U.S. Geological Survey to Monitor the Yellow Dog Plains
On April 18, the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community entered into a Cooperative Water Agreement with the U.S. Geological Survey to collect water quality data on the Yellow Dog Plains for four years from 2013 to 2016 and a report of their findings will be released in 2017. Work on this agreement has been commencing since early 2012.
Concerns about the potential for the introduction and migration of contaminates into tributaries and wetlands of the Yellow Dog Plains were the impetus in getting this agreement going. The impacts which could create this contamination include: mineral exploration drilling, Eagle Mine, the construction and enhancement of roads, and increased truck traffic. Several groups, including the tribe, Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve, and the Huron Mountain Club discussed what the best available science was in regards to collecting water quality data. The potential contamination motivated the tribe to seek the assistance from the USGS which is widely considered the Nation’s premiere science agency.
Data has been collected on the Yellow Dog Plains since 2002 by numerous entities, including the Yellow Dog Watershed Preserve. Additionally, there is already a network of USGS stream gauges on both the Yellow Dog and Salmon-Trout Rivers that take real time readings and can be viewed online at http://waterdata.usgs.gov/mi/nwis/rt . Executive Director Emily Whittaker remarks, “We are excited to see the U.S. Geological Survey become more involved. Their data is rarely contested since it is collected by an unbiased party using the highest level of science available. That is exactly what we need in order to protect the area from contamination.” The Huron Mountain Club, a long-time supporting conservation and landholding organization, will assist with the funding of the USGS program. Keweenaw Bay Indian Community Tribal Council authorized a USGS Joint Funding Agreement on March 28, 2013 to carry out the program.