Washoe Tribe of Nevada & California
Atlantic Richfield Corp. has purchased 480 acres in the Sierra Nevada for the tribe, part of settlement with the Environmental Protection Agency over pollution from the abandoned Leviathan sulfur mine in California's rural Alpine County. It resolves ARCO's liability for failing to prevent ponds of acid mine drainage from spilling over and contaminating the Carson River watershed in 1998, the EPA said. The $750,000 property, north of Stampede Reservoir in Sierra County, Calif., is surrounded by the Tahoe and Toiyabe national forests. Though the Washoes will hold title, a Nature Conservancy easement ensures its protection in the future. The tribe plans to operate a summer educational program on the property to teach Washoe children about their culture. "The Washoes have been tremendous advocates for the conservation and restoration of their ancestral lands in the eastern Sierra,'' said Keith Takata, director of the EPA's Superfund division in San Francisco. Pollution killed off aquatic life, including the threatened Lahontan cutthroat trout, in Leviathan and Bryant creeks that meander through Indian trust lands before reaching the river. Crews treat drainage in holding ponds by adding lime. ARCO and the University of Nevada, Reno are working on methods to treat acid mine drainage at the site, inaccessible in the winter, year round.