Water Quality Assessment Report

  • Saganing Community Center stream bank restoration
  • Isabella County agriculture work
  • Canine Study/DNA Study
  • Tribal and external community engagement strategies
  • Invasive Species Decontamination Kits (.pdf)
  • US Department of Agriculture/US Forest Service and Great Lakes Restoration Initiative:
    • Removal and restoration of forests impacted by the invasive species, emerald ash borer
      • In collaboration with City and County Parks
    • Emerald Ash Borer Project
      Emerald Ash Borer Project
      Emerald Ash Borer Project
  • Great Lakes Restoration Initiative - Tribal Initiative, US Environmental Protection Agency
    • Deerfield Township streambank restoration project
    • Deerfield
Upcoming: TBA

Recycling Program

Rick Meyers is the SCIT Recycling Coordinator. His efforts throughout the reservation helps to divert over 365 tons of material from landfills annually. Recycling is picked up throughout the reservation, and the Recycling Coordinator manages an extensive recycling program within Tribal Operations Offices, and the Soaring Eagle Casino and Resort. Rick regularly delivers presentations and attends community events, meetings, and other functions to discuss the solid waste issues facing the community. He also administers an annual used tire collection in the early summer. If you have questions regarding recycling issues, please feel free to contact SCIT Environmental Staff.


Rick Meyers, Recycling Coordinator

  • phone: 989-772-8810

Links of Interest