August/September 2016 News & Updates
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SIG-NAL and Indian Land Tenure Foundation Continue Carbon Farming Site Visits with Comanche Nation and the
Lower Brule Sioux Tribe


As the impacts of climate change become more pronounced in Indian country, Native American nations and Indian landowners are faced with the challenge of implementing resource conservation land management systems while sustaining economic vitality. Market-based approaches to conservation present an opportunity to improve resource management and realize revenue from emerging environmental markets such as carbon offsets. Work on our collaborative USDA Conservation Innovation Grant project to pilot new approaches to facilitate tribal access to voluntary carbon markets continued this spring and summer with site visits and meetings at the Comanche Nation in Oklahoma and the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe in South Dakota. In April, John Gunn (SIG-NAL), Erick Giles (Indian Land Tenure Foundation), and Dr. Jeff Creque (Carbon Cycle Institute) met for two days with the Comanche Nation Secretary of Agriculture Milton Sovos and Realty Specialist Stephen Lee. Also joining the group was the Oklahoma Carbon Program Director Stacy Hansen. Site visits included potential agricultural lands for implementing carbon farming practices such as converting from conventional to no-till agriculture and planting tree-lined shelterbelts. Next steps include quantifying the potential carbon benefits of farming practice changes and finalizing the parcels to be included in an initial voluntary market transaction. 

In late June, Shane Romsos of SIG joined John, Erick, and Jeff at the Lower Brule Sioux Tribe Reservation to meet with tribe’s Department of Fish, Wildlife, and Recreation to discuss how the carbon benefits of restoring native grassland could generate revenue to support restoration activities. For more than 10 years, the tribe has restored grassland habitats for many species of wildlife including pronghorn antelope, sharp-tailed grouse, and the greater prairie chicken. Fish and Wildlife Director Ben Janis and wildlife biologist Dr. Shaun Grassel maintain an active program planting formerly-tilled cropland to native grass species to support the Lower Brule’s wildlife management objectives. These practices also result in significant carbon benefits by building prairie grass root systems that allow much more carbon to be stored in the soil than can be achieved under a tillage system. The project team hopes to turn these carbon farming benefits into revenue for the tribe through a voluntary carbon market transaction. Maintaining the native grasslands is costly and management actions could benefit from the sale of carbon offsets. Follow up activities will consist of mapping the restored grasslands, quantifying current and future soil carbon benefits, and discussions with potential buyers.    

(pictured above, L to R: Stephen Lee, Milton Sovos, and Jeff Creque at a potential carbon farming site on Comanche Nation land)

SIG-NAL ED appointed to UNH Research Faculty

Dr. John Gunn recently started a position within the Department of Natural Resources and the Environment at the University of New Hampshire. On August 22nd, John joined the faculty as a Research Assistant Professor of Forest Management with 25% of his time devoted to UNH Cooperative Extension activities. For the past four years, John has served as Executive Director of the non-profit SIG-NAL (an organization he co-founded) and will maintain this role to facilitate collaborative conservation work among academic, NGO, and agency partners across the US and abroad. Gunn joins SIG principals David Saah (University of San Francisco), Austin Troy (University of Colorado – Denver), and Max Moritz (University of California - Berkeley) in having feet in the academic world while continuing to work in this broader network of scientists addressing many different pressing environmental concerns. Over the next couple years, John will be developing a research program focused on forest management and climate change issues throughout New Hampshire.

Check out the new SERVIR-Mekong website! SERVIR-Mekong is working in the Lower Mekong Region to connect space to village. The aim is to help decision makers in the region access and use publicly available space-based technology for resilience and sustainable development. SERVIRMekong has launched a website where you can access tools, datasets and knowledge products to help integrate science with development. 

Upcoming Events

SIG and SIG-NAL Staff will be at the following meetings and conferences: 

September 20-22, 2016
Who Will Own the Forest?
SIG is a corporate sponsor of this event. Thomas Buchholz, Charles Kerchner, David Saah, and Jeremy Broadhead will all be in attendance.
Portland, Oregon 

November 2-6, 2016
Society of American Foresters National Convention
Madison, Wisconsin

December 1-3, 2016
SIG/SIG-NAL Annual Retreat
Pleasanton, California

December 12-16, 2016

AGU Fall Meeting
San Francisco, California
Use of Remotely Sensed Climate and Environmental Information for Air Quality and Public Health Applications

Several SIG affiliates were coauthors of a chapter in an new Springer publication edited by Faisal Hossain entitled  Earth Science Satellite Applications: Current and Future Prospects. The book and individual chapters can be ordered here.   

New SIG Affiliate

Spatial Informatics Group would like to welcome our newest Affiliate, Sheena Agarwal. Sheena serves as the Knowledge Management Lead for the USAID/NASA partnered SERVIR-Mekong program based in Bangkok. Her role focuses on developing knowledge products and best practices, supporting relationship building efforts, managing the team’s collaboration systems and processes, developing success stories and case studies from the consortium, and promoting intellectual exchange within the science team. She also serves as lead for the hub’s grants program.

Sheena comes to SIG as an international development professional with extensive experience managing and implementing USAID programming. Prior to joining SIG, Sheena served as the Program Specialist on SERVIR-Mekong under ADPC, and before that worked with Development Alternatives, Inc. (DAI) for five years where she worked in several capacities to support development programming related to good governance, civil society strengthening, and food security. She holds a Master’s degree in International Development from American University, Washington DC.


Please note SIG's new mailing address:

Spatial Informatics Group
2529 Yolanda Ct.
Pleasanton, CA 94566

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