Tuesday, March 11, 2014

The Meaning of Wild

The Meaning of Wild - Trailer from Pioneer Videography on Vimeo.

The Meaning of Wild is a new film of epic beauty and depth that shares images and stories from four designated wilderness areas on the Tongass National Forest in Southeast Alaska.

To commemorate the 50th anniversary of the Wilderness Act of 1964, The Meaning of Wild will screen in communities throughout the state of Alaska and well beyond in 2014.

Upcoming Screenings:

Saturday, April 19
Juneau, Alaska
11 a.m.-3 p.m., Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center

Sunday, April 20
Olympia, Washington
Environmental Film Festival 2014
5 p.m., Capitol Theater

Monday, April 21
Anchorage, Alaska
5:30 p.m., Beartooth Theatrepub

Friday, April 25
Ketchikan, Alaska
TBD, Southeast Alaska Discovery Center

Saturday, April 26
Wrangell, Alaska
Stikine River Birding Festival
1 p.m., James and Elsie Nolan Center

Friday, May 2
Ketchikan, Alaska
TBD, Southeast Alaska Discovery Center

June 5-8
Yakutat, Alaska
Yakutat Tern Festival

July 23-27
Wrangell, Alaska
Wrangell BearFest
TBD, James and Elsie Nolan Center

September 4-7
Petersburg, Alaska
Tongass Rainforest Festival

Previous Screenings:

Thursday, March 20
Washington, D.C.
Environmental Film Festival
6:30 p.m., Department of the Interior Building, Yates Auditorium

Sunday, March 30
Craig, Alaska
2 p.m., Craig High School Auditorium

Friday, April 4
Tallahassee, Florida
Tallahassee Film Society Wilderness50 Film Fest
7 p.m., All Saints Cinema

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

New Chugach National Forest movie "Retreat and Renewal"

Check out an excerpt focusing on salmon in Alaska from the new Chugach National Forest movie "Retreat and Renewal."

Latest Poster Art from Alaska’s National Forests Highlights Fish and Wildlife

More Than a Place to Visit, It’s Where We Live collectable series in its third year

The Chugach and Tongass National Forests have released two new posters in their series, More Than a Place to Visit—It’s Where We Live. The new 16x32 inch posters are available for free at your local Forest Service office.

The posters depict the link between bears, salmon, forests and streams, visually exploring the cycle of life that bear and salmon represent, and underscoring the importance of forests to animal and human communities.

Alaska’s first forest reserve, the Afognak Forest and Fish Culture Reserve, was established in 1892 expressly for the conservation of salmon. Today, five species of salmon thrive in the rivers of Alaska’s national forests: the king, coho, sockeye, pink, and chum. More than 100 million salmon are caught each year on the Chugach and Tongass National Forests. As salmon become plentiful, bears become more active. Respecting and living alongside bears is a fact of life for Alaskans.

The posters blend photography, art, and words to evoke the spirit and the beauty of these wonderful public lands. Rich in symbolism and representation, the powerful design of these posters encourages viewers to explore and respect the wild lands and inhabitants of Alaska’s national forests.

The Chugach and Tongass are the two largest national forests in the nation. Together, they encompass more than 22 million acres and provide a backyard experience for nearly two-thirds of Alaskans. From Anchorage to Juneau, Ketchikan to Cordova, Prince of Wales to Prince William Sound, Alaskans in 43 different communities recreate, make a living, and meet the subsistence needs of their families in and around Alaska’s national forests.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

A walk in the Tongass with Natasha Paremski

The Music of the Tall Trees
Sitka spruce (Picea sitchensis) is the largest species of Spruce and takes its name from our community; Sitka, Alaska. Sitka spruce is prized worldwide for a high strength‐to‐weight ratio and unique characteristics. Its uses have ranged from seagoing canoes to ceremonial masks to housing structures for the Native communities of Southeast Alaska. In the more recent past it was used to manufacture a multitude of items such as ladders, building frames, paddles and windmill slats. Its light weight, combined with strength, that makes it so versatile have also made it the gold standard in the construction of instruments and wooden airplanes. Its resiliency and feathery weight led to its use in wing structures and the fuselage of early airplanes. Sitka spruce also possesses a highly uniform fiber structure, leading to high quality sound resonance. This means it is sought out for use as sound boards in high-end pianos and guitars and other instruments.

The rich and diverse history of the Sitka spruce is so important to remember: it wasn’t long ago that vast stands were liquidated and entire watersheds became massive clear‐cut wastelands. The trees were ground into industrial dissolving pulp and exported to foreign markets as a commodity product. That is past.

Earlier this month, USDA Secretary Vilsack outlined the future: he reaffirmed his commitment to conserving the remaining old growth temperate rain forests on the Tongass National Forest. He stated that this will be accomplished with a transition out of old growth and to the harvesting of second growth timber. Old growth will only be used for small scale, specialty value-added uses, as in the construcution of musical instruments. With a renewed focus on creating a sustainable forest industry, and providing jobs and opportunities in Southeast Alaska, the plight of the Sitka spruce may well be coming full-circle.

Enter the Sitka Summer Music Festival, currently in its 42nd year.

The Festival now supports events in Anchorage and Fairbanks, but Sitka is where it began and is the home of the festival. World-renowned classical musicians trek to Sitka every summer for the festival with their cellos and violins, adding to the forest’s own beautiful repertoire of sounds. The festival’s location in Sitka, in the heart of the Tongass National Forest, also allows musicians to connect with the original source of their craft and instruments.

One of this summer’s featured musicians is pianist Natasha Paremski who plays in Sitka on Steinway pianos that feature a Sitka Spruce soundboard. Natasha took time out of her trip to visit with SCS media intern Gleb Mikhalev and describe her connections to Sitka and the forest.

A Walk in the Tongass National Forest with Natasha Paremski from Sitka Conservation Society on Vimeo.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Anchorage Teens Find More Than Just a Summer Job on Public Lands

Chugach National Forest and partners secure national grant to support career experience in the outdoors

When Alex Zimmerman was young, she loved the outdoors and told people she wanted to be a “bug scientist” when she grew up. But her career plans really began to take shape last year when she was accepted into Youth Employment in Parks (YEP), a program of the Anchorage Parks and Recreation Department and the Anchorage Park Foundation that provides a meaningful "first job" experience and career pathway for youth to work in the outdoors and natural resources fields.

“I started to know where I wanted to go,” she said. “I want to become a park ranger.” But it was hard to find a job after YEP. “Eventually I got a job as a house cleaner and I thought, what am I going to do with the rest of my life?” Alex remembers.

Now, thanks to a partnership between the Student Conservation Association (SCA), the Municipality of Anchorage, the Anchorage Park Foundation, Bureau of Land Management (BLM), and Chugach National Forest, Alex at least knows what her immediate next step looks like.

Alex and four other alumni from YEP were selected for a new summer conservation crew experience sponsored by the five partners and led by seasoned SCA staff. The crew, made up of participants ages 17-20, will take part in a ten week work experience on municipal and federal public lands. Starting this week they’ll work for the BLM at Campbell Track helping to clear hazard trees from popular recreation trails. In mid-June they’ll work on city lands. And from July 6th to August 3rd they’ll have their most remote experience working alongside a Forest Service trail crew at the Spencer Whistle Stop on the Chugach National Forest.

When she got the phone call letting her know she had been selected, Alex said, “I felt like something was lifted off my shoulders.”

It was made possible in part by a nearly $40,000 cost-share grant from the US Forest Service. The award was announced on May 9th by US Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell as part of a $772,820 package of More Kids in the Woods and Children’s Forest grants in 16 states and the U.S Virgin Islands. Local partners added an additional $65,000 match to the grant.

Amanda Smith, head of partnership development for the Alaska Region of SCA said, "Youth are motivated and starved to find work opportunities. A strong group of partners worked together to build a career pathway for youth who are already interested and experienced in natural resource management, but have limited options for their next resource management job. It's nice to see these efforts recognized with Forest Service funding."Added Smith, "The youth will experience some of Alaska's most visited public lands and feel the benefits of hard work and commitment."

For Beth Nordlund, Executive Director of the Anchorage Park Foundation, that was one the primary reasons to partner. “We want to give YEP returning teens experience in public lands outside of Anchorage. They have worked in urban parks for a summer, and now they’re working on spike crews, in some cases in the backcountry. So it’s a very different experience. We’re excited to give kids a sense of stewardship and ownership of their federal public lands.”

Getting outside of Anchorage is something that appeals to the participants, as well. Crew member Shawna Strain grew up in Southeast Alaska where, “we were out in the woods, building forts all the time. When I moved to Anchorage I wasn’t doing that anymore. The city seemed so big compared to where I came from.”
Shawna Strain started with Anchorages
Shawna Strain worked in Anchorage's Youth Employment in Parks Program in 2012.

Inspiring youth to check out the city’s neighboring public lands has been a focus for the Chugach National Forest for many years, and in 2008 Forest leaders bolstered this commitment by launching the Chugach Children’s Forest with non-profit partner Alaska Geographic. Since then, over 20,000 youth, volunteers and educators have been engaged in outdoor education programming, career opportunities, stewardship expeditions and volunteer outings as part of the initiative.

“People come from all over the world to experience the Chugach National Forest and Alaska’s public lands, yet young people from many Anchorage neighborhoods have never set foot in the Forest,” Terri Marceron, Forest Supervisor on the Chugach National Forest said. “One of our goals is to simply get youth outdoors learning about natural resource work and having fun. We need their ideas and leadership to help solve the challenges of today and tomorrow –from climate change to maintaining our trails and recreation opportunities for the public. These are our future land stewards.”

That message speaks to the crew members who embrace the responsibility that comes with the new opportunity. “Everything isn’t set up for us this summer. We’re learning what it takes to get the project and work done, and how to run everything,” Shawna said. “We have more leadership, like college.”

And the work is unique in another way, Alex said. “It’s more of a learning experience than anything, and that’s what I want from a job. I love that about being outside because you can always learn something new.”

Friday, May 24, 2013

Select Chugach National Forest Campgrounds and Begich, Boggs Visitor Center Open Memorial Day Weekend

Snow last week-weekend, spring camping this weekend! While the weather has been playing games with us, Alaskans are ready to head out into the outdoors. Fortunately, campgrounds across the Kenai are melting out of winter’s icy grip. Here is a list of open and closed campgrounds for the Memorial Day weekend.
Open Campgrounds:
▪ Crescent Creek                          

▪ Cooper South and North
▪ Porcupine                                    ▪ Primrose
▪ Ptarmigan                                   ▪ Russian River
▪ Quartz Creek                              ▪ Trail River
▪ Williwaw-Right loop only. The gate will be open late Friday afternoon.

Water systems are being tested and there will be no water service at the campgrounds for Memorial Day weekend.  Remember to make your campground reservations at www.recreation.gov or (877) 444-6777.

Recreationists should be aware of ice and snow conditions before heading into the backcountry. Using the backcountry involves risk anytime of the year. Avalanche conditions still exist even in the summer.  Take a look at the Chugach National Forest Avalanche Information Center website at www.cnfaic.org for Springtime Avalanche Tips.  People aren’t the only ones eager to be out and moving around, be cautious, bear are awake and active.

Closed Campgrounds-due to snow conditions:
▪ Bertha                                        ▪ Black Bear
▪ Coeur d’Alene                            ▪ Tenderfoot

For those of you just wanting to take a quick trip out-of-town, the Begich, Boggs Visitor Center opens for the season on Saturday, May 25th. The Visitor Center hours are 9:00 am to 6:00 pm, 7-days a week.

Melibee Project and Citizen Science Continues in 2013

Last year, the Chugach National Forest had the good fortune to help Dr. Christa Mulder and Katie Spellman from University of Alaska Fairbanks with their invasive plants and native berries - Melibee Project. The Project examines what happens when a new plant species comes into an area. Is it more attractive to pollinators than anything else around? Does it improve pollination of the native plants that are already there? Or does it lure away pollinators, or lead to the delivery of the wrong kind of pollen?

Part of the Melibee Project is concerned with gathering phenology data from citizen scientists in Alaska and the northern part of North America to help better understand how invasive plants, pollinators, and how important food plants might interact in a changing climate.  Christa and Katie have developed a monitoring protocol and information sheets on the species.

This year, Katie is looking for volunteers to make phenology observations of sweetclover (Melilotus albus) bird vetch (Vicia cracca), lowbush cranberry (Vaccinium vitis-idaea) and bog blueberry (Vaccinium uliginosum). If you are doing any sweetclover or vetch work this summer, or you have these species near your house, or you are going to any remote places for field work or pleasure, she could really use your help. If the idea of being a Citizen Scientist appeals to you, can get all the information on the Melibee Project on their website and Katie is offering some trainings for anyone interested in participating in the Melibee Project citizen science monitioring program this summer.

A training webinar will be held at 2pm on Wednesday, May 29.
Details on how to join the webinar will be provided after you sign up for the training at the link .https://sites.google.com/a/alaska.edu/melibee-project/citizen-science/sign-up-to-be-a-citizen-scientist 
If you are in Fairbanks, an in-person training will be held Saturday, May 25 at 11am meeting at the UAF ski hut on West Ridge.