Sitka Conservation Society
Feb 16 2013

The Renewable Energy: People Power used in the Protection of our Wild Salmon

“Aint no power like the power of the people ‘cause the power of the people don’t stop!” We as a community have great potential to create the change we want to see in the world because this change is initiated by something we all have—our voice. We have the ability to envision things differently, contemplate the steps necessary to enact our vision, and then put those steps into action through our words, community involvement, and passion. These efforts typically don’t have to start with a large group of people because change can begin with an individual, and that individual could be you.

When I met local Sitkan Paul Rioux and experienced his determination to raise awareness about genetically engineered salmon, I was seeing firsthand the power of voice and the importance of standing up for your beliefs. For Paul, organizing a rally that would protest genetically engineered salmon was one of those ways to stand up. “I saw that there were rallies going on in other parts of the country, and I decided that it would be nice to do one here,” Paul said. Through Paul’s actions, over 130 people came to the rally, which was then publicized by Senator Murkowski, Senator Begich, and Representative Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins. Four days after the event, the Food and Drug Administration announced they were going to extend the period to comment on genetically engineered salmon by 60 days, with the new date being April 26th, 2013. I’m certain that Sitka’s activism helped spur this extension.

To make this happen, we started small. We gained support from fishing organizations like the Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association (ALFA) and the Alaska Troller’s Association (ATA), who passed the message on to their members; we held sign-making parties at the SCS office, Blatchley Middle School, and Ventures; flyers were created, posted, and handed out, featuring both information on the rally and how to submit a comment to the FDA opposing genetically engineered salmon; Raven Radio had us on their Morning Interview, where myself, Paul, and David Wilcox, a Blatchley middle school student running across the country in protest of genetically modified organisms (GMOs), discussed the negative impacts of genetically engineered salmon; both the Mudflats blog and Fish Radio with Laine Welch hosted information on the rally to raise awareness to their subscribers that the FDA was considering approving genetically engineered salmon; and the day of the event, the local news station, the Sitka Sentinel, and Raven Radio came out to document the event, which made it on the front page of the paper. Days after the rally, Sitka’s Assembly also approved, on a 7-0 vote, a resolution stating the city’s opposition to frankenfish.

Technology more than ever can be used to organize our social networks, tell our stories to folks that live in communities all over the country, and enforce our opinion to decision makers to listen to their constituents. This can happen with any issue that we find ourselves passionate about, and for Paul that issue was the health of our wild salmon from the Tongass.

It is right here in our community that we can create the world we want to see through our actions, but this can only happen through an engaged, active citizenry. Far too often I encounter folks who are somewhat cynical to the democratic process, folks that have lost faith in the power of their voice.  But in the end, if no one takes action, nothing gets done.

What kind of world do you want to live in? For us at the Sitka Conservation Society, we want the management of the Tongass to benefit the communities that depend upon its natural resources while supporting the habitats of the salmon, black tail-deer, and bears that roam wildly about. Sitkans like Paul Rioux remind us that our voice is a catalyst for change, and by speaking and standing up for what you believe in, we can continuously create the world we want to live in. Let us stand up together, generate the renewable energy of people power, and work towards that future some say is a dream but can be a reality if we work towards it.

If you haven’t submitted a comment opposing Frankenfish, please go to http://www.regulations.gov/#!submitComment;D=FDA-2011-N-0899-0685. For the required field “Organization Name,” you can put “Citizen” and for the category, you can put “Individual Consumer.” Do it right now, it only takes a few minutes!

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.

Jan 29 2013

Local Wood, Local Building: Bike Shelter Coming to Sitka Sound Science Center

 

Notorious for having bikes chained along its railway, the Sitka Sound Science center is upgrading its parking for those traveling on wheels. The Construction Tech class at Sitka High, under the instruction of Randy Hughey, is building a bike shelter for the Science center made of young growth Sitka spruce and old growth red cedar from Prince of Wales Island. The 6,000 board feet of this Alaskan wood was milled by Mel Cooke of Last Chance Enterprises out of Thorne Bay. From Cooke’s perspective, the logs are very easy to work with – very symmetrical, very little taper, and mostly comes out straight. “I enjoy cutting it, it cuts real easy, and the wood looks really good– beautiful boards” says Mel.

Back at Sitka High, the students have already begun applying a preservative treatment to the future deck of the bike shelter to protect the wood.  The bike shelter will also rest on top of skids so that water can drain out of the shelter instead of forming pools that will rot the wood.  The deck of the shelter is made of  Yellow Cedar and Sitka Spruce.  The framing and roof deck will be made of rough sawn Sitka Spruce and the structure will be sided and roofed with Red Cedar.

The timber framing of the bike shed is made possible thanks to Daniel Sheehan, a recent Alaska transplant from Massachusetts. Dan showed up at the SCS alder nightstand open house at Sitka High and met Randy Hughey. They discovered a mutual love of classic pegged mortise and tenon timber framing. Dan has worked for four years for Ted Benson Timber Framing in the Northeast United States and volunteered to help teach Randy and the students how to timber frame.

This bike shelter will serve both as a useable space for bikes but also a testament that young growth wood can be used in construction and carpentry fields. It also demonstrates that building with local wood builds community, relationships, and sustains the knowledge of carpentry for future generations.

Funding for this project was provided by 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, the Sitka Conservation Society hopes to help builders, woodworkers, resource managers and others make more informed decisions about using Tongass young-growth.

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 26 2013

Expedition: Lake Benzeman 2012

  

Lake Benzeman is located approximately 35 miles SE of Sitka by boat in the South Baranof Wilderness Area. Botanist Jonathan Goff, SCS member Diana Saverin, and volunteer Paul Killian made the trip down late on a Friday afternoon. The following morning they broke down their tents, inflated their packrafts, and set out to paddle to the opposite side of the lake. For the next several days, they paddled and hiked this remote part of Baranof Island as they surveyed and inventoried everything from rare and sensitive plants to recreation sites. On their last morning, they got an early start and hiked to the alpine where they surveyed for mountain goats. The fog was thick and lingering. After a couple hours they decided to head back down to pack up camp and prepare to be picked up by float plane.

Click on the links below to learn more.

m_lewisii_benzeman_eo

benzeman_lake_survey

 

Dec 20 2012

Second-growth in High School Wood Shop

Since the Forest Service first announced its Tongass Transition Framework in early 2010, the Sitka Conservation Society has both partnered with the agency and sought models to demonstrate ways Tongass second growth timber can be used locally and sustainably.  We know there is a significant interest in the use of local wood, and we believe Southeast Alaska communities can sustain small second-growth timber operations and mills. Local builders are interested in realizing this vision. However the Forest Service still needs a little convincing to move away from a dependence on unsustainable old growth logging.  With the help of a National Forest Foundation grant, we recently donated 1,800 board feet of local young growth Pacific red alder to the Sitka High School industrial arts department for students to use in building night stands.  Our hope is if students can successfully use this local wood in their first-ever carpentry projects – and perhaps discover a few of its quirks – local builders and the Forest Service will take note, and give more consideration to local second growth.  To learn more about the Sitka High industrial arts classes’ use of local alder, listen to this article by KCAW radio.

Sitka High School Alder Project Briefing Sheet_Press Quality


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
  • MEYEA
  • 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 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!

Nov 13 2012

Starrigavan Stream Team 2012

It’s November and the salmon eggs are all nestled in their gravel beds, but we can still dream of next year’s Blatchley Stream Team by watching this very cool video! Each May, over 100 Blatchley 7th Graders participate in Stream Team, where they help restore fish habitat and monitor stream health. This annual event is eagerly anticipated by the students as well as the organizers, which includes the US Forest Service, Sitka School District, Sitka Conservation Society, National Park Service, Alaska Dept. of Fish and Game, Corps of Engineers, and US Fish and Wildlife Service.

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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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