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TAKING CARE OF OUR SACRED LANDS - Bill and Paula Whiting

Bill and Paula Whiting’s operation is near Olsonville, South Dakota, located in south central Todd County close to the Nebraska state line. The Whitings’ are members of the Rosebud Sioux Tribe and their operation consists of deeded and trust land within the Rosebud Indian Reservation. The trust land involves a tribal assignment as well as a range unit and farm/pasture leases through the Bureau of Indian Affairs-Rosebud Agency. The majority of the Whiting’s land is utilized for grazing of livestock.

Whiting cattle grazing on the range unit. Considering that 2006 was an extreme drought year for the whole state of South Dakota, the fact that there is vegetation at all in this photo is a credit to the stewardship efforts of Bill and Paula Whiting.
Whiting cattle grazing on the range unit. Considering that 2006 was an extreme drought year for the whole state of South Dakota, the fact that there is vegetation at all in this photo is a credit to the stewardship efforts of Bill and Paula Whiting.

An Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP) application was developed and approved for funding on the land within the range unit. The major resource concern was an inadequate stock water supply. Another resource concern was plant condition for productivity, health and vigor. The existing water sources included a few windmills to service five pastures. The plan included the installation of five wells (1electric, 1windmill and 1solar panel system that utilized 3 of the wells); five watering facilities (30 foot steel rim, bottomless tanks); 5,246 linear feet of fence and 296.3 RR-Windbreak/Shelterbelt Establishment with 1,723 linear feet of fence. All of these conservation practices were installed within two years. The range unit now consists of 1,841 acres of improved rangeland.

Cattle utilizing the watering facility installed through EQIP.
Cattle utilizing the watering facility installed through EQIP.

The solar panel system is utilized as a power source on the wells in three pastures of nearly equal size and productivity. The solar panels were mounted on a frame and tied down to a flat-bed trailer that is easily moved from pasture to pasture. The grazing season is from May through October.

Producer, Bill Whiting, and NRCS Tribal Liaison, Mary Scott discussing the solar panel system.
Producer, Bill Whiting, and NRCS Tribal Liaison, Mary Scott discussing the solar panel system.

Some of these practices were installed on trust land. The Whitings’ also received assistance for the conservation practices completed through EQIP from the Rosebud Sioux Tribe’s Natural Resources Department (Prairie Management).

Aside from the livestock operation, Bill and Paula operate L&R Guide Service in cooperation with the Rosebud Sioux Tribe’s Game, Fish & Parks Department. They also operate L&R Enterprise for housing renovation.

Bill stated, “I appreciate the assistance provided by the local NRCS office. I am able to better utilize the grass in the pastures with more dependable water sources and the cross-fence in the range unit added one more pasture to my grazing rotation. There is better grazing distribution and the overall condition of the livestock has improved. If you take care of the land, it will take care of you.”

By: Mary A. Scott, NRCS-Tribal Liaison (Rosebud)