Sitka Conservation Society
Jun 18 2014

What’s Cooking Sitka?

Sitka Kitch is the recent community food project that arose from the 2013 Sitka Health Summit. SCS is spearheading this effort along with a committee of dedicated volunteers.  The overall goal of Sitka Kitch is to improve health, provide a new community resource and promote community development; all through the lens of food security. SCS has a history of success when it comes to promoting local food and we hope that Sitka Kitch will be no different. There are numerous opportunities for Sitka Kitch to continue to foster programs like Fish 2 Schools, partner with local food organizations, all through a shared use community kitchen.

What community kitchens bring to the table!

The Sitka Kitch will start with food based education and emergency preparedness at the household level. In fact we will be offering several classes in July on how to can and prepare food for your pantry. As it grows, the Kitch seeks to provide career and technical training, and entrepreneurial development opportunities.  This will be achieved through a shared use community kitchen. We have partnered with the First Presbyterian Church  to provide space on a limited basis.  SCS and the church collaborated in April to prepare an application to the “Northwest Coast Presbytery community blessings grant.”  The proposal outlined a budget to renovate their existing kitchen to meet the requirements of becoming a DEC certified Kitchen and thus meet the needs of potential Sitka Kitch users. The application was successful and we were awarded $13,000 for the project! The renovations will be underway this summer with a goal of offering commercial space to users in the late summer or early fall.

For more information on classes or being a new tenant contact Marjorie at SCS (marjorie@sitkawild.org or 747-7509).

 

Jan 09 2014

Tongass Red Alder

Sam Scotchmer and Pete Weiland during installation of the red alder at Odess Theater.

In 2010 USFS announced the Tongass Transition Framework, a plan to move away from the large scale timber industry and enhance economic opportunities in Southeast Alaska through stewardship and sustainable young growth timber harvesting. In the spring of 2013 SCS was awarded a Community Capacity and Land Stewardship (CCLS) Grant from the National Forest Foundation. The CCLS grant focuses on the use of local, young growth wood and habitat restoration. SCS used this grant to build on its established young growth utilization program. Through this current grant, SCS continued to promote regional young growth markets, incentivize forest restoration and further the Transition Framework by creating a vocational opportunity for local craftsmen that focuses on young growth timber and exploring applications.

Weiland installing the locally harvested and milled red alder.

In the fall of 2013 the project was in full swing and focused on red alder. Red alder has been historically considered a ‘weed species’, however due to its abundance and growth rates, it is quickly becoming valued for use in specialty wood products, cabinetry, furniture and architectural millwork such as wainscoting or molding. SCS and the Sitka Fine Arts Camp (SFAC) partnered along with a local miller and harvester Todd Miller and carpenters Pete Weiland and Sam Scotchmer. Miller harvested and processed red alder from False Island while Scotchmer, working as Weiland’s apprentice, incorporated the final product into the Odess Theater renovation project at Sheldon Jackson Campus’ Allen Hall. The result is an import substitution project featuring red alder that was locally harvested, locally dried and milled, and locally applied by skilled craftsmen.

Red alder as part of the overall, volunteer driven, renovation project.

You can find this red alder in the form of a beautiful wainscoting surrounding the entire of the Odess Theater. The wainscoting serves as a demonstration, highlighting the beauty and versatility of red alder. The red alder in the Odess joins other wood products that were locally harvested from Icy Strait or reclaimed from buildings on site. This project represents a piece of the larger community driven effort to restore and improve the community assets on the Sheldon Jackson Campus. Hundreds of volunteers have worked on this and other projects. For more information on red alder and this project, download our briefing sheet:

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.

Mar 21 2013

Mapping Tongass Forest Assets

The Tongass National Forest is valuable for more than old growth timber clear-cutting: it’s the source of near limitless value to both residents and visitors, if used sustainably.

Energy production, recreation, tourism, hunting, fishing, education and subsistence resources all rely on the continued health of the Tongass in order to continue bringing thousands of dollars and hundreds of jobs to Sitka.  As Sitka continues to grow, physically and economically, it’s essential that we recognize the wide swath of valuable assets present in and around Sitka.  

Southeast Alaska offers a cornucopia of possibilities for making a living from (and living off of) the land, rivers and sea.  Wilderness areas offer adventure and solitude rarely matched elsewhere in the US, large tracts of remote and robust ecosystems provide habitat for large populations of deer, bear, mountain goat, and more, world class salmon fisheries provides the best wild salmon and some of the best sport-fishing,  

The Tongass National Forest, and Sitka, are more than just tourist destinations, more than just timber value, more than just salmon fishing: the sum is greater than its parts.  If we plan future expansion and development with all these invaluable assets in mind, Sitka has the potential to grow more prosperous, and more sustainable.

Learn more about the myriad values throughout Sitka by visiting our map of the Sitka Community Use Area (SCUA), or check out the briefing sheets.

Feb 13 2013

Review of Forest Restoration in the Tongass

Bob Christensen, original member of SCS’s Groundtruthing Project team, recently completed a comprehensive review of forest restoration methods for The Wilderness Society. This very readable work provides a thorough background of the why, how, and where of restoring forest habitats in the Tongass National Forest. It also describes a concise method for prioritizing restoration locations based on ecological, social, and economic criteria. We used this work to inform the prioritization we conducted for the Sitka Community Use Area. Efforts like this are critical to our understanding and ever-constant learning about how to restore fish and wildlife habitat in Southeast Alaska.

You can view Bob’s report below or download an 8 Mb version by clicking on this link.

Jan 28 2013

Guide to Tongass Young Growth Timber

This school year, SCS partnered with the Sitka High School Construction Tech program to explore and demonstrate ways that young-growth red alder and Sitka spruce from the Tongass can be used in building and woodworking. The projects that resulted are profiled, along with others from throughout the region, in “Alaskan Grown: A Guide to Tongass Young Growth Timber and its Uses,” published by SCS this month.

DOWNLOAD a version for printing.

Whether you are a builder, woodworker, consumer, or simply interested in the growing conversation around Tongass young-growth timber, the guide profiles projects throughout the region and shares practical insights about the quality and performance of local young-growth in a variety of applications. It also discusses basic challenges and opportunities surrounding the eventual U.S. Forest Service transition to young-growth timber harvest on the Tongass, which was announced in 2010.

Funding for this guide was provided by the U.S. Forest Service and the National Forest Foundation as part of an ongoing effort to support sustainable timber harvest and local markets in the Tongass National Forest. The purpose is to invigorate markets for Tongass young-growth timber products, particularly in Southeast Alaska, by exploring their performance in a variety of interior and exterior applications. By sharing practical information, broadening the knowledge base, and connecting local producers with consumers, we hope to help builders, woodworkers, resource managers and others make more informed decisions about using Tongass young-growth.

Check out the guide to learn more about:

  • Why Tongass young-growth is important right now
  • What the most common species are, and how they can be used
  • Where Tongass young growth is being used, including in the Sitka High School construction tech program, U.S. Forest Service public recreation cabins, and private homes
  • When experts predict economic harvest of young-growth will be possible on the Tongass
  • What it will take to start shaping a sustainable local young-growth industry with the opportunities we have today

We know there is significant interest in the use of young growth, and we believe Southeast Alaska communities can sustain small young-growth timber operations that support local expertise and sustainable economic development. Harvesters, processors, builders, and consumers throughout the region are interested in realizing this vision. We hope that this guide will be one small step toward expanding and informing this conversation.

Apr 27 2012

Wilderness Project 2011 Final Report

The Sitka Community Wilderness Stewardship Project seeks to connect communities with their local Wilderness areas by facilitating volunteer stewardship and monitoring.  Over the past three years, the project has been an overwhelming success and will be continuing in to 2012 and 2013.

This is the Final Report for the 2011 Community Wilderness Stewardship Project.  Components of the Data Report for the 2011 project can be found below.

Can’t see the report?  Down load the pdf here: Wilderness Project 2011 Final Report

2011 Data Report

Cover sheet

Solitude Data Instructions

2011 Solitude Monitoring Data

2011 Plant List

2011 Plant Survey Map – West Chichagof-Yakobi

2011 Plant Survey Map – South Baranof

2011 Bird List

* Data is primarily for Sitka Ranger District.  Data for other ranger districts can be found in the in reports specific to each Wilderness Area in thefull project file below.

Wilderness Stewardship Project 2011 – Full Project File- The full project file contains all photos, reports, data, radio interviews, videos, and products from the 2011 project.  (This is a large file–3.5 Gb)

 

 

 

Jan 25 2012

Ocean Boulevard Wildlife Improvement

Ocean Boulevard second growth thinned to 25×25' spacing, 2011.

BACKGROUND: Clear-cut logging of the forests near False Island between 1967 and 1972 led to fast-paced, even-aged growth of new conifers, shrubs and herbaceous plants that is today causing serious problems for deer and other wildlife. After about 25 years of growth in a previously clear-cut area, conifers become so thick that understory shrubs and herbs are shaded out, virtually eliminating vital deer forage for over 100 years. Restorative thinning of the kind completed during the Ocean Boulevard project can help maintain a more open canopy and better habitat for the deer and other wildlife that local communities depend on for subsistence.

Ocean Boulevard was the first of an ongoing series of projects in the False Island landscape aimed at addressing a wide range of resource opportunities related to subsistence, ecosystem restoration, and recreation. Ocean Boulevard benefited from early collaboration with community stakeholders that went above and beyond the traditional U.S. Forest Service process (learn more here). Related projects include the Sitkoh River Restoration and Peril Landscape Opportunities Project.

Local contractor Todd Miller creating a "gap" at Ocean Boulevard, 2011. Gaps open the forest and mimic old growth characteristics by creating more structural diversity. This stimulates the growth of plants like blueberry and huckleberry, which provide food for deer and other animals in the winter.

STATS: In 2011, local contractor TM Construction thinned 334 acres of young growth forest with treatments that included 25 x 25 foot spacing and canopy gaps. Many of the downed trees were removed by ground-based equipment and either stored in a sort-yard for future sale, or tagged for in-stream use in the Sitkoh River Restoration Project that will be completed in 2012; others were cut into smaller pieces and left to decay in the forest.

INNOVATIONS: The U.S. Forest Service took an experimental approach with Ocean Boulevard, using it to test the costs and logistics involved in removing and storing downed trees after thinning. Better understanding these costs will help the Forest Service and community more realistically assess future opportunities to use “restoration byproducts” from the Sitka Ranger District for biomass, lumber, and other timber products.

FUNDING AND SUPPORT:Ocean Boulevard was funded by the America Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009, and

Thinned young growth from Ocean Boulevard, 2011

was the first U.S. Forest Service project to involve input from the Sitka Collaborative Stewardship Group (SCSG).

Check out our briefing sheet to learn more about community input on the Ocean Boulevard Project: Ocean Boulevard Briefing Sheet.

Jan 16 2012

Wilderness Expedition: Cross Baranof

Updated: 1/16/2010

The land enclosed in the borders of South Baranof Wilderness Area is steep, remote, and difficult to travel. Other than the intrepid mountain goat hunters, this area of the Wilderness receives almost no foot traffic.

In August of 2011, as part of the Sitka Community Wilderness Stewardship Project, as expedition was organized to collect baseline plant and recreational use data. Thanks to packrafts donated by Alpacka Raft Company the Sitka Conservation Society Wilderness crew completed a pioneering transect along the southern boarder of the Wilderness Area.  See the slideshow and read the full report below.

 

Report: Tongass Wilderness Stewardship: Packrafting across Baranof Island

Thank you to everyone who came to see my presentation “The Other Route Across the Island” at the Library on Sunday.  It was a packed house!

Check out the pictures from the talk below.

 

 

Jan 05 2012

4H Way-of-Life Club: General Information

The Alaska Way-of-Life 4H Club seeks to connect youth to their natural environment through a number of hands-on, outdoor activities. Through parent and volunteer-led activities, youth are taught the skills to feel equipped while out in the Tongass National Forest. They are taught skills that relate to safety, like building survival kits and shelters, to  wild-food harvest and preservation, to outdoor hobbies like bird identification. As with all 4H Clubs, our group seeks to incorporate elements of the 4H’s: Head, Heart, Hands, and Health. We also strive to develop a healthy community through family and youth participation.

For the 2012-2012 school year, we will focus on a variety of topics: mushroom hunting, berry picking, cooking, shelter building, tracking, plant ID, survival kits, and food preservation.

We meet the first and third Tuesday of the month and every last Saturday. There are two groups: Cloverbuds, ages 5-8 and 4H, ages 9+. The cost to join is $20.00, which is divided between registration to National 4H, insurance, and the Activity Fund. If cost is an issue, please ask us about scholarships.

Check out our briefing sheets for more information:4H Briefing sheet

Please contact Tracy Gagnon at tracy@sitkawild.org or call 747.7509 if you are interested in joining!

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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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