Sitka Conservation Society
Nov 27 2012

SCS and Forest Service Staff on Raven Radio to Discuss Kruzof Public Meeting

SCS staff members Andrew Thoms and Ray Friedlander went on Raven Radio with Chris Leeseberg, a USFS fisheries biologist, on November 26th to talk about the Forest Service’s Kruzof Island project and a public meeting that will be happening at 6:30pm on January 16th 2013 at Centennial Hall. This upcoming meeting is unique in that it is allowing the public to voice project ideas and opinions for how they think the Kruzof landscape should be managed rather than let the decisions solely be made by the Forest Service.

Click on the link below to hear the interview and read the article Raven Radio posted about it:

Kruzof Island is an important community resource that provides Sitkans and visitors with a wide range of recreation, subsistence, and economic opportunities. Attending this Kruzof public meeting in January is a prime way to participate in democratic land management processes and get your voice heard. The Sitka Collaborative Stewardship group has already taken some steps to gather ideas. In July 2012, there was a field trip to Kruzof Island that led to some project brainstorming: salmon habitat restoration work in Iris Meadows, wildlife habitat restoration in 2nd growth stands, picnic shelter at North Beach, additional mooring buoy at Mud Bay, hardened camp sites at North Beach, hardened trail to access North Beach, wildlife viewing platform at Iris Meadows, and a culture camp for the tribe. These are only some of the many possibilities that can occur in on the Kruzof , Krestof and Partofshikof Islands, making your opinions and ideas just as important as what has already been proposed.

For more information on the Kruzof public meeting and other ways you can participate in public lands management activities, please contact Ray Friedlander at, (907) 747 – 7509.

Nov 21 2012

The Sitka Conservation Society’s Wild Foods Potluck 2012

Join us at the SCS Annual Wild Foods Potluck

November 29th, 5:00-7:30 pm at Harrigan Centennial Hall

This free, community event gives everyone a chance to come together and share meals made with locally foraged food, from fish and wild game to seaweed, berries and other traditional subsistence foods. All folks are asked to bring in dishes that feature local wild foods, and if you can’t bring in a dish that features wild foods you can use a wild plant to garnish a dish made with store-bought foods. Doors open at 5 p.m. to bring in your dish, with dinner starting at 6:00 p.m. Non-alcoholic drinks will be provided.

This year’s theme will beRestoration in the Sitka Community Use Area where we will be sharing with you the hard work we’ve put in to the Tongass National Forest. There will be prizes awarded for the best dishes made in categories like:

-best entree/most wild

-best side

-best dessert

-most creative/artistic

-most filling (we have a lot of folks come to the Wild Foods potluck, so if you cook a big dish that can feed a lot of people, that would be very mindful and considerate and definitely worth rewarding!)

The doors open at 5:00 pm so you’ll have a chance to visit the community booths from the following groups:

  • Sitka Local Foods Network
  • Sitka Trailworks
  • Sitka Maritime Heritage Society
  • Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association
  • Alaska Way of Life 4-H Club
  • Forest Service
  • Sitka Cooperative Extension Service
  • SCS Fish to Schools
  • Wood Utilization Center


Look through photos of past years for inspiration, or view an article on the stories behind the dishes that were entered in the 2011 potluck.





Nov 06 2012

Tongass-Inspired Costumes for Halloween 2012

For Halloween this year, we asked the Sitka community to look at the Tongass, consider what they love about it, and use Halloween as a way to express the beautiful national forest that surrounds us by wearing Tongass-inspired costumes.

Clicking through the photos below, one can see the diverse ways kids represented the Tongass. Whether it be by dressing up as a Tongass critter, a float plane, or a fishermen, the Tongass supports the livelihoods and maritime culture of Southeast Alaska while inspiring us in creative ways.


Thank you to Old Harbor Books, Harry Race Pharmacy, and the Chocolate Moose for providing goodies, as well as SCS staff members Erin, Tracy,  Courtney, and Andrew for handing out candy and smiling a whole bunch!



Sep 26 2012

The Yin to the Stream Team’s Yang: The Forest Team’s First Field Experience of the Year

When I was 21, I headed to the Sierra Nevadas for two months as a part of my forestry degree, studying the scientific and professional dimensions of forest and wildland resource management. I received training in simple field orienteering principles, ran transects, cruised timber, and assessed the ecological conditions around Quincy, California. Being out at Starrigavan this past Friday with SCS’s Scott Harris and Kitty LaBounty and Foresters Chris Leeseberg and Craig Bueler, I felt nostalgic as we also ran transects, assessed forests for deer habitat, and sampled gaps for regeneration of herbaceous layers however there was something quite different about this experience—instead of university peers, we were working with students from Sitka High whose ages ranged from 15 to 19.

The Forest Team emerged unofficially three years ago as an occasional field trip opportunity to Starrigavan and False Island in Kent Bovee’s Field Science course, yet there is talk of having the program adopted into the curriculum for Sitka High’s Life Science course. This would guarantee every 10th grader field-based instruction on forest and wildland resource management topics in the hopes that these students will develop a better understanding of public stewardship and what this stewardship means for the forests that sustain us.

What these students get to learn in the field is an experience many of us do not have until college. I watched the teachers hand off GPSs to the students, while the three stations they visited—the riparian stream station, the gap station, and the quick cruise station—equipped the students with transects, compasses, a plot mapper, and prisms to come up with data needed to assess the health of riparian and forest habitats. The gap vegetation monitoring the students did will eventually turn into a long term study about understory plant regeneration and will be published with the intent to spread awareness on the importance thinned forests have for growing winter deer food.

Streams and forests together determine the health of Tongass watersheds. Sharing knowledge through field-based instruction gives high school students a clearer, scientific understanding of what goes on in the woods and also sheds light on career opportunities they could have as Tongass stewards.

Sep 06 2012

I can feel Edgecumbe in my muscles

I can feel Edgecumbe in my muscles, and in certain parts of my feet and hips, I can feel the mountain in my bones. We planned this trip a week ago, and the sun agreed with a sky so blue and cloudless. A quarter to seven brought us to Crescent Harbor, and with a few safety instructions and tugs on our lifejacket straps, Alison and John Dunlap brought us to Fred’s Creek. The Dunlaps are the owners of Sitka Sound Ocean Adventures, and are long time Sitka residents who understood how fortunate we were to make it out to Mt. Edgecumbe on Sitka’s eighth day of summer.

Last time I was out here I saw a bear over there,” says John as the skiff settles into the sand with help from the incoming tide. We each jump out, confidently landing our hiking-boot-xtra-tuff feet on Kruzof not only as interns of Sitka Conservation Society, but as folks from Sitka and from down South—as folks in love with experiences that could only be labeled “Alaskan.” There were six of us—Ashley Bolwerk, Elizabeth Cockrel, Helen Schnoes, AJ Shule, Jonathan Goff, and myself—who chose water bottles, trail mixes, muskegs, forest patches, ups and downs, sun kissed skin, and deep inhales and exhales for our Tuesday. At times I was in front, feeling eager to reach the base in a couple hours, but we each took turns switching off who led, switching off who called water break, switching off who exclaimed “how beautiful is this.” Jonathan, an SCS botanist intern, would pause frequently to get closer looks at the plant life along the wood plank trails, at times even getting down on his knees to smell Deer Heart flowers and other blooms. Helen, one of SCS’s Sustainable Salmon Specialists, discovered her camera had a panoramic setting, and often one could see her body pivot in a circle as she tried to capture all of us within the wide landscape.

Thank you for waiting so patiently for us Edgecumbe,” I exclaimed as we got approached the rock steps at the base of the mountain.

Mountains take time.  Mountains take meditative foot placements, sweat and salt from your body, and critical thought, but they also give. Edgecumbe inspired us to give each other this experience, to give a potential to our bodies that our minds might typically resist.  I did not drink coffee that morning, or eat my lunch beforehand but something made me keep moving as I brought myself over those rock steps, immerging bright eyed to the sun hitting the red, powdered soil.

Mountains also give you the wisdom to not hold on to expectations. The bleached white posts that lined the minimal trail up Edgecumbe became my pacemakers, and in the beginning I would approach each post thinking I was almost to the top only to see six more in front of me, six beautiful yet spread out ribs of the earth. This pattern of me expecting the top to be there I soon learned to stop and instead I began to enjoy the gradual rise up. Enjoyment eased my mind, and allowed for a creative fire to develop from my muscles and mind. I began to visualize every post as a person I had deep feelings for, letting them take on the forms of my siblings, my parents, my sweet, sweet friends. I even visualized a post as myself, laughing briefly at what my former self would say if she could see me up there. To be honest, I even began hugging these tall markers and used them as I would with a dependable friend to glance back at Baranoff and the sea.

At the top, I kissed a rock I had found along the way and placed it in a pile started by other travelers who ritualized this experience. I carried my body on the flat earth to a spot that felt right, took off my pack, and gazed down into Edgecumbe’s naval, crescent-filled with white lint snow.  Sitting down felt exotic. Eating lunch felt indulgent. Really, to be sitting on top of a dormant volcano with my shoes and socks off on a sunny day in Southeast Alaska, overlooking forests, mountain ranges, ocean, and even seeing Sitka—this called for poetry, for odes, for screaming, and for all you yogis out there, this experience called for a happy baby. You cannot help but look and feel epic, you cannot help but feel your mind and body fused.

How do people seem pre Edgecumbe and post Edgecumbe?” I now ask Alison Dunlap.

Read more →

Jul 14 2012

Hands that Carve the Tongass: Tommy Joseph

Similar to how one would peel an orange, Tommy Joseph uses his hands to “peel” logs. The wood shavings surrounding his cottonwood trunk table are a testament to this, as are the masks, hats, and hand-made tools present in the artist’s 9-week-old gallery, Raindance. Tommy’s ability to transform wood into art has brought him to many distant places yet threaded throughout his work is the Tongass National Forest, a constant source of raw materials and local inspiration. Yellow cedar, red cedar, and alder are his muses and according to Tommy, “each wood has its own personality, aroma, and attitude.” Personalities that can determine how Tommy uses the wood, such as alder—a soft, no-grain wood that does not irritate, and is an odorless, tasteless, material well matched for masks, bowls, spoons, and salmon-smoking.

The artist also turns to his immediate surroundings —such as a neighbor’s yard or the coastline —to gather the wood and other materials he eventually transforms into images of land, culture, and community. After 21 years of working as instructor, interpreter, demonstrator and commissioned artist at the Southeast Alaska Indian Cultural Center, Tommy now uses one of the bright blue houses on Monastery street as his gallery and work space, which people can walk through and admire his work. Raindance symbolizes Tommy’s dream of having his own gallery to support himself and other artists. “Nobody can fill up a shop by themselves. That’s how I started out. Its good to give other people opportunities.”

Through his work, Tommy has been able to carve out different ways of seeing the Tongass National Forest. He brings out from the wood shapes of ravens, salmon, armor, and hats—teaching us about Sitka’s rooted Tlingit history while also allowing it to grow.


Alder served as the mould for Tommy’s large bronze piece titled “Lovebirds,” which features a raven and an eagle sharing a clam between their beaks. Visitors often think the two birds are fighting over the mollusk, so Tommy takes the time to act on his commitments to education and artistic transparency by explaining the true meaning of the sculpture.

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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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