South Fork Tule River Watershed

South Fork Tule river
South Fork Tule River

       The Tule River is located in Tulare County in the southern Sierra Nevada and consists of the North, Middle, and South forks. The South Fork of the Tule River originates near Slate Mountain, in the Sequoia National Forest. The South Fork and its tributaries drain west through the Tule River Indian Reservation into Lake Success. The Tule River Indian Reservation was established in 1873 for the Yokut people of the Central Valley. The watershed encompasses 64,576 ac. and lies mostly within the reservation boundaryand the elevation ranges from 900 to over 9,200 ft. at Slate Mountain.  Vegetation includes Oak woodland, grassland, chaparral, as well as coniferous forests including giant sequoia groves.

       Given the exploitive history of tribal relationships with outside agencies (including scientists), access to the land has been limited, as is the case with many other tribal trust lands. Poorly documented plant diversity on tribal trust lands, including the Tule River Indian Reservation, speaks to the need for more collaboration between Native American communities and botanists to work towards an improved understanding of the California flora. The Native people have inhabited California for thousands of years and have shaped the landscape with their land management practices, including using burning as a technique to improve quantity and quality of plant materials and promote growth through the recycling of nutrients. Their intimate knowledge of and experience with the flora can augment our understanding of plant diversity as a whole. I hope to use my research of the South Fork Tule River watershed flora to encourage  improved relationships between the Native and scientific communities that will lead to ethical and effective collaboration.

One thought on “South Fork Tule River Watershed”

  1. Jessica, I enjoyed your presentation at the CNPS conference. You have a great opportunity to bridge the gap between the communities, and I appreciate your sensitivity to the issues that concern the reservation’s people. I am interested in the plants of the giant sequoia groves, and I am interested in the groves you have access to in the tribal lands. I would welcome conversation regarding the flora of the groves to the extent that it fits with tribal concerns and your sense of what is appropriate. Thanks!

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