Lay of the Land - saraharnoff

Lay of the Land

Tucked away in the Reese River Valley surrounded by Nevada's Toiyabe National Forest, sits the Shoshone reservation Yomba, a tiny community supported mostly by ranching and farming. Many residents here also practice traditional gathering--collecting berries, roots, plants and nuts for medicinal and culinary uses--though years of drought have strained snow packs, leaving the high desert dryer, and crops of pine nuts and berries smaller. Severe weather patterns--possibly the result of wider climate change--have produced lighter winters with longer periods of drought followed by short bursts of moisture that quench the thirst of the plants and animals struggling to stretch their water reserves for longer and longer.

On top of the drought concerns, the BLM is planning to lease parcels of land in the Reese River Valley and neighboring Smokey Valley for fracking and oil exploration,even though Nevada is not known to be rich in those resources. The Yomba tribe has voiced opposition to these sales, with water shortages listed as one of their main concerns. The massive amount of water fracking requires, they say, would drastically impact the quality of life for tribal members and the land they live on since the water that currently exists is barely (and sometimes not) enough to support the plants they traditionally gather and the animals they hunt, as well as the established farms.

Following three generations of the same family, Darlene Dewey, Melanie Smokey and Jay Martin, these images were captured in August 2016 and detail one of the hottest and driest summers the area has faced after it experienced a short, wet spring.

View of the Reese River Valley in Central Nevada, where the Yomba Shoshone Reservation is located.
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