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    Featured articles:
    A Tale of Two Cacti
    Dana M. Price & Martin Terry

    Button, button, who's got the button?
    Martin Terry

    Conservation of Lophophora in Mexico
    Martin Terry

    Flora of the Dead Horse Mountains
    Joselyn Fenstermacher


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asterias

Species preservation in action -- seed-grown star cactus under cultivation in Texas




OUTREACH TO POTENTIAL ALLIES




  Dr. Terry has had a catalytic role in forming working groups in the academic scientific community to focus world-class expertise in research designed to yield a deeper understanding of the plants and habitat the Institute seeks to conserve. See the description of these scientific programs to better appreciate the considerable effort that he is contributing.
   In an attempt to coordinate with nonscientific groups having an interest in the health of cactus populations in the natural range of star cactus, Dr. Terry accepted an unexpected invitation to address the officers and delegates of the Native American Church (NAC) of North America in Mirando City, Texas in February, 2004.
  The NAC's primary concern was the increasing scarcity of their sacrament, peyote, in its natural habitat in South Texas. Peyote has been commercially harvested to supply the NAC for over 100 years in this area.
  After Terry gave a brief introduction to his scientific research relevant to the conservation of peyote and star cactus, there was a lengthy discussion session, during which people in the audience brought up the fact that some of the NAC members were interested in cultivating their own supplies of peyote. Cultivation would reduce the harvesting pressure on the remaining wild populations of peyote.
  Others spoke of the possibilities for some of the wealthier Indian tribes purchasing their own acreage in South Texas, and managing such tracts as "extractive reserves" for the sustainable harvest of peyote for ceremonial use.
  While no clear consensus was reached on any of the topics that arose, the discussion showed that many NAC members were already thinking in terms of conservation options for reducing the Church's dependence on the shrinking supplies of peyote available through commercial channels.
   That led to an opportunity to go into further depth with the NAC of North America by speaking at their annual meeting at Crow Agency, Montana, in June, 2004. Both Martin Terry and Bennie Williams attended this meeting, and the reception they received in Montana was one of welcome and respect.
  Policy decisions of the NAC of North America are arrived at by thorough discussion.
  The NAC initiative to obtain regulatory approval to import peyote from Mexico occupied center stage at this meeting, but there was also considerable discussion of conservation options both in the public Q & A session following Terry's presentation, and in smaller groups during the breaks.
  Though the spectrum of opinion was as broad as the geographic and cultural diversity of the members present at the meeting, the unambiguous impression was that many NAC members are actively interested in innovative ways of substituting greenhouse production for the destructive overharvesting of wild populations.
  It is only through coming to a mutual knowledge and respect that the Institute has been able to suggest to the NAC, without adverse reaction, that the practice of obtaining star cactus from South Texas peyoteros is destructive, and that the recent affinity for buying whole peyote plants invites annihilation of that species.
   Dr. Terry has recently been contacted by the leader of a Texas Native American Church group who is interested in opening a dialogue with the DEA about the cultivation of peyote. CCI, in collaboration with this forward-thinking individual and an interested South Texas landowner, is now seeking funding for a matching funds grant from the USDA to study the application of standard agricultural techniques to maximize the production of peyote in its natural habitat in South Texas.






Lophophora in Oz

The seed-grown plant shown above was encountered under cultivation in Australia in 2003.
(Until 2008, peyote was legal to possess and to cultivate in that country. It still is in most of the world.)






Cactus Conservation Institute