We work to protect the natural environment of the Tongass National Forest, while supporting the development of sustainable communities across Southeast Alaska, Lingít Aaní.
Our work at the Sitka Conservation Society is deeply influenced by the traditional knowledge, values, and ideals of the Lingít, Haida, and Tsimshian who have stewarded these lands since time immemorial. We aim to learn from and support those Indigenous ways of life that have existed here for thousands of years, so that we can collectively work towards thousands of sustainable years for our generations to come. We envision this future bringing living-with-the-land together with renewable technologies, place-based knowledge, and strong communities — all to continue this region’s enduring legacy of cultures of respect, balance, and stewardship of the environment that sustains us.
Where We Work
We live and work in the coastal town of Sitka, Alaska, Sheet’ká Kwáan, in the heart of the Tongass National Forest. The Tongass is the nation’s largest intact temperate rainforest with over 17 million acres of public land that comprise the vast majority of lands across Southeast Alaska. It is home to towering old growth trees, fish and wildlife habitat, and 32 culturally diverse and hardy communities. We share this coastal backyard with brown bears, all five species of Pacific salmon, bald eagles, wolves, orcas, and humpback whales.
SCS was founded in 1967 by Alaskans to advocate for better care in the ways that the community uses and depends on the natural environment. The founders were first motivated by witnessing the excesses of industrial scale pulp mill logging and acted to preserve large areas of intact habitat by proposing Wilderness Designation for the West Chichagof Yakobi Area.
Our work is interconnected, not only on the personal level, but through sustainable community development, regional partnerships, and national policy advocacy. Our efforts to safeguard intact forests, conserve the ocean-to-forest ecosystem, and support durable communities has global
implications on biodiversity, climate, and role modeling healthy ways for humans to coexist with the world around them.
Climate change underscores all of our efforts at SCS. We work to prevent catastrophic change and adapt to the effects that are already upon us by developing projects and policy that shift us away from fossil fuels while also preparing our communities and youth for the changes in our planet that are now inevitable.
With influence from and respect to Indigenous-rooted values and ideals, our work follows the longterm view of living sustainably on the Tongass. We work across generations with a commitment to creating system’s change so that our economy and society perpetuate healthy, regenerative cycles. We know that the youngest generations are the future and in all of our work, we aim to build in them the skillset and capacities that our communities and our nation will need to face the challenges of the future in ways that enable joy, happiness, artistic expression, resilience, pride, and leadership.
Our Conservation Work and Goals
As we have grown as an organization, we have strived for an evolving holistic approach to conservation that is based in collaboration, reciprocity, and respect. Beyond its global importance as the largest remaining temperate rainforest on earth, the Tongass is our home. Our families hunt, gather, hike, and fish here. These lands and waters not only fuel our economies, communities, and imaginations, but shape who we are. SCS is dedicated to amplifying the voices and knowledge of as many Sitkans and Southeast Alaskans as possible in decisions that impact our communities. Our members, partners, local businesses, and land managers help us challenge misguided policies and ensure that decision makers prioritize longterm community sustainability, climate action, and environmental health.
Supporting Community Sustainability
We understand that the health of these lands and waters go hand-in-hand with the health of our communities. SCS is a partnership organization. We are committed to collaborative efforts, and work to foster and nurture connections with the goal of supporting economically, socially, and environmentally resilient communities. Locally, we work together with partners in Sitka to improve the health of our community, from programs addressing food insecurity to supporting local climate advocacy. We support youth leadership and civic engagement through experiential learning and advocacy. Our youth programs, from Sitka Spruce Tips 4-H to career-pathway internships, are opening doors, building skillsets, and creating opportunities for the next generation of Alaskan leaders.