Park invites public to comment on proposed Gathering Agreement amendment

(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 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.

About Jim Harris

Jim Harris has been WYSH's News & Sports Director since 2000. In addition to reporting local news, he is the play-by-play voice for Clinton High School football, boys' and girls' basketball and baseball. Catch Jim live weekdays beginning at 6:20 am for live local news, sports, weather and traffic plus the Community Bulletin Board, shenanigans with Ron Meredith and more on the Country Club Morning Show on WYSH & WQLA. Jim lives in Clinton with his wife Kelly and daughter Carolina, his mother-in-law and cats Lucius and Oliver.

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