Restoring huckleberry habitat as a cultural resource

On September 26th a large group of volunteers including Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians members, Forest Service and BLM employees and Rogue Native Plant Partnership volunteers converged on a recently burnt area just outside the town of Prospect in the High Cascades to help replant 1500 mountain huckleberry (Vaccinium membranaceum) plants.

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The area was burned during the 2017 Broken Lookout fire. The well-established plants were grown by the Forest Service’s nursery in Dorena from seed fortuitously collected onsite only two weeks before the Broken Lookout Fire started. This project is a collaboration between the Forest Service, the Cow Creek Band of Umpqua Tribe of Indians and the Rogue Native Plant Partnership to restore an important cultural food resource.

It was a brisk but beautiful day up in the mountains, and after a smudging ceremony led by members of the Cow Creek Tribe, everyone got their planting equipment ready and hiked into the burn area to get huckleberries into the ground. In addition, monitoring plots were surveyed as part of a multi-year effort to obtain data that will help develop an understanding of the success of the replanting efforts.  There are still 8000 more plants to go in the ground, with that work being completed by contractors at the time of writing.

Huckleberries continue to be an incredibly important cultural food resource for Native Americans, and so many community members and government agencies coming together to support the replanting efforts is a powerful acknowledgement of understanding the huckleberry’s cultural significance. Thank you to everyone who came out for this great replanting effort!

AUTHOR:

Lilia Letsch
Rogue Native Plant Partnership

 

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