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Some Tribal Members Can Now Pick Plants In National Parks

(Photo courtesy of U.S. Department of the Interior)
Interior Secretary Sally Jewell

The federal government says tribes can now begin entering into agreements with the National Park Service to allow members to pick plants on protected land.

The new rule went into effect Thursday, after Interior Secretary Sally Jewell announced it in June. Under the rule, tribes must have a culturally significant tie to the land that makes up a national park in order for its members to forage the park’s foliage. And Native Americans or Alaskan Natives must use the plants for traditional reasons, such as using a root for medicinal purposes, or bark to make a basket.

There are 58 national parks in the United States, with some covering vast expanses within proximity to Native American reservations, including the Navajo Nation, the largest reservation in the country.

Associated Press contributed to this report.

When senior field correspondent Stina Sieg was 22, she moved to the desert. She hasn’t been the same since. At the time, the Northern California native had just graduated from college and was hankering for wide-open spaces. So she took a leap and wrote to nearly every newspaper in New Mexico until one offered her a job. That’s how she became the photographer for a daily paper in the small town of Silver City. And that’s when she realized how much she loved storytelling. In the years since, the beauty of having people open up and share their stories — and trust her to tell them — has never gotten old to Sieg. Before coming to KJZZ, Sieg was also a writer and photographer at newspapers in Glenwood Springs, Colorado; Moab, Utah; and the Smoky Mountains town of Waynesville, North Carolina. She always had her hand in public radio, too, including hosting Morning Edition on a fill-in basis at WNCW in North Carolina. It’s still the best music station she’s found. When she’s not reporting, chances are Sieg is running, baking, knitting or driving to some far-flung town deep in the desert — just to see what it looks like.