United States - South Dakota

Reforestation Project

Project Overview

Pine Ridge, South Dakota, United States
Tree Species
  • Ponderosa Pine
Project Status
complete (2021-11)
Forestry Partner
Trees, Water & People

About The Project

Located in South Dakota, the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation is an Oglala Lakota Native American Reservation encompassing 3,468.85 square miles and is the eighth-largest reservation in the United States, larger than Delaware and Rhode Island combined.

Trees, Water & People works directly with the Oglala Lakota Native Americans to actively combat a wide-range of environmental challenges, exasperated by a rapidly changing climate, lands rights issues, and poverty.  Greening the landscape to combat climate change through carbon sequestration and developing income opportunities are paramount to the Pine Ridge Project.

Below is a profile and description of the Pine Ridge project as well as the environmental and social value being delivered at a ground level.  All PrintReleaf end-users now have the option to login and subscribe to the Pine Ridge project.

Project Goals

  • Double the number of trees planted from 15,000 to about 30,000 in 2017 and continue to build in the years ahead as funding allows. There is a lot of land within two historical fire areas (totaling 20,000 acres) to plant, which allows for room to expand in the years ahead.
  • Create a sustainable reforestation program on the Pine Ridge Reservation, including training a local workforce of Native Americans to care for and plant tree seedlings.
  • Reforest wildlife habitat zones within two fire areas to jumpstart species return and restoration within the fire areas.

Project Outline

The project is in its third year of a long-term approach that will restore fire degraded landscapes, store atmospheric carbon, and improve the skills and livelihoods of the local Lakota youth who will primarily be planting these trees for future generations on the reservation. The project is also aimed at rebuilding the Lakota's sense of ownership, stewardship and responsibility over their tribal lands.

Restoration Approach

As with all fires, some areas of the forest have been completely cleared of all trees, while in other areas, varying numbers of trees have survived.  As there has never been any reforestation work done on the Pine Ridge Reservation, training people in the care and transport of tree seedlings is very important.  Similarly, training crews on how to work together in an organized and efficient way to plant the trees is also important and there are no previously trained tree planters on the reservation.

Choosing the right places to plant within a 20,000 acre fire zone is critical for the success of the project and for achieving the goals.  We partner with the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Oglala Lakota tribe to determine optimum site location and resolve access issues.


This project qualifies for the following UN Sustainable Development Goals. Click each goal to learn more.

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