Sitka Conservation Society
Andis

About Andis

Adam Andis, Wilderness Stewardship and Outreach Coordinator, spends the summer traipsing in the Tongass for the Community Wilderness Stewardship Project. During the winter he engages the community in all things SCS. He has a B.S. in Environmental Studies from Northland College, is an ACA Kayak instructor, Wilderness First Responder, Leave No Trace Master Educator, Director of the National Wilderness Stewardship Alliance, and a wicked crossword puzzler.

Jun 23 2014

Subsistence in Wilderness

The day we headed out from Hoonah was like most days in Southeast Alaska. Grey clouds diffused the light and an almost imperceptible rain left everything damp.  We were headed to the Inian Islands, a cluster of knobby isles on the western end of Icy Strait, just inside the entrance to Cross Sound.  Our trip held a dual mission: to conduct volunteer wilderness monitoring for the Forest Service and to gather traditional subsistence foods for the Hoonah locals on the trip: Owen James and Gordon Greenwald, our boat captains and wizened culture-bearers, two young men named Randy and Sam, and another adult volunteer, Kathy McCrobie.

The Inians along with two other large islands make up the Pleasant/Lemesurier/Inian Island Wilderness.  The PLI Wilderness is one of 19 areas within the Tongass National Forest designated as Wilderness, the highest form of protection public lands can receive. The islands are also historic gathering and hunting grounds of the Huna Tlingit, the native tribe who call this section of northern Southeast Alaska home.  Because the Inians are close to the open sea, they are rich with unique flora and fauna. A trip to these distant islands is an opportunity to collect delicacies not common in interior waters near Hoonah.  For instance, one of our subsistence targets was black seaweed, a species that thrives in the cold, wave washed intertidal zone of the outercoast, but is rarely found more than a few miles into the Southeast archipelago.

The Inian Islands are the perfect spot to collect black seaweed, a species that thrives in the cold, wave washed intertidal zone of the outercoast, but is rarely found more than a few miles into the Southeast archipelago.

The two students on the trip, Randy and Sam, collect seaweed which will be dried once they return to Hoonah.

It is easy to see why the Inian Islands have become a prime destination for recreation and tourism, as well as subsistence.

 

The outside waters can be a harsh place in the summer and downright inhospitable in the winter.  Although the Huna Tlingit are seasoned open ocean travelers and motorized skiffs make the 40-mile journey from the village of Hoonah to the islands much more manageable than a Tlingit canoe, it is still a sizable trip for locals. The same factors—difficult access and a short season—also make it difficult for the Forest Service Wilderness Rangers who are headquartered in Hoonah, to access these areas that they are tasked with managing and protecting.

On the first day of our trip we arrived at the Inian Islands after a few hours of skiffing over unusually calm waters.  Our first stop was at lowtide on a rocky beach, the perfect habitat for Black Katy chitons, one of the traditional foods commonly called Gumboots which we hoped to return with.

Black Katy chiton (Katharina tunicata) is a traditional food, commonly called Gumboots.

Owen instructs the students on the art of Gumboot hunting.

After the Gumboots have been collected, they are typically canned for preservation and storage.

Gumboots live in the intertidal zone, and are particularly susceptible to contamination from development and timber harvest. Wilderness designation ensures that these fragile ecosystems and the subsistence foods within will be protected in perpetuity.

The beach also looked like it could be a prime camping area, so while the rest of the crew flipped rocks and pried unsuspecting chitons from their hiding spots, I headed up the beach to look for recreational impacts.  Monitoring impacts from visitors is one of the tasks the Forest Service has asked us to assist with.  Wilderness areas are intended to preserve nature in its wildest state, but trash, campfire rings, and other signs of previous visitors detract from the wild character of these places.  Also, once a site has been impacted, the trend is a downward slope to a trashed site.  To prevent cumulative impact, we check known campsites and cleanup and naturalize any human traces we find.  Fortunately, this site was in the same condition it’s probably been in since it was uncovered by the glacier, so I spent some time flipping rocks and adding to the gumboots collection.
As the tide neared its apex, Gordon pointed out a small rock island set apart from the larger Inian Islands.  For generations, this rock had been the prize destination for Huna families.  Set far from land and too small to support trees, the rock is the perfect nesting ground for seabirds like gulls and cormorants and we had timed our trip perfectly to harvest the new eggs.  As we approached the rock in skiffs, Gordon and Owen explained the protocol: as the swell surges, we run the skiff up to the rock, one person jumps off, and he pulls the bow away before the swell drops the boat onto the shore, then reset and try again for the next person.  Before they maneuvered the skiffs toward the rock, they carefully taught the boys the traditional method to appropriately harvest the eggs. If done in an ecologically responsible way, these practices will be able to continue forever.  (Learn more about the regulation regarding egg collection by Alaskan Natives).

For generations, this small rock island within the Inian Islands has been a prize destination for Huna families seeking sea gull eggs.

As we approached the rock in skiffs, Gordon and Owen explained the protocol: as the swell surges, we run the skiff up to the rock, one person jumps off, and he pulls the bow away before the swell drops the boat onto the shore, then reset and try again for the next person.  Once on the rocks, Gordon instructed Sam and Randy to only take eggs from nests with multiple eggs, always leaving one behind.

“As we approached the rock in skiffs, Gordon and Owen explained the protocol: as the swell surges, we run the skiff up to the rock, one person jumps off, and he pulls the bow away before the swell drops the boat onto the shore, then reset and try again for the next person.”

Sam was the first to make the jump.  The birds immediately erupted in a cacophony of squawks and feathers. Randy and I traded apprehensive glances.  I made an excuse that I needed to pack my camera gear in drybags before I could jump…really I just wanted one more chance to see how it was done.  Randy landed an impressive leap, despite receiving a bootfull of water.  I followed him up the rock.  As a non-Native, without subsistence rights to the eggs, my job was to enjoy the view.  Blankets of birds flapped above us.  The few green tufts of grass made a stark contrast to the guano-bleached stone and the blue-grey sky and water.  It took no time for Sam and Randy to collect plenty of eggs to share with family and elders back in Hoonah.  With concentration, steady boat handling, and good timing, we all made it safely back aboard the skiffs.

“Blankets of birds flapped above us. The few green tufts of grass made a stark contrast to the guano-bleached stone and the blue-grey sky and water. It took no time for Sam and Randy to collect plenty of eggs to share with family and elders back in Hoonah.”

“I was impressed with the way Owen and Gordon pointed out new landmarks to the two young men. Every remark about a headland or bay included not only geographical references, but also historical, cultural, and subsistence context.”


As the day went on, I was impressed with the way Owen and Gordon pointed out new landmarks to the two young men.  Every remark about a headland or bay included not only geographical references, but also historical, cultural, and subsistence context.

That night, while we ate chowder made with local salmon, smoked octopus and cockles, I reflected on the education Randy and Sam had inherited on this trip.  I have no doubt that they were more interested in learning about hunting spots, edible shellfish, and traditional stories than they were about the Wilderness land designation of their home.  But, I would like to think that by relating the cultural values and subsistence practices of the Inian Islands along with the Wilderness values that will continue to protect this place for those practices, they have a better chance of retaining a favorable perspective of public lands, too.

In the end, the idea and values of Wilderness are stories, stories that must be repeated and retold to maintain their relevance.  Gordon and Owen have endeavored to pass those stories to Hoonah youth.  My esteem and thanks goes out to them for including the value of respect for public lands in the stories they tell.

May 23 2014

Fish Need Trees, Too

SCS Board Member, Brendan Jones recently published an article in the New Your Times: “Fish Need Trees, too.” detailing the Forest Service’s poor management of resources in Southeast Alaska,  putting giant, ecologically destructive clear-cuts over protecting habitat for salmon–the backbone of the Southeat Alaskan economy.

Brendan writes:

This year, though, the fishing fleet in southeast Alaska will work under the shadow of an announcement by the United States Forest Service that it intends to approve the Big Thorne timber sale, which would allow the logging industry to harvest about 6,200 acres of remnant old-growth trees in Tongass National Forest, the world’s largest remaining temperate rain forest. It would be the most destructive old-growth cut in the forest in the past 20 years.

You can help.

Sign the Petition below: Tell Alaska’s senators to put pressure on the Forest Service to prioritize our salmon and stop support out-dated logging projects.

Write a Letter: Ask the Forest Service and Senators to make better decisions about our public lands and start judging success by counting the number of jobs and economic gains of salmon production rather than the number of board feet.

Donate: We are a small organization fighting to protect a very large forest.  We rely on our members and supporters.


Remind the Forest Service that Fish Need Trees, too!













Greetings,

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Your message will be delivered to Senators Begich and Muskowski, Undersecretary Robert Bonnie, Chief of the Forest Service Tm Tidwell, and Regional Forester Beth Pendleton.

May 23 2014

Wilderness Volunteers Needed: Summer 2014

Interested in volunteering with the Community Wilderness Stewardship Project?  This year we’ll have a number of opportunities for you to get into the field with SCS staff and USFS Wilderness Rangers to help collect monitoring data, remove invasive weeds, and enjoy our amazing Wilderness areas.

Below are the trips and dates with spots available for volunteers.  To volunteer, fill out the forms and safety information here, and email them to adam@sitkawild.org and mike@sitkawild.org.

 

Baird Islands – 5 days – June 16 to June 20 – 1 volunteer

Have you ever wanted to explore the wilds of West Chichagof?  SCS is looking for one volunteer to accompany an expedition to the Baird Islands in West Chichagof Wilderness.  The volunteer will assist SCS and Forest Service staff monitory visitor use, conduct invasive plant surveys, and act as a volunteer Wilderness Ranger. Logistics for the trip will include skiff travel to and from the Baird Islands and kayaking and camping while in the field.

 

Cordova Bay – 6 days – June 24 to June 29* – 1-2 volunteers

*Final dates still to be determined.
Cordova Bay on Prince of Wales Island is inside of the South Prince of Wales Wilderness Area.  For this expedition, SCS staff and volunteers will be dropped off in the bay by float plane with folding kayaks.  After assembling the kayaks, the crew will survey the bay for invasive plants and monitor visitor use patterns.  Return to Sitka will be by float plane.

 

White Sulfur – 8 days – July 15 to July 22nd – 4-5 volunteers

In partnership with the Sitka Ranger District Trail Maintenance crew, volunteers will travel to White Sulfur hotsprings, a popular destination in West Chichagof-Yakobi Wilderness area.  Task will include assisting with trail work, recording visitor use, and inventorying and naturalizing campsites.  Travel to and from the field site will be by boat.

 

Rakof Islands – 5days – July 7 to July 11 – 1 volunteer

Each summer the Tongass National Forest select Artists in Residence to join Wilderness Rangers in the field.  Volunteers on this trip will join USFS Rangers and the Artist in Residence in the Rakof Islands of South Baranof Wilderness area.  The crew will be transported by boat to the field site and continue by kayak before a boat trip back to Sitka.

 

Slocum Arm – 7 days – Jul 22 to July 29 – 2 volunteers

Working with Adventurers and Scientists for Conservation and SCS, volunteers will travel to West Chichagof-Yakobi Wilderness Area to install long-term stream monitoring stations.  The crew will be transported to and from the field site by boat and then use kayaks to access monitoring sites.

 

Other trips throughout the summer.

As the summer progresses, we will be developing a number of other expeditions with exciting volunteer opportunities.  Stay up to date on all of the announcements by signing up for our e-newsletter.

May 13 2014

Sail West Chichagof and support SCS

Chichagof Island – the name alone can quicken the pulse of anybody from Sitka.

Home to the 265,000 acre West Chichagof-Yakobi Wilderness, it has a coastline only 8 miles shorter than all of the Hawaiian Islands together!

Shee Kaax (Chichagof Island) is the fifth largest island in the United States and the 109th largest island in the world, (In case you were wondering, the island of Bali is number 108) with a coastline that measures 742 miles long. It is 2080 square miles. It’s big AND wild – and you need to see it.

SCS is delighted to once again team up with SCS members Blain and Monique Anderson of Sound Sailing to offer members a once-in-a-lifetime trip to experience (and help protect) this island from the comfort and excitement of a big and beautiful sailboat.

SCS members now have the opportunity for an unbelievable adventure AND can support the Sitka Conservation Society at the same time.  When you book a trip to West Chichagof on the S/V Bob, Sound Sailing will donate a portion of the fare to SCS to help fight for Wilderness protection for this critical wildlife habitat.


 Highlights from the last two summers included watching and photographing Alaskan brown bears as they fished for salmon in the streams and on the beaches, experiencing whales breaching and hearing them trumpet their thundering songs.

Ben Hamilton shoots footage for The Meaning of Wild aboard the S/V Bob.

We had Dall’s porpoise fire across our bows and play with us on crystal waters. We hoisted white sails through Inian Pass and rode the powerful currents to George Island where we hiked the abandoned WW2 fortifications and peered at the open Pacific from towering cliffs.  We photographed elfin orchids and visited unique quaint Elfin Cove – a boardwalk fishing village with a great story. We hiked the primordial forests and kayaked through pristine waters.

Capt. Blain told us, “SCS members are more than welcome aboard any trip we run this summer, including Juneau to Glacier Bay, Haines to Juneau, Sitka to Petersburg, and many other trips. Active members are eligible for a 10% discount on any trip we sail”. When asked “Why SCS members? “, Blain stated, “We enjoy hanging out and exploring with them. They love to explore, hike, and kayak, and can be easily entertained in a muskeg.”

“Seriously, we want to give back to SCS for their strong advocacy of wild places in Southeast Alaska, and as a company dependant on unspoiled and intact landscapes and ecosystems, we strongly support the mission of SCS,” said Blain.

All of their trips feature our Alaskan Wilderness Areas on Chichagof, Admiralty, and Baranof islands as well as mainland and lesser known island Wilderness Areas. These incredible trips culminate in the end-of-the-season outer coast trip. This “round Chichagof” trip lets SCS members have the opportunity for an unbelievable adventure AND supports the Sitka Conservation Society at the same time. Blain and Monique have offered to make a sizeable donation of the proceeds from this trip!

Their sailboat – S/V BOB – is a 50-foot sloop with 4 large queen-sized berths that  sleeps 6, plus the two Andersons, very comfortably. They carry all the trappings to make any trip amazing, including shrimp and crab pots, fishing poles for salmon and halibut, kayaks to explore the quiet bays and anchorages, and a well-appointed galley with meals and beverages customized to your requests.

Both Blain and Monique are great cooks, and they specialize in artfully prepared freshly caught seafood dishes and homemade desserts. Special diets are no problem for them, and they can happily adjust ingredients to accommodate nearly any food preferences.

For more information on Sound Sailing, the boats, or the other trip offerings this season, please check out www.soundsailing.com, or call Capt. Blain at (907) 887-9446. But call soon, trips are quickly filling up.

Apr 28 2014

2014 Parade of Species

Thanks to everyone who attended the 13th Annual Parade of Species!

The Parade of Species is an annual celebration of Earth Day organized by the Sitka Conservation Society.  Families are invited to dress up as their favorite plant or animal and swim, slither, fly, or trot through town.  Community partners offer games and activities after the parade and donate prizes for “Best Costume” contest winners.

SCS would especially like to thank the following organizations and individuals who donated their time and resources for the activities after the parade:

  • Alaska Department of Fish and Game: Troy Tydingco & Patrick Fowler
  • Park Service: Ryan Carpenter, Christina Neighbors, Kassy Eubank-Littlefield, Anne Lankenau, Andrea Willingham, Jasa Woods & Janet Drake
  • Kayaani Commission: Judi Lehman & Erin Rofkar
  • Forest Service: Marty Becker & Perry Edwards
  • Sitka Tribe of Alaska/Herring Festival: Jessica Gill & Melody Kingsley
  • Sitka Sound Science Center: Madison Kosma, Ashley Bolwerk, Michael Maufbach & Margot O’Connell
  • Kettleson Memorial Library: Tracy Turner
  • Cooperative Extension: Jasmine Shaw
  • Stream Team: Wendy Alderson, Amy Danielson, Nora Stewart, Al Madigan, & Levi Danielson
  • 4H: Mary Wood
  • Fish to Schools: Jess Acker
  • Harry Race: prize tokens to soda fountain
  • Botanika Organic Spa: delicious earth-friendly treats

 

Apr 17 2014

Karta River: Classroom in the Wilderness

Think back to those boring days during school, when you would tune out the teacher’s voice, stare out the window, and daydream about being outside. Well, if you were a student at Craig High School, no dreaming would be necessary.

Students load up and batten down for the skiff ride to Karta River Wilderness on Prince of Wales Island.

For the past few years, Wilderness Rangers with the Forest Service have been working with classes at Craig High School to develop monitoring projects that get kids out, into the field, doing real research in designated Wilderness Areas.

The curriculum is part of the Marine Biology class and Alaska Natural History class in alternate years. Students design monitoring projects, using data from previous years. Projects include phenology studies of False Hellebore, measuring fork lengths of salmon smolt, testing amphibians for Chytrid fungus, camera trapping large mammals, and any other indicator students plan into a study. Along with the research, the students learn about the management of designated Wilderness areas and work through the process of applying for research permits. The goal is that by the end of the semester, the students will have all of the practical experience needed to conduct professional field research—and hopefully open doors to new careers and develop an appreciation of Wilderness along the way.

Designated in 1990, the Karta is one of the more recent additions to the national Wilderness preservation system.

The defining feature of the Wilderness is the 5-mile long Karta River that drains Karta Lake.

Last year, I had the opportunity to participate in the class through the magic of video-teleconferencing. Stanford PhD candidate Lauren Oakes and I talked to the students about our work and answered questions. This year, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to join the class in the field for two consecutive days.

Getting to the Karta Wilderness, like most Wilderness Areas in Southeast, is not an easy task. We drove from Craig to Hollis on the eastern side of Price of Wales Island. There, we met the students at the dock, donned floatcoats, and loaded up in the Forest Service skiff after a safety briefing. The skiff ride to the Karta River takes about 40 minutes.

The crew of students from Craig High School arrives at the beach and prepares to hike into their test plots.

The drainage of a beaver pond adjacent to the river, a popular spot for the students’ study plots.

On the beach, teacher Ashley Hutton gave succinct instructions to the students, “This is your project, you know what to do, you are the researchers, so now it’s up to you.” She also made the valuable point, “We’re in a Wilderness area. If your equipment breaks, that’s just part of doing field research–you’ll just have to roll with it and adjust your project as needed.” With that, the students took off to collect the requisite data, set overnight traps, and explore.

I helped two groups of students, one pair collecting stream quality data (dissolved oxygen, pH, salinity, and macro invertebrate surveys) and one pair testing amphibian populations for the problematic Chytrid fungus. While they conducted their tests, I asked them what they planned to do after highschool. The answers varied: diesel mechanic, fisheries biologist, Armed Forces. Thinking back to myself at that age (vacillating between aspirations to be a college professor or punk-rock drummer depending on the day), I realize that these students will likely change their future plans wildly in coming years. But the experiences they’ve gained from this class—appreciation and understanding of Wilderness, practical and marketable research skills, resiliency when things don’t go quite as planned—will grant them more options, more realistic expectations, and more perspective toward whatever paths their future holds.

Two students collect data on water quality in the Karta River.

Students not only gain experience from hands-on practice, but also by teaming up with professionals. Here, a team of students works with Sarah Brandy, a fisheries biologist with the Forest Service.

The data the students collect will inform real-world research. This student swab a rough skinned newt. The sample will be sent to a lab at Indiana University and will help map the spread of a deadly amphibian disease, Chytrid fungus, across the continent.

The Rough-skinned newt is one of only a handful of amphibians that can survive as far north as Southeast Alaska.

These students had no problem finding newts in the outlet to the beaver pond.

Students check minnow traps set by the previous day’s group to study salmon smolt.

Once the students finished collecting data, they had the opportunity to enjoy the Wilderness setting.

An “unofficial” aquatic vertebrate survey…

The community of Craig, Alaska.

 

SCS’s involvement in Wilderness stewardship, including the Craig HS class, is made possible thorough a grant from the National Forest Foundation.  Founded by Congress in 1991, the National Forest Foundation works to conserve, restore and enhance America’s 193-million-acre National Forest System.

Mar 26 2014

The Meaning of Wild available

If you are not automatically redirected, please click HERE.

Mar 04 2014

DC Environmental Film Festival

We are very excited to announce that The Meaning of Wild has been accepted to the DC Environmental Film Festival!

Please join us for the event March 20th at 6:30pm at the Yates Auditorium (address below).

Washington, D.C. Premiere The Meaning of Wild is a documentary film that takes viewers on a journey through one of our nation’s most wild and pristine landscapes – The Tongass National Forest of Southeast Alaska. The film follows wildlife cameraman Ben Hamilton as he travels by boat, plane, kayak and foot to capture and share the true value of Wilderness. Along the journey Ben encounters bears, calving glaciers, ancient forest, and harsh seas but it’s the characters he meets along the way that bring true insight to his mission. Filmed in stunning HD,The Meaning of Wild, highlights never before captured landscapes while provoking reflection about their importance to us all. Ultimately The Meaning of Wild celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act and seeks to share these national treasures and inspire the next generation of wilderness advocates.

Introduced by Peggy O’Dell, Deputy Director for Operations, National Park Service. Discussion with filmmakers Ben Hamilton and J.J. Kelley follows screening.

Shown with YOSEMITE: A GATHERING OF SPIRIT (Ken Burns)

Background: Sitka Conservation Society has been partnering with the USDA Forest Service for over 5 years to monitor and steward Wilderness areas in the Tongass.  Part of SCS’s mission is to educate and inspire community members to take care of their local public lands through projects like the Meaning of Wild.

This film was made possible through support from the Forest Service, Sitka Conservation Society, and the contributions of over 100 community members all of whom we would like to thank for making this film a reality.

Ticket/Reservation Info:

FREE. No reservations required.

U.S. Department of the Interior
Yates Auditorium
1849 C St., NW
(Metro: Farragut West)

Feb 15 2014

Protect West Chichagof

Designating land as Wilderness is the ultimate step to ensuring its protection in the long-term.  Wilderness designation protects critical habitat from mining, logging, and development while still allowing people to use the land for hunting, fishing, subsistence gathering, recreating, and even making a living from guiding and operating tours.

Wilderness was integral to SCS’s formation and we’ve maintained that commitment to Wilderness ever since.  You can see the whole story of SCS’s formation in the short documentary Echoes of the Tongass.  But the short story is that in the 1960s large, industrial pulp mills were clear-cutting huge swaths of the Tongass with no end in sight.  A small group formed in Sitka to fight the rampant logging surrounding their home.  They saw the recent passage of the Wilderness Act in 1964 as a way for them to protect at least some of the Tongass.  They drafted a proposal to designate the western third of Chichagof Island as Wilderness because of its diverse habitats, intact old-growth forests, and pristine wildlife habitats.  It took 13 years of effort, but in 1980, the West Chichagof Wilderness became the first citizen initiated wilderness in Alaska.

Original proposal for West Chichagof Wilderness

Through the politics of the designation process, the extractive interest groups for the timber and mining lobby managed to carve large sections of some of the best habitat out of the designated land.  Some of those excluded parcels like Ushk Bay and Poison Cove are currently being managed for logging.  As the Forest Service puts it, these areas are managed for “Intense Development” which means they “Manage the area for industrial wood production…and maximum long-term timber production.”

These areas were excluded because they are the best, most iconic old-growth rainforests in the world and provide habitat for important species like the coastal brown bear, Sitka deer, and pacific salmon.  Unfortunately, that also means that they are the areas where clear-cut logging is cheapest and easiest.

Area excluded from Wilderness proposal

Ushk Bay, currently managed for “industrial wood production”

Poison Cove, currently managed for “industrial wood production”

But, since the 60s, the pulp mills have closed their doors.  Nowadays, the timber industry only employs about 200 jobs.  Our economy in Southeast Alaska has shifted to tourism and fishing which employ 10,200 and 8,000 jobs and contribute almost $2 Billion to the economy annually.  Wilderness designation directly benefits tourism and fishing because it preserves both the habitat, which salmon need for spawning, and  viewsheds the tourists flock to Alaska to see.

This year the Wilderness Act is 50 years old and we think it is a perfect time to finish the job our founders began almost a half century ago to designate ALL of West Chichagof as Wilderness.  Please join us by sending a note of your support to our senators using the form below.


Ask Senators Begich and Murkowski to Fulfill Wilderness Designation in West Chichagof













Dear Senator,

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Feb 12 2014

The Meaning of Wild, March 9th in Sitka

SCS will present the Sitka premiere of The Meaning of Wild Sunday, March 9, 2014 from 6-8pm at the Sitka Performing Arts Center.  Tickets $7 available at Old Harbor Books (2/14/2014). Free for kids 10 and under.

The film will be accompanied by a selection of wilderness-themed short films,  a photography exhibit and silent auction, and door prizes.

 

The Films:

Meaning of Wild (25:00)

Film by Ben Hamilton, Pioneer Videography

The Meaning of Wild takes viewers on a journey through one of our nation’s most wild and pristine landscapes – The Tongass National Forest of Southeast Alaska.  The film follows wildlife cameraman Ben Hamilton as he travels by boat, plane, kayak and foot to capture and share the true value of Wilderness.   Along the journey Ben encounters bears, calving glaciers, ancient forest, and harsh seas but it’s the characters he meets along the way that bring true insight to his mission. The film highlights never before captured landscapes while provoking reflection about their importance to us all. Ultimately The Meaning of Wild celebrates the fiftieth anniversary of the Wilderness Act and seeks to share these national treasures and inspire the next generation of wilderness advocates.  Visit the Meaning of Wild website.

Background: Sitka Conservation Society has been partnering with the USDA Forest Service for over 5 years to monitor and steward Wilderness areas in the Tongass.  Part of SCS’s mission is to educate and inspire community members to take care of their local public lands through projects like the Meaning of Wild.

This film was made possible through support from the Forest Service, Sitka Conservation Society, and the contributions of over 100 community members all of whom we would like to thank for making this film a reality.

Big Bear Country (26:11)

Film by Ben Hamilton, Pioneer Videography

Follow wildlife biologist Jon Martin, big game guide Kevin Johnson, conservationist Andrew Thoms and filmmaker Ben Hamilton as they travel by foot and packraft through the rich habitats of West Chichagof Wilderness.  The team seeks out the coastal brown bear, a keystone species, to unravel the importance of protecting large tracks of intact habitat for wildlife population.  Their journey takes them through the Lisianski-Hoonah Sound corridor, an area proposed but ultimately removed from the original citizen-intiated Wilderness proposal and a prime wildlife area, and over the Goulding Lakes, within the Wilderness boundary.  Prepare yourself—you’re about to enter into Big Bear Country.

Running Wild (4:00)

Film by Alexander Crook

Getting out into wilderness, feeling the moss underfoot, legs pumping uphill, breathing clean air, and taking a minute to reflect at the top of a climb—these are the things that inspire backcountry trailrunner Nick Ponzetti to travel to designated Wilderness areas.  Follow Nick on a run through the heart of Wilderness to find out how his love of running has inspired a passion for protecting wild places.

Tongass Wilderness, Our Wilderness (1:06)

Film by Adam Andis

This short film, shot in South Baranof Wilderness area shows how designated Wilderness is integral to us all.

 

 

Exhibit:

The Wilderness of Southeast Alaska

Photos by Adam Andis

Photographer Adam Andis has been exploring the remote Wilderness areas of Southeast Alaska for the past 8 years as a private kayak guide and manager of the Sitka Community Wilderness Stewardship Project.  This collection of photos includes 24 images depicting the raw beauty of 14 Wilderness Areas in the Tongass.  Prints will be available to purchase through silent auction at the event with a portion of the proceeds being donated to SCS.

 

Door Prizes:

Attendees can enter their ticket stubs into a drawing for a number of great door prizes donated by local businesses including:

2 REI Flash Packs from REI Anchorage

Coupon for Whale Watching tour from Aquatic Alaska Adventures

Gifts from Sound Sailing

2 copies of The Meaning of Wild DVD

 

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Keep up to date on all of the issues. Check out "The Southeaster" Blog.

  • Hungry for Huckleberry Pie, Venison Stew, or Fresh Greens? Come to the Wild Foods Potluck Nov. 2!
  • Stand Up to Corporate Influence!
  • Kayaking Kootznoowoo: Report on SCS’s Final Wilderness Trip
  • Encouraging Local Natural Resource Stewardship on the Tongass: Kennel Creek
  • Teaching the Alaska way of Life: 4-H in Sitka
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