Despite the visibility of natural resource use and access for indigenous and rural peoples elsewhere, less attention is paid to the ways that development patterns interrupt nontimber forest products (NTFPs) and gathering practices by people living in urbanizing landscapes of the United States. Using a case study from Lowcountry South Carolina, we examine how urbanization has altered the political-ecological relationships that characterize gathering practices in greater Mt. Pleasant, a rapidly urbanizing area within the Charleston-North Charleston Metropolitan area. We draw on grounded visualization—an analytical method that integrates qualitative and Geographic Information Systems (GIS) data—to examine the ways that residential and commercial development has altered collecting sites and practices associated with sweetgrass (Muhlenbergia sericea [Michx.] P.M. Peterson) and three other plant materials used in basket-making. Our analysis focuses on the ecological changes and shifts in property regimes that result; we detail the strategies basket-makers have developed to maintain access to sweetgrass and other raw materials. This research highlights how land development patterns have disrupted historic gathering practices, namely by changing the distribution of plants, altering the conditions of access to these species, and reconfiguring the social networking that takes place to ensure the survival of this distinctive art form.
Hurley, Patrick T.; Grabbatin, Brian; Goetcheus, Cari; and Halfacre, Angela, "Gathering, Buying, and Growing Sweetgrass (Muhlenbergia sericea): Urbanization and Social Networking in the Sweetgrass Basket-Making Industry of Lowcountry South Carolina" (2013). Environmental Studies Faculty Publications. 4.
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