Indigenous people have long suffered the consequences of industrial pollution. Remediation efforts led by government and land grant institutions have proven inadequate and have failed to build the knowledge and expertise necessary for Indigenous farmers to learn how to clean up their lands independently. It is time for natives to take lead of this charge.” – Tim Houseberg, The Indigenous Production Trade Alliance (IDPTA)
Industrial pollution disproportionately impacts underserved tribal farmers and communities. The negative environmental and social impacts of mining, manufacturing, and commodity agriculture are well documented. Contaminated water and land disproportionately impact underserved farmers and communities - including reduced soil and water quality for human consumption and agricultural use, poor health outcomes for Indigenous, Black, and low-income communities, displacement from sacred lands, and inhibited Indigenous farmers from utilizing lands for traditional fishing, hunting, and grazing
Studies on Bio Char Now applications and phytoremediation, including university-supported research for The Indigenous Production Trade Alliance (IDPTA) suggests these treatments effectively reduce a range of contaminants in water and soil. Support will allow Indigenous-led applied field trials, IDPTA and partners at 10 contaminated sites will determine best practices for applying biochar and phytoremediation to convert contaminated land and water to safe productive resources.
The project will remediate natural resources so farmers can grow a diversity of profitable, safe, and culturally appropriate crops to reduce food insecurity, creating viable livelihoods and clean working lands. The practices optimized through this project will be communicated to Indigenous and other farmers and ranchers through educational and outreach programs that include native ways of knowing methodologies.
ALIGMENT AND INTENT
Program priorities addressed by project: improve soil health, improve water quality and quantity, and improve the environmental and economic performance of working agricultural land. Funds are needed to pay for water and soil testing supplies, lab testing and verification, sample data, biochar, phytoremediation supplies, payment for technical support, salaries for IPTA and partner organizations apply technologies and to build knowledge within the team and the capacity and capabilities necessary to conduct this onsite research. Also, funding is required to develop educational tools and outreach materials so underserved farmer groups, tribal organizations, environmental groups, agencies, and others can use these methodologies for future remediation of other contaminated sites.
Site #1: "The Tar Creek Superfund Site"
Community impact 9 Tribes and four States. Tar Creek is the Largest & Oldest site on the National Priorities List,
The Tar Creek Site completely resides within the Quapaw Nation Reservation, a 47 square mile area of abandoned lead and zinc mines located in northern Ottawa County Oklahoma.
The Site is one of four Superfund Sites in the Tri-State Mining District (TSMD) within corners of KS, MO & OK. The TSMD covers an area of 2,600 square miles and the entire district drains in to the Grand River Watershed in Ottawa County, OK. however, because of extensive offsite release of pollutants, the entire county is now included in the Superfund program (wherever contaminants have come to reside-CERCLA) under Operable Unit 5 Feasibility Study, which includes all the streams in the county.
Contamination Source: Mining Known Contamination: lead, cadmium, manganese, arsenic, zinc
The Quapaw Nation has extensive acres of agricultural in production and much more that could be put into production once remediated of toxic heavy metals related to the Site (lead, cadmium, manganese, arsenic, zinc and more). The EPA process has been slow, 42 years since EPA was first involved in 1979, and then the Site was listed on the National Priorities List in 1983. To date, the site looks much the same as it did in 1979 and the off-site releases continue unabated
Desired land use, if remediated: Production crop agriculture (grasses and small grains)
Site #2: Bekoshe Community Impacted: Choctaw Nation; ~512 people Location: OK Area Impacted: 352 acres Contamination Source: coal mining and fly ash Known Contamination: lead, cadmium, arsenic, mercury, copper Desired land use, if remediated: farming, fishing
Site #3: Apache Community Impacted: Apache Nation; 50,000 - 100,000 people Location: AZ Area Impacted: Comanche county, Caddo County, and Cotton County Contamination Source: herbicides, fracking, wastewater storage Known Contamination: hydrocarbons, heavy metals Desired land use, if remediated: farming, fishing, livestock grazing
Site #4: St. Lawrence River and St. Regis River, Akwesasne/Hogansburg https://www.dec.ny.gov/lands/98794.html Community Impacted: Mohawk Nation; 5,632 Location: NY (Treatment area downstream from General Motors Superfund) Area Impacted: 33.16 square miles / 25.7 acres. Contamination Source: General Motors Central Foundry, Reynolds Metals and Alcoa Known Contamination: PCBs, heavy metals Desired land use, if remediated: Specialty crop production, fishing, hunting
Site #5: Bois Forte Community
Impacted: Bois Forte Band of Chippewa; 613 tribal members Location: MN (Nett Lake Peatland, one of the world’s largest contiguous wild rice bodies) Area Impacted: 162 sq mi Contamination Source: Abandoned sawmill fuel tanks; illegal hazmat soil dump site Known Contamination: Hydrocarbon, heavy metals Desired land use, if remediated: Goat grazing and wild game hunting
Objective 1: Conduct farm and community-scale field trials to determine the efficacy, practicality, and best method of deployment of proven biochar and phytoremediation technologies for improving soil and water quality.
Objective 2: Build organizational capacity and capabilities among IPTA and project partners (primarily veteran and tribal organizations) to lead remediation efforts using biochar applications and phytoremediation on contaminated agricultural lands and community water resources
Objective 3: Develop education materials, outreach programs, and communications strategies for widespread dissemination of soil and water remediation technologies to BIPOC, veteran, emerging farmer-rancher groups, tribal organizations, environmental organizations, USDA departments and agencies, and state and local environmental agencies.
Objective 4: Create a biochar application and phytoremediation protocol based on the farm-scale trials, building toward a process standard and/or certification program, for conducting these and similar remediation work nationwide.
Beneficiaries include IPTA and site partner organizations (Indigenous, women, minority, and veteran organizations), which will benefit from building knowledge and the practical, in-field expertise to complete this project and initiate future bioremediation efforts.
These beneficiaries include multiple tribes and disadvantaged communities all negatively impacted by contaminated water, land/soil, and air. Total population benefited would be greater than 100,000 people. This project also builds capacity for IPTA to bring new and qualified staff onboard, as well as an advisory board including PhD agronomists and experienced industry professionals working in tribal water protection, tribal bison/livestock management, supply chain and tribal law. Benefits from these partnerships strengthens sovereignty in tribal communities, which could lead to the creation of IPTA independent evaluation, standards, or certification programs. Tribes and communities living on, and near remediation sites will be beneficiaries of successful remediation.
Study design finalization Baseline assessment Preparation of areas (land, water) for study - containment Application of biochar - land Application of biochar - water Planting of crop seeds Weekly visual inspection of planted study and control plots (photos, approximate height, flower emergence, etc.) Monthly collection and submission of water samples (upstream and downstream of treatment) Quarterly updates to USDA NRCA At harvest – collection and submission of soil sample from all study and control soil plots at harvest – collection of plant material – submitted to laboratory separately as stem, leave and flower samples.
Host training sessions on the Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) farmers to increase their knowledge about NRCS financial and technical assistance to address natural resource concerns through EQIP. Restore land and soil to quality that will allow for agricultural uses of crop farming, livestock grazing and fishing. Utilizing Climate Smart Agriculture practices and principles that will be foundational and lead to a more sustainable future through effective environmental practices on the land. Encouraging existing and new partnerships through emphasizing urban needs and equality in advancing underserved communities’ and small-scale agriculture. Developing state and community-led conservation leadership for historically underserved producers, including training students for careers in natural resources management.
Proposed Revisions to the National Handbook of Conservation Practices [Docket No. NRCS–2021–0005] were published today in the Federal register including CPS 336 Soil Carbon Amendment which supports addition of biochar and compost to increase soil carbon. Comment period is open until June 16, 2022.
Soil Carbon Amendment (Code 336): Supports the application of biochar, compost, and other state-approved carbon amendments (for example, harvested aquatic plant biomass, bagasse, distillation residue) to increase
soil carbon sequestration and improve soil health on all land uses. The evaluation and monitoring of soil properties, amendment characterization, and short and long-term conservation objectives form the basis for the soil carbon amendment practice plan.
The federal register notice is here: https://www.govinfo.gov/content/pkg/FR-2022-05-17/pdf/2022-10537.pdf
There is a 30 day comment period and comments can be submitted here (other options are also available and in the notice):
This is a cost-share program for farms that are eligible for the NRCS Environmental Quality Innovation Program (EQIP). It is currently a provisional standard 808.
The link above gives a list of the 47 issues the USDA and the NRCS are concerned about alleviating. The more issues the farmers addresses, the higher ranking they will get from the NRCS and increase likelihood of moving towards a contract for collecting money through 808. The USDA/NRCS has little idea about what all the carbon can be used for, so we will be leading the horse on this one. They simply see it as a way to bury carbon in the soil as an amendment. That's fine, but I counted 32 ways to address/solve issues on the list of 47 above. If the groups you are meeting with want to adopt 808, they could make a big impact by pressing the wide variety of solutions across a farm system and not just limit it to being a soil amendment.
The Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) provides financial and technical assistance to agricultural producers and non-industrial forest managers to address natural resource concerns and deliver environmental benefits such as improved water and air quality, conserved ground and surface water, increased soil health and reduced soil erosion and sedimentation, improved or created wildlife habitat, and mitigation against drought and increasing weather volatility.
This voluntary conservation programs helps producers make conservation work for them. Together, NRCS and producers invest in solutions that conserve natural resources for the future while also improving agricultural operations.
Through EQIP, NRCS provides agricultural producers and non-industrial forest managers with financial resources and one-on-one help to plan and implement improvements, or what NRCS calls conservation practices. Using these practices can lead to cleaner water and air, healthier soil and better wildlife habitat, all while improving agricultural operations. Through EQIP, you can voluntarily implement conservation practices, and NRCS co-invests in these practices with you.
Some of these benefits include:
Conservation Incentive Contracts are an option under EQIP, with a focus on Climate-Smart Forestry and Agriculture and Drought Resilience management practices. EQIP-CIC provides financial assistance to adopt conservation activities on working landscapes.
In fiscal year 2022, Conservation Incentive Contracts are available to producers, nationwide. For more information, read the January 10, 2022 news release.
Through five to 10-year contracts, producers manage, maintain and address important natural resource concerns and build on existing conservation efforts.
Review the updated fact sheet for additional details.
The EQIP advance payment option limits out-of-pocket conservation costs for historically underserved producers. The option provides at least 50 percent of the contracted payment for each conservation practice up front, before the practice is implemented, to purchase materials or contract services. The advance payment must be expended within 90 days of receipt, and the practice completed as agreed to on the EQIP plan of operations.
Under the general EQIP payment process, a producer is reimbursed after a conservation practice is implemented. This process often means that producers must pay up front costs with their own funds, which can be cost prohibitive for many historically underserved producers.
Who is Eligible?
Historically Underserved Producers:
How It Works
All EQIP practices are eligible for advance payments, including vegetative, structural, and management practices. Producers can use the option for as many or as few practices as they choose and have the right to change their decision before they receive payment. Historically underserved producers are also eligible for a higher payment rate
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