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Volume 27
Number 3
Winter 2010-2011
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Integrating traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) into natural resource management
Perspectives and projects within western U.S. national parks
By Moran Henn, David Ostergren, and Erik Nielsen
Published: 4 Sep 2015 (online)  •  14 Sep 2015 (in print)
TEK project involvement
Project challenges
Project benefits
Conclusion and implications
About the authors
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Editor’s note: National Park Service policy for use of the best available science and the integration of traditional ecological knowledge in natural resource management are discussed in NPS Management Policies 2006, particularly at sections 4.1, 4.2.1, 5.1.1, and 5.2.

Not long ago in a remote grassland, a group of tribal elders, accompanied by a national park fire chief, botanist, and resource chief, gave a short prayer before setting fire to the meadow to help restore native vegetation and fight off invasive species. This fire was started and maintained with traditional methods, the same methods used by the tribe long before the designation of the park, or even the National Park Service. In another park unit more than 1,000 miles (1,609 km) away, selected park employees slog through a swamp, treading on Wapato (Sagittaria latifolia), a flowering plant also known as Indian potato that grows in shallow wetlands. To the uninformed spectator this act might seem ambiguous at best, but this activity is thousands of years old. Local tribal women shared the method with park employees to help propagate Wapato, now a threatened species in the park.

These two restoration projects are part of the National Park Service’s attempts to integrate traditional ecological knowledge to improve natural resource management. This research investigates the status and perceptions of TEK, an emerging and, we believe, underused source of knowledge that can help managers maintain natural resources and engage in meaningful tribal partnerships, especially in park units with a long history of tribal affiliation.

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This page updated:  22 February 2011

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From the Editor
In This Issue
Information Crossfile
Science Notes
Park Operations
Field Moment
Masthead Information
Building partnerships to restore an urban marsh ecosystem at Gateway National Recreation Area
Defining resource stressor syndromes in southwestern national parks
On the application of the cyberinfrastructure model for efficiently monitoring invasive exotic species
Greater sage-grouse of Grand Teton National Park
An innovative method for nondestructive analysis of cast iron artifacts at Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site, Pennsylvania
Sidebar: Hopewell Furnace
  Integrating traditional ecological knowledge (TEK) into natural resource management
The benefits of live interpretive programs to Great Smoky Mountains National Park
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