(GSMNP press release) Great Smoky Mountains National Park officials invite the public to comment on a proposed amendment to the Plant Gathering Agreement with the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) through Sunday, January 12, 2020. The Park and EBCI entered the agreement on March 25, 2019 to allow up to 36 permitted members of EBCI to gather and remove portions of the spring leaves of sochan plants (Rudbeckia laciniata) from the park using traditional means.
Park and EBCI staff completed a review of traditional gathering activities conducted in 2019 and identified three possible amendments to improve the agreement: 1) allowing permitted tribal members the choice of gathering a portion of the sochan leaf known as the turkey foot or gathering whole sochan leaves; 2) clarifying text regarding gathering activities near visitor centers, trailheads, campgrounds, and picnic areas; and 3) establishing a sochan research area that would be off limits to gathering.
Additional details about the proposed amendment are available on the National Park Service’s Planning, Environment, and Public Comment website at https://parkplanning.nps.gov/grsm by following the link titled “Sochan Gathering for Traditional Purposes-General Agreement Amendment 1.” Comments should be submitted through this online portal or sent by mail to Great Smoky Mountains National Park, ATTN: Environmental Planning and Compliance, 107 Park Headquarters Road, Gatlinburg, TN 37738. The public comment period is open through January 12, 2020.