Sitka Conservation Society

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.

May 08 2013

Sitka: A Tongass Salmon Town

In 2011, SCS began the Sitka Salmon Tours program.  The goal of the tours was to give visitors a salmon’s eye view from the forests where the salmon are born, to the ocean, the fisher and processor, and finally to our plates.  We’ve discontinued the Salmon Tours for 2013.  Instead, we have distilled all of the great facts, stories, and natural history  from the tours into this manual, “Sitka: A Tongass Salmon Town.”  Now anyone can be an expert on wild Tongass Salmon.  We hope that Sitka residents, guides, and naturalist will use this guide to share the miracle of salmon that attracts tens of thousands of visitors to this place each year.

Printed guides are available at the Sitka Conservation Society office.  If you’d like us to mail you a copy, send a request to  Bulk copies are available for purchase at-cost (about $0.80 per copy).

Download a copy of the manual HERE.

May 02 2013

Backwoods Lecture: 300 Years of Wilderness

Ever wonder where the idea of wilderness came from?

Follow the first explorers of Alaska, like Georg Steller, the German naturalist aboard the S/V Gabriel with Vitus Bering upon the first “discovery” of Alaska’s coast or the Episcopal priest Hudson Struck who made the first ascent of Denali, as they struggle to frame their experiences in this wild lands.  Look through John Muir’s eyes during his adventures in Glacier Bay.  Travel with Mardy and Olaus Murie’s to the interior rivers.  Explore the Brooks Range with Bob Marshall.  We will see how these writers formed the idea of wilderness, and how the wilderness inspired their writing.

This lecture will be presented by Adam Andis and is part of the Backwoods and Water Lecture Series.  Andis wrote his undergraduate thesis on wilderness in Alaskan nature writing.  He now manages the Wilderness Stewardship Program at Sitka Conservation Society.  He has a degree in Environmental Studies with emphasis in Wilderness Philosophy and is a founding board member of the National Wilderness Stewardship Alliance.

Sunday, May 12th from 5:00 to 6:00 pm at the Kettleson Library.

Apr 26 2013

Green Drinks!

Join SCS staff at Green Drinks, the monthly environmental get-together.  With no agenda and no membership or admission fees, Green Drinks is a nice way to have some informal conversation on whatever environmental or community topics you want to bring to the table.

This week’s event will be hosted by Tracy Gagnon, SCS’s Community Sustainability Organizer and will focus on local foods.  For more information, contact Tracy at 747-7509 or

Apr 25 2013

Parade of Species 2013


Thanks to everyone who participated in the 2013 Parade of Species!  The costumes were creative, the activities were fun, and march was a truly WILD time!

We hope that you will remember to celebrate Earth Day every day and help us here at the Sitka Conservation Society to protect the natural environment of the Tongass and promote sustainable communities in Southeast!


Best Costume Winners:

Best Use of Recycled Materials

Silas Ferguson




Most Realistic Costume

Grace Clifton




Most Creative Costume

Finnan Kelly




Best Local Animal

Lena Keilman




Photos from the 2013 Parade of Species

We would especially like to thanks the following folks for helping to make this year’s parade such a huge success:

Costume Contest Judges

Judges: Steve Ash, Rita Mounayar, Heather Riggs, Pat Kehoe

Activities and booths by: The US Forest Service, Alaska Department of Fish and Game, The National Park Service, Sitka Global Warming Group, Sitka Local Food Network, the Science Center, The Kayaani Commission, Jud Kirkness, Fish to Schools, 4H Alaska way-of-life, and Community Schools

Prizes and donations from: Harry Race, Ben Franklin, Lakeside, True Value, Botanikaand Allen Marine

Volunteers: Coral Pendell, Garrett Bauer, Josh Houston, Wendy Alderson

And everyone who made costumes, cheered on the marchers, and celebrated Earth Day with the Parade of Species!

Apr 16 2013

Gavan Forest: The Natural History

Check out this in-depth natural history of the Gavan Forest in Sitka, put together by naturalist Richard Carstensen.  Download the report HERE.

Apr 12 2013

Sealaska Bill: A Threat to Public Lands

Take action to protect your public lands HERE.

The following letter was submitted to the Sitka Sentinel by SCS.

Dear Editor:

The current version of the Sealaska legislation is scheduled for a hearing on April 25th in the Senate Public Lands Subcommittee.  This Sealaska bill is a threat to the public lands of the Tongass and to the ways that Sitkans use the Tongass.  This legislation would transfer lands on the Tongass to Sealaska that are outside of the original boxes where they were allowed to select lands.   The legislation would affect us in Sitka because the corporation is asking for in-holdings throughout the Sitka Ranger District that are some of the most valuable areas for access and use.  The bill would allow the corporation to select in-holdings in North-Arm/Hoonah Sound, Kalinin Bay, Fick Cove, Lake Eva, Wrangell Island off Biorka, Port Banks, and many others.   On Prince of Wales Island, the corporation has  cherry-picked the lands that have the highest concentration of the remaining economically valuable cedar trees, the oldest and fastest growing second growth, and the timber stands that have the most investment made by taxpayer dollars in roads, culverts, and forest thinning.

The in-holding selections might seem familiar topic.  The corporation is selecting them in the same process they are using for Redoubt Lake.  It is claiming that fishing access areas are eligible for selection under authorities that were meant for cemeteries.  In the case of Redoubt Lake that means that one of the most important sites for public use and subsistence on the Sitka Ranger District could be privatized and owned by a corporation that has a for-profit mandate and is run by a board of directors that has created its own closed circle of power (remember when Sitkans tried to get elected to that board).  The CEO of Sealaska came to Sitka a few weeks ago and made many promises about public access.  That all sounded good, but how long is he going to be around?  None of the agreements they proposed are legally binding.  What happens when their board of directors decides that they don’t want to allow everyone to fish there anymore?  What happens when they decide that they “are obliged to make profit for their shareholders” and the best way to do that could be to capitalize on the asset of Redoubt Lake and build a lodge on the island between the two falls?  Promises made today don’t necessarily stand the test of time when lands are not in public hands and are not managed by a publically accountable entity.

For all of the above reasons, SCS will be telling members of the  Senate Public Lands Subcommittee that the Sealaska Legislation is not good for the Tongass and not good for Southeast Alaska.  Information on how to contact members of that committee can be found on the SCS website:

                                                  Andrew Thoms

                                                  Executive Director

                                                  Sitka Conservation Society


Update: Sealaska Corporation’s CEO recently issued a response to the above editorial.  He also complained about the photos below.  He called them “unethical,” “mysterious,” “misinformation.”

Of course our photos of Redoubt Falls with no trespassing signs are fabricated, that is because (thankfully) this area is still in public hands where everyone, including Sealaska shareholders, have equal rights to utilize this place.  The photos we didn’t need to fabricate are the images of Sealaska Corp’s logging practices on land they currently own on Dall Island.  (Watch this Google Earth tour to see for yourself.*)  But don’t take our word for it; take a look at the short video Hoonah’s Legacy, showing the massive clearcuts logged by Sealaska Corp that scarred that community’s landscape.  Or, visit the Sealaska Shareholders Underground’s Facebook page to hear about shareholders who disagree with the Corporation, but who have so far been suppressed by Sealaska and prevented from allowing any new voices onto the Sealaska board of directors.

Based on history and the facts, it is hard to see how allowing a profit-driven corporation like Sealaska to take away public lands from Alaskans would be “good for Sitkans, the Tongass and for Southeast Alaska.”  If you agree, please consider writing a Letter to the Editor of your local paper and share this information with your friends and community.

* This is a Google Earth tour (.kmz file).  You must have Google Earth installed on your computer to view the tour.

Please encourage your friends and relatives living in states listed below to call their Senator.

Key Senate Public Lands Subcommittee Members:

Oregon- Senator Ron Wyden (202) 224-5244

Washington- Senator Maria Cantwell (202) 224-3441

Michigan- Senator Debbie Stabenow  (202)224-4822

Colorado- Senator Mark Udall (202) 224-5941

New Mexico- Senator Mark Heinrich (202) 224-5521

Minnesota- Senator Al Franken (202) 224-5641




Apr 09 2013

Take Action: Salmon, Water, Alaskans need your help

Salmon, water, and the Alaskans who depend on them need your help!

Background: Right now, the Alaska State Senate is debating whether or not they should make it more difficult for Alaskans to protect the water in their backyards for salmon habitat.  HB77, the In-Stream Water Reservations Bill, would convolute an already convoluted public process, eliminating the requirement for public comment periods.  It would also give the Department of Natural Resources Commissioner the authority to issue General Permits for industrial operations if the commissioner determines the project will not cause “significant or irreparable harm” to Alaskans and issue permits that would directly and negatively impact salmon habitat if the commissioner determines it is in the “best interest of Alaska.”

As a reminder, the Department of Natural Resources no longer values future generations—they eliminated “future generations” from their mission statement last year.

Additionally, HB77 intends to revoke certain rights from Alaskan individuals, organizations, and tribes, and gives the government of Alaska authority on whether or not salmon and water are as important as industrial development.  In other words, this bill protects Outside interests at the expense of local Alaskans.  For an example of DNR siding against Alaskans in favor of Outside interests, and why this bill is relevant to all Alaskans, click here.

Talking Points

  • Alaskans need more opportunities to preserve salmon and our unique way of life, not fewer
  • HB77 protects the right for Outside interests to take water out of salmon streams while making it more difficult for Alaskans to keep water in salmon streams
  • The bill gives DNR discretion to negatively impact salmon habitat if it is in the “Best Interest” of the State of Alaska
  • It eliminates the requirement for DNR to open public comment periods on “Best Interest Findings”
  • 95% of public testimony opposed HB77, including fishing organizations, Alaska Native Tribal councils, city councils, fishermen, hunters, and every day residents

Take Action: Time is running out on the Legislature.  To add your voice to this issue, act now!

Alaska’s fish and water need you to stand up and take action immediately.  There are two ways you can help: You can write a My Turn in the Juneau Empire, or you can contact the Alaska State Senate Coastal Caucus and let them know you oppose HB77, a bill that revokes certain rights from Alaskans, eliminates the requirement for public comment periods at DNR, and gives DNR discretion to impact salmon habitat for the benefit of Outside companies.   465-3873   465-4947   465-2828   465-4925   465-3707

Apr 05 2013

Entrepreneurial Capacity Development and Local Business Catalyst

Position Title:  Entrepreneurial Capacity Development and Local Business Catalyst

Host Organizations:  Sitka Conservation Society

Start-Date:  TBD

Duration:  8 months with the potential for expansion based on performance and outcomes

Pay Range: $2,500 – 4,000/ month DOE

Background:  Rural economies across the United States, and especially in Southeast Alaska, have tended to trend in a negative direction over the past several decades.  This decline is often characterized by struggling locally owned businesses, abandoned downtown storefronts, and a lack of entrepreneurial capacity and business start-up activity.  There has, however, been an increase in hope for rural communities over the past several years as the movement towards “Living Local/Buy Local”, certification of origin, and local investment has gained interest.  The focus on supporting local businesses and local business development has the potential to revive downtown districts, increase local capital flow and local sales tax revenue, create jobs and employment, and generally build a more resilient rural economy.

The Sitka Conservation Society (SCS) is seeking a highly motivated, self-starter to work with community partners and identify needs and opportunities in the community. The candidate’s main focus will be to develop programs that stimulate and empower the community and establish projects that focus on living and buying locally.

Duties to include:  The position will work under the supervision of Sitka Conservation Society staff and community partners to implement projects and programs that serves to build entrepreneurial capacity and catalyze local business development.  The position will generally focus on the segment of the population between high-school and young adults (up to age 35) to provide learning opportunities, mentorship connections, skill building activities, business start-up support, etc.  Specific program focus will vary based on candidates experience, background, and ability.  Programs could include coordinating business skills classes, setting up mentorship programs, coordinating High-school Business start-up clubs, working directly with entrepreneurs on specific business development needs, etc.


  • Demonstrated background and skills in business
  • Interest, abilities, and skills in instruction, capacity building, mentorship, leadership, etc.
  • Ability to work with people of diverse backgrounds, skills, abilities, and cultures
  • Interest and background in sustainability issues, rural community development, “localism,” etc.
  • Pertinent work experience and educational background
  • Professional skills pertinent to the position

To Apply:  Please send a cover letter and resume highlighting pertinent professional or academic experience, and two references to Andrew Thoms, Executive Director at Sitka Conservation Society (

Click HERE for a PDF version of the position description.


Feb 18 2013

America’s Salmon Forest at the AK Forum Film Fest

SCS’s short documentary Restoring America’s Salmon Forest was selected to show at the Alaska Forum on the Environment Film Festival on Friday, February 8, 2013 in Anchorage.  The film focuses on a multi-agency effort to increase salmon returns on the Sitkoh River in Southeast Alaska’s Chichagof Island, by improving the spawning and rearing habitat and redirecting a river that was heavily damaged by logging operations in the 1970s.

In the heyday of the Southeast Alaska timber industry, little regard was paid to the needs of salmon. Streams were frequently blocked and diverted, with streams in 70 major watersheds remaining that way decades later. Salmon surpassed timber in economic importance in Southeast Alaska more than two decades ago, but only in the last few years has the Forest Service finally made a serious effort to repair damaged streams. Currently over 7,000 jobs in Southeast Alaska are tied to the fishing industry, compared to about 200 in the timber industry. The Forest Service spends about three times as much on timber related projects as fisheries and restoration projects each year on the Tongass.

While salmon are responsible for 10 times as many jobs in Southeast Alaska as timber, and are also an important food source and a critical part of our cultural identity, the Forest Service still puts timber over salmon in its budget priorities. Recent Forest Service budgets have dedicated in the range of $22 million a year to timber and road building, compared to less than $2 million a year to restoring salmon streams damaged by past logging, despite a $100 million backlog of restoration projects.

Logging damages watersheds by diverting streams, blocking fish passage, and eliminating crucial spawning and rearing habitat structures. Restoration increases salmon returns by removing debris, redirecting streams, stabilizing banks to prevent erosion, and even thinning dense second-growth forest. We believe it simply makes sense to go back and repair habitat if you are responsible for its damage.


Please contact your representatives in Washington to tell them the ways you depend on Tongass salmon, and tell them you support managing the Tongass for salmon and permanently protecting important salmon producing watersheds. Tell them it is time to redirect funds from the bloated timber budget to the salmon restoration budget, and finally transitioning away from the culture of old-growth timber to sustainable practices recognizing all resources and opportunities.

What to say:

Check out the talking points in this post for some ideas of what you might include in your letters or calls.


Undersecretary Robert Bonnie
Department of Natural Resources and the Environment
U.S. Department of Agriculture
1400 Independence Ave., S.W.
Washington, DC 20250


Senator Lisa Murkowski
709 Hart Senate Building
Washington, DC 20510


Senator Mark Begich
825C Hart Senate Building
Washington, DC 20510

If you have questions, contact the Sitka Conservation Society at 747-7509 or

Produced by Bethany Goodrich, a summer staffer at the Sitka Conservation Society, “Restoring Alaska’s Salmon Forest” provides a brief look at how a restoration project looks on the ground and what such a project can accomplish in terms of salmon returns.
Feb 08 2013

Expedition: Outer Island Survey

This expedition is part of Sitka Conservation Society’s Community Wilderness Stewardship Project.  The Project, begun in 2009, is a partnership between SCS and the Tongass National Forest Service to collect base-line data on the ecological conditions and human impacts to designated Wilderness areas.  The Tongass NF in Southeast Alaska is the nation’s largest National Forest totaling 17 million acres with almost 6 million acres of designated Wilderness Area (also the largest total Wilderness area of any National Forest).  Almost all of this land is only accessible by boat or on foot.  Because most Tongass Wilderness Areas are so difficult to access, Forest Service Wilderness rangers rarely, if ever, have the ability to monitor areas which require technical skills, lots of time, or difficult logistics for access.  SCS augments and fills in the gaps in data by targeting these areas.

For the 2013 project, the SCS Wilderness crew will work with Craig and Thorne Bay Ranger Districts to conduct a monitoring expedition to a set of outercoast islands adjacent to Prince of Wales Island including Coronation Is., Warren Is., the Spanish Is., and the Maurelle Is.

The Team:

Adam Andis, is the Communications Director for SCS.  He has managed the Wilderness Stewardship Program since 2011.  Andis first started paddling on a National Outdor Leadership School expedition in Prince William Sound.  He guided kayak trips all over Southeast Alaska for Spirit Walker Expeditions before moving to Sitka to work for SCS.  Andis is a Level 4 ACA Instructor, a Leave-No-Trace Master Educator, and Wilderness First Responder.  He is also on the board of directors of the National Wilderness Stewardship Alliance and has a passion for Wilderness preservation and protection.


Rob Avery, has been paddling since he was a teenager (and that was a long time ago!) racing sprint and marathon in Junior K1. Originally from the UK, Rob now lives in the Pacific Northwest where he manages distribution for Valley & North Shore kayaks.  He is also the regional rep for Snap Dragon, Level Six and other fun paddlesports stuff under his Active Paddles business, and also runs Kayak Kraft coaching service.  Rob is an ACA Level 5 Instructor, Level 4 BCU coach, 5 star BCU paddler, Wilderness First Responder, Leave-No-Trace Instructor and no stranger to Alaska where is has spend many windy and rainy days paddling in the SE, central, Kodiak and the Aleutian Islands.

Cris Lewis,





Paul Norwood, was born and raised in Paris, and has lived in Alaska since 1999.  He spent a few years fishing and working in canneries, then did odd jobs in the interior of the state. Finally, he went to Sitka where he studied liberal arts and Spanish at UAS and worked as a tour guide on wildlife watching cruises. He has been on the Sitka Mountain Rescue team for several years, completed a year of Americorps service at the Sitka Sound Science Center, did an internship with the Peruvian Ministry of the Environment and a stint on a trail crew in southern Patagonia, and participated with numerous organizations on small projects ranging from traditional gardening to mapping invasive species.  Paul has Emergency Medical Technician certification.

Dates and Duration:  We are planning 16 days for the trip (11 field days, 2 travel days, and 2 weather days).  The trip will begin June 16th and the crew will return to Sitka on July 2nd.

Overview map of Southeast Alaska

Route:  The crew will pack boats in the small fishing village of Port Alexander.  The crux of the trip will be the 12.5 nm open-water crossing of Chatham Strait to Kuiu Island.  From there, the crew will paddle south to Cape Decision and stay at the Cape Decision Lighthouse.  On to the Spanish Island and Coronation Island where the crew will monitor recreation sites and record visitor use data, survey for invasive plants, conduct owl broadcast surveys, swab toads for fungal infections, and a litany of other research goals.  From Coronation, the team will cross to Warren, then down to the Maurelles to meet up with Craig Ranger District staff and Youth Conservation Corps to help out in the field.  Back at the final destination in Craig, the crew will lead a kayak skills and rescue class for the Ranger District staff and community members in Craig.  The trip will wrap up with an adventure in ferry hopping from Craig to Ketchikan and finally back to Sitka.


Route map, distance between dots are indicated.


Pre-trip: send kayaks to Port Alexander on mailboat

June 16: Fly in small plane to Port Alexander, cross Chatham Strait to Kuiu Island.

June 17: Paddle along Kuiu to The Spanish Islands and Coronation.

June 18: Survey Coronation I.

June 22: Paddle to Warren island and survey.

June 25: Paddle to Maurelle Island group.

Place names

June 26: Meet the Craig Wilderness Rangers and Youth Conservation Corps in the Maurelles to help with projects

June 27: Survey Maurelle Islands

June 28: Paddle to Craig

June 29: Teach kayak skills and rescue training for Craig community.

June 30: Catch InnerIsland ferry to Ketchikan

July 1: catch Alaska Marine Ferry to Sitka.

Red dots indicate potential camps for each day

July 2: Return to Sitka, compile data, sort and clean gear, then drink some cold beers



For more information, please contact Andis at or (907) 747-7509.

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  • 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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