Sitka Conservation Society

Forest and Stream Restoration

Extensive clear-cut logging in the Sitka Ranger District from the 1950s to the 1990s caused a fast-paced, even-aged growth of new conifers and other plants that is now impairing habitat for animals like the Sitka black-tailed deer. By creating a dense mass of trees that can shade out understory forage for deer, bear, and other wildlife for over 100 years, “second growth” forests diminish our subsistence resources and the normally top-notch functioning of Tongass ecosystems.

With restoration thinning, we can help re-create the light-filled environment of mature old-growth forests and greatly improve habitat for some of our most important subsistence resources. Restoration thinning can also lead to opportunities in the form of selling or otherwise using the timber “byproducts,” and stewardship contracting is an innovative way to achieve this.

Alaska’s salmon resource was also impacted by past logging practices. Before changes were implemented in 1990, approximately 500 miles of streamside habitat in Southeast Alaska was logged – in most cases leading to the loss of critical spawning and rearing habitat for salmon. Unmaintained roads and trails have also blocked fish passage to upstream habitat.

Stream restoration includes replacing or removing bridges and culverts that block fish passage and replacing large wood in streams that create rearing habitat for fish. These activities can have immediate positive effects and help rebuild the Tongass’ reputation as the “Salmon Forest”.

Sitkoh River Restoration

The Sitka Conservation Society, Trout Unlimited, and the US Forest Service, in conjunction with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s Sustainable Salmon Fund, have committed resources to conduct a multi-year salmon habitat restoration program on the Sitkoh River. A construction contract was awarded in 2011. In-stream work will begin in Spring 2012 and be completed by mid-Summer.

 

Starrigavan

In the Spring of 2011, the Sitka Conservation Society partnered with the Tongass National Forest to conduct wildlife habitat restoration in the young growth forests of Starrigavan Valley. Funding was provided by the National Forest Foundation and SCS. This project achieved multiple stewardship objectives

 

 

Stream Team

Each May in Starrigavan Valley, nearly 100 7th Graders from Blatchley Middle School in Sitka spend a couple days doing hands-on stream restoration and monitoring. In the classroom, the students learn about watershed ecology and salmon habitat. Then they hit the field and help professional watershed managers actually install in-stream wood structures to rebuild fish habitat.

 

 

 

 

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