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Culturally-Sensitive Dogbane Transplanting and Inter- and Multi-Agency Collaboration

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Corvallis, Oregon

Background
The Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians notified the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) archaeologists that an important traditional plant, dogbane (Apocynum cannabinum) was in the right-of-way along OR 99W in Benton County. Dogbane has been harvested for thousands of years by Tribes for a variety of purposes including: cordage for basketry, fish netting, and elk snares. Cultural resource director for the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians, Robert Kentta states that, "people purposely try to eradicate dogbane." It is seen as a weed in the eye of many. Dogbane was being sprayed annually with herbicide by District 4 Maintenance crews to maintain line-of-sight for drivers along a bush highway. The dogbane along OR 99W are one of the few large accessible populations of dogbane in western Oregon. Tribal members collecting this culturally-significant resource dealt with traffic concerns, and processing dogbane stunted from herbicide applications and contaminated with herbicide.

Photo of crew in orange vests along side of highway digging up dogbane for relocation.
Removal of dogbane along OR 99W north of Corvallis.

Agreement
Archaeologists and Maintenance agreed to avoid spraying a 500-foot long section of highway for one year to allow the dogbane to grow large enough for transplant. During that time, archaeologists contacted 13 local, county, State, and Federal agencies to identify potential transplant locations that would allow the Tribes to safely maintain and harvest a healthy dogbane population. An archaeologist and Mr. Kentta met on-site with representatives of Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, Benton County Natural Areas and Parks, and Oregon Department of Parks and Recreation, to discuss the transplant proposal and select appropriate transplant locations.

In March 2009, archaeologists and Mr. Kentta transplanted about 150 plants from the right-of-way to the wildlife area. The Tribes youth group and students from Oregon State University in Corvallis were invited to participate. Tribal members monitored the dogbane over the next few months. More plants may be transplanted to the same location or to similar spots in other protected areas if the plant thrives in its new habitat. ODOT provided GPS coordinates to the Tribes and the Department of Fish and Wildlife to allow for improved management of the dogbane population. In addition, ODOT is preparing a documentary that will include an interview with Mr. Kentta, footage of the transplant, and interviews of Tribal elders as dogbane is harvested and processed into various products. The documentary will be available to the general public through ODOT's Archaeology Program website.

Updated: 07/11/2012
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