Great Smoky Mountains National Park (GRSM) and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians (EBCI) entered a General 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) (alternative common names: green-headed coneflower, cutleaf coneflower) from the park using traditional means. The General Agreement was established pursuant to 36 CFR 2.6, Gathering of Certain Plants or Plant Parts by Federally Recognized Indian Tribes for Traditional Purposes, and an Environmental Assessment (EA) prepared by the National Park Service in November 2018 and a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) issued by the National Park Service in February 2019. The General Agreement, EA, and FONSI are available on the National Park Service's Planning, Environment, and Public Comment website (https://parkplanning.nps.gov/grsm)
under the link titled "Sochan Gathering for Traditional Purposes."
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 either 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. Park staff are conducting a National Environmental Policy Act Review for the proposed General Agreement amendment.
Dana Soehn (865) 436-1207