- Associated Press - Wednesday, February 19, 2014

WHITERIVER, Ariz. (AP) - An eastern Arizona tribe will share more than $1.5 million in grant money to protect wetlands from water pollution.

The funding was announced Tuesday by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s Pacific Southwest region. The White Mountain Apache Tribe and nine other tribes or organizations in California will split the money.

The White Mountain Apaches plan to use their portion to review existing wetland data and train community members on how to collect data. The tribe has been awarded funding through the EPA program in the past to assess springs after a wildfire and increase the acreage of wetlands.

EPA regional administrator Jared Blumenfeld says healthy wetlands act as natural buffers to floods and rising sea levels. He says the grantees are doing work that is critical in the arid West.