Sitka Conservation Society
May 30 2013

Wilderness Volunteers Needed

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 bryan@sitkawild.org.

 

Slocum Arm- 6 days – July 8-July 14 – 2 volunteers

Volunteers will be travelling to Slocum Arm in West Chichagof Wilderness Area to help researchers monitor plots for the Yellow-Cedar study by Stanford University.  The crew will be transported by charter boat to Slocum Arm, then access field plot by kayak.

 

Slocum Arm – 5 days – July 14-July18 –  2 volunteers

Volunteers will be travelling to Slocum Arm in West Chichagof Wilderness Area to help researchers monitor plots for the Yellow-Cedar study by Stanford University.  The crew will be transported by charter boat to Slocum Arm, then access field plot by kayak.  This trip will trade-out with the previous trip on July 14th.

 

Port Banks/Whale Bay- 5 days – July12-July16 – 2 volunteers

After boating from Sitka to Whale Bay, the crew will off-load with gear and packrafts. After hiking to Plotnikof Lake, the crew will packraft to the end of the lake, portage to Davidoff Lake and paddle to the end of the lake, then reverse the trip back to salt water.  Volunteers will assist SCS staff and collect ecological and visitor use data. At the end of the trip, volunteers will fly back to Sitka by float plane.

 

Red Bluff Bay- 8 days – July 21-July 28 – 2 volunteers

Red Bluff Bay on the eastern side of South Baranof Wilderness Area is a spectacular destination. The SCS crew will spend 8 days camping in the bay and traveling by kayak and foot to monitor base-line ecological conditions and visitor use before flying back to Sitka by float plane.

 

Red Bluff Bay- 7 days – July 28-August 3 – 2 volunteers

Red Bluff Bay on the eastern side of South Baranof Wilderness Area is a spectacular destination. The SCS crew will spend 8 days camping in the bay and traveling by kayak and foot to monitor base-line ecological conditions and visitor use before flying back to Sitka by float plane.  This trip will trade-out with the previous trip on August 3.

 

Taigud Islands – 7 days – August 11-August 17 – 3 volunteers

Volunteers will paddle from Sitka to the Taiguds and surrounding islands to assist SCS Wilderness staff monitor recreational sites and collect beach debris for future pick-up. The crew will then paddle back to Sitka.  *Note: These dates are not yet firm and may be subject to change.

 

May 29 2013

Young Growth Timber at Allen Auditorium

SCS was recently awarded another Community Capacity and Land Stewardship (CCLS) Grant from the National Forest Foundation.  The CCLS grant focuses on the use of local, young growth timber and habitat restoration. This grant will sustain and further develop the capacity-building momentum generated from last year’s grant.  One of the components of the previous grant was to provide local, young growth timber to the Sitka High School industrial arts classes.  Students were provided with red alder for building bed side tables, as well as Sitka spruce to construct a bike shelter.  The bike shelter will be finalized this summer and placed at the Sitka Sound Science Center.

Wood drying at a local kiln

Through the current grant, SCS will continue to promote regional young growth markets, incentivize forest restoration and further the Transition Framework by creating an educational opportunity for local youth that focuses on young growth timber for structural and building applications. Currently, SCS will work with a local miller to process local red alder. Red alder has been historically considered a ‘weed species’, however due to its abundance it is quickly becoming valued for use in specialty wood products, cabinetry, furniture and architectural millwork such as wainscoting or molding. SCS is encouraging regional industry integration by building relationships between producers and users. The red alder will become part of the Allen Auditorium renovation project on the Sheldon Jackson campus.  This partnership will also allow for SCS to sponsor several local high school students to work under the supervision of local builder Pete Weiland on the renovation project this summer. Students will be given the opportunity to spend approximately one month working on the Auditorium renovation project and will be partnered with a college mentor. The wood will be provided to the renovation project to produce an installation and demonstration project that highlights red alder as a viable material.  SCS is now accepting applications from local high school students who are interested in participating in this project. Applications are due by July 1 and can be emailed to info@sitkawild.org .

May 17 2013

Wild Foods, A New Relationship

Arguably, to know a place is to know the plants. It’s one thing to appreciate the aesthetics of a certain habitat but another to really know the plants within it. To really know a plant creates a relationship. One that’s based on an understanding and appreciation of seasons, habitat, and life cycle. It’s a give and take—food and medicine (among others) for protection and stewardship.

The Sitka Conservation Society created an opportunity for community members to deepen their relationship to the land through a “spring edibles plant series.” This class explored edible plants in three different habitats: the forest, estuary, and coastline. Students learned how to identify plants, where they are commonly found, harvesting techniques, and preparation methods. And now, we hope, they have a deeper appreciation and connection to the Tongass National Forest.

This course was a partnership with the Kayaani Commission, which was established in 1998 to “preserve and protect the historical and traditional knowledge of the way plants are used.” Kayaani Commissioners shared a customary wisdom, complementing instructor Scott Brylinsky’s extensive knowledge of edibles and plants.

Click here for an online field guide to the wild edibles in the Tongass. Enjoy the tastes of the Tongass!

May 17 2013

Leave No Trace Trainer Course: June 8 and 9

Saturday, June 8th and Sunday June 9th (we will be camping overnight at Starrigavan Campground, Sitka)

Description:  This course will allow participants to learn, practice, and teach the principles of Leave-No-Trace outdoor ethics and will certify participants as LNT Trainers.  The Leave-No-Trace Center for Outdoor Ethics is a national organization dedicated to teaching people how to use the outdoor responsibly.  It is the largest and most widely accepted and widely used outdoor ethics accreditation program in the nation.

The Training includes 16 hours of hands-on instruction and overnight camping.  The course will be held at Starrigavan Campground.

This LNT Trainer Course will focus on the skills to teach Leave-No-Trace as well as practical low-impact outdoor skills.  Participants will be asked to prepare a short 10-15 minute lesson on of the Leave-No-Trace principles or other minimum impact topic before the class, then present the lesson during the course.  (These lessons are not expected to be perfect.  They will provide a learning tool for the group to improve their outdoor teaching skills.)

Who:  This course is intended for outfitters, guides, naturalists, Scout leaders, etc., and anyone who would like to have certification to teach Leave-No-Trace skills.

Course Times: The course will begin at 9:30am on Saturday, June 8th and will conclude by 5:00pm on Sunday, June 9th.

Gear: Participants need to bring their own camping gear.  SCS has a limited amount of camping gear to loan if necessary.   Please pack a lunch for the first day.

Cost: $35.00 per person.  The fee covers dinner on Saturday, lunch and dinner on Sunday, drinks, and course materials.

Contact: Please reserve your spot by registering before May 31st.  To facilitate your preparation for the course, we recommend an earlier registration if possible.  You can register by contacting the Sitka Conservation Society at 907-747-7409 or by emailing adam@sitkawild.org.

Instructors:         Adam Andis, Master Educator, Sitka Conservation Society

Bryan Anaclerio, Master Educator Trainer, Sitka Conservation Society

Darrin Kelly, Master Educator, USDA Forest Service

Download a printable flyer HERE.

 

 

May 10 2013

Sealaska: Fact over Fiction

 

Private Property signs on Sealaska Corporation lands

(photo from the Sealaska Shareholder’s Underground)

In a recent Letter to the Editor in the Sitka Sentinel, the President and CEO of Sealaska Corporation attempted to waylay our fears that the public would not be allowed on lands transferred to the corporation’s private ownership by the Sealaska Bill.  He also stated that Sealaska does “not post ‘No Trespassing  in any form on [Sealaska Corp.] lands,” and goes on to state that “Sealaska stands on its history, having allowed access to its lands for responsible use.”

Update: See our full response, published May 10th in the Sitka Sentinel at the bottom of the post.

The mission of the Sitka Conservation Society is to protect the public lands of the Tongass National Forest.  As public lands, they belong to all Americans as National Patrimony.  Although lands in public hands are not always managed how we want, the process exists for citizens to have their voices heard and give input on how the lands are managed.  Most importantly, public access is guaranteed and not restricted in anyway.  If important sites on the Tongass like Redoubt Lake are privatized and owned by Sealaska Corporation, they are no longer part of all our national patrimony and the public does not have a say in how they are managed.  Sealaska Corporation says that they will allow “unprecedented access.”  Whatever that is, it is nothing compared to current access on these lands that all of us currently own as American citizens.

Our greatest fears concerning the potential in-holding parcels that the Sealaska Corporation wants to own is not what may happen in the next few years, but what will happen 10, 20, or 30 years from now.  We understand that Sealaska will make many promises now when they want support for their legislation.  But we can’t predict what future Sealaska Corporate boards might decide to do with the land and who may or may-not be allowed to use them.  These fears are what unsettles us the most about the Sealaska legislation.

Below is the current Sealaska policy for access to its lands which clearly states access is per their discretion:

(Click here to download the entire report.)

Letter to the Editor, published in the Sitka Sentinel May 10th, 2013.

Dear Editor:
 
Recently the Sealaska Corporation’s President and Corporate Executive Officer (CEO), Chris McNeil called out the Sitka Conservation Society in a letter to the editor and called us out for causing “anxiety, anger, and opposition” to Sealaska’s actions. I would respond to Mr. McNeil that we are not causing this reaction, we are responding to it as it is what most of us in the community feel when we think of public lands like Redoubt Falls, Port Banks, Jamboree Bay, Kalinin Bay, and places in Hoonah Sound being taking out of public hands and put into corporate ownership.
 
We did put graphics with cartoon police tape over a photo of SItkans subsistence dip-net fishing at Redoubt falls. They can be seen on our website at www.sitkawild.org. These graphics represent our greatest fears: that a place that all of us use and depend on, and that is owned by all Americans (native and non-native), will have limitations put on it under private ownership or will be managed in a way where members of the public have no voice or input.
Our fears come from past Sealaska actions. We also put photos on our website of Sealaska logging on Dall Island and around Hoonah; and we linked to the story of Hoonah residents who asked that logging not be so extensive and target their treasured places but were logged anyway. The case in those areas is that the corporate mandate to make a profit superseded what community members wanted. We are scared of what corporate management of these important places around Sitka will mean on-the-ground and we will continue to speak out to protect our public lands.
 
Mr. McNeil Jr. paints the issue as native vs. non-native and accuses SCS of wanting to “put natives in a box.” For us, the issue is about distrust of corporations without public accountability, not ethnicity. Mr. McNeil has an annual compensation package that is far greater than the entire SCS budget. He is flanked by lawyers who can write legal language and policy that we cannot begin to understand the implications of. Even in their different versions of the House and Senate legislation, the access policy is very different, confusing, and ultimately subject to Sealaska’s whims. As SCS, we are speaking out against a corporation owning the public lands where publicly owned resources are concentrated on the Tongass.
 
Sealaska’s legislation is not good for Sitka if it means that more places like Redoubt Falls could be taken out of public hands and transferred to a corporation.
 
Sincerely,
Andrew Thoms

 

 

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 info@sitkawild.org.  Bulk copies are available for purchase at-cost (about $0.80 per copy).

Download a copy of the manual HERE.

May 07 2013

SCS Summer Boat Tours Start June 1st

The first of six boat tours to take place throughout the summer.  Mark your calendars!

  • June 1st, Saturday 10am
  • June 11th, Tuesday 5:30pm – Cancelled
  • June 27th, Thursday 5:30pm
  • July 23rd, Tuesday 5:30pm
  • August 13th, Tuesday 5:30pm

Check back soon for more information on tour topics and speakers.  See you on the boat!

 

A special thanks to Allen Marine for offering discounted charter prices for our non-profit summer tours, which makes this series possible.

May 07 2013

Science Sharing Night a huge success

The Student Science Sharing night last Monday, April 29 was a huge success. This was our second year of celebrating student learning in the ecological sciences. We had over 100 students and community members participate, and we had student projects from Sitka and Mt. Edgecumbe High Schools, Blatchley Middle School, and Keet Gooshi Heen.

 

This event is more than just a science fair. It’s an opportunity for the community and students to interact and share learning on topics that affect the long-term sustainability of our community. We are surrounding by public lands and depend upon the bounty of the sea and land to sustain our quality of life. Integrating community, young people, scientists, and natural resource managers in a shared learning experience will help ensure that we make well-informed decisions about managing these resources.
The Science Night was the culmination of the work of many people and organizations. It was supported by Sitka Conservation Society, University of Alaska Southeast, Sitka Sound Science Center, Sitka School District and Mt. Edgecumbe High School. But the people that did most of the work were the students!

May 02 2013

Science Mentor Program accepting applications for next school year

The Science Mentor Program is accepting applications for the 2013/2014 school year. This is the third year of this highly popular and successful program. Last year, students studied wintering songbirds in Sitka and conducted genetic research on the decline of Alaska yellow cedar. Students from any of Sitka’s 3 high schools are encouraged to apply. We will also have an informational meeting at Sitka High School, May 7, 1145am to 1220pm. Follow the links below for a program description and application. Contact Scott Harris at scott@sitkawild.org for more information.

 

 

Program Description link

Application link

 

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.

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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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