BDN interviews doctoral candidate about sweetgrass harvesting research

The Bangor Daily News spoke with Suzanne Greenlaw, a doctoral candidate in the School of Forest Resources at the University of Maine, for the article, “Traditional sweetgrass harvest may return to Acadia National Park.” Sweetgrass is used for baskets, ceremonies and more, and is an important part of the cultural heritage of members of the Penobscot nation and the Passamaquoddy, Maliseet and Micmac tribes in Maine, according to the article. Wabanaki basket making continues as an art form, but harvesting sweetgrass isn’t as simple as it used to be. Gatherers often have to drive long distances to find it and when they do, accessing it is not guaranteed, the article states. “The majority of the older gatherers have stories of going to patches they had long gone to and being denied access, and even being threatened with guns or dogs,” Greenlaw said. Greenlaw is working on research she hopes will allow people to harvest sweetgrass in Bass Harbor Marsh within Acadia National Park. Last summer, gatherers harvested sweetgrass in test plots in the marsh. This year, Greenlaw and a research biologist with the United States Forest Service will see how the grasses are coming back in the plots. Wabanaki people believe that harvesting is not detrimental to sweetgrass, and the scientific research done so far seems to support the claim, the BDN reported.