Check out this incredible video created by our good friend and local filmmaker, Hannah Guggenheim, documenting the “We Love our Fishermen Lunch” on 2/8/2012.
WE LOVE OUR FISHERMEN! The Fish to Schools Program began as a vision at the 2010 Sitka Health Summit and with community support and leadership from the Sitka Conservation Society, we are now working with over half of students enrolled in the Sitka School District. This program is a component of our Community Sustainability efforts and we hope through this program we can begin to build a stronger, more resilient local food system. Fish to Schools ensures that students, whose families may not generally be able to afford local fish, have access to it directly through the school lunch program. These lunches provide a boost of nutrients and Omega 3 fatty-acids, supports the sustainable fisheries of Alaska, and validates the backbone of this community and culture.
On February 8, 2012, fishermen were invited to both Keet and Blatchley Middle Schools. They joined students for their bi-monthly local fish lunch, bringing with them stories from the sea, fishing gear, and photos to make the connection between this profession and the fish on their plates. Both schools plastered the cafeterias with student-made posters, cards, and valentines thanking fishermen for their contribution to the program. Fishermen led students around the cafeteria with lures, created a longline set in the middle of the lunch room, and generated a lot of hype around the lunches.
Sitka Conservation Society would like the individually thank the following groups and individuals for making this special lunch a success: Seafood Producers Coop, Sitka Sound Seafoods, Nana Management Services, Staff at Keet and Blatchley, Beth Short, Wendy Alderson, Lexi Fish, Hannah Guggenheim, Andrianna Natsoulas, Jason Gjertsen, Terry Perensovich, Doug Rendle, Sarah Jordan, Eric Jordan, Matt Lawrie, Spencer Severson, Jeff Farvour, Beth Short-Rhodes, Stephen Rhodes, Kat Rhodes, Scott Saline, Charlie Skultka, Kent Barkau, Lew Schumejda, Bae Olney-Miller, and Jeff Christopher.
This lunch coincided with the beginning of the “Stream to Plate” lesson series with seventh graders in Ms. Papoi’s science class. The first of five lessons introduced students to how fish are caught in SE Alaska through subsistence, sport, and commercial fishing methods. The class began “back in time” as AK Native, Charlie Skultka, shared with students traditional methods of fish harvest. With models and relics from the SJ Museum, he demonstrated how fish traps and halibut hooks worked. Roby Littlefield, coordinator of Dog Point Fish Camp and Tlingit language instructor at Blatchley, showed students photos of students actually participating in current subsistence traditions. She told stories from camp and demonstrated how these practices continue today. Following their presentation, local fishermen Beth Short-Rhodes, Steven Rhodes, Jeff Farvour, and Steven Fish, shared with students how they commercially fish for salmon, halibut, rockfish, and blackcod. Students had the opportunity to interview and ask guests questions in small groups, developing a relationship with community members in town. This week students will learn about the importance of conservation and sustainability in fishing and more specifically how the Tongass is a Salmon Forest.
Check out a cool Google Earth tour and photos of the section of Sitkoh River to be restored! The Sitka Conservation Society is partnering with the Tongass National Forest, Trout Unlimited, and the Alaska Dept. of Fish an Game to restore salmon habitat on a section of Sitkoh River that was damaged by past logging practices. The construction contract has been awarded and we are on-track for completing this work in the Summer of 2012. CLICK HERE FOR THE TOUR!
Dear Wisconsin Friends:
Greetings from Sitka, Alaska in the Tongass National Forest in Southeast Alaska. I hope that you can all get up here to visit sometime and see what an amazing place it is. You should definitely come and visit too because most of the land around here you own. That’s right, it is almost all public lands in the National Forest system so it is essentially yours!
The town that I have been living in for the last 6 years since I left Wisconsin is right on the coast of the Pacific Ocean. We have the ocean in front of town and mountains rising up in back. There are an infinite number of bays, fjords, island, and coves. It is a lot like the boundary waters area but with bigger mountains, temperate rainforests, salt water, and whales, sea lions, seals, killer whales, Brown Bears, and some glaciers. Most importantly, there are salmon!
The big issue I am working on right now is on protecting and restoring the Salmon on the Tongass. They were really damaged by awful and devastating clear-cut logging over the last few decades. This logging really impacted the ecosystems here and they are still healing. We are working diligently to restore the salmon streams. This is especially critical because my community and all the other communities in Southeast Alaska, depend on the salmon that come from the Forest. Commercial fishing, charter fishing, and subsistence fishing are all really important and is a core part of our way-of-life here.
The problem we are trying to fix right now is that the Forest Service is still spending about $30Million a year on timber harvest even through there is only about 150 jobs in timber. The fisheries and watershed budget on the Tongass, which is tasked with protecting and restoring salmon habitat, only gets $1.5 Million dollars, even though it employs over 4000 people. We want that funding to switch. We don’t want all timber harvest to go away… there is room for some logging. But the Tongass National Forest is really best managed to produce salmon.
I know that everyone in Wisconsin loves fish and I hope that you eat our Wild Alaska salmon. If you have, it probably comes from the Tongass.
I want to ask you to help us by writing to your Senator Kohl. He is on the committee that oversees that Forest Service budget. Next Thursday, he is going to be asking questions to the Forest Service chief. You can help us here by writing to the Senator and asking him to ask the Forest Service chief when they are going to shift funding on the Tongass to management for Salmon.
This would be an immense help for us and I think this is entirely doable. And I’ll also promise that if we are successful and your senator asks the Chief about the Tongass, I’ll come back to Wisconsin with a big cooler full of salmon and we’ll have a salmon Bar-be-Que at the church.
WRITE TO WISCONSIN SENATOR KOHL HERE: http://kohl.senate.gov/contact.cfm
If you write a letter, please send me a copy (make sure to put your address on it) so we can keep track and deliver them to him when fishermen from Alaska go to Washington to ask for this same budget shift. firstname.lastname@example.org
Here are some of the main points to mention:
- Over 35% of Salmon caught in the United States are born and spawn on the Tongass National Forest in Alaska
- Salmon fishing provides about six times as many jobs in the in the Tongass as the timber industry
- The Forest Service spends about $25 million on timber programs in the Tongass compared to $1.5 million on salmon stream restoration projects; those numbers need to be switched
- Senator Kohl is on the Budget Committee that oversees that National Forest Budget. He will be asking questions to the Forest Service chief on Thursday Febuary 17th. Tell Senator Kohl to ask the Forest Service chief when they are going to start to manage the Tongass for Salmon
You can get more information here: http://sitkawild.org/2012/01/action-alert-make-salmon-a-priority-updated/
The Tongass produces more salmon than all other National Forests combined. These salmon are a keystone species in the temperate rainforest ecosystems and hundreds of species depend on them– including humans. Salmon have been a food source in Southeast Alaska for thousands of years and continue to be the backbone of the economy. The salmon from the Tongass are a sustainable resource that can continue to sustain communities, livelihoods, and ecosystems well into the future– if we manage the land and waters correctly. The Forest Service is at a critical cross-roads right now in its “transition” framework as it moves out of Industrial Old Growth Logging and into more diverse and sustainable ways to create benefits from National Forest lands and resources. Because the Tongass is America’s Salmon Forest, and because Salmon are so important to all of us, we encourage the Forest Service to shift resources into the Tongass Fisheries and Watershed program and work to protect and restore salmon habitat and our salmon fisheries.
You can help us protect Tongass Salmon by taking action: here
Sitka Community Wilderness Stewardship Project
Expedition Grant Program
Description: The Community Wilderness Stewardship Project monitors the two Wilderness areas that the Sitka Conservation Society helped to create, the West Chichagof-Yakobi Wilderness and the South Baranof Wilderness. We conduct research expeditions to collect data ranging from botanical surveys to small mammal genetic mapping to glacial change research. These remote study areas are difficult and expensive to access. For this reason, we seek research partners to broaden the scope of the project and ensure that the trips are as effective as possible.
Ideal candidates for Expedition Grants would include partnerships with other institutions, organizations, or agencies; focus on priority sites within Wilderness areas; incorporate an outreach component; and include additional outside funding.
Location: Based out of Sitka, Alaska. Research must occur within West Chichagof-Yakobi Wilderness Area or South Baranof Wilderness Area.
Dates: May – December 2012
Proposals due by: May 1, 2012
Compensation: SCS may fund up to $1000
To Apply: Submit proposal* and cover letter to Adam Andis- email@example.com
* Research in Forest Service Wilderness Areas requires a special permitting process. SCS staff will help facilitate the research permit application, but it is the responsibility of the applicant to complete all necessary forms and work with the Sitka Ranger District to receive a temporary research permit for the project. See useful resources below.
Scientific Activities Evaluation Framework- Use this evaluation framework to apply for research permits. The actual application begins on page 54.
Guidelines for Scientists- The following guidelines are written for scientists who want to conduct scientific activities in
wilderness. These are only brief guidelines intended to help scientists understand and
communicate with local managers, thereby expediting the process of evaluating a proposal for
Expedition Grant Proposal 2011- Establishing Baseline and Groundtruthing Data within the West Chichagof-Yakobi Wilderness, Chichagof Island, Alaska
Project Proposal 2010- Glacial Change on Baranof Island: Quantifying Local-level Impact of Climate Change
Winter doesn’t slow down field science in Sitka! The four Sitka High School students and their mentors in the Science Mentor Program are in the full swing of their projects. In the photo at left, Justine is measuring tree diameters to quantify the forest stand where she is collecting soil samples. She will then conduct genetic analyses of microbial fungal communities in the soil. Sarah and Tahnee are mapping habitat types that are critical for deer overwintering survival in Starrigavan Valley. And Spencer is learning statistical tests for calculating fish stocks. Follow our progress on the blog
Listen to a live radio broadcast of the Sitka Conservation Society’s Fish to Schools Program. This program exemplifies our commitment to community sustainability by connecting students to local, healthy, and affordable seafood. Twice a month students are served local fish for lunch at Keet Gooshi Heen, Blatchley Middle School, and now Pacific High. To supplement the program, third and seventh grade students participate in a “Stream to Plate” curriculum, learning the story behind their lunch.
On this KCAW morning interview, Sitka students, Grace Gjertsen (3rd grade), Zofia Danielson (6th grade), and Sienna Reid (7th grade), join Beth Short and Tracy Gagnon to talk about the local fish lunches. These three students typically bring a lunch from home, but on the second and fourth Wednesday of the month, they stand in line for local fish. They share fishermen valentines and tell us why these lunches are so special. Check out the radio broadcast here.
In June of 2012, members of Wrangell’s Boy Scout Troop 40 joined forces with the Southeast Alaska Conservation Council (SEACC), the Sitka Conservation Society (SCS), the United States Forest Service and local volunteers to help remove invasive plants from the Stikine-LeConte Wilderness Area. The objective of the trip was to remove the aggressive reed cannery grass from the banks of the Twin Lakes by hand pulling the plants as well as covering areas with sheets of black plastic. The group also helped remove an enormous amount of buttercups and dandelions from the lakes’ shoreline.
However, the ultimate goal of the trip was to teach the Boy Scouts what it means to be good stewards of the land and the value of Wilderness areas like the Stikine. What better way is there to teach this lesson then to spend five days in the Wilderness learning these lessons first hand from the land and from each other?
After five days in the field, Troop 40 decided to adopt the Twin Lakes area as their ongoing stewardship project. They plan to return in the coming years to continue the work that they’ve started. It is community dedication like this that the Stikine and other wilderness areas require in order to remain pristine for future generations.
Dear Sitka Conservation Society,
Thank you for bringing fish into our school, Pacific High School. You are not only forging a new path in the National School Lunch Program, you are changing the system. Each fish you provide to the schools in the district enriches our student’s nutrient profile as well as connecting them to their food source. Thank you for making Pacific High School’s Lunch Program the best it can be. The Fish to School Program supports an educational program that is in alignment with PHS’ belief in connecting each student to their surrounding environment and foodshed. We look forward to forging a lasting relationship between Fish to Schools and PHS for years to come.
School Lunch Coordinator