Sitka Conservation Society
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.

Jan 22 2013

Climate Change on the top of President Obama’s “To-Do” List

In his inauguration speech yesterday, President Obama made clear the key issues that are of the most concern and importance going into his second term in office. Of those handful of issues, addressing the threat of climate change was arguably the most important – both to the President, and to our planet. After so many years of stagnant, and often non-existent, discussions and attempts at creating policies to address climate change, President Obama made it quite clear that this inactivity will not continue. Addressing climate change is not just something we “must” do, it is something we “will” do.

We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations.  Some may still deny the overwhelming judgement of science, but none can avoid the devastating impact of raging fires, and crippling drought, and more powerful storms.

Now, more than ever, we need to keep vigilant in our efforts to make sure that our Senators Begich and Murkowski know that climate change policy should be at the top of their “to do” lists as well.  Writing a letter, sending an email, making a call –  all are important actions that everyone can and should do to make sure our representatives in Washington DC know what their constituents value and want to see addressed in this new term.  It only takes a few minutes, and we already have a page set up to get you started.


If you missed the President’s speech, you can read a transcript here

Dec 13 2012

Sitka High School to have Woodshop Open House Featuring Local Wood

The Sitka High School industrial arts classes and Sitka Conservation Society invite you to an open house of student handiwork featuring red alder harvested from False Island and processed in Sitka. Come to the SHS woodshop (follow signs from the front door) on December 19th, from 4:00-5:00 p.m., to learn more about the unique properties of red alder, and opportunities for using local wood in your home projects. Light refreshments will be served. This project funded by the National Forest Foundation. Contact Ray Friedlander at 747-7509 for more information.





Dec 12 2012

Tales from the Tongass

The only thing more abundant than trees and salmon in the Tongass National Forest is the multitude of stories and memories that we’ve all made.

There are many ways in which we can measure the “value” of the Tongass and the numerous gifts it provides us: the salmon caught, the electricity generated, the fresh water consumed, the plants and berries harvested, the tours given. These are all important and tangible aspects of the Tongass, but it leaves out a big and pretty influential part of the Forest: us, the people who have made Sitka and the Tongass our home. From those of us born here, to those who have come to make Sitka our home, we all have stories, traditions, and memories from our time living here in the Tongass.

At SCS, we’re working to restore not only the ecosystems of the Tongass, but the connections people have to this wonderful place.

What better way to rekindle old connections and create new ones than to share our stories with each other?

Please send your stories to, and be sure to include where your stories/traditions/adventures occurred (and please attach any photos you’d like to share too). We’ll link all of our stories to a map of the Sitka Community Use Area and post it on our site for all to see and enjoy. We’re looking forward to reading about the many wonderful experiences you’ve all had in the Tongass!

Dec 06 2012

Salmon Community

Salmon are the backbone of the economy and the way-of-life in Southeast Alaska.  Many of our regional leaders recognize the importance of salmon for Southeast Alaska and recently worked with the Sitka Conservation Society to articulate why Salmon are important and the efforts they are taking to protect and sustain our Wild Salmon Populations.  With support from the State of Alaska Sustainable Salmon Fund and Trout Unlimited Alaska, SCS helped to produce a series of “Targeted, effective, and culturally competent messages on the importance of wild salmon and salmon habitat will be created that are customized to appeal to specific Southeast Alaska communities.”

The work of the Sitka Conservation Society strives to find the common ground that we all have to the natural world that surrounds us.  We work to build upon this common ground to chart a course for policy, practices, and personal relationships that create an enduring culture of conservation values alongside natural resource management that provides for current and future generations.  In Alaska, we have in Salmon an opportunity to do things right.  We are proud when are leaders recognize and support this vision and take actions that manifest this support.  Listen to what they have to say:


Listen to: Senator Mark Begich

“We have an incredible salmon resource in Southeast Alaska.  Did you know that salmon provide a 1 Billion dollar industry that powers the local economy? And that catching, processing and selling salmon puts 1 in 10 Southeast Alaskans to work?  Salmon is big business throughout Southeast Alaska and symbolizes the richness and bounty of the Tongass National Forest.  Healthy and abundant salmon–something we can all be proud of!”


Listen to: Senator Lisa Murkowski

“Since I was a young girl growing up in Southeast the region has been sustained because of the diversity of our economy, and a key part of that diversity is our salmon which fuel a 1 Billion dollar commercial fishery annually.  Not to mention the sport fisheries’ economic contributions.  Catching, processing and selling salmon accounts for 10% of all regional jobs.  Everyone is lucky to live in a place that produces such bountiful fisheries.  Healthy and abundant salmon–something we can all be proud of!”


Listen to: Dale Kelly – Alaska Troller’s Association

“Did you ever think that an old log lying in the stream might be good for salmon?  Turns out it is!  A fallen tree creates pools and eddies where salmon like to lay eggs.  These areas are also nurseries for young salmon.  Back in the day, people used to clear logs from salmon streams, but that’s no longer allowed and restoration work is underway in some rivers.  Healthy forests mean healthy salmon–something we can all be proud of!”


Listen to: Bruce Wallace – United Fishermen of Alaska

“Did you know that conserving and restoring salmon habitat means jobs for Southeast Alaskans?  Salmon already employ about 1 in 10 people here.  Restoring salmon watersheds damaged in the past means more fish, bigger overall catches, and more jobs.  With support from the Alaska Sustainable Salmon Fund, forest restoration projects are underway in the Tongass National Forest.  Healthy forests mean healthy salmon–something we can all be proud of!


Listen to: Sencer Severson – Salmon Troller

“Southeast Alaskans love our rare spells of hot, dry weather, but heat and sunshine can be bad for salmon–in fact, they like shade.  That’s why our towering trees in the Tongass National Forest are so important for our salmon to reproduce.  Leaving trees along salmon streams provides essential shade.  It also prevents erosion and keeps rivers in their natural channels.  In the Tongass, healthy forests mean healthy salmon!”


Listen to: Cora Campbell – Commissioner of the Alaska Dept. of Fish and Game

“Alaska’s sustainable salmon management depends on good information.  That’s why technicians may ask to look at salmon you’ve caught.  Fish with the adipose fin removed usually means the salmon had a tiny wire ta implanted in side when they were juveniles.  These tags provide managers with important information on the origin of the stock.  Healthy and abundant salmon–something we can all be proud of!”


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

Dec 03 2012

Putting the Public Back in “Public Lands”

Growing up in Minnesota, and having just spent the last three years in North Carolina, hearing or reading the term “public lands” brings to mind some pretty specific notions and memories, most of which include traveling a long distance, paying entrance or vehicle fees, rangers and managers who varied from enthusiastic to ornery, and usually lots of people.

After living in Sitka for just over two months now, I’ve come to see public lands in a much different light. Sitka is nestled within 17 million acres of mountains, forests, streams and muskegs that comprise the Tongass National Forest. There’s no long expedition needed to reach public lands here – they’re in our backyards. They are our backyards. And these public lands are so much more than just a beautiful place to visit – they are the backbone to the communities of southeast Alaska.

I did take a small excursion this past weekend, over to Kruzof Island. I was excited to actually travel the roads and see the forests, beaches, streams and muskegs I have spent so much time working with on the computer. Not to mention this was my first chance to see the Tongass off of Baranof Island. The purpose of this trip was two-fold: to ‘ground truth’ a number of forest stands and salmon streams for their current condition and their potential for restoration work, and to experience first-hand why Kruzof is such a popular and important place for Sitkans.

I traveled with AmeriCorp volunteer Paul Norwood and SCS’s Watershed & Restoration manager Scott Harris over to Mud Bay. Once there, we anchored the boat, loaded up our gear onto our rented ATV’s, and headed west across the island to North Beach cabin (our ‘home base’ for the next couple of days). Already on the very first day on Kruzof, my idea of what “public lands” are started to shift. There I was, looking in awe at the beautiful forests and muskegs of north Kruzof as we roared along in our ATVs, all the while the other people we came across during our trip were there hunting deer with their families, starting to set out marten traps for the upcoming trapping season, and just enjoying the weekend out in the woods.

While our trip didn’t include trap setting, I was able to experience deer hunting for the first time (a beautiful buck on our first day), ATVing through forests, up mountains and across rivers, hiking in streams and through muskegs, old growth stands and thick young growth, and strolling along Shelikof beach collecting sand dollars. All of these amazing and unique experiences, all in three days, all on a small section of an amazing island, and all on public land.

As important and cherished as Kruzof is to Sitkans today, it still shows a landscape scarred from a less than kind history of extensive clear-cutting.  Amid the tangle of young growth we climbed through were the moss-covered stumps of the giant trees that once towered there; streams barren of any logs or other diversions were lined with the blunted ends of old fallen trees that had been removed to allow for machinery to move easily upstream; mountain and hill-sides were blanketed in a mosaic of old growth, young growth, and veins of alder along the roads and trails.  The scars are healing on Kruzof, but work is still needed to ensure that we can bring Kruzof back to it’s previous ecosystem health, allowing us and the countless animals that live there to enjoy the many riches of Kruzof well into the future.

This trip showed me Kruzof Island as more than just a pretty view of Mount Edgecumbe: it is simultaneously a place for hiking, ATVing, subsistence hunting, fur trapping, restoration work on salmon streams and the surrounding forests, bird watching, beach-combing, quiet reflection, adventure… the list goes on. And all of this without any waiting in line at an entrance gate, or paying a visitor fee, or being constantly monitored by rangers and land managers. Believe it or not, this was the first time I had seen “the public” actually utilizing their public land. After all the visits I had made to public lands before in the lower 48, it wasn’t until coming here to Sitka, and seeing it first hand on Kruzof Island, that I really understood what public lands are really about.

We are so fortunate here in southeast Alaska to not only to have this beautiful landscape as the backdrop of our lives, but to have that landscape as public land that we can visit for recreation and relaxation, and for our livelihoods. The fishing and tourism industries, which are the first and second largest employers and revenue makers in Sitka, are dependent on healthy forests, salmon streams, myriad wildlife, hiking and ATV trails, and cabins: all of which are found in our public lands. On Kruzof, these are places like Shelikof Creek, Iris Meadows, Twin Lakes, North Beach cabin, and so many more. Yes, public lands like the Tongass National Forest are managed by tax payers’ dollars, but the money that the public pays to manage the Tongass is re-paid one hundred-fold. From the roughly 14 million dollars that the Forest Service spends on tourism and fisheries & watershed management within the Tongass, just under two billion (that’s $2,000,000,000!) is brought into the local economies of southeast Alaska from these two industries. And this number doesn’t even include the value of subsistence hunting, fishing and gathering.

When I see Mount Edgecumbe on a clear day, or look out from atop Harbor Mountain, or hear the words “public lands”, a new array of memories and ideas come to mind.  Public lands are for all people, for a profusion of different activities.  They’re a gift and a legacy for all of us.


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 24 2012

Have You Seen This Bird?






Attention all bird enthusiasts and nature-lovers! 97 birds with various sorts of colored leg bands have been spotted in Sitka. We need your help in recording sightings of these birds!

The weekend before Thanksgiving, certified bird bander Gwen Baluss, Sitka High student Naquoia Bautista, and many volunteers banded Juncos, Chickadees, and Sparrows. Naquoia is participating in the Science Mentor Program. She will be conducting a study of the habits of wintering songbirds in Sitka. Her project relies on local bird enthusiasts and folks with bird-feeders to look out for her color-banded birds. If you would like to help, download and print the observation form here. You can also record observations on the internet at this link. If you have questions, contact Scott Harris at or call 738-4091.

Nov 20 2012

Salmon Capital: The Tongass National Forest

Sitka Conservation Society board member Richard Nelson spoke on salmon during Sitka Whalefest on the theme of “Cold Rivers to the Sea: Terrestrial Connections to our Northern Oceans.”  He spoke on the subject of one of the greatest manifestations of the connection between the terrestrial forests and the oceans:  our Wild Alaska Salmon. His eloquent words remind us of why we care so much about and treasure salmon so deeply.  Salmon are the backbone of the ecosystems of Southeast Alaska.  For all of us who live here, Salmon are an extremely important part of our lives.  Many of our jobs are directed related to salmon through fishing, processing, shipping, guiding, or managing salmon stocks.  All of us are connected to salmon as the food that we eat and prepare for our families. For the Sitka Conservation Society, it is obvious to us that the Tongass is a Salmon Forest and that salmon are one of the most important outputs from this forest.  For years we have fought against a timber industry that wanted more and more of the forest for clear-cutting and log export.  It is time to turn the page on the timber dominated discussions of the past.  Sure there is room for some logging.  But, the Tongass should no longer be seen as a timber resource to be cleared and moved on.  Rather, the Tongass should be managed with salmon as the priority, with the Forests left standing as the investment and the interest that it pays out every year being the salmon runs that feed our ecosystems, fisheries, and our families. Please help us protect Tongass salmon and help us make a new vision of Tongass management a reality.  We need you to write letters telling decision makers and land managers to make Tongass management for salmon and salmon protection a priority.  Here is an action alert that tells you how to write a letter:  here.  Or, if you need help, please feel free to visit or call our office (907-747-7509). You can read some letters that local fishermen wrote for inspiration:  here Thanks for your help and support.  Together we can ensure that are Wild Alaska Salmon are protected!

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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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