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Published January 31, 2018
Four public meetings are scheduled on the Wind River Indian Reservation to discuss an Agricultural Resource Management Plan that the University of Wyoming has facilitated in creating.
Meetings will be held:
-- Tuesday, Feb. 6, from 6-8 p.m., Northern Arapaho Housing office, Ethete.
-- Wednesday, Feb. 7, from 6-8 p.m., Black Coal Senior Center, Arapahoe.
-- Tuesday, Feb. 13, from 6-8 p.m., Big Wind Hall, Crowheart.
-- Wednesday, Feb. 14, from noon-2 p.m., Rocky Mountain Hall, Fort Washakie.
The plan addresses nine major agricultural issues: agricultural management; agricultural economy; water storage and distribution; land leases; land ownership; cropland productivity; rangeland/grazing; wildlife management; and natural resource information.
A joint effort by faculty in the colleges of Arts and Sciences and Agriculture and Natural Resources has guided the reservation through a three-year process to develop the plan.
Working on the plan were Bill Gribb, Department of Geography head and professor; Paddington Hodza, Wyoming Geographic Information Science Center associate director; Roger Coupal, Department of Agricultural and Applied Economics professor; and Ginger Paige, Department of Ecosystem Science and Management associate professor.
The Wind River Tribal Water Engineer’s Office, through the Water Board and the Agricultural Producers Committee, has held more than 30 meetings to construct the plan based on citizen input through community and focus group meetings held across the Wind River Indian Reservation, Gribb says.
The plan has been developed under the guidelines established by the American Indian Agricultural Resource Management Act of 1993. The act states, in part, that “The Secretary of the Interior shall conduct all management activities on Indian agricultural land in accordance with goals and objectives set forth in the approved agricultural resource management plan.”
Once the plan has been completed, it will need to be approved by both the Northern Arapaho and Eastern Shoshone tribal councils, and the U.S. Secretary of the Interior.
“The importance of the plan is the fact that both the U.S. Department of Interior and the Bureau of Indian Affairs will need to follow the agriculture plan developed by the citizens of the Wind River Indian Reservation,” Gribb says.
A key component of the plan is to establish a new Office of Agriculture and Natural Resources, which will oversee agricultural development on the reservation. Gribb says there has never been a single department on the reservation that was designated to assist in the development and coordination of agriculture on the reservation, an effort that will assist the communities in all aspects of agricultural development, including production, processing, marketing, economic analysis and educational efforts.
“The plan sets a vision to create a viable, self-directed and sustainable agricultural economy that enhances the education, health, natural resources, traditions and culture of the Wind River Indian Reservation people,” Gribb says. “If this vision can be attained by the plan, all citizens on the reservation will benefit.”