Air Quality

Ute Mountain Ute (UMU) Tribal lands encompass a large expanse of Four Corners Region, over three states and five counties. The EPA in 1971 has designated the larger multi-jurisdictional area inclusive of the Ute’s lands as Four Corners Interstate Air Quality (AQ) Region Boundary.

The Environmental Programs Department (EPD) is initiating an AQ Program  to track and assess air pollutants in and around the Tribal lands. The program is being established first in White Mesa to monitor and assess the possibility of migratory pollutants from White Mesa Mill to the surrounding White Mesa Ute community.  A weather station has been installed to collect information regarding the weather patterns of White Mesa, including wind speed and direction, temperature, relative humidity, total precipitation, and barometric pressure.  The measurement goal alongside the weather station is to collect air samples by High Volume sampler which collects particulate matter of 10 micrometers or less in diameter deposited on a filter, or HiVol PM10's. As the sampler pull a large volume of air which collects the particulate matter, or dust, on a filter it will then be sent to a laboratory for selective analysis. Baseline measurements by analysis of the filter, including Uranium and those metals associated with its decay series such as Thorium, Radium, and Lead, in addition to total alpha radiation will be measured.  These measurements will be made due to the concern to the possible migration of radioactive laden dust from White Mesa Mill, to measure the quality of the ambient air.  The measurements will be performed by using a filter that has been carefully handled according to the UMU’s AQ Quality Assurance and Quality Control protocol.

In 2010, the EPD received its first Clean Air Act 103 grant through the Region 8 Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for fiscal year 2011 to develop its AQ monitoring program. Careful evaluation was given and necessary training was learned from organizations including The Institute for Tribal Environmental Professionals (ITEP), the Tribal Air Monitoring Support Center (TAMS) as well as neighboring AQ monitoring stations including the Southern Ute Indian Tribe (SUIT) and Navajo Nations Air Quality Programs, in addition to Mesa Verde National Park’s air monitoring efforts.  Four HiVol instruments have since been acquired by donation from the SUIT’s AQ Division to aid in the development of the UMUAQ through inter-tribal coordination. The EPD would like to acknowledge and thank for all the partners and funding agency for assisting in the development of UMUAP program and hope to continue this positive network for many years to come.

See the coverage of our visit on the SUIT's paper Southern Ute Drum:

Ute Mountain looks to Ignacio for air quality expertise

Air Quality donates monitors to new Ute Mountain program


Four Corners’ air quality is monitored by:

Navajo Nation

Southern Ute Indian Tribe

Mesa Verde National Park

Montezuma County