Park Service invites the public to comment on plant gathering

Purple Beardtongue (penstemon cobaea) growing near Buffalo Point.

The National Park Service (NPS) is requesting public comment of the Buffalo National River Plant Gathering for Traditional Purposes Environmental Assessment (EA). The purpose of this assessment is to evaluate the potential impacts of entering into an agreement with the Cherokee Nation to allow plant gathering for traditional purposes on the Buffalo National River. The park and the Cherokee Nation collaboratively prepared the EA, which is available for a 30-day public comment period. At the request of the Cherokee Nation, trusted information has been redacted.

The EA is available on the NPS Planning, Environment & Public Comment (PEPC) website through September 6.

How to Comment: There are three ways to comment during the public review period from August 2, 2019 through September 6, 2019:

By Mail to:

Buffalo National River

Attn. Plant Gathering Plan

402 N. Walnut, Harrison, AR 72601

Letters should be postmarked by September 6, 2019

Comments that merely support or oppose a proposal or that merely agree or disagree with NPS policy are not considered substantive. All commenters are encouraged to review the criteria for substantive comments below and respond accordingly.

Substantive comments are those that:

Question, with reasonable basis, the accuracy of the information in the NEPA document;

Question, with reasonable basis, the adequacy of the environmental analysis;

Present reasonable alternatives other than those presented in the NEPA document; or

Cause changes or revisions in the proposal. In other words, substantive comments raise, debate, or question a point of fact or analysis.

In August 2016, the National Park Service issued a new rulemaking regarding gathering plants for traditional uses. The rule, Gathering of Certain Plants or Plant Parts by Federally Recognized Indian Tribes for Traditional Purposes (36 CFR 2.6), provides guidance for parks to works with tribal partners to enter a formal agreements for the activities. As part of this process, the NPS must evaluate potential impacts under the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969. Plant gathering is otherwise prohibited within national park lands according to federal regulations (36 CFR 2.6).

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NPS Photo

Purple Beardtongue (penstemon cobaea) growing near Buffalo Point.

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