Sitka Conservation Society
Mar 30 2012

Becoming an Outdoors-Woman Classes in Sitka, April 25-29

Attention aspiring outdoors-women!

Becoming an Outdoors-Woman (BOW) courses are coming to Sitka, April 25-29. Register today for bowhunting, firearm safety, rifle, shotgun and muzzleloading classes. Space is limited, so sign up today! Classes will be held at the Sitka Sportsman’s Association indoor range. Call Holley at the Alaska Department of Fish and Game for more information – 747-5449. We’ll see you there!

Class information and forms: (click here for the full class schedule)

Archery: $30 online exam fee. This is a two-part class: register and take part one online at At the end of the online test, you will receive a “Field Day Qualifier Certificate” that will qualify you to participate in the field day on April 25, 6-10 p.m.

Rifle: April 27, 6-9 p.m. Cost is $40. Make checks payable to Outdoor Heritage Foundation. Maximum 8 students. Requires completion of the Basic Firearm Safety course (included in registration) on April 26, 6-9p.m. Rifle workshop flier and registration form.

Muzzleloader: April 28, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m. Cost is $20, checks payable to State of Alaska. Maximum 12 students. Participants must complete a study packet (available at the Alaska Department of Fish and Game office) before class begins. Muzzleloading flier.

Shotgun: April 29, 12-4 p.m. Cost is $40, checks payable to Outdoor Heritage Foundation. Maximum 8 students. Requires completion of the Basic Firearm Safety course (included in registration) on April 26, 6-9p.m. Shotgun workshop flier and registration form.


All registrations and payments (except archery) are accepted at the Alaska Department of Fish and Game office, 304 Lake St. #103, 747-5449

Mar 29 2012

Weatherization 101: Caulking with Troop 4140

Girl Scout Troop 4140 has been learning all about energy during their Get Moving Energy Journey project as they work towards completing the requirements for their badge.  Part of their project was to share what they learn with the community.  In this video, join Girl Scouts from troop 4140 as they demonstrate the proper techniques for chalking your home.

Weatherization 101: Caulking from Sitka Conservation Society on Vimeo.

Weatherization 101 is a six part series produced by the Sitka Conservation Society and the City and Borough of Sitka Electric Department to help Sitkans increase their energy awareness, conserve electricity, and save money.

Video by Andre Lewis.

Mar 28 2012

Parade of Species 2012!

The 11th Annual Parade of Species, hosted by the Sitka Conservation Society will be held on Earth Day, April 22nd.

Parade participants are invited to dress as their favorite animal or plant and join us at Totem Square at 2pm.  The parade will begin at 2:15pm when we will gallop, slither, swim, or fly down Lincoln Street to the Rasmusen Center on Sheldon Jackson Campus where a number of community organization will be hosting games and activities for the whole family!

Prizes will be awarded for: Best Use of Recycled Material, Most Creative, Most Realistic, and Best Local Animal.

Also, be sure to check out the SCS online event calendar to see all of the earth-related events going on around town in April.


Thanks everyone for making the 2012 Parade of Species so much FUN!  Check out the photos from the event on Facebook HERE.

Earth Day Timeline:

2:00pm – Gather at Totem Square
2:15pm – Announcements and line-up for the Parade
2:30pm – March down Lincoln Street to SJ Campus
3:00pm – Activities and games at Rasmusen Center, awards will be given for best costumes
4:30pm – Wrap up, head home for dinner,  and start planning next year’s costume!

Organizations Hosting Activities After the Parade:

US Forest Service

Big Brothers/Big Sisters

Sitka Global Warming Group

Sitka Tribe of Alaska

National Park Service

Raptor Center


Alaska Department of Fish and Game

Alaska-Way-of-Life 4H

Girl Scouts of Sitka

Sitka Conservation Society


Mar 27 2012

Weatherization 101: Choosing the Right Type of Caulking for SE Alaska

The videos this week will deal with caulking.  Making sure that windows, doors, and seams are caulked and sealed will help save energy and money on home heating.  This video will teach how to choose the right type of caulk.

Weatherization 101: Choosing Caulk from Sitka Conservation Society on Vimeo.

Weatherization 101 is a six part series produced by the Sitka Conservation Society and the City and Borough of Sitka Electric Department to help Sitkans increase their energy awareness, conserve electricity, and save money.

Video by Andre Lewis.

Mar 22 2012

Weatherization 101: Lightbulbs

Girl Scout Troop 4140 has been learning all about energy during their Get Moving Journey, which focuses on energy. The journey consists of three prestigious Girl Scout awards, each containing several projects within itself. In addition to the regular Journey requirements, Junior troop 4140 took an additional task of recording weatherization videos to promote energy efficiency.  Join Girl Scouts from troop 4140 in this video to learn about light(two word)bulbs and how to choose more efficient lighting..

Weatherization 101 is a six part series produced by the Sitka Conservation Society and the City and Borough of Sitka Electric Department to help Sitkans increase their energy awareness, conserve electricity, and save money.

Video by Andre Lewis.

Mar 21 2012

The Future of Energy In Sitka

The Sitka Conservation Society released a report  today on the Future of Energy in Sitka that calculates how much energy Sitka uses in a year, how much energy will be needed to sustain the community over the next 20 years, and how much money will be spent on oil if there is not an investment in renewable energy and energy efficiency.  The Sitka Conservation Society has worked in Sitka for 45 years to protect the natural environment of the Tongass and support the development of sustainable communities in Southeast Alaska.  This study is part of the Sitka Conservation Society’s sustainable communities program which seeks to power Sitka on renewable energy, implement thorough energy efficiency actions, and reduce Sitka’s carbon footprint.

Andrew Thoms, Executive Director of the Sitka Conservation Society, explains the rationale behind the study, “We did this study because we wanted to figure out how we could completely reverse our current energy mix in Sitka.  Right now, Sitka runs on oil:  75% of our energy comes from non-renewable energy sources while 25% comes from renewable energy.  We want to figure out if it is possible to completely reverse that within 20 years.  We know that oil prices are increasing because of reduced supply and increased demand.  We also know that burning fossil fuels causes climate change.  There is an urgent need to shift to renewable energy.”

For SCS board member Lexi Fish, the impetus to do this study is all about the future of the community.  “The 20 year projection gives us an idea of what the next generation of Sitkans will be dealing with. If a child is born today in Sitka, in 20 years they will be soon considering where to start their careers and family life. Will we have enough energy to sustain our community and economy? Will we have taken continual action to prevent the destructive impacts of climate change? This project gives us an idea of where to start now, so that our future generations will have a solid ground to stand on in Sitka’s community, environment and economy.”

The study found that Sitka, with a population of 8,881, currently uses approximately 1,585 Billion Btus of energy per year which is the equivalent of almost 275,000 barrels of oil or 465,000 Megawatt/hours of electricity.  According to Scott Brylinski, former City of Sitka Public Works Operations Manager and the principal investigator of this report, “Sitka will spend between $1B and $1.5B on oil over the next 20 years.  By making investments in energy efficiency and renewable energy projects now, we can avoid much of those costs and keep dollars flowing within the local economy rather than leaking out of the community through purchase of oil.”

Garry White, director of the Sitka Economic Development Association, and member of the Southeast Conference, adds, “Having a viable energy supply is key to economic development and overall quality of life for Sitka.  The recently released Southeast Alaska Integrated Resource Management Plan provides some direction and potential paths.  Sitka has the opportunity to take information from both reports and shape the direction that works best for our community and our energy future.”

SCS’s report sought to find solutions that took advantage of local opportunities and proven technology with successfully demonstrated commercial applications.  Local business owner Gary Smith, who was interviewed in this study, comments that, “There is no silver bullet solution for meeting our energy needs.  It will take multiple initiatives and technologies working together.  This presents a huge opportunity for us to create local jobs and a local workforce installing and maintaining energy efficient technology like heat pumps.”

“Because of the scale and scope of the issue of energy, informed public and private sector investment is needed to ensure a viable energy supply for SE Alaska communities.  The State of Alaska legislature is currently working on legislation related to energy that includes oil tax structures, energy efficiency rebates and weatherization, emerging energy technology research, and renewable energy funds.  As can be seen from this report, it is critical that the legislature makes the right decisions on these issues because energy is a critical element for the sustainability of  Alaska communities and we know that our oil supplies are running out and we need to think beyond oil,” comments Andrew Thoms.

The full report outlines a range of scenarios for Sitka’s energy mix over the next twenty years and recommendations on actions that should be taken to ensure a viable energy supply.

The report can downloaded: here

To look at a timeline of the Sitka Conservation Society’s work on Climate Change and Renewable Energy, click: here

Mar 20 2012

Weatherization 101: Hot Water Heater

The second biggest user of energy in your home is the hot water heater.  Adjusting your hot water heater to the correct temperature can save a great deal of energy in your home.  In this video, local contractor Marcel Laperierre shows us how to adjust the hot water heater temperature for energy savings.


Weatherization 101 is a six part series produced by the Sitka Conservation Society and the City and Borough of Sitka Electric Department to help Sitkans increase their energy awareness, conserve electricity, and save money.

Video by Andre Lewis.

Mar 20 2012

Energy Conservation Brochures

In 2007, the Sitka Conservation Society began a fruitful partnership with the City of Sitka Electric Department to initiate action on climate change in Sitka and to begin taking steps to become more energy efficient.  The start of the partnership was a joint position that worked in the electric department to find ways for Sitkans to save energy and reduce their energy bills.  One of the many outputs of the work was a series of educational brochures for Sitkans  Below is how we introduced the results of this work to Alaska Senator Bert Stedman:

December 10th, 2007

Dear Senator Stedman,

 We are pleased to announce the release of our series of brochures on energy conservation inSitka.  These brochures are the end result of an ongoing collaborative project with the City and Borough of Sitka to identify, evaluate, and implement energy conservation measures that reduce energy demand inSitka, reduce energy costs forSitkaresidents, and reduceSitka’s environmental footprint on a local and global scale.

 This project began in late 2006 when the Sitka Electric Department released a 28 year electric energy provision plan that identified an increase in demand for electricity that has the potential to outstrip total available electric supply.  The high cost and potential environmental impact of new hydroelectric facilities alarmed our membership.  However, a provision in the City’s plan identified energy conservation as part of a solution to reducing energy demand.  The Sitka Conservation Society identified this section as a potential niche where we may be able to aid the city in developing energy conservation initiatives.

 To help develop the energy conservation initiatives, we applied for a grant to pay for an intern with experience in energy policy and analysis that would work at the electric department with the electric department employees to identify possible energy conservation actions.  After an extensive recruiting process at top Universities across the country, Amy Heinemann was chosen from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies for the internship.  Part of the needs she identified during her work inSitkawas public education on energy conservation possibilities and specific choices the energy consumer can make that will achieve results.  These brochures were the results of some of her work.

 This project is part of a continuing effort by the Sitka Conservation Society to offer “solutions” to the community that not only benefit our surrounding natural environment but also provide tangible and needed benefits to our community. 

 Please let us know if you would like more information on this work or any of our other initiatives or if you would like more copies of the brochures.

Download the brochures below:

Greenhouse Gas Emissions

Energy Audits and Weatherization

Electronics and Appliances

Personal Transportation

Space Heating

Water Heating




Mar 15 2012

Energize! Sitka Offers Locals Free Training in an Unexpected “Green” Career

The HAZWOPER course participants, now certified in Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Responders, pose as a student displays the proper safety gear.

Energize! Sitka provided locals with the opportunity to get their certification in hazardous waste removal free of charge as a critical part of its mission to provide careers that make our community a little more “green”. Sara Martin, Grant Director for Energize! Sitka partnered with Vocational Training and Resource Center (VTRC) based out of Juneau to bring this often forgotten green career.

What is HAZWOPER, you might ask? HAZWOPER stands for Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Responders. This 40-hour intensive course led by John Lewis, instructor from VTRC, guided participants through proper clean-up procedures for those engaged with hazardous waste removal. Course topics included overview of safety standards and regulations, toxicity, risk assessment, personal protective equipment (such as the one shown in the photo the left), and safe work practices to name a few.

Six of the participants completed the course in its entirety and passed the exam to either receive their first HAZWOPER certification or attain re-certification.


Mar 14 2012

Sharing Nature with Keet Gooshi Heen

This is a guest post by Kavin O'Mally

      While teaching a Discovery Southeast introduction to eco-systems at Keet Gooshi Heen Elementary School a student blurts out…”Aren’t you supposed to be teaching us this stuff”? I stop writing on the board, thrilled to hear this. I think she just gave me away.

Our educational system tends toward rote memorization by having the student repeat an answer over and over. This is unexciting and exclusive to students who have the knowledge. This particular student figured out an educational method called the art of questioning. This teaching technique opens up space for thoughts, giving the class time to think about an answer. Sometimes, weeks go by and students will stop me in the hallway and present me with an answer to an old question or mystery.

I ask the fourth grade class a few questions. What plants and animals live outside your school? This builds confidence in the class and hands start going up. Many of the students know the answers.  What is an eco-system? What do you know about Alaska’s eco-systems?  The students are ignited by the questions. This is their opportunity to be creative by developing original answers. I continually ask more questions, building on the students answers.

Eco-systems are a big and difficult concept for fourth graders to understand. First, you have a population of plant or

Sitka 4H group smells the language of the deer.

animal such as salmonberry or deer. Then, add these individuals living in communities and interacting with the environment. Then, tack on the earth as a giant biosphere. Nature based educators make connections that help the classroom teachers explain this complex subject.

The school is seven minutes from one of Alaska’s eight eco-systems, the coastal temperate rainforest. Naturalists at Discovery Southeast use this proximity to teach hands on nature based education and connect students with real science experiences. There is not a computer, T.V. program, or book that can connect those students with the science subjects better than the forest itself.

When the students leave the heated box of the school they are energized by being outside. Calming the students down and focusing their attention is a very effective way to prepare the class for a fun learning experience. Our journey begins down a road. We are ready to discover mysteries about our flora and fauna. There is an important step we must not forget. It is what Discovery Southeast naturalists call “Opening the Gate.” Opening the Gate involves crossing your right hand over your left hand, interlocking your fingers, and then bringing that into your chest. Next cross your right leg over your left leg holding that stance for a minute. Changing the hands and feet to the reverse position completes this procedure. This is an exercise that gets kids to focus their attention on their body and senses, a meditation of sorts.  A silent moment at the end of the exercise helps us make the transition from the pavement to our natural surroundings.

The fourth grade class is ready and soon discovers a set of deer tracks. As they quiet down, I start asking the students questions about the relationships between the deer, plants and the other animals around this place. They do not seem to realize that they are explaining to each other the make-up of our eco-system. The class starts listing individual plants and animals such as red alder, salmonberry, Sitka spruce, Sitka black-tailed deer, raven and even a northern goshawk. One student adds another important piece about the abiotic components and asks me if a rock is alive or dead.

We step outside for forty minutes and our experience equates to just a fragment of the life around those children. The class accomplishes a few really important ideas. We ask questions, share each others’ nature intelligence and slow down enough to pay attention to the natural world. This inquisitive and inclusive approach to learning makes us all feel part of our outdoor science class.

There is much meaning in inquiring deeper into a subject. By asking questions the class creates unique layers of understanding probing into the life of a deer, alder or goshawk. New ideas, questions, and perspectives become part of our learning experience. In Dennie Wolf’s article” The Art of Questioning” she points out a range of questions, inference, interpretation, transfer, reflective questions, and questions about hypotheses. How educators ask the questions will bring us closer to a mystery, make a subject more exciting and keep us pondering for weeks.

Kevin O’Mally Kevin has spent six years with Discovery Southeast and is currently acting as lead naturalist for the Auke Bay elementary Nature Studies program. He leads Early Dismissal Mondays at Glacier Valley and is the assistant naturalist for the Nature Studies program there. He’s coordinated a variety of special projects such as GPS-mapping classes and winter shelter-building field trips to bring outdoor and nature education to local homeschool students. Kevin has a degree in Cultural Anthropology and recently graduated from the Kamana 4 Naturalist Training Program. He has also completed a nine-month residential naturalist training program through the Anake Outdoor School at the Wilderness Awareness School. He grew up within walking distance of Lake Erie and the Cleveland Metroparks, which helped spark his connection to nature. Even when he isn’t outside, you may catch him reading nature field guides.

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Keep up to date on all of the issues. Check out "The Southeaster" Blog.

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