Lower Brule Sioux Tribe Taking Aim at Invasive Trees

March 16, 2016 06:47 PM
 
Lower Brule Sioux Tribe Taking Aim at Invasive Trees

The Lower Brule Sioux Tribe is looking to wipe out invasive trees that are reducing grazing area for cattle.

The tribe's Department of Wildlife, Fish and Recreation plans to remove eastern red cedar trees from 130 acres of land on the Lower Brule Reservation over the next four years, The Daily Republic reported.

"In reality, that should all be flat, clear rangeland," Wildlife Biologist Shaun Grassel said.

The work is to begin this summer. The tribe also plans to spray nearly 3,000 acres of land over four years to kill weeds, beginning in the fall.

The tribe is taking advantage of the U.S. Department of Agriculture's "StrikeForce" program, which will reimburse part of the cost of the projects. The program provides aid to counties with high poverty levels.

"We identify total acreage that we are going to control each year," Grassel said. "What will happen is we will get reimbursed for a portion of that, then use that reimbursement to treat more land."

Thirteen South Dakota counties have utilized StrikeForce resources since the first year of the program in 2013, according to Jeff Zimprich, state conservationist in South Dakota for the federal Natural Resources Conservation Service. Last year, $76 million went to nearly 1,300 projects.

"It's not like USDA strolls in and says, 'We're here to help you,'" Zimprich said. "It's people going, 'We really have this need, and we're trying to figure out how to solve it.'"

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