NRCS awards Lower Brule Sioux Tribe for Excellence In Cooperative Conservation

State Conservationist Jeff Zimprich with the USDA Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) serving South Dakota presented the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe with the NRCS SD’s Excellence in Cooperative Conservation Award at the Council Meeting in December 2018. Left to right: Orville “Red” Langdeau Jr., Secretary/Treasurer; John McCauley, Council Member; Darrel DuVall, NRCS Tribal Liaison; Boyd I. Gourneau, Chairman; Jeff Zimprich; NRCS State Conservationist, Cody Russell, Council Member; Marvin Grassrope, Council Member; and Clyde Estes, Council Member. Photo courtesy NRCS

NATURAL RESOURCES CONSERVATION SERVICE (NRCS), Huron, S.D., Feb. 20, 2018–The Lower Brule Sioux Tribe has been awarded the NRCS South Dakota Excellence in Cooperative Conservation Award for 2018 announced United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Natural Resource Conservation Service (NRCS).

This award recognizes an individual or group’s ability to communicate, grow, and innovate to improve the health of the state’s natural resources. NRCS State Conservationist Jeff Zimprich said, “Sometimes it’s a challenge for an organization to work well within it’s different branches. With the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe, not only are they connecting well internally, they are also bringing a lot of other partners, including NRCS, along with them. They are doing good things,” he said.

To earn the award, the Tribe and its departments adopted and carries out a variety of practices and made many improvements on their land and management techniques. A few examples are:

The LBST’s Wildlife Department teamed with the Tribe’s farm and NRCS to adopt innovative soil health strategies. This included reducing tillage on thousands of acres of irrigated farmland and implementing an improved cover crop plan.

The quality of pollinator and other wildlife habitat was improved in nearby farmland.

The Tribe teamed with NRCS and the Bureau of Indian Affairs to install a soil climate analysis unit and weather station. The unit provides online access to climate data for research, local farm needs, and school projects.

Pipeline, fencing, and other infrastructure items have been installed to improve grazing management on their buffalo and elk grasslands. They instituted a monitoring program for the black-footed ferret and other significant wildlife species that provide important clues to the overall health of the area’s ecology.

The Tribe’s environmental office hosts a yearly farmer/rancher event promoting wise use of their natural resources by leaseholders and managers.

Cultural resource staff partner with NRCS in a cooperative manner to carry out conservation projects while protecting important cultural sites.

The Tribe’s Rural Water Department works proactively with NRCS to assist leaseholders in their livestock water needs.

The Tribe’s ranch has adopted innovative techniques including using targeted grazing to manage invasive woody brush and an intensive grazing rotation that improves soil health for long term benefits.

“NRCS is proud to congratulate the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe for their hard work, enthusiasm, and partnership and we look forward to continuing a great relationship into the future,” says Zimprich.

– Natural Resource Conservation Service