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Restoration efforts begin at Boa Ogoi

Efforts are underway to restore Boa Ogoi, the site of the Bear River Massacre, to the way the land looked before the arrival of American settlers.

The Northwestern Band of the Shoshone tribe purchased 550 acres of land in 2018. Since then, they have been working with many agencies and organizations to implement a plan to remove invasive species, reintroduce native plants and animals, and restore the waterways to their original routes.

The Utah Conservation Corps recently began the process of removing highly invasive Russian Olive trees from the area. These thorny plants are very difficult to clear away but must be removed to create suitable habitat for native trees and plants. Sarah Klain, a USU Assistant Professor of Ecosystem Services said eliminating Russian Olives requires cutting them down and applying herbicide.

“And there's really no non-chemical way to eradicate it. And you have to be diligent about that re-application. Otherwise, there's a saying that, when a Russian Olive dies, 1000 saplings come to its funeral,” Klain said.

The next few years will require hard work to transform the landscape, but the goal is to create an ecosystem that eventually sustains itself where the Shoshone can cultivate their medicines and foods and share their knowledge with the surrounding community.

Brad Parry, Vice Chairman of the Northwestern Band of the Shoshone Nation, is the project manager for the restoration initiative. Parry has been a tribal council member for five years and has 20 years of experience working on restoration and irrigation projects for the federal government.

“I did the same sort of stuff, but for other people. Now I'm doing a project for my own people. So, it's- it's a world of difference. It's the same work but the feelings a lot different. The stress is there, but it's a good stress,” Parry said.

While the project is led by the Shoshone and relies on their knowledge of the land, Parry welcomes collaboration with biologists and engineers of other backgrounds.

Caroline Long is a science reporter at UPR. She is curious about the natural world and passionate about communicating her findings with others. As a PhD student in Biology at Utah State University, she spends most of her time in the lab or at the coyote facility, studying social behavior. In her free time, she enjoys making art, listening to music, and hiking.