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Wednesday, 18 July 2012 13:50

Bringing back the native river cane

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out rivercaneRiver cane, a native type of bamboo that once grew in large stands along mountain rivers, has gotten a helping hand from at-risk youth at Oconaluftee Job Corps Center in the Smokies.

The native river cane, prized by the Cherokee for its traditional uses in basket-making and blow-guns, has been nearly lost throughout the region. Job Corp students have been solicited to help with ongoing efforts to repopulate stream banks with river cane, a project being done in conjunction with Western Carolina University and the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians.

Job Corp students have been getting their hands dirty this summer by pulling invasive weeds that are choking out river cane habitat from a stand that was planted on the grounds of Cherokee’s K-12 school.

“It’s good to take care of this resource and protect it,” said Samson Richardson, a Job Corp student, during a recent workday. “After today, I’ll look outside and wonder what plants should be there and what shouldn’t.”

Stands of river cane being replanted throughout the region will eventually serve as a source for traditional Cherokee crafts.

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