Conservation is essential to preserving natural resources.

The Cherokee people possess a long history of natural resource stewardship dating back thousands of years. The continued preservation of the Cherokee environment is increasingly challenging as our population grows. The EBCI Natural Resources Department is committed to maintaining, monitoring, and regulating actions that affect the purity and integrity of Tribal lands for generations to come.

Tribal offices responsible for the management of fish and wildlife resources include the EBCI Natural Resources Department and EBCI Natural Resources Enforcement. Legal guidelines relating to fisheries and wildlife conservation include Tribal hunting, fishing, and water quality protection ordinances; BIA Forest Management Plan regulations; and the federal Endangered Species Act of 1973.

Cherokee lands and waters support diverse communities of fish, mammals, birds, amphibians, reptiles, and invertebrates. This biological diversity is intricately tied to Cherokee culture, with thousands of species playing critical roles in subsistence, arts, medicine, ceremonies, and stories. Animals continue to play a critical role in Cherokee identity, as members of the Tribe remain fiercely committed to preserving their hunting, fishing, and wildlife viewing traditions.

Sustaining fish and wildlife populations, including all of their subtle and not-so-subtle interrelationships with the environment, is an integral part of maintaining Cherokee livelihood. Major threats to fish and wildlife include habitat loss and fragmentation, invasive species and disease, pollution, over-exploitation, and climate change. Meeting these modern challenges through the implementation of strategic conservation-planning initiatives will be critical for maintaining ecologically and culturally significant fish and wildlife populations.

Public Perceptions

Successful conservation of native species and their habitats isn’t possible without the understanding and support of the Cherokee community, and all guests on the Qualla Boundary. The difficult task of translating complex natural resource management issues to the community and Tribal leadership is critical in shaping and executing good policy. Tribal departments must play an active role in creating an ecologically literate population that understands the importance of biological diversity conservation and its role in maintaining community well-being. In turn, Tribal natural resource management must be shaped by an improved understanding of traditional Cherokee ecological knowledge and present-day cultural values. It’s a process, and one the EBCI Natural Resources Department remains passionately committed to.