Celebrate Earth Day and Arbor Day 2013 on the Rez

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by Tasiyagnunpa Livermont

Earth Day should be every day, but even celebrating it once a year on the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation can be a challenge.

A challenge that some are tackling head on.

The SDSU/Cheyenne River Extension office is planning an Earth Day Event on April 22, 2013, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the C-EB High School Gym.

Local organizations participating include the CRST Wellness Center and the Soiled Hands Society, permaculturists and more.

“The Earth Day Fair will provide opportunities to learn about the environment, recycling, and gardening,” said Marcella Gilbert, SDSU/Cheyenne River extension educator.

This event is open to the public and coincides with the annual health fair.

Reduce, reuse, but recycle?

Recycling is primarily the first thing people think of in regards to environmental awareness.

However, that is easier said than done in Cheyenne River.

“The EPA supports recycling, but there’s just no funding,” said DD Nelson, director of the CRST Environmental Protection Department.

Small-scale programs with youth have been put together by the CRST EPA in the past year, but those have finished up.

While recycling is important, simply cleaning up garbage and debris and working with the tribal landfill is an important way to protect water sources and keep away land and air pollution.

Spring clean up will be happening, soon, Nelson said, with roll-offs to be placed in the public for people to get rid of junk and debris for free.

Nelson added that they won’t be taking electronic waste, and that the nearest places for electronic waste are in Rapid City and Sioux Falls.

While recycling may be a challenge in Cheyenne River, there are a few options.

Plastic bags may be returned to Lakota Thrifty Mart to be recycled.

Metal items, including brass, iron, tin, old cars and aluminum cans can be taken to Ace Steel and Recycling in Pierre.

Greening Cheyenne River

Home gardening and food production has been proven not only to benefit the health of those eating the yield, but also to reduce neighborhood crime, vandalism and other unsustainable human activity.

Several area entities and community organizations are working to help literally green Cheyenne River.

CRST Prairie Management will be giving away trees in conjunction with Arbor Day on  April 26, 2013.

A choice of three tree and/or shrub seedlings will be given to individuals on a first come basis. The choices of plants are: Bur Oak, Hackberry, Buffaloberry and Currant. The plants can be picked up all day at the Prairie Management Program office and shop located at 97 South Willow Street.

The program can move, purchase and plant larger plants if arrangements are made soon for spring activities. Contact the Prairie Management Program at 964-8964, 964-8966 or wildbio@lakotanetwork.com.

“SDSU/Cheyenne River Extension is gearing up for the planting season. We will be taking requests for small garden tilling,” said Gilbert.

The SDSU/CR Extension Tilling service will begin May 1 through May 23. Call Gilbert at 964-4955 to get on the list.

The CRST Wellness Center also has resources for community gardens and tilling. Contact Lynnette Lesmeister-Huber for more information.

The Soiled Hands Society, a group of area gardeners, is also hosting biweekly member meetings to discuss common gardening items and plan work-meetings to help each other with garden projects. For more information, call Tasi Livermont at 964-4515 or email tasiyagnunpa@gmail.com.

Some organizations and entities the WRE spoke to are still planning events for later this April and into May.

Get more information

For more information on the groups already mentioned plus late-breaking green news, check out our “Bringing Back the Green” coverage on the West River Eagle Facebook page and blog coverage at www.westrivereagle.com.

If you have an event to recognize Earth Day or sustainability coming up in April and May, please let us know.