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The Tribal Council hereby finds as follows:

(a) Since time immemorial, the Klamath River, its tributaries, the streambeds thereof, and the riparian areas and gravel bars adjacent thereto, have been natural resources of the most profound significance to the Yurok Tribe, and the Yurok people have always used these resources for cultural, ceremonial, religious, fishery, seasonal residential, and other purposes fundamental to the Tribe’s way of life.

(b) The gravel resources on the Reservation are a mineral resource within the meaning of federal and Tribal law, and extraction or surface mining of these gravel resources has the potential both to generate revenue and create employment for the Tribe and, if left unregulated, to significantly harm fundamental Tribal values within the Reservation, including but not limited to the Klamath River, its tributaries, and riparian area.

(c) Various sites on the Reservation are contaminated with toxic or hazardous materials as a result of previous land use activities, many of which were conducted without adequate review of impacts or without adequate disclosure to the Tribe of the potential for such impacts, and the contamination at these sites may, if not properly contained and cleaned up, pose significant risks to the public health.

(d) Pursuant to federal law, the Yurok Tribe possesses inherent sovereign authority to regulate on-Reservation surface mining and gravel extraction operations, and other activities that affect fundamental Tribal interests and the public health and safety, including when such activities are conducted by nonmembers of the Tribe on privately owned lands within the Reservation.

(e) Under 1988 amendments to the Clean Water Act, 33 U.S.C. § 1377, Indian Tribes are entitled to be certified by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency as authorized to exercise exclusive jurisdiction (Tribal primacy) over all on-Reservation surface and ground water quality matters, including over on-Reservation portions of waters, such as those of the Klamath River, that also flow through other jurisdictions.

(f) In the past and continuing to the present, various members or nonmembers of the Yurok Tribe, who own private lands within the Reservation, have extracted gravel from and engaged in surface mining operations within the Reservation, with serious adverse impacts to ceremonial and fisheries values and to water quality in the Klamath River, its tributaries, and riparian areas, and the purported regulation of these activities by agencies of the state and federal governments has been ineffective to address these impacts. [Ord. 27 § 6002, adopted, 6/27/2012.]