Protecting a Unique Cultural Resource: The Emory Oak
Emory oak acorns (Quercus emoryi) are a critical component of Western Apache cultural heritage. Not only are the acorns a traditional source of food, but they also have cultural and ceremonial uses.
In recent decades, however, Apache elders have noticed the health of these special trees declining with fewer and fewer acorns produced each year, and with near absent younger trees and seedlings. Research has shown that drought, fire suppression, livestock grazing, species competition and climate change have all impacted the Emory oak population, preventing the new growth of younger trees and acorn production. Apache elders called for restoration and improved management on public lands for long term survival of the species and Western Apache culture.
In the fall of 2018, Resolution Copper began a multi-year partnership with the US Forest Service (USFS), consulting Western Apache tribes and Northern Arizona University (NAU) to form the Emory Oak Collaborative Tribal Restoration Initiative (EOCTRI), a conservation program to restore and protect Emory oak groves on public lands in Arizona.
Informed and guided by tribal elders’ traditional ecological knowledge, along with important new academic research conducted by NAU and funded by Resolution Copper, the partners are working together to protect and restore Emory oak groves in the Tonto and Coconino National Forests. Together, we are working to ensure these special trees thrive, for generations to come.