Director of Development and Operations
Tongass Forest Program Manager
Inside Passage Waters Program Manager
Indigenous Engagement Lead
Shannon Donahue Chilkat Watershed Organizer Shannon McCain
To protect the special places of the world’s largest temperate rainforest, promote conservation, and advocate for sustainability in human use of natural resources. Inspired by the land, wildlife, cultures, and communities of Southeast Alaska, SEACC strives to ensure this interconnected whole exists for future generations. Stephen Todd Natalie Watson Bob Schroeder Steve Lewis Marian Allen Katie Ione Craney Clay Frick Steve Kallick Bart Koehler Ray Sensmeier Naawéiyaa Austin Ray Tagaban Wayne Weihing
CO N TACT
Communications and Outreach Coordinator
BOARD OF DIRECTORS
THE ART OF WATER CONSERVATION
THE COMMUNITY STOOD SO THE TONGASS CAN STAND
President, Wrangell Vice-President, Juneau Treasurer, Juneau Secretary, Tenakee Springs Sitka Haines Haines
Seattle Juneau Yakutat
THE FUTURE IS WRITTEN BY THOSE WHO SHOW UP (AND ASK QUESTIONS!)
INTERVIEW WITH NAAWÉIYAA TAGABAN
Southeast Alaska Conservation Council 2207 Jordan Ave., Juneau, AK 99801 (907) 586-6942 www.seacc.org email@example.com The Ravencall is a publication of SEACC.
Editor: Conor Lendrum Designer: Monica Sterchi-Lowman, Might be a Monkey Cover: Q’on Bear-Clark
Check out SEACC t-shirts, hats, onesies, stickers, new stainless steel pint glasses, and more at the online SEACC store! www.seacc.org/store
Photos by Q'on Bear-Clark
Action Tips! 2 Ravencall Fall 2019
Across the bottom of each page in this issue of the Ravencall, you’ll find ways you can get involved today or tips for taking action in the future! Pass this issue around to your friends who want to get involved and we’ll all work together towards a protected and vibrant Southeast Alaska.
Photo by Colin Arisman
Photo by Conor Lendrum
Photo by Connor Gallagher
STA F F
In this issue:
Executive Director’s Note In the last year or so we’ve begun organizing
fish, crustaceans, mollusks, and an enormous
each Ravencall around a theme, and the theme
array of birds, despite several hundred years of
of this issue is illuminating activism – after
neglect and abuse at the hands of developers.
MEREDITH TRAINOR Executive Director
At the mall hearing, held in a large auditorium,
sustained political engagement on the part of
I sat next to my sister and gradually became
Southeast Alaskans, we’re exploring next steps
incensed as the mall developer rationalized
for new activists, and new tools for old hands,
the destruction of the wetland ecosystem as an
all through the window of our own stories and
appropriate sacrifice zone for yet another mall,
experiences. We hope this will be an issue you’ll
to go next to the big football stadium, near all
want to pass on to other activists you know,
the generic big box stores. I flipped over my
whether the young ones you wish to encourage,
handout, reached for a pen, and furiously began
or the longtime fighters who need a little shot of
to scribble down my thoughts, before striding to
adrenaline to get back in the ring.
the microphone in the middle of the aisle - at
Few of us set out to become activists. We
which point I suddenly realized what I was doing
As I thought about what I wanted to share in the
simply see a problem in our society, or something
Ravencall this fall, it was unusually challenging
that could be done better, and realize that if we
My recollection is that I was the youngest
to guess what shape Alaska and Southeast
take it upon ourselves to act, we can help to fix it.
person to testify that day, and that I was mobbed
might be in once the issue went to print. At the
Many people who find themselves taking on an
afterwards by older community members and
Southeast Alaska Conservation Council, we draft
activist’s mantle are at first reluctant – in a busy
well-wishers who wanted to welcome and support
our Ravencall pieces long before the issue actually
Southeast Alaskan summer, we’d all prefer to be
a young voice for conservation in continuing
hits mailboxes or shows up in communities.
fishing, to be harvesting berries, to be spending
to take steps toward becoming the activist that
Writing our stories this year, after a long summer
long days in the light celebrating summer,
I would eventually be, much as the SEACC staff
of rallies, demonstrations, and vigils on concerns
family, and friends – not attending hearings
and our supporters welcome and want to support
both at the level of the state and of the nation,
and meetings, preparing testimony, or rallying
strong young voices speaking up for the Tongass
required a dexterity in contemplation, reflection,
or protesting yet again. But sometimes we must,
and Inside Passage Waters in Alaska, today.
and anticipation akin to fortune telling. As I write,
and this summer we did.
the state legislature is meeting in Juneau for the first time in weeks. The capital budget and PFD are giant question-marks: will the capital budget reinstate some of the funding lines slashed by the Governor’s veto? Will the PFD be $3,000, $1,600, or $929? Will cooler heads prevail? And if they don’t, then what will happen to Alaska? At the same time, the Alaskan electorate is perhaps as engaged as ever, and the looming threat of cuts to just about everything – care for the homeless, for the elderly, for the young via Headstart, for young adults, in the University
and how intimidated I felt!
That mall did eventually get built, though to my grim satisfaction, it sits empty, garish, and
Where We’ve Been
As SEACC approaches our 50th anniversary, each of the staff have taken time to reflect on the path that led us to SEACC. Check out our blog and social media pages this month to see each of our individual timelines, and the experiences that led to us all working together to protect the Tongass and the Inside Passage.
system – has pulled Alaskans together like
abandoned today. When I visit my family and drive by, I always think back to that hearing, the long, intimidating walk to the microphone, and the rush of endorphins I felt as I wrapped up my public comments for the first time, and without a fumble. Little did that kid in New Jersey know then that even as the developers built the mall, the fight to oppose it was building an activist, and one with many more opportunities ahead of her to grab the mic and advocate for the environment. We hope this newest edition of the Ravencall will support, entertain, and engage you as we
My own first engagement in activism was
continue together to fight for and defend our
antagonists. Having written a letter to the editor
a protest against a planned mega-mall in my
state, our region, and our home. Want to share
in the Juneau Empire that challenged Frank
native New Jersey. I grabbed my brand-new
your own activist stories with SEACC? We’d love
Murkowski’s suitability for charting a logging-
driver’s license and my little sister, borrowed
to hear them. Follow us on social media and join
centric ‘vision’ for Southeast Alaska earlier
my parents’ car, and headed south down the
the conversation there.
this summer, it was uncanny to root him on
Turnpike to a rally discussing a development
towards summer’s end, as he challenged the
project for a planned mall: a big, ugly temple to
legitimacy and intention of Governor Dunleavy’s
commerce that was proposed for the New Jersey
overwhelming cuts to the University system.
Meadowlands. The Meadowlands is an enormous
Strange times indeed.
wetlands complex that was, and still is, home to
Photo by Q’on Bear-Clark
never before, and made bedfellows of former
A great way to get involved is to learn more about what you care about. Watch videos, read articles, check out books from your library, and ask the local groups that already work on that issue! For example: if you’re worried about Greens Creek Mine, send an email to SEACC! Ravencall 3
By Sarah Davidson
Art is an important tool for achieving conservation goals and lasting social change. Yet, it is highly underutilized in communicating water advocacy and science. Over the last few years, the Inside Passage Waters Program at SEACC has infused art into our advocacy work in many ways. We have worked with professional artists to develop film and media communication tools, to curate art exhibits, and to add vibrance and an opportunity for deeper connection to our events, while also broadening the notion of what it means to be an activist and artist through participatory projects. These projects are an open invitation to engage in political issues while celebrating the diversity of experiences, perspectives, and places that make up the region we work to protect.
Art opens up exclusionary spaces and conversations to a broader cross-section of our society that more accurately represents our communities and strengthens our public processes. Water Stories, an initiative we recently
Art helps us to communicate complex and often invisible problems across cultural, lingual, institutional, and social barriers to reach people on an emotional level, which in turn can lead to action. Take storm drain
started at SEACC, is a great example. As a creative platform it invites the public to tell their own water story in a short video by responding to the question: “What does your watershed mean to you?” Southeast Alaskans' responses impact the way we value water, the way we treat water, and the way we vote on water legislation. Social media’s power, like art itself, cannot be ignored. The access it allows to excluded voices is substantial and Water Stories as a social and artistic endeavor harnesses the technological strength that elevates all of our voices. Art can reduce common barriers, such as distance and systemic exclusion based in socioeconomic and cultural divisions, and allows us to engage a wide spectrum of people in relevant and accessible ways.
murals, for instance. Many cities have invested in creative signage and colorful paintings on storm drains in an effort to reduce the dumping of trash and toxic substances, which then flow directly into local waterways. Trash statues made from the material collected during clean-up events have also been effective when placed next to the waterway of focus. In both cases, visible art and storytelling develop curiosity, and a lasting emotional connection to an issue that makes it harder to ignore and raises it to the forefront of peoples’ minds.
Art can also bring people together, contribute to healing divided communities, and create a space for the innovative and collaborative thinking that is required to achieve our collective conservation goals. This was demonstrated in the fall 2018 Watershed Art Show in Haines, organized by SEACC in partnership with the Haines Sheldon Museum and local artists. Though there is staunch, wide-spread opposition, the communities of the Chilkat Valley are not of a single mind regarding the Constantine-Palmer Mine, a heavy metal mine in the headwaters
A volunteer lends her vision to the cause at the SEACC July bonfire. Artistic projects and events help build community bonds and give everyone a chance to contribute.
Anacostia Watershed Society: Local artists submitted designs to the Anacostia Watershed Society for their Storm Water Drain Mural project.
“Art goes straight to the heart. 4 Ravencall Fall 2019
of the Chilkat River (home of all five species of wild Pacific salmon) and upstream from the communities of Klukwan and Haines. Watershed responded to these divisions by celebrating the importance of the Chilkat Watershed through showing art that was made by those who feel connected to and inspired by that place, while also highlighting the looming threats. The show was very well-attended, and catalyzed conversations about the significance and vulnerability of the Chilkat, shifting community discussions from hostility over the potential mine, to connection over the importance of the river and the need to protect it. Art can help the public to conceive abstract visions for a safer, healthier, more equitable future. Over the last ten years of working at the intersection of participatory water conservation, conflict resolution, and activism, I’ve seen music overcome socio-political barriers in the Nile River Basin to transform identity and promote sustainable management of the longest river in the world. I’ve watched creative posters and programming lead to enough institutional pressure to remove bottled water from a university campus in Costa Rica. And I’ve seen provocative murals stop world leaders in their tracks at a global water forum. Finding messaging that resonates with the emotional values that shape the way we all think, interact, and behave is critical to successfully shifting the social, economic, and environmental narrative in Southeast Alaska and in mobilizing people to protect our shared waterways.
Tualatin Riverkeepers: Beautiful, pastel salmon dance through the drain in this storm drain mural from Oregon, letting the community know exactly where the run off from their roads ends up.
It’s one of the most potent tools we have to dissolve deception and awaken new vision for the change we know is unquestionably necessary and absolutely possible.” - Climbing PoeTree, Alixa Garcia v
The Community Stood so the Tongass can by Dan Cannon
USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue has the final say on how the Roadless Rule shakes out in Alaska. Calling his office to make a direct appeal will have more impact with each call that’s saved in his answering machine or taken down by one of his staff.
let him know why the Roadless Rule must stay on the Tongass.
Photo by Preston Keres
On June 22nd, 2019, I looked out at the Turn Out for the Tongass Rally from the steps leading up to the Capitol building, where a driving rain was coming down on the heads of over 150 people gathered, undeterred, to make their voices heard in advance of the next phase of the Roadless Rule process. A veritable forest of cardboard trees with schools of cutout salmon swimming among them waved in the drizzle, held aloft by the Southeast Alaskans who gathered to support keeping the National Roadless Rule on The Tongass. Exempting the Tongass from the National Roadless Rule would result in more logging roads and old-growth clearcut logging on the Tongass, something decision-makers know most Southeast Alaskans and most Americans don’t want to see. As I stood in the rain that day I knew that the rally was only an early step in a much longer fight that will consume many more months of effort, and that we will all need to Turn Out for The Tongass again and again this year. In the crowd I saw many faces I didn’t recognize, people who were attending their first SEACC event, and maybe their first rally ever, and I took a moment between organizing volunteers and coordinating with other SEACC staff to think about how I’d come to be here, in the first place. When I think about the first time I took a stand against “the powers that be,” it was because I was part of a broader community that together valued a green space at my university. The president of my school was going to turn the beloved campus campground into a parking lot, literally “paving paradise to put up a parking area.” Some members of the senior class I knew began organizing and, under their direction, I began to act. At the time I wouldn’t have identified as a “political” person and absolutely would have shied away from being
called an advocate, or worse, an activist. I had no idea that over the next couple of months I would begin organizing my peers to join me in printing t-shirts, writing letters to the editor, signing a petition, turning out to public meetings, and even chanting into a megaphone, all to voice our support for keeping the campground green. A lot has changed since 1970, when SEACC was founded over a similar fight, though on a far more vital topic. What haven’t changed are SEACC’s values, and the principles and critical grassroots work behind building people power to take collective action within the constraints of our political system. Knowing how to exercise our democratic muscle through public participation is a useful life skill, and deeply rewarding for all involved. As an organization that has been supporting people engaging in political action for nearly 50 years, we understand that doing
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR (LTEs) are an excellent way to help shape public conversation. Politicians read LTEs and sometimes respond directly. Getting your words into the paper on a local, regional, or national level effects the public perception of an issue and is an excellent way to make your voice heard. so can be intimidating, especially when you’re first getting started. But getting involved and learning how to leverage your voice, a voice that has a tremendous amount of value and power, is critical if we are to protect the places we love. The necessary next step after the Turn Out for the Tongass Rally is lowering the barrier to participation in the public process around the Draft Environmental Impact Statement or DEIS (which we’re still waiting on, as we go to press) by creating tools that people from every corner of the state and country can use to fight for the Tongass. We developed, far ahead of the DEIS, a toolkit that collected, in one online portal, easy step-by-step interactive ways to get your voice counted in the conversation. We included options for calling the office of USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue, writing a Letter to the Editor (LTE), and submitting a written comment on the Draft
COMMENTS like the ones written on these postcards by people like you illustrate how the public feels about policies the Forest Service enacts. Contact SEACC now to take the next step and speak at the Roadless Rule public meetings this fall. Environmental Impact Statement to the USFS. At every event we attended or hosted this summer we came equipped with comment cards, handmade postcards that we made for people to share their thoughts on the Alaska Specific Roadless Rule and the impacts expanded logging in the Tongass would have on their lives. Combining old and new organizing tools, both digitally and on the ground, we collected over 200 unique comments and when the DEIS comment period finally opens, SEACC staff will visit the United States Forest Service office in-person, unleashing the first comment flood in what will be a continuous torrent of public engagement by Southeast Alaskans. Those comments were painstakingly collected by reaching out to people one at a time, at fairs and festivals around Southeast, at small barbeques and bonfires in Juneau, and, first, at the Turn Out for the Tongass Rally from people who showed up. And that’s the first step: showing up. It doesn’t need to lead to a career in advocacy and activism, but the first step still takes the most courage. The Turn Out For The Tongass Rally was a big success because of a hundred people doing their part to come together to plan a show of action for a big idea, for their belief in keeping the National Roadless Rule on the Tongass, and because of the 150 people that took the equally important step of showing up that day, hoisting a sign and standing up for what they believe in. You can do it too. So please, if you’re interested in getting more involved in advocacy and activism, send me an email at Dan@seacc.org because I would love to sit over a cup of coffee and talk about the Tongass, about people power, and about the million first steps you can take on the path towards protecting what you love most.
There are meetings, rallies, educational lectures, and film screenings on all kinds of issues. It’s a great way to both learn more about the issues and to also start building relationships with others as affected as you are. Ravencall 5
By Buck Lindekugel I remember a moment when a few Southeast Alaskans as yet untested in the arenas of activism or advocacy, raised their voices to testify in a hostile stronghold of Tongass exploitation: Alaska Senator Frank Murkowski’s Oversight Committee hearing. The scene: Wrangell Elks Lodge, June 1st, 1995 in front of a crowd of about 200. Murkowski had stacked a deck of speakers to reflect the narrow interests of the pulp mill, and denied SEACC’s requests for hearings in multiple communities. To further tilt the political odds, he hosted the hearing during Southeast Alaska’s most frantic season, when many people couldn’t spare a moment for politics as they labored to provide for themselves and their families. And yet, despite policymakers discouraging the voice of the public as much as possible, Southeast Alaskans showed up in droves all the same: a former ADF&G Commissioner testified on behalf of Juneau’s Territorial Sportsmen; a community member on behalf of Yak-Tat Kwaan; strong voices traveled from Pelican, and on behalf of Alaskans for Responsible Resource Management; a representative from the Tongass Sportfishing Association in Ketchikan came to the mic as community organization members from Friends of Southeast’s Future in Sitka prepared their remarks. Thoughts were shared by a representative of the Tlingit and Haida Community Council of Hoonah and by representatives of the Haida Tribe. These brave Alaskans took a hit to their productive season and traveled from their homes to play by Murkowski’s rules and show him, the state, and the country, what crippling the Tongass would cost Alaskans like themselves. They were fearless, and put themselves in the public eye to protect their livelihoods and ways of life. That’s what it takes to make change and make it last: showing up and speaking truth to power, even when that power is plugging its ears as best it can. In 1990 the Tongass Timber Reform Act (TTRA) was signed into law, putting in place protections from logging on 1.4 million acres of Tongass oldgrowth. Nine years and 361 days earlier, Congress had passed the 1980 Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA), an act that included a mandate forcing the Forest Service to spend $40 million a year, minimum, to supply 450 million board feet of Tongass timber per year to two behemoth pulp mills in Southeast Alaska. SEACC led the TTRA fight, but it was made possible by a tidal wave of support from grassroots Alaskans and supporters across the United States. The result? Unanimous approval of the Tongass Timber Reform Act in the U.S. Senate and overwhelming support in the U.S. House (356 - 60). The effort to reform Tongass management and
Get to know your area! 6 Ravencall Fall 2019
safeguard critical hunting, fishing, and recreation lands was successful because of the number of Southeast Alaskans from all walks of life who wrote in or testified in-person, asking Congress to end the Forest Service’s timber first approach to forest management and to end preferential treatment of the timber industry on the Tongass. Time and time again the fate of the watersheds Southeast Alaskans care most about were in the hands of longtime inhabitants of the Tongass who showed up and spoke up. Over the next 24 months, Representative Don Young and Senators Frank Murkowski and Ted Stevens launched a whopping 17 pro-logging legislative initiatives, both bills and appropriation riders. They also planned and hosted many oversight hearings in Washington D.C. and Southeast Alaska designed to elevate pro-logging voices, and minimize the visibility of Alaskans that understand their reliance on a healthy Tongass. And yet despite these efforts, all but a single bill were blocked, which could not have happened had people who cared not turned out for the Tongass. This year, the Tongass is yet again under attack. Trump’s Forest Service and the State of Alaska are targeting Roadless areas throughout Southeast in an effort to resuscitate a moribund industry no longer able to compete in the international wood market or with other Tongass-dependent industries like fishing, tourism, and recreation. In 2018, timber jobs represented less than 1% of all employment in Southeast. In contrast, tourism, commercial fishing, and the seafood industries supported a quarter of all the region’s jobs. On June 22nd, 2019, over 150 people gathered at the Turn Out for the Tongass Rally on the steps of the Capitol in Juneau. The rain came down, the voices rose up, and I stood, sopping wet, and recalled twenty-four years past to the month, the first Murkowski’s hostile hearing in Wrangell where eleven dedicated Southeast Alaskans stood up for the Tongass and pushed back hard against a timber-first agenda. All around me I heard their voices again, this time saying: “We are still standing. Keep the Tongass Roadless. Leave the old-growth alone." Our fight is not over yet, friends. The Alaska Specific Roadless Rule still looms over the Tongass and as people Turned Out for the rally we must continue to turn out in the year ahead. Write comments on the DEIS; call USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue; submit a Letter to the Editor, and when you feel unsure of yourself, remember a handful of people in Wrangell in 1995 who stood in front of a crowd of over two hundred, and know that when you take up this fight you won’t be fighting alone.
Explore the community you live in, especially if you didn’t grow up there. Get to know the area as well as you can because no issues exist in a vacuum. Any issue you decide to tackle will inevitably end up involving conversations with neighbors and local organizations, and businesses.
Photo by Michelle Cornelius
By Heather Evoy
This July I was on the airport ferry coming across the Tongass Narrows, traveling from Bearfest in Wrangell to the Blueberry Festival in Ketchikan, and it was a beautiful day. The sun was beaming, setting the ocean flashing like a salmon on the end of a line, and I beamed right along with it. Bearfest had been a hit, I had enjoyed engaging with the community there and working with them to plan for our future, and I had been invited back to discuss some of the dangers transboundary mining posed to the community. I was hauling four large rubber totes with all my equipment for Blueberry Fest, SEACC painted in large lettering on the side of each. I was stacking one tote on top of another when I heard a voice calling out “I’ve been in your shoes before!” I turned and found myself face to face with someone from my from Ketchikan, my hometown, a neighbor who had watched me grow up. We sat in the sun and swapped event stories, bonding over the labors of outreach. I told her about my work in transboundary mining, of the complexity found in combating the negligence of another country and the terrible effects that are felt downstream. She told me about the effects themselves, and the way they were starting to appear in our town. She spoke about falling salmon numbers and told me about a lack of clean water. She shared about what she thought her community needed, and I listened so that I could learn best how to help. There’s a bad tendency in advocacy, one of coming into a community from outside and telling them what they need. At SEACC, we advocate for communities in Southeast by being invited in, and by asking our hosts: What do you need? How can SEACC help? I see my voice as the best way to exercise my activism, but my voice doesn’t speak alone. I am part of a community of scientists, researchers, artists, and advocates. I don’t need to have the answer to every question I’m asked, because if I don’t know the answer I know someone who will. If you want to stand up for issues you care about your first step doesn’t need to be attending a rally or calling your representative or senator, though those are great ways to get involved. As a first step I recommend this: have some friends over and talk about your concerns.
You may be surprised to find out just what keeps your friends up at night, and you may be just as surprised to find that because you share their concern, they may sleep more soundly. When I visit towns outside of Juneau, where I live, I schedule Coffee & Conversation meetups in addition to any other outreach I’m performing. It is, loosely speaking, a seminar series. I set up in a café and I advertise for people to come by and chat. I bring my fact sheets on acid mine drainage, about the social impacts of mines on the towns that support them, about every issue I am working on or that someone at SEACC is working on. And people come. And we talk. And we get to know each other and build a relationship by discussing what we care about. This last summer the SEACC staff attended our usual events, the Southeast Alaska State Fair and Blueberry Festival, but we also attended Thorne Bay Days and By The Sea Arts & Seafood Festival in Coffman Cove on Prince of Wales Island, as well as the Wrangell Bearfest and their Mount Polley mine five-year anniversary solidarity event. We want everyone in Southeast Alaska to know who we are and what we are fighting to protect because if we ask anyone that has been in Alaska for long, “Do you think the environment is changing?” they will be able to tell us exactly what they have seen. Environmentalism is not a political issue but a human one, and the more that is seen the more often we will be invited into the communities whose environments we have worked for nearly 50 years to conserve. This October I will be making a presentation to the Wrangell City Assembly. I was invited, during Bearfest, to join them to present on the dangers transboundary mining presents to their community and to help inform their decisions on what they, as a community, can do to protect themselves. We were invited because we took the time to join Wrangellites in their community and presented them with opportunities to share about their own fears, their health, and their future, and listened closely as they advocated for themselves. If you’re getting started in activism and trying to figure out what to do and how to help, begin by asking questions and then listening closely to your neighbors and friends – you never know what great ideas or next project you may come up with.
Contact any organizations that are either based in your area or have local chapters you can access. Find ways to get involved in the groups and communities that actively address the issues you care about and volunteer an hour or two a week to start, find out what part of the work appeals to you and get to know your fellow activists! Ravencall 7
By Guy Archibald Each year, as mandated by the terms of their permits, the two major mines in Southeast Alaska, Greens Creek and Kensington, file annual reports on the year’s work and monitoring, and each holds a public meeting with the state and federal agencies responsible for mining enforcement. In Alaska, those agencies include the state Departments of Environmental Conservation, Natural Resources, and Fish and Game, as well as federal agencies including the Environmental Protection Agency, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the Forest Service, Army Corps of Engineers, and the Coast Guard. The reports the mines file are hundreds of pages long, laden with monitoring data and performance results - numbers that are meant to educate both the state and federal agencies responsible for holding private mining companies accountable for their behavior. Unfortunately, the part where these enforcement agencies hold mining companies accountable is largely fantasy, so the public is left to do much of the work. The various government agencies in Alaska that monitor the development and impacts of mines in Southeast have approved every mining project ever proposed and are lackadaisical, at best, when it comes to enforcement and penalties. In addition, they often cite “agency discretion” as an excuse to massage the requirements for environmental protection, rather than hold the mines to a higher standard. Here are some examples: The Greens Creek Mine is supposed to undergo an environmental audit every five years. In over 30 years of mining, Greens Creek Mine has been subject to two environmental audits and the second audit never even mentions the findings of the first, nor if any of the concerns it highlighted have been resolved.
Beginning in 2013, Greens Creek Mine used homemade dust monitors in the form of buckets attached to posts in which wind-blown dust from the tailings dump would collect. Commercial dust monitoring equipment with an established level of accuracy and precision has long been available - but Greens Creek was using buckets. At one annual meeting, I asked whether Greens Creek’s improvised buckets were compliant with the national standards for such equipment. They were not, and yet again nobody in the room seemed to notice the change between one meeting and the next. The next year, I asked the same question and suddenly, Greens Creek was in fact in compliance with the state’s requirements – buckets and all.
In the Kensington Mine’s annual report one year I noticed that a new water quality standard for aluminum had suddenly appeared, making all of their out-of-compliance measurements suddenly within the range of acceptability. I asked about it, but no one was able to provide an explanation for the change, and what was worse, not a single public employee called on the mining people present to explain the change to them, despite the fact that it’s their job to understand these changes.
Photo by Meredith Trainor.
For nine years, Greens Creek bemoaned the absence of baseline information for marine life around their site in their Annual Reports. Baseline data is data that is taken before the mine is put in, and as the years pass, a comparison of current data to baseline data provides a useful model for understanding whether and how the mine project has impacted both marine life and habitat nearby. If marine life decreases, it signals a need for concern about the impacts of the mine. For nearly a decade, Greens Creek asserted that adequate baseline data would have been the only way to know what impact, if any, their mine had on marine populations. But there was baseline data taken before the mine was up and running, and SEACC found it. We consequently submitted a request to revoke the mine’s discharge permit, since it was based on inaccurate information. But the only outcome of that request was that after nine years of highlighting the need for essential baseline data, they stopped saying they would be more responsible if they had better data.
Diagnose the root issue! 8 Ravencall Fall 2019
The meetings at which these transgressions and shortcomings can be addressed are not held in secret - although they are poorly advertised. There is no bar for entry. You are invited, and so is anyone else who cares to attend. The above list of concerns is frustrating, but it does do one important thing – it illuminates a path for the public to take in order to protect the places they love, as the more public attention is leveled at these issues, the more the agencies of the state and federal governments seem to feel they must act. Imagine if instead of staff members from SEACC claiming a couple of chairs at one table in a room full of agency staffers and mining executives, enough Southeast Alaskans turned out to these meetings that those tables were full of us, each prepared with your own concern: concerns about the forest, the water, and the foods you eat. It’s easy for agency officials and mining executives to ignore staff from a conservation group coming onto their turf and asking them the tough questions they should be asking themselves. It is not easy for them to ignore you and your family and your neighbors and your friends. I invite you to come and join me at the next public meeting because the easiest way for each of us to change things for the better is to show up, and demand to understand. I’ll even save you a seat.
If your local stream is choked with garbage, a stream clean up event is great, but think: why is there so much trash in the stream? Is there a dump nearby with a broken fence? Is there a factory upstream with too few dumpsters that get overfilled? Identify and work to solve the root cause.
Photo by Colin Arisman
Naawéiyaa Austin Tagaban
Our Latest Member of the Board
Interview by Conor Lendrum You've been involved in the community and fighting for what you believe in, participating in public dialogue, and rocking that sweet activist life for years. How would you encourage inexperienced folks to get involved? I think it’s about finding something that keeps you burning, you know? And then finding other people who have ideas that you can bounce off of because it's really important, especially if you're thinking about organizing from an intersectional lens, to have accountability. If you're organizing in a vacuum then there's no accountability and so it's important to bring in other people to check your ideas and to check your thinking in order to ensure that you're actually doing something that works for the community and is also strategic and is what the community wants. You’re our latest member of the board for SEACC! Were you involved in SEACC before you decided to join the board? Did you show up at events, were you a member, did you read the Ravencall? No, I actually wasn't involved at all… And then I started working at AWARE and Natalie, the board Vice-President, also works at AWARE at the prevention office, and she knew I was involved in Native Movement and that I had a lot of feelings about the Climate Justice movement, and she was like "it seems like a natural fit.” I didn't have much engagement before and this was because [of a] false narrative that I've encountered, this idea that Tlingit people don't care about conservation… Just because you don't hear marginalized voices in the discourse doesn't mean they don't have thoughts on it, right? And it's just another byproduct of Indigenous people being marginalized, that you don't hear their voices. Maybe it points to a larger problem rather than [that] we don't care about the Tongass, maybe that Tlingit people in Southeast don't see
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Absolutely. It is absolutely a problem of representation and a big part of that is, historically, environmental groups have not been good about inviting groups into the process in a way that allowed them to define themselves and choose their own issues. Would you say that you've felt invited into SEACC, that you've felt welcomed and encouraged in environmentalism and conservation since getting involved in SEACC? For sure, and I think in general right now, especially in Alaska, the narrative is in a process of change where Indigenous folks are more and more being uplifted in this struggle because it’s been recognized that this environmental injustice is also a social injustice, right? That as Alaska Native people environmental injustices affect us in a disproportional manner. Like the people in Nuiqsut on the North Slope have some of the worst air quality in the United States, because they live in such close proximity to the oil extraction processes, right? And so that is an environmental injustice but also a social injustice. Including those voices also helps bring attention to issues that may be overlooked. You helped a tremendous amount for the Turn out for the Tongass Rally: you helped design and make banners, organize attendees, and you spoke at the rally! Would you go into what you spoke about for those who were unable to attend? And if you could go back and add anything what would it be? One thing that I sort of touched on that I think about all the time is the way that environmental injustice and extractive economies are related to this issue of Indigenous sovereignty. For me
it’s that Indigenous sovereignty is good for us, as Indigenous people, but it's also good for the land, especially because we have ways of being on this land that have carried through 10,000 years but also, we have lived in relationship with this land that is a reciprocal relationship, that the land gives to us and we give back to the land. For me it's also that sovereignty protects these places that are sacred to us. Like the forest, that we have deep relationships with and that we have spiritual relationships… in Tlingit you can refer to the forest as "the People of the trees" and it's very spiritual for us to interact with this forest. To take a tree is a very spiritual thing, you have to give the forest an offering and tell them why you're taking this tree and what's going to happen with this log and explain to this forest… that this will help your community, that this is vital, and that [they] are sustaining our life. It's treated as a living population with as much of its own sovereignty as you have. How did you feel after the turn out for the Tongass Rally and how did it make you feel to see the community all come together and see everyone’s hard work pay off? I thought it went really well, I loved it. Something that I dream about is getting people in the street in Juneau, this is a goal I have… I think about all the time… I really did love the variety of voices that were put up to speak, and having the march be led by WECAN, I thought that was really great, and I really loved all the signage. Dan had the idea of all the trees and all the fish and I was like, “that’s beautiful, I love it" and I think it was really successful. One of the things that stands out most to me is the variety of voices that were put on stage.
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themselves reflected in the environmental justice community, right, or in that movement. So, it's more, I think, about issues of representation than it is about actual care about the issue, you know?
ALASKA CONSERVATION FOUNDATION CONSERVATION ACHIEVEMENT AWARDS | Anchorage, AK
ACF’s annual awards ceremony for achievements in conservation.
WHALEFEST | Sitka, AK
Join us for a unique celebration of aquatic ecosystems, local community, and elevation of the marine sciences.
PUBLIC MARKET | Juneau, AK
Stop by the JACC and get updates on our work, check out our rad merchandise, and find out how to become a member!
Be sure to check out our website (www.seacc.org) or follow us on social media (Facebook and Instagram) to get updates on local events that we will be hosting, including screenings of the film Rock Paper Fish about the potential impacts of the proposed Palmer Project on the Chilkat Valley.
Privilege & Listening!
Being able to choose the issue you engage on is a privilege. When a cause calls to you and you choose to engage, remember that there are people who are already in that fight and have been since day one because they had no other choice. Prioritize listening and educating yourself. Ravencall 9
Former Board Member and SEACC Donor
Intreview by Meredith Trainor Let's start with the easy question: how did you and when did you get involved with SEACC, Mike? I moved up from Oregon to Craig in 1984 and it took me 2 or 3 years to figure out that there was something amiss with the forest practices on the Tongass. So it was around 1987, I think, when I realized that this was another boom and bust timber fiasco. I grew up in Oregon and in my short lifetime I've lived through two boom/bust timber cycles which are hard on the environment and hard on the people working in the timber industry and the communities that support the timber industry and the businesses that the industry supports. In '87 I realized that it's the same old deal as what happened starting in Europe and marching to the United States and across the United States and decimating the timber lands, the public lands, on the west coast: Oregon, Washington, California. And now here it is in Southeast Alaska and I'm like, nah, that's wrong. Why can't humans learn from their past? From history? Learn from our mistakes? Do it again... When I was a kid growing up there were salmon in every stream… And now a lot of those runs are extinct or endangered. Probably hatcheries are the only reason a lot of those systems support salmon anymore and you know you used to be able to take home 6 salmon and now it's like, I think, 2, and you have to fish with barbless hooks. So, unless we do it differently, the only difference between the Pacific Northwest and Alaska is time. Did you think you were getting away from clear cut logging and that? I didn't understand how much clear-cut logging was happening on the Tongass until I was here for a few years and I saw it first-hand. I was just like, come on, this is ridiculous. How did you get involved with or find SEACC at that time? I was friends with some folks livin' here in town and one of them sat on the SEACC board. When you think back to that time when you were most involved in SEACC, what's one of the proudest accomplishments from that experience? Working on saving Honker Divide and working on the micro-sale program that became quite a successful program for the small independent operators. Higher value-added wood, more jobs per board foot than industrial scale logging, and where you could have jobs, finished product, and old-growth forest all at the same time as opposed to the slash and burn. You and I were talking about the micro-sale program a little bit earlier. So that was smaller sales, spread out on the Tongass, close to the existing road system using dead and downed timber. And really an opportunity to support small businesses that were going to sell their products, largely, to their
Join and Give! 10 Ravencall Fall 2019
neighbors and community members and people relatively nearby. Yeah, a lot of those products are available only locally. There was probably some export in terms of State of Washington or Oregon, but most of that product stays right here in the Tongass communities as a finished product, it gets utilized right here which is a lower carbon footprint than putting it on a barge and shipping it.
“putting SEACC in your will, or as a beneficiary on a retirement plan, donating whatever you can is not only worthwhile but it feels good.” And kind of satisfying too, right? Because the benefit goes to your neighbors and goes to your community, it really ends up feeling like a team effort. You know those guys weren't getting rich but they were making a living and they were able to feed their families and keep their kids in school and stay here. It was a transition period after the mills closed and the little guys, the small independent operators, were essentially getting pushed aside and getting shoved out of the process, it was hard for them to bid on what the forest service considered small sales, and those sales were too large for a small operator, too much capital, too much cash they'd have to come up with, so they couldn't get wood. They were going to get priced out of operating at that point, right? That would have caused them to shut down. Yeah, you can't get wood you can't do business. So the program, the micro-sale program itself kept, I can't give you a number, but kept quite a few people operating and in business and here on the island, able to survive the transition and it’s been tough for them, not all of them made it. But I guess that's probably to be expected when there's a significant economic shift. On the Oregon coast, for example, the first boom-bust timber economy in my lifetime it was timber, fishing, and tourism. And as timber harvest declined then it became fishing, timber, tourism, and now it's tourism, fishing, timber. But you know it's all second and third growth product, they creamed the old-growth just like what folks were doing here and unfortunately continue to do to this day. Which is short-sighted and wrongheaded. It's bad for fish and if it's bad for fish it's bad for people. Can we talk a little bit about the Honker Divide and what the Honker Divide is to people here on PoW or just overall? …It takes you into a portion of what the forest, what the country used to look like before it was logged so it's a rich habitat, and it’s called Honker Divide because geese fly through there on their migratory routes. There's sand-hill cranes,
there's wolves, there's denning wolves, it's a pretty good deer hunting spot for those who like to hunt. Great fishing. And it's just a tremendous outdoor experience. It's good country and it's worth fighting for and saving [from industrial scale logging]. You've made commitments to support SEACC economically throughout your involvement, what would you say to those who are thinking about making a gift to SEACC or who maybe have been donors for a long time and want to take it to the next level? I would say that it's a tremendous opportunity to bequeath a portion of your assets or, heck, all of your assets to SEACC to help support them in the long run. Unfortunately, these timber issues are not going to go away in the short-term. Fortunately, SEACC is there working every day, working hard every day, to protect the special places on the Tongass and the lifestyles that the Tongass supports. So, putting SEACC in your will, or as a beneficiary on a retirement plan, donating whatever you can is not only worthwhile but it feels good. And it's the right thing to do. So, if you're in love with the Tongass, if you have a special place on the Tongass, consider a legacy gift to SEACC in whatever form that you can manage. In terms of thinking about legacies and what we share and pass on with the next generation, do you have any advice for younger people? What is some good advice for somebody who is falling in love with Southeast Alaska? Spend as much time outdoors as you possibly can and allow the Tongass to speak to you. And the Tongass will speak to you. Probably in many forms in many different places and one day you'll wake up and go "Man, this place is special. And it's worth fighting for."
The timber issues facing the Tongass aren’t going away any time soon, but there are so many ways you can ensure SEACC will be protecting the forest every step of the way. For example, do you know about Required Minimum Distributions? If you have a retirement fund, you are required to make minimum distributions from that account starting when you’re 70½. When withdrawing those funds, they can be distributed, in whole or in part, to your favorite non-profit, making those distributions tax free. Some qualifying accounts are: IRA, SEP IRA, SIMPLE IRA. SEACC is not an authority on taxes, or tax law, please speak with a finance professional before making any decisions about your retirement funds!
Ultimately, nothing is achieved without community and without giving, whether donated supplies, in kind services, or funding for the good fight. A great way to strengthen your own knowledge of issues and access to action is to join your local activist organization, like SEACC! To become a member, look at the back cover!
34th Annual Alaska Conservation Achievement Award Recipients Congratulations to this year’s award winners! Special appreciation to Jim “Stratto” Stratton, one of SEACC’s previous Executive Directors, Kristen Romanoff, Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association, and Michael McKimens, previous SEACC Board Officer, whose interview can be found on page 10. LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT AWARD Jim Stratton, Anchorage, Alaska CELIA HUNTER AWARD FOR OUTSTANDING VOLUNTEER CONTRIBUTIONS Michael McKimens, Craig, Alaska OLAUS MURIE AWARD FOR OUTSTANDING PROFESSIONAL CONTRIBUTIONS Polly Carr, Anchorage, Alaska DENNY WILCHER AWARD FOR YOUNG ENVIRONMENTAL ACTIVISTS (2) Karl Pfeiffenberger, Seward, Alaska & Cate Gomez, Dillingham, Alaska DANIEL HOUSBERG WILDERNESS IMAGE AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE IN FILM OR VIDEO Drew Hamilton, Anchorage/Homer, Alaska JERRY S. DIXON AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE IN ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION Kristen Romanoff, Juneau, Alaska CALEB PUNGOWIYI AWARD FOR OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENTS BY AN ALASKA NATIVE ORGANIZATION OR INDIVIDUAL Heather Kendall-Miller, Anchorage, Alaska LOWELL THOMAS, JR. AWARD FOR OUTSTANDING ACHIEVEMENTS BY A CONSERVATION ORGANIZATION Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association (ALFA), Sitka, Alaska
THANK YOU TO OUR VOLUNTEERS!
There are so many ways to get involved and volunteering is essential to achieving any significant change. You helped to achieve change in our communities and keep SEACC strong, the waters clean, and the Tongass tall. If you are interested in lending your own hands to our efforts, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org! Joel Jackson, Della Chaney, Yees Ku Oo Multicultural Dance Group, Elise LaBonte, Osprey Orielle Lake, Fran Houston, Wanda Culp, Kate Troll, Naawéiyaa Austin Tagaban, Representative Sara Hannan, Lyle and Kolene James, Marc Wheeler, Theo Houck, Phillip Moser, Q’on Bear-Clark, Bob Claus and family, Randy Hulse, David Lendrum & Margaret Tharp, Keith Giles, Collette Costa, Colin Arisman, Gordon Chew, Don “Grizz” Nicholson, Mike McKimens, Ernestine Hanlon-Abel, Jennifer Hanlon, MaryJean Duncan, Todd Wehnes, Erika Bergren, Alfie Price, Joel Price, Susan Walsh, Wayne Weihing, Laura Stats, Jon Haghayeghi, Nic Villasenor, Tracy Scherdt, Jasper Soriano, Brenda Schwartz-Yeager, Dan Egolf, Betsey Burdett, Thomasina Andersen, Mitchell Backes, Catherine Hatch, Noah Williams, Laib Allensworth, Nic Adamson, Helen Alten, Anissa Berry, Clay Frick, Merrick Bochart, Celia Bowers, Aaron Brakel, Rebecca Brewer, Christa Bruce, Maria and Bill Byford, Cathryn Coats, Suzanne Cohen, Katie Craney, Sheli Delaney, Katie Dickerson, Emma Dohrn, Molly Dwyer, Sam Edwards, Emily Ferry, Janine Gibbons, Karla Hart, Chris and Tim Hatton, Forest Haven, Judah Haven Marr, Lee House, Larry Hurlock, Lani and Jones Hotch, Walter Jack, Sam Jackson, Regi Johanos, Lindsay Johnson, Marci Johnson, Alan Jones, Lizzy Jurgeleit, Anna and Jim Jurgeleit, David Katzeek, Molly Kemp, Daniel Klanott, Debi Knight Kennedy, Abigail Leatherman, Eric Lee, Kevin Maier, Luann McVey, Alicia McArtor, Mary Miller, Kelly Mitchell, Lindsey Moore, Walt Moorhead, Megan Morehouse, Jeffrey Moskowitz, Andrea Nelson, Magdalena Oliveros, Joe Ordonez, Jessica Plachta, Derek Poinsette and Dawn Drotos, Paula and David Rak, Zachary Rhoads, Kim and Evan Rowan, Josh Sanko, Elsa Sebastian, Katie Thomas, Mike Sallee, Collin Stackhouse, Jordan Watson, Mary Watson, Molly Watson, Natalie Watson, Erin Whalen, Patricia Wherry, Nick Wickers, Brian Willard, Yvonne Yang and Brett Collins, Larry and Eric Calvin, Marian Allen and many more!
Contribute $35 or more today to become a SEACC member and help us advocate for the Tongass and Inside Passage here in Southeast! www.seacc.org/donate
Small monthly donations add up to big impacts and keep our work going. Sustainers are Meredith’s favorite. www.seacc.org/donate_monthly
BECOME A BUSINESS PARTNER Let us share the benefits of becoming a SEACC Business Partner with you! Email Maggie Rabb at email@example.com for more information.
PLAN FOR THE LONG TERM!
You can donate stock, IFQs, or pledge for the future of Southeast by making a planned gift to SEACC in your will. For more information on planned giving visit www.seacc.org/legacy or email Maggie Rabb, firstname.lastname@example.org.
This issue will be coming out around the time of the Alaska Specific Roadless Rule DEIS comment period, so use our website, our social media, and this edition to STAY CURRENT ON HOW TO GET INVOLVED! www.seacc.org s
THANK YOU TO OUR BUSINESS PARTNERS Baranof Wilderness Lodge SITKA, AK
For the Environment Inc DENVER, CO
Glacier Bay Sea Kayaks GUSTAVUS, AK
Bluewater Adventures VANCOUVER, BC
Alaska Nature Tours HAINES, AK
Non-Profit Org. US Postage PAID Juneau, AK 99801 Permit #107
2207 Jordan Ave. Unit 3A Juneau, AK 99801 (907) 586-6942 www.seacc.org
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Donate online at www.seacc.org/donate or clip and send to: Southeast Alaska Conservation Council 2207 Jordan Ave, Juneau, AK 99801 Your contribution is tax deductible to the extent allowable by law.
The Southeast Alaska Conservation Council's (SEACC) bi-annual newsletter on topics from the Constantine-Palmer Mine, to the Alaska Specific...
Published on Oct 10, 2019
The Southeast Alaska Conservation Council's (SEACC) bi-annual newsletter on topics from the Constantine-Palmer Mine, to the Alaska Specific...