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Pacific Southwest, Region 9

Serving: Arizona, California, Hawaii, Nevada, Pacific Islands, Tribal Nations

Fort Independence Reservation

Fort Independence Reservation Reduces Waste by 26% through Recycling

photo of recycling bins used by the community

Fort Independence Indian Reservation in Owens Valley, California has built a successful, nationally recognized solid waste program from the ground up with Tribal leadership and grant support from U.S. EPA Region 9’s Office of Pollution Prevention and Solid Waste and the General Assistance Program. With EPA’s assistance, Fort Independence pioneered a weekly curbside trash and recycling collection service, developed an environmentally preferable purchasing policy for its tribal offices, produced public service announcements, and created a Solid Waste Ordinance to safeguard the Tribe’s natural resources.

The recycling program’s remarkable success stems from its innovative recycling incentives and an effective media campaign. The majority of Fort Independence’s households participate in the recycling program that collects plastic, aluminum, paper, cardboard, and colored and clear glass. The Tribe invests all profits from the Fort Independence recycling program into a fund that supports community youth projects and raffles to encourage recycling.

photo of recycling effort

“Recycling and the use of renewable sources has always been an integral part of our survival.  As we continue to utilize our natural resources, the need for recycling has grown exponentially and the Fort Independence Tribe is committed to promoting this practice through all of its affairs.” — Tribal Chairman Carl Dahlberg

To encourage recycling and promote environmental awareness, the Tribal Office of Solid Waste and Fort Independence youth collaborated to develop radio and T.V. public service announcements about recycling, household hazardous waste, and waste collection days.

photo of community garden

The outreach drew attention to the benefits of recycling.  As of December 2005, the tribe recycled over 9,500 lbs of glass, plastic, and aluminum material! The Tribe also keeps all green waste out of the landfill by chipping and shredding all biodegradable materials for mulch at the Tribe’s community garden.

The EPA WasteWise program recognized Fort Independence’s creative approach to tribal solid waste issues with a WasteWise Program Champion award in 2004. 

The Tribe has now entered into a partnership with the National Park Service at Manzanar to develop a regional recycling center. Groundbreaking for the recycling center will commence in the summer of 2006.

Contact Information

Tribal Contact
Dennis Mattison (dmatt123@gmail.com)
Fort Independence Environmental Office
PO Box 67
Independence, CA 93526
(760) 878-5153

EPA Contact
Michelle Baker (Baker.Michelle@epa.gov )
Office of Pollution Prevention and Solid Waste
US Environmental Protection Agency
75 Hawthorne Street
San Francisco, CA 94105
(415) 972-3206

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