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Columbus environmental firm gets Iowa Tribe BIA grant for invasive species

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New Century

New Century biological staff sampling for aquatic invasive species on reservation streams.

A local environmental firm wrote an invasive species grant for the Iowa Tribe Indian Reservation that was recently approved by the Bureau of Indian Affairs.

This funding gives critical support for a diverse array of rare species and habitats on Indian reservations in the Great Plains, according to Mike Gutzmer, principal and owner of New Century Environmental.

The grant is a project entitled “A Baseline Assessment of Invasive Plants and Animals on the Iowa Tribe of Kansas and Nebraska Indian Reservation” for $144,788 that staff scientists at New Century Environmental wrote in early 2021.

The Iowa Tribes of Kansas and Nebraska Indian Reservation is located in Brown and Doniphan counties in Northeastern Kansas, and Richardson County, in Southeastern Nebraska. The reservation is located within the tallgrass prairie ecoregion. The immediate vicinity contains unique natural resources such as the forested bluffs overlooking the Missouri River which runs adjacent to the Reservation. No current invasive species data collecting has ever been conducted within the Reservation.

The purpose of this study is to evaluate and provide treatment recommendations to protect and preserve remaining natural resources and their respective habitats located within the boundaries of The Iowa Tribe Indian Reservation. Some of the main target points include threats on the Missouri River and other waterways caused by Phragmites australis, salt cedar and loosestrife as well as prairies being invaded by leafy spurge, various thistles and a host of other species.

The funding will provide the resources needed to address invasive species (flora and fauna) before they are difficult to control (i.e. feral hogs, leafy spurge, musk thistle, numerous aquatic invasives). The timing couldn’t be better as the tribe recently designated Rulo Bluffs and some other areas as part of the Ioway Tribal National Park.

But, proper grazing management consultation may suppress invasive plant populations, and often this is done by reducing seed production and stressing invasive plants and allowing native plants to compete more effectively. Part of the grants objective is to raise awareness in this subject area. We realize if we keep a close watch on these challenging species, we will make great strides in managing native plant and animal communities in a sustainable management portfolio.

Invasive species displace native species already struggling in many degraded and almost eliminated habitats across Nebraska and the country as a whole.

Protecting wildlife in America and throughout the world is a responsibility everyone should take very seriously. Currently, more than 2,200 plants and animals are included on the Endangered Species List, and without strong congressional support many of these species may become extinct for a variety of reasons including invasive species.

New Century Environmental LLC, an environmental consulting business based in Columbus, employs a team of environmental and ecological professionals who provide quality environmental services across the Great Plains. They provide wetland science expertise, and a broad spectrum of environmental impact assessment services related to rare plant and animal species. 

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