An animal science professor at North Dakota State University is leading a project that aims to boost beef cattle production on the Standing Rock Sioux Reservation.
Outdated land management strategies have degraded range conditions on the 3,600-square mile reservation that straddles the North Dakota-South Dakota border, resulting in low forage production, large prairie dog towns and potential for erosion, professor Robert Maddock told The Bismarck Tribune. The changes have decreased potential for livestock production on the reservation.
"That's a lot of land to raise a lot of cattle," Maddock said.
The project backed by the federal Agriculture Department hopes to improve grazing practices to make the land better suited to cattle production, and to possibly also spur economic development, according to Maddock. If beef production were to increase, it could pave the way for a meat processing plant on the reservation that's home to 9,000 people, many of whom do not have jobs.
Research is being conducted on privately owned ranch land used by Sitting Bull College at Fort Yates. The site also is a living classroom for students from Sitting Bull College, NDSU and South Dakota State University.
"It's half research, half education," Maddock said.