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 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 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 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.

Apr 26 2013

Green Drinks!

Join SCS staff at Green Drinks, the monthly environmental get-together.  With no agenda and no membership or admission fees, Green Drinks is a nice way to have some informal conversation on whatever environmental or community topics you want to bring to the table.

This week’s event will be hosted by Tracy Gagnon, SCS’s Community Sustainability Organizer and will focus on local foods.  For more information, contact Tracy at 747-7509 or tracy@sitkawild.org.

Apr 25 2013

Parade of Species 2013

 

Thanks to everyone who participated in the 2013 Parade of Species!  The costumes were creative, the activities were fun, and march was a truly WILD time!

We hope that you will remember to celebrate Earth Day every day and help us here at the Sitka Conservation Society to protect the natural environment of the Tongass and promote sustainable communities in Southeast!

 

Best Costume Winners:

Best Use of Recycled Materials

Silas Ferguson

 

 

 

Most Realistic Costume

Grace Clifton

 

 

 

Most Creative Costume

Finnan Kelly

 

 

 

Best Local Animal

Lena Keilman

 

 

 

Photos from the 2013 Parade of Species

We would especially like to thanks the following folks for helping to make this year’s parade such a huge success:

Costume Contest Judges

Judges: Steve Ash, Rita Mounayar, Heather Riggs, Pat Kehoe

Activities and booths by: The US Forest Service, Alaska Department of Fish and Game, The National Park Service, Sitka Global Warming Group, Sitka Local Food Network, the Science Center, The Kayaani Commission, Jud Kirkness, Fish to Schools, 4H Alaska way-of-life, and Community Schools

Prizes and donations from: Harry Race, Ben Franklin, Lakeside, True Value, Botanikaand Allen Marine

Volunteers: Coral Pendell, Garrett Bauer, Josh Houston, Wendy Alderson

And everyone who made costumes, cheered on the marchers, and celebrated Earth Day with the Parade of Species!

Apr 09 2013

Take Action: Salmon, Water, Alaskans need your help

Salmon, water, and the Alaskans who depend on them need your help!

Background: Right now, the Alaska State Senate is debating whether or not they should make it more difficult for Alaskans to protect the water in their backyards for salmon habitat.  HB77, the In-Stream Water Reservations Bill, would convolute an already convoluted public process, eliminating the requirement for public comment periods.  It would also give the Department of Natural Resources Commissioner the authority to issue General Permits for industrial operations if the commissioner determines the project will not cause “significant or irreparable harm” to Alaskans and issue permits that would directly and negatively impact salmon habitat if the commissioner determines it is in the “best interest of Alaska.”

As a reminder, the Department of Natural Resources no longer values future generations—they eliminated “future generations” from their mission statement last year.

Additionally, HB77 intends to revoke certain rights from Alaskan individuals, organizations, and tribes, and gives the government of Alaska authority on whether or not salmon and water are as important as industrial development.  In other words, this bill protects Outside interests at the expense of local Alaskans.  For an example of DNR siding against Alaskans in favor of Outside interests, and why this bill is relevant to all Alaskans, click here.

Talking Points

  • Alaskans need more opportunities to preserve salmon and our unique way of life, not fewer
  • HB77 protects the right for Outside interests to take water out of salmon streams while making it more difficult for Alaskans to keep water in salmon streams
  • The bill gives DNR discretion to negatively impact salmon habitat if it is in the “Best Interest” of the State of Alaska
  • It eliminates the requirement for DNR to open public comment periods on “Best Interest Findings”
  • 95% of public testimony opposed HB77, including fishing organizations, Alaska Native Tribal councils, city councils, fishermen, hunters, and every day residents

Take Action: Time is running out on the Legislature.  To add your voice to this issue, act now!

Alaska’s fish and water need you to stand up and take action immediately.  There are two ways you can help: You can write a My Turn in the Juneau Empire, or you can contact the Alaska State Senate Coastal Caucus and let them know you oppose HB77, a bill that revokes certain rights from Alaskans, eliminates the requirement for public comment periods at DNR, and gives DNR discretion to impact salmon habitat for the benefit of Outside companies.

Senator.Bert.Stedman@akleg.gov   465-3873

Senator.Dennis.Egan@akleg.gov   465-4947

Senator.Peter.Miicciche@akleg.gov   465-2828

Senator.Gary.Stevens@akleg.gov   465-4925

Senator.Donny.Olson@akleg.gov   465-3707

Feb 18 2013

America’s Salmon Forest at the AK Forum Film Fest

SCS’s short documentary Restoring America’s Salmon Forest was selected to show at the Alaska Forum on the Environment Film Festival on Friday, February 8, 2013 in Anchorage.  The film focuses on a multi-agency effort to increase salmon returns on the Sitkoh River in Southeast Alaska’s Chichagof Island, by improving the spawning and rearing habitat and redirecting a river that was heavily damaged by logging operations in the 1970s.

In the heyday of the Southeast Alaska timber industry, little regard was paid to the needs of salmon. Streams were frequently blocked and diverted, with streams in 70 major watersheds remaining that way decades later. Salmon surpassed timber in economic importance in Southeast Alaska more than two decades ago, but only in the last few years has the Forest Service finally made a serious effort to repair damaged streams. Currently over 7,000 jobs in Southeast Alaska are tied to the fishing industry, compared to about 200 in the timber industry. The Forest Service spends about three times as much on timber related projects as fisheries and restoration projects each year on the Tongass.

While salmon are responsible for 10 times as many jobs in Southeast Alaska as timber, and are also an important food source and a critical part of our cultural identity, the Forest Service still puts timber over salmon in its budget priorities. Recent Forest Service budgets have dedicated in the range of $22 million a year to timber and road building, compared to less than $2 million a year to restoring salmon streams damaged by past logging, despite a $100 million backlog of restoration projects.

Logging damages watersheds by diverting streams, blocking fish passage, and eliminating crucial spawning and rearing habitat structures. Restoration increases salmon returns by removing debris, redirecting streams, stabilizing banks to prevent erosion, and even thinning dense second-growth forest. We believe it simply makes sense to go back and repair habitat if you are responsible for its damage.

TAKE ACTION:

Please contact your representatives in Washington to tell them the ways you depend on Tongass salmon, and tell them you support managing the Tongass for salmon and permanently protecting important salmon producing watersheds. Tell them it is time to redirect funds from the bloated timber budget to the salmon restoration budget, and finally transitioning away from the culture of old-growth timber to sustainable practices recognizing all resources and opportunities.

What to say:

Check out the talking points in this post for some ideas of what you might include in your letters or calls.

Contact:

Undersecretary Robert Bonnie
Department of Natural Resources and the Environment
U.S. Department of Agriculture
1400 Independence Ave., S.W.
Washington, DC 20250

Email: robert.bonnie@osec.usda.gov

Senator Lisa Murkowski
709 Hart Senate Building
Washington, DC 20510

Email: karen_billups@energy.senate.gov

Senator Mark Begich
825C Hart Senate Building
Washington, DC 20510

Email: bob_weinstein@begich.senate.gov
If you have questions, contact the Sitka Conservation Society at 747-7509 or info@sitkawild.org

Produced by Bethany Goodrich, a summer staffer at the Sitka Conservation Society, “Restoring Alaska’s Salmon Forest” provides a brief look at how a restoration project looks on the ground and what such a project can accomplish in terms of salmon returns.
Feb 08 2013

Expedition: Outer Island Survey

This expedition is part of Sitka Conservation Society’s Community Wilderness Stewardship Project.  The Project, begun in 2009, is a partnership between SCS and the Tongass National Forest Service to collect base-line data on the ecological conditions and human impacts to designated Wilderness areas.  The Tongass NF in Southeast Alaska is the nation’s largest National Forest totaling 17 million acres with almost 6 million acres of designated Wilderness Area (also the largest total Wilderness area of any National Forest).  Almost all of this land is only accessible by boat or on foot.  Because most Tongass Wilderness Areas are so difficult to access, Forest Service Wilderness rangers rarely, if ever, have the ability to monitor areas which require technical skills, lots of time, or difficult logistics for access.  SCS augments and fills in the gaps in data by targeting these areas.

For the 2013 project, the SCS Wilderness crew will work with Craig and Thorne Bay Ranger Districts to conduct a monitoring expedition to a set of outercoast islands adjacent to Prince of Wales Island including Coronation Is., Warren Is., the Spanish Is., and the Maurelle Is.

The Team:

Adam Andis, is the Communications Director for SCS.  He has managed the Wilderness Stewardship Program since 2011.  Andis first started paddling on a National Outdor Leadership School expedition in Prince William Sound.  He guided kayak trips all over Southeast Alaska for Spirit Walker Expeditions before moving to Sitka to work for SCS.  Andis is a Level 4 ACA Instructor, a Leave-No-Trace Master Educator, and Wilderness First Responder.  He is also on the board of directors of the National Wilderness Stewardship Alliance and has a passion for Wilderness preservation and protection.

 

Rob Avery, has been paddling since he was a teenager (and that was a long time ago!) racing sprint and marathon in Junior K1. Originally from the UK, Rob now lives in the Pacific Northwest where he manages distribution for Valley & North Shore kayaks.  He is also the regional rep for Snap Dragon, Level Six and other fun paddlesports stuff under his Active Paddles business, and also runs Kayak Kraft coaching service.  Rob is an ACA Level 5 Instructor, Level 4 BCU coach, 5 star BCU paddler, Wilderness First Responder, Leave-No-Trace Instructor and no stranger to Alaska where is has spend many windy and rainy days paddling in the SE, central, Kodiak and the Aleutian Islands.

Cris Lewis,

 

 

 

 

Paul Norwood, was born and raised in Paris, and has lived in Alaska since 1999.  He spent a few years fishing and working in canneries, then did odd jobs in the interior of the state. Finally, he went to Sitka where he studied liberal arts and Spanish at UAS and worked as a tour guide on wildlife watching cruises. He has been on the Sitka Mountain Rescue team for several years, completed a year of Americorps service at the Sitka Sound Science Center, did an internship with the Peruvian Ministry of the Environment and a stint on a trail crew in southern Patagonia, and participated with numerous organizations on small projects ranging from traditional gardening to mapping invasive species.  Paul has Emergency Medical Technician certification.

Dates and Duration:  We are planning 16 days for the trip (11 field days, 2 travel days, and 2 weather days).  The trip will begin June 16th and the crew will return to Sitka on July 2nd.

Overview map of Southeast Alaska

Route:  The crew will pack boats in the small fishing village of Port Alexander.  The crux of the trip will be the 12.5 nm open-water crossing of Chatham Strait to Kuiu Island.  From there, the crew will paddle south to Cape Decision and stay at the Cape Decision Lighthouse.  On to the Spanish Island and Coronation Island where the crew will monitor recreation sites and record visitor use data, survey for invasive plants, conduct owl broadcast surveys, swab toads for fungal infections, and a litany of other research goals.  From Coronation, the team will cross to Warren, then down to the Maurelles to meet up with Craig Ranger District staff and Youth Conservation Corps to help out in the field.  Back at the final destination in Craig, the crew will lead a kayak skills and rescue class for the Ranger District staff and community members in Craig.  The trip will wrap up with an adventure in ferry hopping from Craig to Ketchikan and finally back to Sitka.

 

Route map, distance between dots are indicated.

Itinerary:

Pre-trip: send kayaks to Port Alexander on mailboat

June 16: Fly in small plane to Port Alexander, cross Chatham Strait to Kuiu Island.

June 17: Paddle along Kuiu to The Spanish Islands and Coronation.

June 18: Survey Coronation I.

June 22: Paddle to Warren island and survey.

June 25: Paddle to Maurelle Island group.

Place names

June 26: Meet the Craig Wilderness Rangers and Youth Conservation Corps in the Maurelles to help with projects

June 27: Survey Maurelle Islands

June 28: Paddle to Craig

June 29: Teach kayak skills and rescue training for Craig community.

June 30: Catch InnerIsland ferry to Ketchikan

July 1: catch Alaska Marine Ferry to Sitka.

Red dots indicate potential camps for each day

July 2: Return to Sitka, compile data, sort and clean gear, then drink some cold beers

 

 

For more information, please contact Andis at adam@sitkawild.org or (907) 747-7509.

Feb 05 2013

Trappers Needed: ISLES Study

 

Visit the ISLES website

 

Albuquerque bound with a box of frozen museum samples of small mammal for the University of New Mexico and the ISLES study.

This past week, I checked an usual piece of luggage with me on the plane down to Albuquerque: a box of frozen Marten, Ermine, and River Otter skulls, femurs, and intestinal parasites. I was delivering my parcel to Steve O. MacDonald and Dr. Joe Cook (who literally wrote the book on Alaskan mammals) and Jonathan Dunnum, the collections manager at the University of New Mexico Museum of Southwest Biology as part of the ISLES (Island Surveys to Locate Endemic Species) project. ISLES is attempting to create a Tongass-wide catalog of mammal species to use in future research. SCS has been collecting vole in alpine areas of Chichagof and Baranof Island for the past 3 years as part of the Wilderness Project. But it’s not just scientists and researchers who are involved.

“Trappers and hunters are clearly stakeholders in the maintenance of sustainably harvestable wildlife populations in SE Alaska and typically have the best local knowledgeable about the animals they are interested in.”

ISLES relies on trappers and hunters to do what they do best and provide specimens of furbearers and big game animals to help create an archive of mammal species throughout Southeast Alaska. The samples will be included with non-game species collected by biologists and field crews, in the archive at the University of New Mexico and will be a valuable resource for management by providing a baseline of for future studies. Check out the ISLES site to learn more about the project and to learn how you can help by collecting and contributing samples.

Short-tailed weasel

ISLES is a progressive type of project because it recognizes the need to involve the folks who are actually on the ground. Its a new breed of conservation biology that we are likely to see a lot more of in the future if budgets for agencies and funds for research grants decrease. Budget realities are one impetus for projects like this, but it is also just common sense. The hunters, trappers, fishermen and women, recreationists, and other folks who spend countless hours in the field already have a more intuitive understanding of the environment and the most familiarity with conditions in the field. These folks are also those with the most invested in research that promotes conservation of the very resources they rely on.

If you would like to collect specimens for the ISLES Project contact:

Jon Martin
Assistant Professor of Biology
Department of Natural Sciences
University of Alaska Southeast-Sitka
1332 Seward St. Sitka, AK 99835
jmart118@uas.alaska.edu
907-747-7752

 

All of us at SCS are excited about this hybridization of science and in situ, on-the-ground data collection. Soon, we will be compiling all of the citizen science initiatives that Sitkans can take part in on our Citizen Science page. Be sure to check back as we populate that page to see how you can get involved.

Partners:

US Forest Service

Alaska Department of Fish and Game

US Fish and Wildlife Service

University of Alaska Southeast

Sitka High School

Sitka Conservation Society

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  • Hungry for Huckleberry Pie, Venison Stew, or Fresh Greens? Come to the Wild Foods Potluck Nov. 2!
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  • Encouraging Local Natural Resource Stewardship on the Tongass: Kennel Creek
  • Teaching the Alaska way of Life: 4-H in Sitka
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