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Hopi Officials Order Cattle Reduction Amid Continued Severe Drought

Vida Volkert/Gallup Independent via AP

Hopi leaders have ordered a reduction in the number of cattle grazing on the reservation. It’s the first phase in a plan to conserve water resources as the tribe continues to experience severe drought. KNAU’s Ryan Heinsius reports.

The order issued by Hopi Chairman Timothy Nuvangyaoma and Vice Chairman Clark Tenakhongva mandates the reduction of cattle from 30 to 100% on some units of the reservation. Tribal range managers say there are about 2,200 head of cattle on Hopi, consuming a total of 66,000 gallons of water a day. They also say continued grazing could result in a long-term loss of vegetation on rangeland.

According to the Hopi Department of Natural Resources, despite short-term relief from recent monsoon rain, much of the reservation and state are still suffering from extreme drought. Officials say the cattle reduction is likely the first in a series of steps the tribe could implement if conditions continue to worsen. The Hopi Drought Plan approved by the tribal council in 2000 outlines several steps officials could take to mitigate the effects of drought on fire, ranching and the Hopi domestic water supply.

The tribe also plans to address the impacts of the more than 550 feral horses that roam the reservation in the coming months. The order remains in place until the end of 2031.

Ryan joined KNAU's newsroom as executive producer in 2013. He covers a broad range of stories from local, state and tribal politics to education, economy, energy and public lands issues, and frequently interviews internationally known and regional musicians. Ryan is an Edward R. Murrow Award winner and a Public Media Journalists Association Award winner, and a frequent contributor to NPR's Morning Edition, All Things Considered and national newscast.
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