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(Many Paths)
An Online Newsletter Celebrating Native America
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USDA, Cheyenne And Arapaho Tribes Restoring Grazing Land
by Sarah Terry-Cobo - The (Oklahoma) Journal-Record

CONCHO, Okla. (AP) — The Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes are teaming up with the U.S. Department of Agriculture on a research and demonstration project to help restore grazing land.

Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes Gov. Eddie Hamilton signs agreement.

Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes Gov. Eddie Hamilton signed an agreement Tuesday with the USDA's Natural Resources Conservation Service for the two-year soil health project, The Journal Record ( ) reports. Hamilton says the project will help re-establish the tribes' relationship with state agricultural departments.

Agricultural consultant Clay Pope says the project is likely the first tribal-U.S. soil health demonstration project in the country.

A variety of grasses will be planted in seven 10-acre plots, and staff members will measure organic matter content and carbon levels to observe changes.

Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes economic development director Nathan Hart says his tribes' staff will continue conservation efforts with restoring grazing lands and increasing bison herds.

The land had been fallow for about six years, but soil microbes are depleted due to conventional farming practices. Conservationists will use less-intensive tilling methods to reduce soil erosion.

Pope said there is plenty of research in the northern Plains region on the benefits of less-intensive agricultural practices.

The agreement will formally last two years, but NRCS' state conservationist Gary O'Neill said he hopes to continue working with the Cheyenne and Arapaho Tribes for five years to better track change over time.

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