Salmon, water, and the Alaskans who depend on them need your help!
[dropcap]Background:[/dropcap] 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.
- 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
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.
The Tongass National Forest is valuable for more than old growth timber clear-cutting: it's the source of near limitless value to both residents and visitors, if used sustainably.
Energy production, recreation, tourism, hunting, fishing, education and subsistence resources all rely on the continued health of the Tongass in order to continue bringing thousands of dollars and hundreds of jobs to Sitka. As Sitka continues to grow, physically and economically, it's essential that we recognize the wide swath of valuable assets present in and around Sitka.Southeast Alaska offers a cornucopia of possibilities for making a living from (and living off of) the land, rivers and sea. Wilderness areas offer adventure and solitude rarely matched elsewhere in the US, large tracts of remote and robust ecosystems provide habitat for large populations of deer, bear, mountain goat, and more, world class salmon fisheries provides the best wild salmon and some of the bestsport-fishing,
The Tongass National Forest, and Sitka, are more than just tourist destinations, more than just timber value, more than just salmon fishing: the sum is greater than its parts. If we plan future expansion and development with all these invaluable assets in mind, Sitka has the potential to grow more prosperous, and more sustainable.
Over the last several weeks, Fish to Schools has been teaching 7th graders at Blatchley Middle School about salmon's journey from the stream to our plates. The students learned about salmon management, gutting and filleting salmon, how local processors operate, how to smoke salmon, and more. After learning this process, the students had incredible things to say about the local fish lunches they eat at school. Listen and read what these insightful students said:
"I like it because it takes amazing, it's fresh, and it comes from our local fishermen that spend time and
"It tastes really really good, and it's a good chance for people to try new things"
"I eat it because it's a way of saying thank you to the fishermen who catch the fish"
"Because it's healthy and good for you, and you feel good after you eat it"
"It supports our economy and it tastes good"
Ask anyone where the best salmon is caught, and they'll answer: Alaska.
Ask an Alaskan where the best salmon is caught, and they'll answer: Southeast.The Wild Salmon fisheries of Southeast Alaska provides nearly 30% of the global supply of wild salmon. The 57,000 plus miles of rivers, streams, and creeks throughout the Tongass National Forest provides unparalleled spawning habitat for all five species of salmon: pink, chum, coho, sockeye and king. Neighboring rivers in British Columbia and in Southcentral Alaska, as well as the salmon released each year from hatcheries throughout Southeast, also contribute to the robust fisheries we have here.
But just how many salmon caught each year are true Tongass Salmon: spawned and raised in waterways within the Tongass National Forest?
Ron Medel, the Tongass Fisheries Program Manager, found out just that. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game keeps a close eye on salmon throughout the state, and each year produce an estimate regarding how many landed fish come from hatcheries versus wild stocks. Fisheries data from British Columbia's portions of the Stikine, Taku and other salmon streams were also considered and factored out of the Southeast total harvest. Combining all this data, utilizing the power of spreadsheets and some elbow grease... Medel extrapolated that about 79% of the annual harvest in Southeast Alaska are from wild salmon that originated from the Tongass National Forest.
Even though the Tongass forest is such an important element in the Southeast Alaska salmon harvest, the US Forest Service has not allocated its funding and attention to the restoration and continued health of salmon spawning habitat within the forest. Only a small portion of their budget - only about $7 million out of the nearly $63 million budget - is spent on the fisheries and watershed program which directly impacts fisheries conditions and restores salmon habitat (timber harvest and road buildingreceive $20 million). The health of the streams and watersheds that produce nearly $1 BILLION each year throughcommercial, sport and subsistence salmon harvesting is receiving so little support from the US Forest Service - what sort of salmon fishery would we have in Southeast Alaska if the Forest Service put more of their budget to supporting salmonand restoring all of the damage that was done by the historic clear-cut logging?
Wild, Tongass-raised salmon may make up 79% of the salmon caught in Southeast Alaska each year, but those salmon forests, waterways, fisheries and markets need our support, our time, our energy, our concern in order to continue.
Take action to encourage the Forest Service to put more support into stream restoration and watershed health! Your input is needed now to help Congress and the Forest Service prioritize where the American public wants to invest our tax dollars in public land management!
Learn what is happening in the Food Movement locally, nationally, and globally. Check out the films, join the roundtable discussion, and tune into Rob Kinneen's keynote presentation on the use of local and traditional foods. Sink into your chair, munch on some popcorn, and get your taste buds in on the movie-theater experience! Films are free but donations are encouraged. Check out the line up below!
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:firstname.lastname@example.org Senator Lisa Murkowski 709 Hart Senate Building Washington, DC 20510 Email: email@example.com Senator Mark Begich 825C Hart Senate Building Washington, DC 20510 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org If you have questions, contact the Sitka Conservation Society at 747-7509 or email@example.com
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.
Learn what is happening in the Food Movement locally, nationally, and globally. Check out the films, join the roundtable discussion, and tune into Rob Kineen's keynote presentation on the use of local and traditional foods. Sink into your chair, munch on some popcorn, and get your taste buds in on the movie-theater experience! Films are free but donations are encouraged. Check out the line up below. Click on the title to learn more about the film.
Friday 8:30 pm: Feature Film @ Larkspur
Saturday 10:00 Ratatouille (Family Friendly Kid Movie) 12:30 Ingredients (111 min) 2:30 End of the Line (82 min) 3:45 Two Angry Moms (86 min) 5:30-6:30 Roundtable Discussion on Sitka's Food Resiliency 8:30 Feature Film @ Larkspur
Sunday 10:00 Feast at Midnight (Family Friendly Kid Movie) 12:30 Food Fight (91 min) 2:30 Bitter Seeds (88 min) 4:00 Food Stamped (63 min) 6:00 KEYNOTE speaker: Tlingit Chef Rob Kinnen "Store Outside Your Door" 7:00 Economics of Happiness(65 min)
--"Store Outside Your Door" Shorts will be shown in between a few films on both Saturday and Sunday. --All Movies screened in the Exhibit Room at Centennial Hall unless noted otherwise
Our Generous SPONSORS: SCS, Alaska Sustainable Fisheries Trust, SEARHC, Sitka Food Coop, Art Change, Film Society, Alaska Pure Sea Salt Co., and the Larkspur Cafe.
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The event will take place on Saturday, February 9th, from 1:00 to 1:30 pm, at the Crescent Harbor Shelter.
This a quick get together to show public opposition to the pending FDA approval. It's not too late to comment to the FDA, come learn why and how!
I'm inviting the press, so we really want a great showing.FRANKENFISH are a danger to our wild stocks,and to the marketplace.
Find out more about this issue by clicking the link below
The Sitka Conservation Society applauds the efforts of Senator Mark Begich to stop the Food and Drug Administration from allowing genetically modified salmon to be produced and sold to consumers. Senator Begich has called out the FDA for its recent finding that genetically modified salmon will have "no significant impact" on the environment or public health.
Like all Southeast Alaskans, Senator Begich understands very well the importance of salmon to our lives and livelihoods. Senator Begich understands that Wild Salmon are critical to our economy, our way-of-life, and is a keystone component of Southeast Alaska's terrestrial and marine environment. Senator Begich has taken a stand to protect our Wild Alaska Salmon.
Thank you Senator Begich for protecting Salmon.
Senator Begich has asked hisconstituentsto weigh in and tell the Food and Drug Administration that we don't want Genetically Modified Salmon. Please help him out by telling the FDA your feelings by following this link and following the "Comment Now" prompt: http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=FDA-2011-N-0899-0003
For an idea on how to comment, read SCS comments: here
To read Senator Begich's press release, click: here
To read an editorial on Genetically Modified Salmon by a former SCS employee, click: here
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!"
"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!"