Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe

Natural Resources

Physical Address: 210 Capitol Hill, Nixon, Nevada 89424
Mailing Address: P.O. Box 256, Nixon, Nevada 89424
Phone: (775) 574-0101 | Fax: (775) 574-1025
Office Hours: Monday – Friday | 8:00am – 4:30pm

The goal of the Pyramid Lake Natural Resource Department is to preserve, protect, enhance and restore land, air, and water resources, and environmental health for the long-term sustainability of the natural resources of the Pyramid Lake Indian Reservation. We will accomplish this by using sound administrative, ecological, cultural, socioeconomic and educational methods to ensure that our future generations can continue to enjoy the benefits of those places that are of significant historical, cultural, and of environmental importance.

The Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe Natural Resources Department is quite active with a wide array of programs. The Department was established to protect the environment, water, natural resources, and public health of the Pyramid Lake Indian Reservation. Detailed information on the programs within the department can found on our website: www.plptnaturalresources.org.

Programs

Water Quality

 The Tribe’s Water Quality Program’s goal is to maintain the biological, chemical and physical integrity of the surface waters within the Reservation and improve water quality conditions needed by the Pyramid Lake’s endangered and threatened species. This goal is achieved through the Tribe’s Water Quality Monitoring (CWA 106), Multipurpose Grant (CWA 106 MPG), Nonpoint Source Pollution (CWA 319) and Wetland (CWA 104(b)(c)) grants.

Water Quality Website: www.plptwq.org

Wetlands

The PLPT Wetlands Program works to conserve wetlands and wetland habitats on the Reservation. Wetlands are important features in the landscape that offer beneficial services such as water filtration, carbon sequestration, nutrient uptake, and offer habitat for birds, fish and other wildlife. The Wetlands Program works to manage these wetlands for the goal of increasing wetland acreage, and maintaining the health of each wetland. Work done to accomplish this goal includes conducting annual biological assessments on each wetland, annual water quality monitoring, amphibian surveys, vegetation and seed collection, hydrologic monitoring, and public outreach and education. The program continues to expand and incorporate new techniques through each new grant the program is awarded, to continue in working towards conservation and preservation of these vital ecosystems.

Wetlands website: www.plptwq.org/wetlands

Air Quality

Under the Clean Air Act CAA-103 the Pyramid Lake Air Quality program monitors and assesses ambient air quality data for informational purposes.  Data collected is publicly accessible and can be viewed at www.qrest.net.  By having access to local air quality data community members are able to take corrective action if needed if the air is compromised.  The goals of the Air Program are to have local and regional air quality data to prevent degradation of the airshed on the Reservation and identify potential air quality threats.

Tribal Response

The overall goal of the Tribal Response Program is to identify, assess, safely clean-up, and sustainably reuse brownfield sites located on the Reservation. The Environmental Protection Agency defines a brownfield site as “Real property, the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of a hazardous substance, pollutant or contaminant.” The Tribal Response Program provides the Tribe with the necessary resources to identify and prioritize brownfield sites, create and update legislation to adequately address contamination at brownfield sites, and involve the community throughout the redevelopment or reuse of each targeted brownfield site. Please see our website: plptbrownfields.org to report a possible contaminated/brownfield site and view current ongoing assessments and cleanup plans on the reservation.

Tribal Response Website:  www.plptbrownfields.org

Solid Waste

Pyramid Lake attracts a variety of recreational people from the surrounding cities which makes solid waste management a critical part of protecting the Tribal Resources on the reservation.  The Integrated Solid Waste Management Plan was developed to provide a tool for management customized to the Tribe’s needs.  The plan identifies existing solid waste management systems, needs assessment, program design, implementation and monitoring. An integral part of the program is developing a reservation wide recycling program that is self-sustaining and inclusive for Tribal members and visitors alike.  To enforce the elements of the plan, two ordinances were developed and enacted for the reservation.  The Solid Water Ordinance and Illegal Dumping Ordinance allow Tribal police to enforce illegal acts pertaining to solid waste.  Although, tribal jurisdiction for non-tribal persons is an issue, the ordinances are a beginning to enforcing illegal solid waste activities.

Aquatic Invasive Species

An Aquatic Invasive Species is non-native to the ecosystem and whose introduction causes economic and/or environmental impacts.  These species can take a variety of forms from plants and small animal species found in the Truckee River. Introduction of aquatic invasive species in the lower Truckee River and Pyramid Lake may lead to a decrease in native fish populations, effect water quality, and imbalance the natural ecosystems. The program is developing an Aquatic Invasive Species Management Plan to prevent any introductions of these species to the lake from outside sources. The Plan is aimed at facilitating coordination of regional, state, and federal programs and to guide implementation of prevention, monitoring, control, education, and research actions at the lake.

Invasive Noxious Weeds

The Tribal Noxious Weed Program aims to address invasive species on the Reservation’s rangelands, riparian corridors, highways and within the agricultural/irrigated lands.  The effect of previous program treatments in certain areas are assessed, rated and re-treated until the infestation is eliminated. The effort to treat invasive species on the reservation is integral to controlling the spread of noxious weeds while maintaining vigilance in monitoring the introduction of new species. The Tribe strives to restore the native plant communities for the health of the riverine and rangeland ecosystems, as well as the cultural significance of these plants to the Paiute culture.

Rangelands

The 303,360 acres of rangelands on the Reservation are important to the Tribe’s culture, economy, and quality of life.  The rangelands are utilized by cattlemen, wildlife, and Tribal members.  The responsibility of the Natural Resources Department is to maintain healthy rangelands to provide benefits for all tribal members. The Pyramid Lake Cooperative Cattlemen’s Association utilizes the range units according to the Comprehensive Resource Management Plan. The open range also provides habitat and shelter for numerous animal species.  The rangelands are further managed to support wildlife species that benefit from these lands.

Water Resources

The primary utilization of groundwater on the Pyramid Lake Reservation is to provide safe drinking water to the Tribal communities.  The Tribe has promulgated the Water and Wastewater Ordinances to protect the drinking water on the reservation and has established all the regulations under the Safe Drinking Water Act. The Wellhead protection Plan identified all the potential contaminates to the community drinking water wells.  The Natural Resources Department works with the Tribal Public Utilities to ensure the residents of the Pyramid lake Reservation have safe drinking water and is currently trying to expand the system for Tribal economic development.

The Tribe’s Claim 1 and Claim 2 surface water rights are used primarily for irrigation within the exterior boundary of the reservation. The Final Orr-Ditch Decree was modified by adopting and incorporating the 2008 Truckee River Operating Agreement including Tribe’s previously unappropriated water, and by superseding some provisions of the 1935 Truckee River Agreement. TROA-MOA is an agreement with the BOR, BIA, and the USFWS with the PLPT for the purpose to manage upstream water stored in reservoirs dedicated for the benefit of the Lower Truckee River water quality/quantity to enhance the aquatic ecosystems for Pyramid Lake fishes and provide for programs to enhance the fish habitat and fish spawning in the Lower Truckee River.

Irrigation O&M

The Tribal Irrigation O&M program is one of the longest running tribal program. The Indian Ditch in Nixon was constructed in 1917 and continues to delivery irrigation water today to the tribal irrigators in the Nixon area. The Tribal Irrigation O&M program operates and maintains the irrigation ditches aimed to provide efficient deliveries to meet the annual allocation under Orr Ditch Claim #1 water right entitlement. All of the irrigated acres are reported to the Federal Water Master office for the calculation of the annual allocation. The total acreage for the 2021 irrigation season is 1,204 acres with 90 acres in new seed. Supplemental funding from the BIA is used to repair and improve irrigation water delivery for safe and efficient irrigation water delivery.

Pre-Disaster Mitigation

The 2017 flood events and 2018 high Truckee River flows exposed a number of streambanks to erosion. Today those streambanks and new streambanks continue to be exposed to erosion. The Tribe received a Federal Emergency Management Act (FEMA) grant to conduct preliminary engineering reports (PER) for 13 of the high priority streambanks identified in 2017 and 2018. The PERs are currently being completed by CP Construction and JUB Engineering. Once the PERs are completed, the Tribe will seek funding to complete the streambank protection construction in accordance with the design specifications contained in the PERs.

Fish Passage

The Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe (PLPT) working in partnership with the Lahontan National Fish Hatchery Complex (LNFHC) will begin the process of improving fish passage for Threatened Lahontan Cutthroat Trout (LCT) and Endangered Cui-ui sucker in the main stem Truckee River. The Herman Ditch diversion dam and Numana Dam are barriers to fish passage and needs to be retrofitted to allow LCT and Cui-ui suckers to gain access to 40.0 miles of stream habitat. The Herman Ditch project will fund the removal of a gravity fed concrete irrigation ditch and rock dam and replace these structures with a headwall, pump, and pipe to provide irrigation water from the Truckee River to the Tribal irrigated field in Wadsworth.  The Numana Dam project involves the retrofitting of a river wide ramp with resting pools on the Downstream side of the Numana Dam structure.

GAP-RTOC

The Tribe obtained an EPA General Assistance Program (GAP) grant to conduct Regional Tribal Operations Committee (RTOC) activities. The RTOC was established in 1994 for the EPA Region 9 (Arizona, California, and Nevada) wherein it provides tribal representation for environmental protection activities for the Region 9 tribes. The Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe has an RTOC representative with the Environmental Manager, who was elected as the EPA RTOC Tribal Co-Chair to serve fiscal years 2020 and 2023. The issues RTOC addresses includes but is not limited to the Clean Water Act, the Clean Air Act, the Safe Drinking Water Act, Brownfields, grant management, solid waste, emergency response, and mining. The RTOC is represented on a national level with the National Tribal Operations Committee with four members from Region 9 (Arizona, California, Nevada, and the Navajo Nation).

Renewable Energy

The Pyramid Lake Renewable Energy Plan for Pyramid Lake Paiute Tribe was developed to provide a method to determine feasibility of geothermal, wind, solar, marketing, transmission, and the best business structure for implementation. The Tribe has explored solar power production by placing arrays capable of generating 487,800 kW/hours of electricity per year reducing the Tribe’s electricity bill. The Reservation is known to possess significant geothermal resource potential for power production and direct use applications. The Tribe has been exploring these resources for a decade.  The implementation of TROA and the management of the Truckee River give the Tribe a unique position to develop hydro-power on dams from reservoirs containing storage waters.  Additionally, the Reservation is situated near the crossroads of electrical transmission lines, a natural gas pipeline, and other infrastructure that would facilitate the development of renewable energy power production. 

Natural Resources Staff

Donna Marie Noel
Natural Resources Director
Phone: (775) 574-1050 Ext. 15
Email: dnoel@plpt.nsn.us

Kameron Morgan
Water Quality Manager
Phone: (775) 574-0101 Ext. 19
Email: kmorgan@plpt.nsn.us

Mervin Wright Jr.
Environmental Manager
Phone: (775) 574-0101 Ext. 18
Email: mwright@plpt.nsn.us

Debra Barlese
Environmental Assistant
Phone: (775) 574-0101 Ext. 17
Email: envassistant@plpt.nsn.us

Other Specialists contact information can be found on the Natural Resources Website or inquire with the information above.  website: www.plptnaturalresources.org

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