Regulatory Support Case Study



Located in Southeast Alaska, Metlakatla was founded in 1887 with about 800 Tsimshian Indians from British Columbia. The Metlakatla Indian Community (MIC)’s homeplace, the Annette Islands, is the only Indian Reserve in the State of Alaska. Metlakatla uniquely opted out of the Alaska Claims Settlement Act and retained rights to the land and waters of Annette Islands. Access to the Islands is by ferry or floatplane from nearby Ketchikan, Alaska.

Metlakatla comes from a Tsimshian word meaning “saltwater passage.” The Reserve consists of 132,000 acres of land and water for which the MIC have commercial and subsistence fishing rights. The economy in Metlakatla is tied to fishing, seafood processing, tourism and forest products.

The policy of the Community is to protect the environment of the Reserve, to take affirmative action to restore and enhance environmental quality in areas that have been subject to degradation, and to allow development to take place only in a manner that will prevent, to the extent reasonable, environmental degradation.

During World War II, the United States constructed a military airbase on Annette Island. After the war, the property was adapted as a U.S. Coast Guard search and rescue base. The airfield served commercial air traffic until the 1970’s. Since 1996, the Metlakatla Indian Community (MIC) has been conducting environmental assessments, site investigations, removal actions, and remediation to cleanup and restore areas of the Metlakatla Peninsula that have been adversely affected by former facilities and operations of the military and other federal agencies. Ridolfi has worked for the MIC on environmental planning and assessment, regulatory development, mitigation of pollution impacts, and waste management. Much of this work has been done in coordination with various federal entities such as Department of Defense, Environmental Protection Agency and Federal Aviation Administration.

RIDOLFI has provided instrumental support to the environmental efforts of the MIC since 1996. Development of a Master Plan for Environmental Mitigation of the Metlakatla Peninsula led to the organization of a multi-agency work group to address contaminant impacts. To assist the MIC in regulation of activities, we drafted water quality standards and guidelines for cleanup and remediation of contaminated sites. For their integrated waste management program, we supported the development of residential and commercial waste practices and conducted a household hazardous waste collection event. RIDOLFI’s assistance helped the MIC with implementation of their Brownfields Showcase Community program.