by Elise Wilde
Bison and grassland ecosystem restoration efforts in tribal communities have received a $1.5 million federal grant.
The funding was announced today by the Department of the Interior’s Office of the Assistant Secretary for Indian Affairs and is drawn from President Biden’s Invest in America Plan.
The funding will be distributed among three tribal-led efforts aimed at protecting and expanding bison, improving management of existing herds, and enhancing ecosystem restoration efforts in native grassland habitats.
Bison are keystone species that play an important role in maintaining ecological balance in diverse landscapes while supporting economic development and indigenous food sovereignty and security. The project will focus on habitat restoration, preserving genetic diversity, and expanding bison populations in partnership with indigenous communities. indigenous knowledge.
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“Bison are of great cultural, economic, and ecological importance. It supports our efforts to protect and restore the system,” Brian Newland, assistant secretary for Indian Affairs, said in a statement. “This embodies the Biden-Harris Administration’s dedication to building a more resilient and sustainable future for tribal nations and all Americans.”
Funds provided through bipartisan infrastructure lawis part of the department Grassland Keystone InitiativeIt was announced as part of. Recovery and resilience framework It directs $2 billion in investments under the bipartisan Infrastructure and Inflation Control Act to restore land and water and promote climate resilience. The framework also includes efforts to restore the sagebrush’s core areas from across the Western states to Alaska, where bison once thrived.
The bison population in the United States once numbered more than 60 million individuals. In the mid-1800s, a federally sanctioned eradication campaign for the species began in earnest, and in just 20 years, from 1870 to 1890, the buffalo population was reduced to just 500. This devastating genocide was caused by efforts to exterminate the Native Americans who depended on bison for food, clothing, shelter, tools, and weapons.
The near extinction of bison led to the decline of healthy grassland ecosystems, ultimately leading to the Dust Bowl in the 1930s.
Thanks to conservation efforts, the buffalo population has gradually increased to around 31,000 individuals.
Mr. Bison has heard that some of the funding will be given to the expansion project.
- Cheyenne and Arapaho, Oklahoma: The project aims to strengthen the existing bison herd of approximately 650 individuals by doubling the pasture area on tribal lands, addressing infrastructure needs, and incorporating climate-smart practices. Masu. This project will provide ecological restoration, cultural preservation, and economic development in northwest Oklahoma by increasing herd size, improving ecosystem health, and developing a market for bison products.
- Three tribes belong to the Fort Berthold Reservation in North Dakota: The project will focus on expanding bison habitat at Twin Buttes Hans Creek by constructing 10,000 acres of pasture on tribal lands to support expansion of the existing 250 bison herd. I’m guessing. The expansion will increase bison capacity to up to 4,000 animals. The program is rooted in Indigenous values, recognizes the critical role of large bison herds in maintaining ecosystem health, and aims to restore ecosystems through rewilding. Indian Affairs will fund fencing materials to complete the pasture expansion, supporting the spiritual and cultural beliefs of the Nueta people, as well as sustainable bison management practices.
- Shoshone-Bannock Tribe, Fort Hall Reservation, Idaho: This project aims to reintroduce buffalo to traditional grazing lands and strengthen the food and economic sovereignty of the Shoshone-Bannock Nation. The current number of buffalo is 465, but the project aims to expand the herd to 1,100 by introducing additional buffalo and promoting their cultural significance, employment opportunities and economic benefits. . This project aligns with the goal of environmental resilience and mitigating the effects of climate change through soil health management. Indian Affairs funds support animal care, management, and public safety infrastructure through repair or replacement of fencing and water systems.
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