These are the goals and adaptation strategies demanded through the community workshops used to develop the Climate Change Adaptation Plan for the Navajo Nation.
Education is the foundation for comprehending the concept of grazing management. Youth, elders, and fellow peers should have an idea of some grazing management topics in order to aid others with confusion, or questions. Educational topics can be rules and regulations, soil sciences, pasture rotations, disease prevention, and more. Professionals experienced with all views can be brought in to host workshops to provide an expert opinion. We offer the assistance of facilitating these community-led workshops as well as hosting them. However, we highly encourage these community-led workshops in order to establish a community-regulated cycle of information, learning, and cooperating for future grazing management projects. The workshops have the potential to serve as a way to educate local community members and get everyone hands-on learning without the strain of relying on undermanned Navajo Nation Government personnel.
Establish Separation of Power
In developing our Climate Adaptation Plan for the Navajo Nation document, the community leaders and department professionals expressed concern over the overlapping jurisdictions between Navajo Partitioned Land (NPL), American Indians Agricultural Resource Management Act (AIARMA), New Lands, the Navajo Nation, and the federal government. Therefore, the workshop diagnosis for this issue was to convene with head personnel of each organization in order to establish authorities and boundaries between all organizations.
Manage Livestock Population
A rangeland inventory needs to be completed. A land availability needs to be reassessed. Data needs to be updated and digitized for easier access in the future. The carrying capacity needs to be readjusted based on new research data. A conservation plan and plan of operations needs to be created. Birth control methods need to be taken of advantage of such as castration and other birth control options. With the every-changing rangelands of the Navajo Nation, in addition with livestock overpopulation, the forage has been significantly degraded. In response, we encourage community members to maintain steady communication with your grazing official and call the Navajo Grazing Management Office with any additional questions.
Overall Forage Health
Forage is another term for vegetation, plants that livestock eat. As stated prior, the Navajo Nation is experiencing poor forage health with the combination of overpopulation of feral horses, mismanaged livestock, and intense drought. In order to lay the foundation for a healthy rangeland there are some issues that we need to address. First, would be to establish range unit fencing for the entire Navajo Nation. Then, establish a grazing schedule since the eastern and northern regions of the Navajo Nation practice rotation grazing. This would lead us to the goal of implementing and enforcing a conservation plan that aims to restore and regulate the health of our rangelands. Using this future conservation plan, along with our adaptation plan, providing educational outreach to communities across the Navajo Nation will be paramount. As part of these educational outreach workshops, implementation of deferred grazing, meaning pausing grazing for a certain amount of time, would be included, along with the practice of reseeding grazed rangeland while the area is being deferred.
Restore Forage for Wildlife and Endangered Species
Many people do not know that the Navajo Nation is home to biological preserves and highly sensitive regions. A significant reason for this is because we are also home to migration routes for wildlife and house endangered species. We have identified sensitive species and areas on the Navajo Nation. The next step would be to establish a wildlife reserves which would allow wildlife populations to rebound within designated boundaries and help promote healthier wildlife numbers and healthier ecosystems for generations to come. Another way to aid wildlife and endangered species would be establishing a seed bank. Currently, there are some Navajo Nation departments that have closed seed banks in order to run their operations, however a Navajo Nation seed bank will further help guarantee the future health of our plants and ecosystems on the Navajo Nation.
In order to start a new project, there needs to be funding. In order to partner with outside non-profit natural resources organizations and/or initiate an in-department project there needs to be funding. Therefore, the initial step would be to hire an individual or a group of grant writers. This will allow our projects to have a higher percentage of being funded. Getting involved with multiple benefiting organizations will also be heavily beneficial. Another option would be to create a non-profit and/or establish co-ops on the reservation.
Complete Fencing Projects and Utilize Funding
Community member expressed concern for finishing fencing projects on the Navajo Nation. Thus, there is a need to communicate with the Bureau of Indian Affairs for supplies and funding to finish these projects. The community member also advised to utilize proposals which may have already been submitted or create a new one. In order to accomplish this, consent and withdraw from surrounding permittees needs to happen. There is also the encouraged option of asking the permittees to build and repair their own fencing and cattle guards. There are small programs on the Navajo Nation that are aiming to fix this problem. For example, the Agriculture Conservation Corps program under the Navajo Nation Department of Agriculture is funded to assist in fencing projects with land board and grazing permittees.
Develop a Chemical Disposal Policy
The Navajo Nation has yet to establish a chemical disposal policy nor large waste management facilities. Therefore, a collaborate with the Navajo Nation Environmental Protection Agency and the United States Environmental Protection Agency is needed in order to establish a chemical and waste disposal policy. In order to visualize where we can be as a sovereign nation, we need to seek advice from other experienced Native American tribes whom have established their waste management programs.
Eliminate Invasive Species.
A suggestion from the community members was to provide certified reservation-grown hay for the Navajo people in order to invest money back into the Navajo Nation economy and also develop a less expensive source of hay. In an effort to combat invasive species, community members advised the use of environmentally friendly forms and certified personnel to eradicate invasive species. Also, it would be of greatest interest to use forms which will benefit both the vegetation and animals on the range whether this is livestock or wildlife. Lastly, the progress with these suggestions will not be self-sustaining without the implementation of a a weed policy on the Navajo Nation. A weed policy will ensure the correct way to manage invasive or noxious weeds in order to contain their spreading. A weed policy will also ensure the use of safe practices to remove these weeds.
Revisit the Rangeland Improvement Act of 2014 and Amend Title III.
The Navajo Rangeland Improvement Act of 2014 that was developed by the Navajo Nation Department of Agriculture and Navajo District Grazing Committee was met with great criticism when initially released. Many issues that people had with the act created unnecessary confusion more so than clarification. Therefore the community members declared they want to see the involvement of the Navajo Farm Board, and Navajo Land Board in the redrafting process. Providing outreach to communities about the Rangeland Improvement Act, much like the development of the Climate Adaptation Plan for the Navajo Nation would be a sufficient way to tackle this goal.