News Release

Environmental Assessment Finalized for Traditional Tohono O’odham Nation Plant Material Harvesting

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Date: June 4, 2018

Tucson, AZ – Following the establishment of the Tucson Mountain District of Saguaro National Monument in 1961 (later designated as a national park in 1994), the Tohono O’odham Nation and NPS staff worked together to support the traditional practices of harvesting saguaro fruit and cholla buds in alignment with their ancestral traditions. In 2016, a new rule created a framework for authorizing tribal harvest of plant materials by directing NPS units to specify proposed activities within an agreement. This was done to analyze impacts from the activities on park resources through an Environmental Assessment (EA).

The environmental compliance process for Saguaro National Park’s Plant Gathering for Traditional Purposes Environmental Assessment (EA) has been completed. A Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) has been signed by Sue E. Masica, Director of the National Park Service’s Intermountain Region. The park thanks all those who participated in the process.

The EA describes potential environmental impacts from traditional harvesting activities for saguaro cactus and cholla cactus by members of the Tohono O’odham Nation. The EA was available for public review and comment for 14 days and includes analysis of a No Action Alternative and a Preferred Alternative. The FONSI considers results from the assessment alongside comments from the public, affiliated tribes, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and Arizona’s State Historic Preservation Office. The Preferred Alternative was selected in the FONSI, which provides members of the Tohono O’odham Nation access to ethnographic plant resources while ensuring that park resources continue to be protected.

The EA and FONSI can be viewed on the National Park Service’s planning website (, Saguaro National Park’s website ( or by request at either of the park’s visitor centers: Red Hills Visitor Center at the Tucson Mountain District (west) or Rincon Mountain Visitor Center at the Rincon Mountain District (east).

Last updated: June 4, 2018

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