New England Water Science Center Native American Liaison
The New England Water Science Center (WSC) has a long history of supporting the individual projects and data-collection efforts of its New England Tribal nation partners. Jason Sorenson was recently selected as the WSC Native American Liaison (NAL). Jason’s first tasks were to attend monthly Regional Tribal Organizational Committee (RTOC) meetings hosted by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Region 1 and to design training and seminar programs to address the demand for information on basic water-quality techniques and other water-resource priorities.
Over the years, center staff have worked with Tribal partners to learn about their priorities and needs and drafted several concept proposals to address them. Jason built on these previous efforts and with the support of center experts developed eight 1-hour Advanced Water-Quality Seminars. These seminars were hosted by U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) personnel and included the following topics:
- Water-quality study design (Jason Sorenson)
- Arsenic, geogenic compounds, and censored data (Joseph Ayotte)
- Three “Introduction to R” seminars (Robert Dudley and John Mullaney)
- Harmful Algal Blooms (HABs) (Charles Culbertson)
- An overview of EcoSHEDS (EcoSHEDS | USGS) (Jenn Fair and Benjamin Lechter)
- Perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) (Andrea Tokranov)
Recordings of these seminars and other USGS resources are available by request only (contact email@example.com). These resources may serve as a template for other USGS Center-level and DOI-level outreach initiatives to Tribes and Nations.
The NAL also works closely with the USGS Office of Tribal Relations (OTR). Christopher Hammond heads this office. The OTR’s mission is building relationships between USGS, Tribal nations, and other Federal agency partners by providing guidance, consultation, and other resources following Survey Manual Chapter 500.6. Examples of the OTR’s services include the Tribal Lands Locator Toolkit (TLLT), used to identify the proximity of tribal land boundaries to proposed USGS work before breaking ground or conducting remote-sensing flyovers, and the Technical training in Support of Native American Relations (TESNAR).
The WSC has submitted several TESNAR proposals in the past, and the center received another TESNAR grant in 2021. Jason and many other WSC personnel contributed to a 16-hour course on basic surface-water and groundwater-quality field methods, which was provided in four 4-hour blocks in October 2021. The course was held virtually because of COVID–19 restrictions, and everyone did a great job presenting material, providing prerecorded videos, and live video calls from the field to share USGS field techniques with the 9 attendees who represented 7 of the 10 federally recognized Tribal nations in EPA Region 1.
Jason was also recently selected as the USGS North Atlantic-Appalachian Region 1 Tribal Liaison following John French’s retirement. Jason will continue to build on the USGS New England Tribal collaborative and will also help develop and expand USGS partnerships with the other 15 federally recognized Tribes and nations in our region.