Native Village Youth and Education News

April 1, 2009 Issue 196 Volume 3

U.S. Forest Service attempting to regulate gathering of plant materials
By Vincent Schilling
Condensed by Native Village

Virginia: The U.S. Forest Service wants to regulate the gathering of native plant materials on Forest Service lands. Called "The Sale and Disposal of National Forest System Timber; Special Forest Products and Forest Botanical Products," the rule would establish regulations for the sustainable free use, commercial harvest and sale of special forest products and forest botanical products from National Forest Service lands.”

In short, any tribal members wanting to pick berries or collect basket making materials on National Forest lands would have to buy a permit. While non-recognized tribes would also need permits, some tribes covered by treaty agreements may not.

The California Indian Basket Weavers Association is opposing the measure. According to a release, “It is our position that this rule exceeds the Forest Service’s authority regarding matters of tribal trust, treaty rights and other issues pertaining to tribal/government relations. Under current policy, such use does not require fees or permits. [The National Forest Service] “would set a damaging precedent in separating treaty tribes from other federally recognized tribes”

The rule was a last minute measure proposed by the Bush administration. It was proposed in October 2007, then reached the Federal Register on Dec. 29, 2008. The ruling was to have taken effect on Jan. 28, 2009. Considerable opposition to the ruling prompted Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack to extend the deadline to allow for public comment.

“In keeping with President Obama’s recent pledge for a more transparent and inclusive government that works for the people, this extension will afford the public an opportunity to participate in the rulemaking process,” Vilsack said. “This rule is especially important to American Indians and Alaska Natives and we want to make sure that they, and other stakeholders, have an opportunity to have their voices heard.”

California Indian Basketweaver's Association: http://www.ciba.org/

http://www.indiancountrytoday.com/national/40663497.html

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