National Park Service releases Environmental Assessment of plant gathering at Acadia National Park for public comment

BAR HARBOR, MAINE – The National Park Service released an Environmental Assessment (EA) of the gathering of sweetgrass for traditional purposes by enrolled members of the five federally recognized tribes in Maine.

The Houlton Band of Maliseet Indians, the Mi’kmaq Nation, the Passamaquoddy Tribes at Pleasant Point and at Indian Township, and the Penobscot Nation, referred collectively as the Wabanaki, are culturally affiliated with lands and waters of Acadia National Park. With the establishment of Acadia National Park in 1916, the land was placed under the policies and regulations of the National Park Service, which prohibited traditional tribal practices, such as gathering sweetgrass. The park is actively working with the Wabanaki to establish new and meaningful relationships that center around the reconnection of these lands with the Wabanaki.

In 2016, The National Park Service issued new regulations (36 CFR 2.6) allowing park units to negotiate and enter into agreements with federally recognized tribes for the gathering of plants or plant parts. Tribes must be federally recognized, have cultural affiliation with the park, and provide the park with information about the plants of cultural interest.

The park prepared the EA to evaluate potential effects from gathering sweetgrass by traditional tribal methods before entering into agreements with federally recognized tribes, as required by the regulation.

The EA examines two alternatives. Under the preferred alternative (alternative B), the five federally recognized tribes of Maine would enter into individual agreements with NPS to gather sweetgrass in ACAD for traditional purposes per 36 CFR 2.6. Gathering activities would take place under terms specified in each government-to-government agreement that will be developed between the Tribal Nation and NPS. Each Wabanaki Nation will administer sweetgrass gathering by members through a permitting system outlined in each agreement.

“Since 2015, park resource managers, tribal scientists and gathers have worked together to pilot a co-stewardship approach for sweetgrass harvesting in salt marshes,” said Acadia National Park Superintendent Kevin Schneider. “This environmental assessment allows for that pilot project to move to a deeper level through direct agreements with each of the Wabanaki tribes.”

Comments must be received by June 5, 2024, 11:59 p.m. Mountain Time. Comments may be submitted online at: or by mail. Mail comments to:

Acadia National Park
Attn: Plant Gathering EA Comments
PO Box 177
Bar Harbor, ME, 04609

Following the comment period, the regional director will make a final decision about the proposal.

Creating Co-Stewardship

In late December 2023, Acadia National Park marked a milestone for ongoing work with the Wabanaki Nations.

Read More