Sitka Conservation Society
Dec 06 2012

2012 WildFoods Potluck

Thanks to everyone who came out to the 2012 WildFoods Potluck!  Check out the photos, get an update on the prize winners, and even see the presentation on SCS’s Restoration work below.

And the Winners Are:

Most Filling (Judges: Courtney Bobsin and Paul Killian)

Ellen Frankenstein—Crab Loaf

Chris Leeseberg—Lingcod Curry

Prizes: Pickled Beach Asparagus (donated by Gimbal Botanicals) and  a Eating Alaska DVD donated by Ellen Frankenstein

Best Dish/ Most Wild (Judges: Jud Kirkness and Wendy Alderson)

Linda Wilson—Potato pepper pickle pea salad

Kerri Fish—Panang Curry with halibut cheeks

Prizes: $100 gift certificate to Alaska’s Own (co sponsored by AO and SCS) and a homemade hemlock/cedar cutting board made by Spencer Severson with a Victorknox knife donated by Murray Pacific

Best Side (Judges: Marsh Skeele and Tachi Sopow)

Kerry O’toole–venison, goat cheese, and pickled crab apple

Anonymous–Sauteed scallops

Prizes: one night paid in a FS cabin and two summer boat cruise tickets (both prizes sponsored by SCS)

Best Dessert (Judges: Fred Fayette, Veronica, and Kerri)

Darlene Orr –Cloud berry bites

Prize: $30 gift certificate donated by the Larkspur Cafe

Most Creative/Artistic (Judges: Chelsea Wheeler and Elena Gustafson)

Judy Lehman–salmon lingnon berry pizza

Prize: $60 gift basket donated by WinterSong Soap Co.

SCS’s Watershed Restoration Mission presented by Scott Harris


2012 Potluck Photo Gallery

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 14 2012

Tracy Hunts: Take 2

The morning light began to unfold as we motored south of town, a pod of whales to our right and the sun dancing in the still water. I am witness to the incredible orchestration of the ocean, the interconnection between everything. This is just the beginning…

At the hunting grounds, we anchor the skiff and pack up our gear. Now we hunt. I follow in my partner’s foot-steps, every step deliberate. We walk slowly with vigilance, our eyes constantly scanning. Every movement is intentional, every sign of deer noted. We push forward and find a spot to hunker down and call in the deer, a sound that can be described as a guttural kazoo.

This is only my second time out on a hunt and I’m somewhat unaware of how this day will unravel. I try to stay present and note how ironic it is to be searching for edibles when so many are underfoot. Cranberries, crowberries, and labrador tea are in abundance but we pass them by, our eyes intent on another prey. Will our goal to find a deer override the pleasure of exploring the wilderness? Will we feel unsuccessful if we have nothing on our backs but the wind?

We keep walking, our steps intersecting existing deer trails. I am aware of my feet and the gentle forgiveness of the sphagnum moss. I look back and see the moss literally bounce back; the land feels uniquely alive. We stop again on the crest of a hill looking below while blowing the deer call. Nothing.

I begin to think I am cursed. The last time I went out we didn’t even see a deer. Maybe I’m slowing my partner down or perhaps I am walking too loudly. But I remind myself that regardless of our intent, this is incredible. The sun plays with the clouds and mountain peaks surround me, I can’t imagine a more perfect place.

We note the time and keep moving, knowing we must inevitably turn back soon before darkness sets. My eyes start to get lazy, my focus less centered but I try to remain attentive. We perch ourselves behind a large rock and try to call in a deer. We wait. We call again. And then out of my peripheral vision I notice movement to the left. A deer! I quickly signaled to my partner holding the rifle. And then…it was over.

We walked up to the buck and paid our respects. A life for a life, gunalchéesh. We quickly set to work, pulling out the organs. I was astounded by the warmth of this creature, its heart beating just minutes ago. I’ve heard of others leaving tobacco or tokens of respect for the life given, so without a tradition of my own, I pulled out a few of my hairs and sprinkled them atop the organs that would soon feed others.

On the return, my step was light (my partner did indeed pack out the deer); I was overcome with a feeling of success. I noticed how the walk back was starkly different then our journey in. The intention and awareness I brought with me began to fade. Our quiet whispers turned into conversation. It is so interesting how our interactions with place can change with context.

We were right on schedule when we returned to the skiff. Still plenty of day light to make the trip home. The air was surprisingly warm and calm for November, everything about today just felt so right. I was at home here.

When we returned to Sitka, my body was numb and tired. The spray from the skiff drenched me completely and the cold bit at every extremity. Exhaustion was setting but the day was just beginning. I watched my partner skillfully skin and quarter the deer, his hands knowing the right placement of his knife. In just a few minutes this beautiful animal transformed. How quickly this happened.

Once the deer was quartered we began to process the deer into cuts that would soon become dinner. I followed my knife along the bone and began to cut away the fat. I was fascinated by every muscle, how it connected to the bone and other muscles. We worked side by side for hours, ensuring every piece of meat was used.

This morning we finished the process by packaging up our roasts, rib meat, stock bones, and sausage. All evidence of our expedition lies in a small chest freezer, but it doesn’t end there for me. The blood has washed off my hands, but I can still see it. It is through this experience that I find myself deeply connected to this place, to the interconnection of life. We are bound in this web and in the cycle of death and creation.


A heartfelt thank you to my partner who was a patient teacher.



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!



Oct 01 2012

Halloween Costume Contest

October 31st from 4-6pm
during the Downtown Trick or Treating extravaganza

Bring out your kid’s wild side this Halloween by dressing them up for the Sitka Conservation Society’s Tongass-Inspired Halloween Contest. SCS folks will be awaitin’ outside the bookstore to find the costume with the best Tongass theme.

Prizes include a $20 gift certificate from Old Harbor Books, ice cream coupons from Harry Race, water bottles, dried fruit, and more! For questions, contact Ray Friedlander at 747-7509.


Sep 05 2012

“The Hydropolitics of Palestine and Israel: A Slide Show” ~ Sunday, September 23rd, 7:00 pm

With scant water resources, water is a dramatic mirror of power relationships between Israel and Palestine, and water distribution occupies a central role in the peace process. To learn about the role of water in the Israeli-Palestine conflict, join photojournalist Skip Schiel for “The Hydropolitics of Palestine and Israel: A Slide Show,” Sunday, September 23, 7pm, at Kettleson Memorial Library. Based on his most recent trip to Palestine and Israel in spring 2012, the presentation explores the impact of water on people and activities on both sides of the conflict.

Photojournalist Skip Schiel has documented Palestinian and Israeli reality through photographic images since 2003. Working with both Israeli and Palestinian organizations, his work provides the detailed texture of life among ordinary people in Gaza and the West Bank that is missing in the mainstream U.S. media. Schiel has taught photography and filmmaking in Boston and Palestine for over two decades, including at Cambridge Center of Adult Education, Landscape Institute (formerly at Harvard), Boston College, and in Palestine for Quaker Palestine Youth Program and Al Aqsa University in the Gaza Strip.

“The Hydropolitics of Palestine and Israel” is sponsored by Sitkans for Peace and Justice and Sitka Conservation Society. All perspectives are invited. For more information, contact Cindy Litman: 623.3969,

Water and Ghraybeh cookies will be served following the presentation. These rich traditional Middle Eastern butter cookies are named after the Arabic word for “swoon.”

Sep 04 2012

SCS Recommends: Southeast Alaska Wild Mushroom Identification Workshop

The University of Alaska will hold a Southeast mushroom identification class Thursday, September 13, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. with field trips Saturdays September 15 and 22 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The fee is $49. SCS Board member Kitty LaBounty will instruct. Call Amanda at 747-7762 for more details or to register.

Aug 30 2012

Volunteer to walk our local beaches and help monitor the health of our environment!

If you like walking beaches, learning about natural history, and want to contribute to marine conservation, this volunteer program is for you.

The COASST Program will be conducting training in Sitka on September 15. No experience is needed, only enthusiasm, to become a citizen scientist and learn the arcane skill of identifying beached birds!

I have been involved with COASST for over 5 years. My family and I have adopted our favorite beach on Kruzof Island and we walk the beach several times each year looking for beached birds. The value of this effort is to establish a “baseline”, or what is normal, for birds to die and wash up on beaches. If we ever experience an oil spill, climate change, a change in the marine environment, or other environmental disaster we can then measure the actual impact on bird populations. COASST has an extensive network all along the west coast of North America.

Not only does our family get to collect valuable information, we also become intimately familiar with the natural history and seasonal changes on a place that is important to us, and we get to nurture a long-term commitment to the health of our local environment. It’s also lots of fun!

Check out COASST at

Scott Harris


Aug 30 2012

SCS Recommends: COASST Training in Sitka on September 15th

Help make a difference for the environment by collecting data for the Coastal Observation and Seabird Survey Team (COASST).  COASST is a citizen science project dedicated to involving volunteers in the collection of high quality data on the status of coastal beaches, and trends of seabirds. Our goal is to assist government agencies and other organizations in making informed management and conservation decisions, and promote proactive citizen involvement and action. COASST volunteers systematically count and identify bird carcasses that wash ashore along ocean beaches from northern California to Alaska.  Volunteers need NO experience with birds, just a commitment to survey a specific beach (about 3/4 mile) each month.

If you are interested in participating, join COASST staff for a full, 6-hour training session. Hear about how COASST started, learn how to use the custom Beached Birds field guide, and try out your new skills with some actual specimens.  There is no charge to attend a training, but plan to provide a $20 refundable deposit if you would like to take home a COASST volunteer kit complete with a COASST Beached Birds field guide.  Training activities take place indoors, and include a break for lunch – please pack your own or plan to buy lunch nearby.

Upcoming COASST training session:

10:00 am – 4:00 pm
Sitka Sound Science Center – 834 Lincoln Street Suite 200

If you can’t attend these events, please check our website at or call (206) 221-6893 for additional information on upcoming events and trainings.

To reserve your spot at a training session, please contact or 206-221-6893.

Aug 12 2012

Celebrate Biodiversity At This Year’s BioBlitz

Events will take place August 17th-19th

CLICK HERE for the full program schedule and description of events.

What on earth is biodiversity? A measurement of the variety and concentration of lifeforms in a given area, biodiversity is often used by researchers to gage the overall health of ecosystems. Who and what lives here? What mushrooms, bugs, crabs, whales, seaweed, owls, deer, and salmon share Sitka as their home? By documenting and better understanding the organismic makeup of Sitka, organizations like SCS whose mission is to protect treasures like the Tongass National Forest, can take appropriate measure to defend the habitats that these plants, animals, fungi, and insects depend on.

This year’s BioBlitz offers a fun and educational opportunity for the Sitkan community to help scientists perform a rapid (24-hours only!) biological survey of a 7-square mile section of Sitka. Have you ever wanted to learn more about local plants, owls, or insects? Maybe your family is eager to set night-time insect traps within the largest remaining temperate rain forest in the world. Fun options are abound for everyone at this year’s BioBlitz, providing unique opportunities to learn from experts and professional naturalists from across the state on their surveys. Help us document, celebrate and protect the biodiversity that makes this magical place unique!

Join us to kick off the event on Friday, August 17th at 7:30pm with a discussion of Southeast Alaska’s fascinating biodiversity presented by biologist and author Bob Armstrong.

Blitzing will begin Saturday, August 18th at noon and run for a full twenty four hours. There will be many opportunities to join scientists on survey teams and various activities for all ages!

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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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