- Peet, Kristin
University of Maine Graduate School
Wetlands are important communities for tribes across the country. Many culturally important flora and fauna are found in wetland environments or associated with wetlands (ClT Wetland Management Plan, 2012). Many fish and wildlife species also use the riparian zones adjacent to wetlands as part of their habitat requirements and tribes value the importance of the "inner-connectedness" of these areas. The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has a long history of working with tribes to manage water quality and wetland resources. Many tribes have used EPA funding to create Wetland Program Plans of their own. The Penobscot Indian Nation (PlN) sought to develop a Wetland Program Plan for its territories. The thousands of acres of wetlands located within Penobscot Nation territory had minimal protection. PIN's Land Use Plan, which was developed in the late 1990's, and the recently revised Forest Management Plan, both state the need to protect wetlands through designated buffer distances. However, commercial development, individual building, and over- harvesting of aquatic plants and/or other resources were not addressed. Therefore, if the tribe as a whole or an individual tribal member wanted to utilize any wetland resource, there was no protection or regulations in place to oversee the process. Wetlands are also important habitat for wildlife species used for sustenance by Penobscot tribal members (e.g., moose, white-tailed deer, beaver and muskrat). PIN was interested in protecting these areas, not only for future tribal member use, but also for the species that are significant to the tribe. Additionally, many medicinal and traditional plants that are used by the Penobscot people are found in wetland habitats. Until now, there had been no documentation regarding where and in what numbers these plant species are found.