By the end of the three-year project, the project should meet the following objectives:

  1. Draft and Adopt Carbon Registry Policy Guidance: Adoption by the American Carbon Registry of the first greenhouse gas offset market guidance specific to the land tenure status of tribal trust lands and individual Indian allotments. By the end of the project period, the policy guidance document will be used to facilitate the development of carbon offset projects on Indian lands in four pilot areas.
  2. Develop Offset Projects in Pilot Areas on Indian Lands: Complete carbon offset market transactions through the implementation of approved methodologies for grazing land and livestock management or rangeland soil amendments within four pilot project regions – the Pueblo of Santa Ana (New Mexico), Pe’Sla grasslands of the Black Hills intertribal partnership in South Dakota, Comanche Nation (Oklahoma), and the Northern Arapahoe Tribe (Wyoming). At least one transaction in each pilot area will demonstrate a cost efficient aggregation framework and new sources of revenue to tribal rangeland management programs and Indian agricultural producers from participation in greenhouse gas offset markets.
  3. Expand Outreach and Education Network: Build upon the National Indian Carbon Coalition’s outreach activities by developing a cultural exchange network regarding rangeland management practices amongst tribal entities, government agencies, and carbon market services. The network will educate tribal leaders, land managers, and Indian producers about conservation benefits and economic opportunities for managing carbon sequestration and greenhouse gas emissions in agricultural and rangeland systems (including USDA programs). Outcomes will include carbon offset project development materials and training sessions for tribal landowners and land staff (at least 120 Indian landowners, 90 tribes) and at least 60 field staff of Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA) and USDA.

We will engage private investment in projects that both meet investors and credit buyers’ interest in high-quality carbon offsets, and Tribes’ interest in promoting appropriate conservation practices and economic development. Engaging in the marketplace will allow Native American communities to improve management of agricultural lands by reducing soil erosion, surface compaction, and maintaining the content of organic matter in the soils. Important components of this work include outreach to Indian producers and the establishment of a pilot carbon offset aggregation program.

Key Project Elements 

Project Location: Comanche Nation, Southwest Oklahoma; Pe’Sla Lands of the Blackhills, Pennington County, South Dakota, Wind River Reservation, Fremont County, Wyoming; Santa Ana Pueblo, Sandoval County, New Mexico
Emission Source Targeted: Grazing and Livestock Management
Engagement Level: Outreach and training activities will reach at least 90 tribes, 120 Indian farmers and ranchers, and 60 field staff from the BIA and USDA over the course of the three-year project. Trainings will take place at pilot project communities and annual intertribal conferences
Technology Required: Available spatial data and local knowledge will be used to map and analyze land cover, land use, and risks to soil and water resources within the four pilot project regions. This assessment will form the basis for evaluating the types of activities that could be implemented to improve the carbon sequestration value of agricultural and rangelands. Once we have established the range of possible methodologies appropriate for agricultural and range lands in the pilot regions, we will begin to assess the potential credits that could be generated on a per-acre basis under the defined methods. The analysis of potential credits will also use scientific literature and existing data from published public summaries of offset projects that have already been completed under the various methodologies. The preliminary analysis of per-acre carbon credit generation will be used to develop a GIS-based carbon “hotspots” map of lands in the pilot region. This will be used to help the tribal partners prioritize carbon activities relative to other land use activities.
Protocols/Methodologies Engaged: For the Santa Ana Pueblo, we have already identified an opportunity to test the adaption of a methodology currently only approved for use in California. We will work with the Carbon Cycle Institute to adapt the existing ACR Compost Additions to Grazed Grasslands methodology, developed for California rangelands, to a New Mexico context. The Department of Natural Resources of the Pueblo of Santa Ana has indicated a willingness to test the methodology on trust lands under their management. The compost methodology adaptation will build on a 2014 USDA CIG-funded project (Marin Carbon Project and the Carbon Cycle Institute) in California. The Pueblo of Santa Ana has produced compost in the past from biosolids, horse manure, and wood chips. Production and use of compost within the Pueblo would provide an economic benefit by eliminating hauling and tipping fees currently incurred for disposal of organic material. The Carbon Cycle Institute will bring the technical expertise necessary to support the establishment of a compost facility and provide guidance on techniques and application rates for utilization on the Pueblo’s rangeland. Funding from this grant will be used to establish the scientific baseline for the carbon benefits of this methodology in New Mexico.

Project Summary

The goal of this project is to expand the GHG market in Indian country by developing rangeland management carbon sequestration projects on Indian lands and publishing a carbon offset project guidance with the American Carbon Registry for registration of projects developed on various Indian land types. Another outcome of this project will be the creation of an aggregation program to enroll tribal and individual Indian lands.