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Cherokee Nation, US Fish and Wildlife Service work to save endangered species


Last updated 9/10/2018 at 3:45pm

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TAHLEQUAH, Okla.-The Cherokee Nation, working alongside the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, is the first tribal nation to designate an area of land to protect an endangered species of beetle.

Principal Chief Bill John Baker signed an executive order designating a portion of the tribe's 800-acre park on Sallisaw Creek in Sequoyah County as an American Burying Beetle Conservation and Mitigation Area for the next 10 years.

"Cherokees have long understood that we must protect our natural resources for the cultural, spiritual and economic value they bring to the Cherokee Nation," Chief Baker said. "We are stewards of the land, so it is imperative that the Cherokee Nation take these actions to protect this beautiful national park and the endangered species that lives within it."

The American Burying Beetle once lived in as many as 35 states and is considered invaluable to the ecosystem because of its role in returning nutrients to the soil. It was placed on the federal Endangered Species List in 1989, and natural populations are now known to occur in as few as four states including Oklahoma, Arkansas, Nebraska and Rhode Island, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

The Cherokee Nation worked for several years with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to establish the endangered species conservation and mitigation program because no model existed with a tribal nation before.


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