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EMAP from a Native American Perspective

Joanne Cornwall

Yakama Nation Environmental Management Program

Holistic resource management has been in practice by tribes since time immemorial. Tribal members consider the sum of the parts of an ecosystem with an inherent knowledge of the individual components. Conventional western science collects data from individual components and determines interrelationships. Challenges for modern tribal water resource managers is to integrate science and traditional knowledge, and to develop strategies for monitoring and assessment that are economically feasible, scientifically sound, and legally defensible while still respecting and accounting for cultural resources and to reconcile western science and policy with tribal needs.

The Environmental Monitoring and Assessment Program (EMAP) was designed to assess the health of ecosystems as a whole, and to determine status and trends. “Ecological status and trends data will allow decision makers to objectively assess whether or not the nations ecological resources are responding positively, negatively or not at all to existing or future regulatory programs” (Peck, Lazorchak, Klemm Western Pilot Study Field Operations Manual for Wadeable Streams). In this case the nation is the Yakama Nation and the decision makers are the Tribal Council.

EMAP encompasses biotic and abiotic ecosystem components which allow tribes to somewhat customize the field notes to cover culturally significant resources, since in most cases the sample survey is intensive enough on smaller scales to be statistically valid, and to allow for the gathering of cultural resource data simultaneously. For example; the visual riparian estimate field sheet can include codes for specific plants, and thalweg forms can note presence or absence of redds.

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