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Native plant harvesting in Walnut Canyon National Monument: Assessing sustainability of Petrophytum caespitosum.
Hansen, Monica*,1, 1 Northern Arizona University, Flagstaff, AZ
ABSTRACT- Little to no information is currently available on the status of traditional use plants and the associated current harvesting impacts on plant populations within the National Park Service (NPS). A case study was conducted on the most highly collected plant species, Petrophytum caespitosum, which is an important ceremonial plant to Native Americans as well as an ecologically unique species within Walnut Canyon National Monument. A model was developed in conjunction with current NPS management guidelines to determine the sustainability of the harvest through incorporating biological data on the species as well as the traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) of indigenous plant harvesters. Repeat photography over a 1-year period showed 5% mortality and less than 1% re-growth in harvested individuals, suggesting individuals do not respond positively to harvesting. However, on a population level the number of individuals and total cover were not significantly different between the harvested and unharvested populations. These results suggest that the current rate of harvesting may negatively impact individuals but not the population structure, which may be a function of Native American harvesting practices. Current levels of harvesting should be maintained through incorporating TEK in NPS integrated management plans to sustain a viable population size as well as preserve Native American cultural values.
KEY WORDS: traditional ecological knowledge, Petrophytum caespitosum, harvest sustainability, National Park Service