The last few months, we’ve seen a stretch of unprecedented environmental factors ravish through critical ecosystems that sustain Indigenous lifeways. From the Great Plains to the Southwest, hot temperatures, drought and fire all played a role in the challenges to restore degraded Tribal lands and see success in our work.
Each year, Trees, Water & People takes thousands of mixed-conifer seedlings out to Tribal communities to support the restoration and reconnection between land and people. This summer, we focused on monitoring the outcomes of our initial test plots in Pine Ridge, South Dakota, using a soil-inoculant product called “tree saver” to help improve tree survival. After monitoring both our test and control plots, our findings show no significant improvement in overall seedling survival. This monitoring was conducted three months after planting with our Tribal partners at Red Cloud Renewable. This data is young, and our team is considering monitoring for multiple growing seasons and utilizing this info to guide us towards more successful projects.
Additionally, our work in the Southwest has also dealt with its own environmental challenges. Wildfire in New Mexico swept through various microsites that were planted the last two years by our Tribal partners. This loss played a major role in adapting to new challenges and considering adding new strategies to young seedlings as they’re outplanted into the field. In Cochiti Pueblo, we are experimenting with the Protex shelters to protect seedlings from fire, browsing and the increasing temperatures in the Southwest. Just like our small-scale treatment plots in Pine Ridge, we will monitor the effects of these protective shelters and evaluate if they do improve seedling survival.
As we continue to adapt and learn from our strategies, we can’t say how thankful we are for your continued support in this vital work!
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