Environmental Review Toolkit
Water, Wetlands, and Wildlife

Oregon: Culturally-Sensitive Dogbane Transplanting, Inter- and Multi-Agency Collaboration, and Public Outreach

Photo showing road workers removing dogbane along OR99W north of Corvallis in Oklahoma.
Removal of dogbane along OR99W north of Corvallis

In 2009, the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) partnered with the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians to preserve and transplant a rare population of dogbane, a culturally significant plant to the Tribes. An ODOT archaeologist who volunteered his time for the project noted that the project benefited everyone involved and demonstrated a strong spirit of interagency cooperation.

Photo of workers preparing dogbane for transplant to new home in Oklahoma.
Preparing dogbane for transplant to new home

In 2007, Robert Kentta, Cultural Resource Director of the Confederated Tribes of Siletz Indians, notified (ODOT) archaeologists that an important traditional plant, dogbane (Apocynum cannabinum) was in an ODOT right-of-way along OR 99W, north of Corvallis, in Benton County. District 4 maintenance crews were spraying the dogbane with herbicide annually to maintain line-of-sight for drivers along a busy highway. Mr. Kentta expressed concern with this practice, as the Tribes have harvested dogbane for thousands of years. The plant is primarily processed into cordage for basketry, fish netting, and elk snares. The dogbane population along OR 99W is one of the few large, accessible dogbane populations in western Oregon.

Archaeologists and maintenance professionals agreed to not spray a 500-foot long section along the highway for one year to allow the dogbane to grow large enough to transplant to another location. During that year, archaeologists contacted 13 local, county, State, and Federal agencies to identify potential transplant sites that would allow the Tribes to safely maintain and harvest a healthy dogbane population. An ODOT archaeologist and Mr. Kentta met with representatives of the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife, the Benton County Natural Areas and Parks Department, and the Oregon Department of Parks and Recreation to discuss the transplant proposal and select appropriate transplant locations.

In March 2009, archaeologists and Mr. Kentta transplanted roughly 150 plants from the right-of-way to the selected wildlife area. The Tribes' youth group and students from Oregon State University in Corvallis were invited to participate in the transplant. An ODOT archaeologist and Tribal members will monitor the dogbane as it takes root in its new location. If it thrives in its new home, more plants may be transplanted to the same location or to other protected areas. ODOT is working with the Tribes to produce a short documentary, which will include interviews with Tribal elders and footage of the transplant, that will follow the dogbane from harvest to final product.

For more information, contact Kurt Roedel at kurt.roedel@odot.state.or.us.

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