BIA and Tule River Tribe Lowe Ranch Trust Conveyance Environmental Assessment

The Tule River Tribe retained LACO to prepare an environmental assessment (EA) as set forth under the Bureau of Indian Affairs Manual (59 IAM) for the proposed acquisition and conveyance of 878.55 acres of fee land to federal trust for the Tule River Tribe in Tulare County California.The Tule River Indian Reservation is located in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, in Central California.

Our Planning Team conducted a site visit and prepared the EA, which analyzed the proposed construction of 21 single-family housing units and associated access infrastructure on one-acre parcels. The EA also analyzed a proposed wastewater treatment system funded under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA). Additionally, the EA contained specialist reports including the Tule River Tribe Wastewater Treatment Facility Feasibility Study, an Initial Study and Mitigated Negative Declaration under CEQA, and a Phase I Environmental Assessment pursuant to Interior’s Department Manual 602 and ASTM-1527-05 standards. LACO’s Planning Team discovered a number of culturally significant sites on the subject property during the site visit.

This proposed project is necessary to expand the Tribe’s land base and to satisfy their needs in the areas of Tribal self-determination, housing, economic self-sufficiency, and alleviation of poverty. The 878.55 acres are contiguous with the Tribe’s existing land base, and located approximately 1.5 miles from the Reservation community core which includes educational facilities, recreation opportunities at the gymnasium, and access to Tribal programs. According to the Indian Housing Plan (IHP), a 5-year housing plan for the Tribe, 100 housing units are needed just to meet the demand for affordable housing. The proposed wastewater treatment system will address health and safety impacts associated with failing septic systems and the lack of a centralized sewer and wastewater collection and treatment system.

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