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2017 CALENDAR

SITKA CONSERVATION SOCIETY

ANNUAL REPORT


Dear Friends, It seems that in this past year, the Sitka Conservation Society has been in the news more often than not. We’ve been busy spearheading new initiatives and programs, sponsoring educational events, advocating on issues that affect the people and land of the Tongass, and getting people out to celebrate the beauty and abundance of Baranof Island and Southeast Alaska. Each time I see how SCS contributes to the community and is party to such a varied range of positive and constructive actions, it makes me proud. Proud of our talented and ever moving interns, of the tenacity with which they identify needs and find ways to affect positive change. Proud of our staff, whose eagerness and enthusiasm are guided and leveraged to help progress us further down the road to sustainability, to help us be more aware of the threats to the things we can take for granted, to help us live in a way which enshrines and supports our community values. And proud of our board, always eager to learn more and to engage in the effort to respect and protect not only the environment around us, but also the ability of people to live well on the thin line between the sea and mountains. From elementary school stream teams and 4-H programming to Fish to Schools and Sitka Kitch, SCS has had a strong hand in so many trail-breaking local initiatives that are now integral to community life. Working with the school district and teachers, the Forest Service, small sawmill operators, local food groups, Sitka Native Education Program, City of Sitka staff, and other nontraditional partners, SCS has sought to build bridges, support collaborative efforts, and help create a stronger community.

“The hand of SCS has been on so many trail-breaking local initiatives that are now integral to community life.” SCS has also, as always, been keeping watch over the quality of our environment, identifying challenges and advocating for protection where it’s needed - constant pressure, constantly applied. We’ve been busy keeping the Forest Service’s long-in-coming transition out of industrial old growth logging on track, working with other groups to identify and respond to threats from transboundary mining, and making sure that policy makers are aware of the important role healthy forests and salmon play in our economies and our livelihoods. As one who loves this wet and craggy island and is tied to fisheries for my livelihood, I am grateful for SCS for helping create a thriving community for a long time to come. Thank you for being here with us and enjoy the wonderful work featured in this beautiful annual report!

—Steve Fish, SCS Board President Cover Photo © Bethany Goodrich Photography, Hiker Photo © Kendall Rock Photography.

Table of Contents 1 2 3 5 7 9 11 13 15

Letter from the President Living Wilderness Fund Financial Report, Thank You List SCS: Local Work with a Strong Global Impact Bringing Priorities to the TLMP The Fish, the Trees, the Sea, and Me The Next Generation of Conservation Leaders Building Sustainable Communities with the SSP Conservation as a Gift to Future Generations

17 Organizing Alaskans to Protect our Wild Backyard 19 Climate Change: A Challenge Affecting Us All 21 Making My Home in Sitka Sound 23 Science, Conservation, and Observing with Intent 25 Storytelling for Social and Environmental Change 27 SCS: The First Fifty Years 29 About SCS, Staff and Board List


The Living Wilderness Fund The Living Wilderness Fund is the Sitka Conservation Society’s endowment fund that supports a lasting voice for wilderness in Alaska. Through the fund, we ensure that the vision and the dedication demonstrated by the original founders of the Sitka Conservation Society continues in perpetuity. The fund was started over 13 years ago by a group of SCS board members. In 2016, the fund crossed a very significant milestone of $500,000. The fund grew thanks to donations by SCS members in the form of stock gifts, gifts to honor individuals, money left in wills, and donations made in memory of loved ones who passed away.

“The Living Wilderness Fund is one of the ways we can make sure that our work to protect the natural environment continues far into the future” The Living Wilderness Fund is invested with the corpus of the Alaska Conservation Foundation. The funds are held by a firm that specializes in socially and environmentally responsible investments. This firm even engages as an activist investor to inspire the social, economic, and environmental changes our society needs to make. In an age where many of us worry about what activities our mutual and retirement investment funds might support, the Living Wilderness Fund is a breath of fresh air and something we can feel good about as it contributes to our larger goals. The interest earned from our investments helps the fund grow and further supports our on-the-ground work. The Wilderness work that SCS does is an investment in future generations. The founders of SCS sought to protect West Chichagof and other places in the Tongass so that future generations could experience the same wild coast, mystic forests, and rugged mountains that they did—before the logging of the pulp mills took it all away. Our work today is also done with future generations in mind. We want to make sure there are still wild places where wildlife can roam and live out their natural cycles and where people can be part of a healthy, thriving, and natural landscape. The Living Wilderness Fund is one of the ways we can make sure that our work to protect the natural environment continues far into the future. The Living Wilderness Fund is a core part of our work to ensure that old growth forests across the Tongass stay standing, wild salmon keep spawning in Tongass streams, and families keep harvesting deer and mushrooms in the Tongass for many years to come.

$1 Million Goal:

$500,000 Goal: ACCOMPLISHED

Fund supports parttime staff position.

$557,479

Fund supports fulltime staff position.

Fund supports the entire LWF program.

We are currently at $557,479.

Honoring Ward Eldridge 1943-2016 Ward Eldridge was a long-time Sitkan who left a tremendous mark on our community. Ward served on the board of the Sitka Conservation Society and was a long-time active member. Stories about Ward’s life on the land and water are already legends in Sitka. Ward was intimately connected with the ocean and the Alaskan environment. He was an activist and was always ready to speak up and speak out on issues that needed to be heard. Ward worked closely with SCS staff and always offered encouraging words, helpful advice, and positive feedback that buoyed our spirits and kept everyone focused, engaged, positive, and hopeful.

Photo © Crossroads Photography.

$1.5 Million Goal

A Legacy for the Tongass Wilderness:


2016 Financial Report These figures represent all organizational programs from the first to third quarter during 2016. Fundraising/Outreach (1%) Program Support (9%)

Interest, Retail, Other Income (7%)

2015 Financial Report

Donations/ Membership (3%)

These figures are for all organizational programs for the entire fiscal year 2015. Each percent is rounded to the nearest whole number.

Expenses $403,970.74 Personnel Expenses (76%) Office Rent and Expenses (18%) Program Support (5%) Fundraising/Outreach (1%)

Income

Expenses

$462,490.13

$312,049.36

Income $431,256.77 Grants (95%) Donations/Membership (3.5%) Interest, Retail, Other (1.5%)

Office Rent and Expenses (21%) Personnel Expenses (69%)

Grants (90%)

2015 Grant Funding for specific projects = $74,834.89

*2016 Grant Funding for specific projects=$63,679.92

The Sitka Conservation Society is deeply grateful for all the support recieved this year. We would like to recognize the support of the following foundations, partner organizations, and individuals. 4H Active Paddles Alaska Community Forest Council Alaska Conservation Foundation Alaska Engagement Partnership Alaska Department of Fish and Game Allen Marine American Fisheries Society, AK Chapter Americorps AMSEA Alaska Natural Heritage Institute Alaska Native Brotherhood Alaska Native Sisterhood Audubon Society, AK Chapter Backdoor Café Blatchley Middle School Baranof Island Brewing Brave Heart Volunteers Capital City Weekly Charlotte Martin Foundation City and Borough of Sitka Clovis Foundation Common Stream Foundation Background Photo © Lione Clare Photography.

Craig School District Crossroads Photography Workshops Defenders and Friends of Admiralty Island Esther G Sea Taxi Fisherman's Quay Gallant Girl Adventures George H. and Jane A. Mifflin Memorial Fund Greater Saint Louis Community Foundation Grow Southeast Haa Aaní, LLC Hames Corporation Hames Center Harris Aircraft Services Harry Race Pharmacy Homeport Eatery Hoonah Indian Association Hoonah Native Forest Partnership Hydaburg Cooperative Association Inside Passage Waterkeeper Island Institute

Jesuit Volunteer Corps Northwest KCAW Raven Radio Keet Gooshi Heen Elementary school Knitting with Class Knox College Larkspur Caffe Latitude Adventures LLC Leighty Foundation Lindblad-National Geographic Fund Ludvig's Bistro Mt. Edgecumbe Alaska Youth for Environmental Action Murray Pacific National Forest Foundation National Park Service National Wilderness Stewardship Alliance The Nature Conservancy, Alaska New Venture Fund Norcross Wildlife Foundation, Inc Nunatak Design Old Harbor Books Organized Village of Kake

Organized Vilage of Kasaan Patagonia Pioneer Videography Renewable Energy Alaska Project Russell's Salmon Beyond Borders SeaMart Quality Foods Sitka Bicycle Friendly Community Coalition Sitka Community Schools Sitka Electric Car Group Sitka Fine Arts Camp Sitka Food Coop Sitka High School Sitka Health Summit Sitka Historical Society Sitka Kitch Sitka Local Foods Network Sitka National Historical Park Sitka Native Education Program Sitka Presbyterian Church Sitka Pioneer Home Sitka Public Library


The Sitka Conservation Society would not be possible without the generous support of the following individuals who have been especially supportive. Sitka Salmon Shares Sitka School District Sitka Seafood Festival Sitka Sound Science Center Sitka Spruce Tip 4-H Club Leaders Sitka Tribes of Alaska Sitka Whalefest Skaggs Foundation Sound Sailing Southeast Alaska Independent Living Southeast Alaska Conservation Council Southeast Alaska Fish Habitat Partnership Southeast Conference Spirit Walker Expeditions State of Alaska Division of Forestry State of Alaska Department of Fish and Game State of Alaska Department of Commerce Sustainable Southeast Partnership The Salmon Project Tatoosh School Training Resources for the Environmental Community (TREC) Trout Unlimited True North

Turner Foundation University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension University of Alaska, Southeast, Fisheries Technology Program UpRivers USDA Forest Service Voices of the Wilderness Alaska Artist Residency Western Alaska Landscape Conservation Cooperative White Elephant Shop Wilburforce Foundation Wintersong Soap Company The Wildlife Society, AK Chapter

We would also like to thank the following fishing vessels for their donations to the Fish to Schools Program: F/V Born Again F/V Suki F/V Sea Lark F/V Marie F/V Norfjord F/V Sachem F/V Rose Lynn F/V FishnPohl F/V Kulla F/V El Tiburon F/V Miracle F/V Lucky Strike F/V Cape Cross F/V Dryas F/V Woodstock F/V Merlin F/V Alexa K F/V I Gotta

F/V Shelley J F/V Cinnabar F/V Last Dance F/V Minke F/V Endurance F/V Ulla F/V Charity F/V Nerka F/V Chanty F/V Triad F/V Ocean Cape F/V Myriad

Photo (top) Š Crossroads Photography, Photo (bottom) Š Bethany Goodrich Photography.

Luke A'Bear Tom and Diana Allen Mary Barrett and Jeff Arndt Brenda Berry Chip and Amy Blair Annette Blankenship Pete Brabeck Robby Bruce Justin Caldwell Larry Calvin Jerry Deppa Joseph Driskill and Leslie J. Bryant Roger Dubrock and Elaine Andrews Brent and Valerie Edwards Dorrie Farrell Peggy Fedoroff Kenyon Fields Rick Fleischman Lisa Forman Neall Annie and Matt Foruria Tad & Sara Fujioka Andrew Gangle and Katrina Guest Joel and Alice Hanson Christine Harrington Ron and Jane Harris Karen R. Hegyi Kevin and Karen Johnson

Chuck and Alice Johnstone Dan Kiely and Laura Hays Jim Kyle Connie and Marcel LaPerrier Stephen Lawrie Michael and Klaudia Leccese Judi Lehmann Collauna Marley Michael Mayo Jeffrey McKay Nic Mink Dannielle Nichols Susan Padilla Stephen Rhoads and Beth Short Krisanne Rice and James Clare Timothy Riley Robert Schell Connie Sipe David and Barbara Sparling Brita Speck Reber Stein David and Marge Steward Libby Stortz Don Surgeon and Galen Paine Floyd Tomkins and Connie Kreiss Vicky Vosburg and Burgess Bauder Charlie Wilber


Southeast Alaska is undoubtedly important to the people who call this coastline home. But this place where we live and work is also significant to people around the world. We live amongst the largest remaining temperate rainforest on earth. Our waters give life to all five species of Pacific salmon, brown bears romp around our endless forests, and Wilderness is only a short hike away. Our culture and the way we live in a direct relationship with our ecosystems is uncommon. This harmony is rapidly disappearing across the globe and is worthy of both celebration and protection. Photo: Š Luke A’Bear.


SCS: Local Work with a Strong Global Impact Andrew Thoms Executive Director

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1 2016 was my tenth year serving as the executive director of the Sitka Conservation Society. It was always my life’s goal to work to conserve the natural environment. Growing up, it was clear to me that we face many global environmental problems and I wanted to be part of the solution. Initially, I worked on community development projects and helped protect critical bird habitat in Central and South America. But after many years, I realized I could have an even greater influence in my own country. In SCS, I found an organization that was a perfect analogy of the environmental movement in the United States: formed in 1967, a grassroots group of citizens joined together to protect their backyard from a rampant industrial development paradigm. SCS is made up of people who are connected to the environment and want it protected because they use and depend upon the environment as fishermen, subsistence hunters, tourism operators, and families who want to raise their kids with a deep connection to the natural world. SCS is an amazing organization because it works on local and regional issues that have national and global significance. We live in the middle of our nation’s largest public forest and the policies that govern the Tongass touch every other national forest in the country. We watch out for this place, not just for us but for all the people across the country who love and dream of visiting this forest. Globally, the Tongass is significant because it is the largest remaining intact temperate rainforest in the world. Temperate rainforests are one of the world’s rarest ecosystems: we live here as part of it and as its stewards. When I was first starting, a board member at SCS told me: our work is to leave the place we are in better than we found it. SCS is an organization that does that, and it has been an honor for me to be part of it these last ten years.

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Photos: Bald eagles catching salmon. © Adam Andis; The winter Tongass wilderness. © Luke A'Bear ; International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s World Conservation Congress in Hawaii. © Bethany Goodrich Photography.

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Collaborating with Global Conservation Leaders In August 2016, SCS joined a delegation of indigenous leaders and conservation advocates from across Alaska, British Columbia, and Washington to gather at the International Union for the Conservation of Nature’s World Conservation Congress in Hawaii. This event is hosted every four years and brings together leaders from around the globe to map a course forward for our peoples and planet. One key takehome was the power of grassroots organizing to effect change. Important knowledge and solutions are grounded in indigenous and local communities. Based in Alaska, SCS is on the frontline of environmental challenges and can therefore adapt and be responsive in ways that national and international institutions cannot. Localized resource management, community visioning, land-use planning, energy efficiency measures, and sustainable subsistence practices are all examples of community actions that can positively impact our world and climate.

Protecting the natural environment of the Tongass while supporting

the development of sustainable communities in Southeast Alaska


When you grow up in the Tongass, you don’t realize that not everyone’s backyard has huge mountains that are covered in majestic old growth forests with countless beautiful waterfalls cascading over rugged cliffs. When you discover that not every place has these treasures, you realize it’s part of your duty to make sure that these places are protected and saved. Finding ways to live and thrive in the Tongass while protecting the natural bounty that makes this place great is the challenge that we face today and one that Southeast Alaskan youth are bravely taking on. Photo: © Lione Clare Photography.


Bringing Local Priorities to the TLMP Quinn Aboudara Community Catalyst at Klawock Cooperative Association My name is Quinn Aboudara and I call Prince of Wales Island home. Nestled in the heart of the Tongass National Forest, I work alongside the Sitka Conservation Society, Sustainable Southeast Partnership, and the tribal government Klawock Cooperative Association to advocate for sustainable management of our public lands. Sustainable management of the Tongass National Forest is important to the communities of Prince of Wales Island because we depend on the resources the forest provides. From subsistence foods to cultural needs, we live tied to the Tongass, and are invested in the US Forest Service transitioning the Tongass out of old growth clearcutting. The Tongass is more than a collection of trees to be exploited. It is a vibrant, living resource that is critical to the wellbeing of our communities. We live here, and our voices should be heard and not dismissed. Earlier this year I submitted a letter to the US Forest Service in response to their Tongass Land Management Plan, a blueprint for how the agency manages our 17-million-acre forest. I wrote specifically about the plan’s impact on Prince of Wales Island, and advocated for more careful management and less clearcutting of our old growth forests. I spoke about taking a more conservative approach to land management as we and the forest are intertwined inexplicably, one affecting the other. I have lived in the Tongass all my life and have directly experienced the effects of less-than-conservative land management. Now, as I reflect upon what was available 20-30 years ago [trees, salmon, and wild places] and what resources are available today, it is apparent that careful, conservative land management is required if my children and their children are to enjoy the bounties of the Tongass that I have known. Quinn Aboudara is one of the many Southeast Alaskans who partnered with SCS in 2016 to advocate for an end to old growth logging through the implementation of the Tongass Land Management Plan (TLMP) Amendment.

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Photos: A beautiful view from Harbor Mountain. © Lione Clare Photography; Clouds gently floating against a crystal clear lake. © Crossroads Photography; Matchstick lichen. © Bethany Goodrich Photography; A Young Growth Inventory worker. © Lee House.

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27 St. Lazaria Wildlife Refuge est. 1909

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A Leading Voice in Tongass Management SCS was part of the Tongass Advisory Committee, a group of 15 stakeholders tasked with figuring out how to speed up the transition from old growth to young growth logging in the Tongass. The recommendations SCS helped craft seek to move Tongass management forward, from a misguided boom-bust framework, to a paradigm based on sustainability. Including people who live in the Tongass in land management decisions is one of our top priorities. It helps ensure that these decisions are not just made to benefit us today, but that they reflect our hopes for future generations. For this reason, SCS helped make sure that the Young Growth Inventory, a project that will shape future Tongass timber programs, is being performed by local people who were trained in silvicultural practices as part of a workforce development program.

Protecting the natural environment of the Tongass while supporting

the development of sustainable communities in Southeast Alaska


Two male sockeye salmon jockey for the best position over a potential spawning site. They are holding their place and showing off for the female salmon swimming behind them. These sockeye are spawning in the Falls Lake system in South Baranof Wilderness. Wilderness protections help ensure that salmon can return to spawn in healthy lakes and streams year after year. Photo: Š Ben Hamilton.


The Fish, the Trees, the Sea, and Me Berett Wilber Deckhand & Writer

Salmon have always been important in my family. I entered the working world at eleven, as a fish cleaning machine on our family’s troller. We’d smoke batches of cohos in the fall, use the carcasses for bait on our Annual Shrimp Trip. I’d fall asleep to the whirring of my mom at the vacuum packer. Salmon ran through my childhood like they run through the Tongass, essential and dependable. I thought it would change. I daydreamed about growing up, moving to the Lower 48. It seemed like that’s what people did. Trying it myself, in Minnesota, homesick, I found myself instead dreaming of home: the ocean, whales, forests, and salmon. Now, after winter as a legislative aide for Southeast, and summer as a deckhand (equally long hours), it’s cozy season in the Tongass. Walking near Indian River, the smell hits you first—the spawned out carcasses of humpies are everywhere, and seagulls fall-of-Romestyle feasting and looting. Salmon have been returning home for millions of years. We have something in common. Life just gets fishier, from the king filets we exchange for smoked collars with family friends, to my kindergarten classmate, who left his duty station at the plant this summer to help me shovel out the hold. Our state legislator, decorating his office with fishing photos to make it feel like home. The fleet, donating hundreds of pounds of salmon for school lunches come fall. I’ve learned to go with the flow: I’ll always be from a fishing family, a community connected by salmon, and America’s last great salmon forest. Slippery anvils of empathy, salmon link us across time and species: to past and future fishing seasons, to the Tongass, to each other. As long as we protect their habitats and their families —these forests and watersheds, next spring’s smolts—they’ll keep coming home. We will keep providing for each other, like true small town neighbors. Like family.

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Photos: Caught salmon near Redoubt Bay. © Lione Clare Photography; Caught salmon. © Kendall Rock Photography; Forest restoration in progress. © Lione Clare Photography.

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Restoring Damaged Salmon Streams The logging that took place in the Tongass between 1950 and 1994 represented some of the worst forest management imaginable. At the time, the timber industry and the Forest Service used stream beds as roads for logging tractors. They removed logs from streams, saying they blocked salmon runs. Both of these things caused serious damage to salmon habitat and salmon populations. Today, SCS is working with the Forest Service to clean up that damage and restore watersheds, putting them back on track to fulfill their full potential for salmon production. In 2016, SCS partnered with the Forest Service, The Nature Conservancy, and TM Construction to restore Shelikof Creek on Kruzof Island. The project showed that we can learn from our mistakes, as we used the same type of logging equipment that once damaged the stream to fix it.

Protecting the natural environment of the Tongass while supporting

the development of sustainable communities in Southeast Alaska

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Gulls gather on a pinnacle of rocks in the Sitka Sound in front of Mt. Edgecumbe volcano. The diverse underwater landscape of Sitka Sound creates a rich marine environment that is extremely ecologically productive. This photo was taken in the midst of the herring spawn. Herring are a keystone component of the marine food chain and a critical food source for humpback whales, salmon, and halibut. Photo: Š Bethany Goodrich Photography.


The Next Generation of Conservation Leaders Molly Johnson and Callie Simmons SCS Employees As recent graduates and transplants to Alaska, we have found there is so much to learn, grasp, and digest. Living in a remote island community has taught us that some of the most important life lessons can be learned from listening and sharing knowledge. In our previous experiences, we recognized the importance of working toward community sustainability and the power of listening to diverse perspectives. But it’s so much different actually living it and understanding what shared values mean. Sharing values is about getting your hands messy when you’re learning how to fillet a sockeye salmon for the first time. It’s about being respectful when a new friend processes a deer in front of you. It’s about listening when community members explain how climate change has impacted and continues to impact their lives and livelihood. Through Callie’s Americorps partnership with the Sitka Tribe of Alaska, she saw firsthand the importance of balancing western science with traditional ecological knowledge and recognizing how the environment and traditional cultures are intertwined. Callie experienced the blending of these worldviews working with citizen science camps on the impact of climate change on subsistence living, teaching adult skill sharing classes, and monitoring long-term salmon returns. Molly’s experience as a Jesuit Volunteer serving with SCS’s Living with the Land and Building Community 4-H program and Fish to Schools program allowed her to develop her own values shaped by the strong Sitka community. Each youth activity that Molly developed offered an opportunity for 4-H families and community members to exchange skills and pass on the traditions of the Alaskan way of life. Both of our experiences as new members of this community have inspired us to spread the strong values of a lifestyle grounded in conservation values.

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Photos: Sea Otters near Sitka Sound. © Crossroads Photography; A Troller in Sitka Sound. © Bethany Goodrich Photography; Water rushing against the beach. © Bethany Goodrich Photography; Herring eggs. © Bethany Goodrich Photography; The tail of a humpback whale emerging from the water. © Crossroads Photography; Callie Simmons preparing for the Sockeye run. © Callie Simmons.

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Monitoring Salmon Runs and Trends at Klag Bay One reason that the West Chichagof Wilderness is important is because it produces sockeye salmon that many Sitkans depend on as a traditional and customary subsistence food. Callie Simmons witnessed the sockeye salmon runs of Klag Bay in the summer of 2016 when she worked with the Sitka Tribe of Alaska to monitor the health of salmon populations at a weir fish count station. This project helps manage the Klag sockeye fishery while collecting data on long-term environmental trends.

Protecting the natural environment of the Tongass while supporting

the development of sustainable communities in Southeast Alaska

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A commercial fishing boat returns to the Sitka channel late on a mid-summer’s evening after spending the day on the fishing grounds. Commercial fishing is one of the most important economic drivers in Southeast Alaska, pumping millions of dollars each year into our regional economy. Commercial fishing depends on a healthy natural environment that produces and sustains the fishery resource that thousands of Alaska families depend on for their livelihoods. With good management and conservation, fishing opportunities will exist for generations to come. Photo: Š Lione Clare Photography.


Building Sustainable Communities with the SSP Chandler O'Connell Sustainable Communites Catalyst at SCS I am a born and raised Sitkan. Home for me has always meant a tight-knit community sustained by mountains, forests and rich waters. I was brought up surrounded by people who valued this natural setting for many reasons–for subsistence, for recreation, for the centrality of the land to Tlingit culture, for the prosperity and resources it provides, for the joy of being on the water. These models have deeply informed my own world view. I spent the past decade living away from Sitka, going to school and then working on development initiatives in East Africa. Everywhere I went, I looked for this Sitka-esque connection between people and place. The communities where I found a common thread, even in a different form—farming the hills rather than fishing the seas—always felt like home. Working in the field of community development, my experience has been that the most successful interventions are those that begin with a community’s self-defined priorities. I believe the best solutions are often local. And while outside knowledge, technologies, and funds are important tools, their long term effectiveness ultimately still depends on community interest and ownership. The Sustainable Southeast Partnership and the Sitka Conservation Society bring together my commitment to community-driven development with my respect for the natural world and people as a part of place. Both SSP and SCS support communities in achieving sustainable prosperity through respectful, locally-owned interventions. They bring regional collaboration to bear on the unique needs of Southeast Alaskan towns and villages. Most importantly, they understand that culture, economy, and the environment are all essential components of sustainable development and community prosperity. I want a sustainable future in Sitka and the Tongass for myself, my family, my friends, my neighbors. I believe that SCS and SSP’s efforts are helping to achieve that future. I am thrilled to be a part of their team. 14

May Sunday

Photos: A puffin flying above the waters. © Crossroads Photography; A Troller in Sitka Sound. © Bethany Goodrich Photography; Anenomes. © Bethany Goodrich Photography; Herring eggs. © Bethany Goodrich Photography; View of Sitka from the Chaichei Islands. © Bethany Goodrich Photography.

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Shaping Sitka’s Long Term Community Goals In 2016, the City and Borough of Sitka began updating Sitka’s Comprehensive Plan. This document will define Sitka’s vision for community development and land use and will include the blueprint for how policymakers should achieve this ideal. SCS has identified this as an invaluable opportunity for Sitka to establish balanced priorities for cultural, ecological and economic prosperity. We support a Comprehensive Plan that envisions a prosperous, just, and resilient town sustained by healthy ecosystems, the responsible use of natural resources, and a vibrant place-based culture. We recognize that sustainability is particularly important given the changing climate and Alaska’s fiscal challenges. SCS is engaging with this process through the Sitka Sustainable Communities Catalyst position held by Chandler O’Connell. Chandler is working to facilitate stakeholder collaboration, seek out local expertise, and advocate for community identified priorities.

Protecting the natural environment of the Tongass while supporting

the development of sustainable communities in Southeast Alaska


A mama brown bear is flanked by her two cubs alongside a salmon stream in an Alaskan Wilderness area. This mama brown bear will face down whatever challenges come between her and her cubs. She loves them with tenderness and will defend them with rage if she has to. Her drive comes from a powerful genetic urge to stand up to threats and look out for the survival of her young and to make sure they can grow up healthy and strong. Photo: Š Ben Hamilton.


Conservation as a Gift to Future Generations Judi Lehman SCS Board Member

I’m an SCS board member because I love the natural environment of Alaska and want to see it conserved and protected. But more importantly, I support the work of SCS because I am thinking about my grandchildren and the generations to come. The Sitka Conservation Society is a crossgenerational organization. SCS has been active for almost 50 years and its impacts have spanned across generations. At various times, the grandchildren of some of our founders and early members have served on staff. Some of our elders have been able to share their insights and favorite places they worked to protect with members of the next generation. I’ve seen firsthand the emotions of those elders when they see the next generations they were thinking about when they started SCS back in 1967 benefit from their foresight and struggles. I want my grandchildren to experience the Wilderness areas and all of this amazing natural world in its wild state. I want them to be able to catch fish on the same stream that a mother bear and her cubs are fishing in. I want them to see whales blow and breach offshore. I want them to be able to hike through forests of giant trees that are hundreds of years old with no stumps and no roads. These are some of the reasons that SCS exists and this is why I am a part of it. SCS’s work goes beyond influencing policy to protect the environment for future generations. The youth programs that SCS sponsors and creates through the Alaska Way-of-Life 4-H program are teaching Alaskan youth the skills they need to live with the land and build strong communities. These programs not only teach environmental skills and knowledge, but develop leadership capacity in youth and civic engagement ethics. These investments ensure that SCS continues to be an effective voice for conservation well into the future.

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Photos: Rays of sun over a grassy field. © Lione Clare Photography; Two seals gazing from the comfort of their rocks. © Crossroads Photography; A father helping his daughter fish. © Crossroad Photography; Two girls resting by a river. © Lione Clare Photography.

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Sitka Natl Historic Park estl. 1890 First Day of Summer

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Teaming up with the Sitka Native Education Program (SNEP) In 2016, SCS partnered with the Sitka Native Education Program to teach youth about traditional methods of subsistence food harvest and preservation. In one class, 4-H youth learned about the cultural significance of seals and the methods used to butcher and preserve their meat and fat. Instructor Herman Davis, Sr. explained that Seal, or Tsaa in Lingit, is an important animal for Tlingit traditions and diet. Co-instructor Chuck Miller demonstrated how to render seal oil from fat. The oil is used to preserve foods, add flavoring, and can even be used as a fire starter. By embracing these cultural practices and sharing them within our Sitka community, we grow stronger in our relationship with each other and more knowledgeable about the many ways to live with the land.

Protecting the natural environment of the Tongass while supporting

the development of sustainable communities in Southeast Alaska


Our public lands are a gift we inherit from the generations before us who had the foresight to set them aside. They are places we treasure, places we care for, and places that provide for us and our families. We exist in a symbiotic relationship with our public lands and must act as good stewards of them so we too can share their gift with future generations. This is a view of the waters of Bear Lake draining into Medvejie valley. Photo: Š Bethany Goodrich Photography.


Organizing Alaskans to Protect our Wild Backyard Sophie Nethercut Community Organizer

July Sunday

Photos: Kayaks lying on a grassy field. © Adam Andis; Sunset view from Gavan. © Kendall Rock Photography; Maps, tide schedule, and a pocket knife resting on a table. © Adam Andis; A tremendous tree near Gut Bay. © Lione Clare Photography; A man hiking Gavan Harbor. © Kendall Rock Photography; SCS Community Organizer Sophie Nethercut © Bethany Goodrich Photography.

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1 Being an active community member is a lot like being a tree root. We get in each other’s business and borrow sugar from one another. Some of us are twisted and wrinkled, others are bendy and smooth. We’re all different but we coexist, understanding that each of us has a role and a voice in this tangled, often crazy world. At SCS, we believe that caring for the planet goes hand in hand with cultivating healthy democracies. We believe that strong communities emerge when people have the power to voice their opinions and take an active role in determining their futures. We are committed to working on the ground in the communities where we live, listening to and learning from our neighbors who depend on the Tongass for their livelihoods. We help Southeast Alaskans make their voices heard on a local, state, and federal level. The Alaska Engagement Partnership is a network of Alaska-based organizations dedicated to galvanizing public participation and countering the potentially corrupting influences of resource development corporations. Through our work with this partnership, we ensure that political leaders pay attention to the voices of all Alaskans—not just the corporations that contribute the most campaign dollars or have the highest paid lobbyists in Juneau and DC. We work to make sure that mines don’t threaten salmon runs, that old growth forests stay standing, and that roads aren’t built needlessly in wild areas. We work to make sure that leaders remember salmon and the people who depend on wild Alaskan salmon every time they make a decision that affects our lands, our waters, and our communities. At SCS, we believe in both moving people to act (mobilizing) and nurturing long-term relationships with people in the community to address their priorities (organizing). Like root systems, we understand that building strong communities means starting from the underground and moving up, one tiny tangled root at a time. 18

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Bringing Alaskan Voices to Washington DC Whether she’s gathering signatures on Katlian Street or in front of the Lincoln Memorial, Sophie Nethercut loves engaging people on Tongass issues. As our community organizer, Sophie traveled to Washington, D.C. in 2016 with commercial fishermen to deliver the letters of hundreds of Alaskans to Senators and Congressmen. In an age when corporations have too much influence in our government, we must all step up and take back our democracy.

Protecting the natural environment of the Tongass while supporting

the development of sustainable communities in Southeast Alaska


A harbor seal rests on a slab of ice that recently calved off a Tongass Glacier. Harbor seals are one of the multitude of marine mammals that inhabit the coastline of Alaska. The coastline is the “ecotone� (zone where two biomes meet) where the land and the sea come together and where biodiversity and productivity are concentrated. Protecting and conserving this habitat is essential for both the marine and terrestrial environment. Climate change is already affecting this ecotone and the wildlife that live there. Š Adam Andis.


Climate Change: A Major Challenge Affecting Us All Lione Clare and Cassidy White SCS Summer Interns Growing up in Sitka, Lione began appreciating the natural world at a young age. For Cassidy, her passion for protecting the natural environment emerged after seeing the social impacts of climate change aboard. These experiences have resulted in us both feeling a strong urge to get involved with conservation. We are both currently pursuing climate change studies at the University of Montana, the first university in the US to implement a climate change program. Our internships at SCS have allowed us to apply our knowledge and experiences in a state that’s warming twice as fast as the rest of the country. To be effective advocates for climate change we must consider that the consequences of climate change are not just physical—they are emotional and psychological. The natural environment around us is changing, and with it, our relationships and perceptions of the land and each other. As with many crises, our responses are all over the map - some people continue to practice denial while some of us have a strong desire to act. This spectrum of psychological responses has led to a lack of unified and targeted political action on the impending climate crisis. This summer, we used a variety of strategies in our attempt to inspire public involvement in climate advocacy. As part of the generation dealing with increasing climate consequences, we understand that political climate action is crucial in order to sustain environments, communities, livelihoods, and economies for future generations of Alaskans. We hope to use the climate policy and advocacy skills gained at SCS to inspire others to make the changes we need in our society and our economy to take on climate change. Lione Clare and Cassidy White interned with SCS during the summer of 2016. They study at the University of Montana and are waiting for our political leaders to wake up and do their job to face the climate change crisis. 20

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Photos: Ice of the Mendenhall Glacier. © Bethany Goodrich Photography; The cold waters and pieces of ice from a Kayak trip. © Adam Andis.

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Changing the Climate Discussion in Congress As Alaska’s representatives in Washington D.C., Senator Lisa Murkowski and Congressman Don Young should recognize that climate change is affecting our state. Is that too much to ask? Apparently. During a visit to Sitka, Rep. Young proclaimed “I’m doing nothing to combat global warming in Alaska. It’s the biggest charade in the world.” Fortunately, Senator Murkowski understands the science behind climate change and the need for adaptation and mitigation strategies. Unfortunately, she continues to call for increased oil production and boasted in a 2016 campaign ad, "I won't stop fighting until more oil is flowing through our pipeline.” We continue to call, write, and pressure Senator Murkowski to use her role as Chairman of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee to take real climate action.

Protecting the natural environment of the Tongass while supporting

the development of sustainable communities in Southeast Alaska


Estuaries, like the one above in Gut Bay, are places where freshwater from rivers meets the saltwater of the oceans. The tides of the ocean and the flow of the rivers produce a swirly flow of currents that mix up nutrients and create a highly productive and ecologically rich environment. In the Tongass, these are the places where baby fish grown up, where shellfish and molluscs accumulate, where bears graze, and where wildfowl spend their winters. Š Lione Clare Photography.


Making My Home in Sitka Sound Wade Martin Hunter and fisherman

I spend more time on Sitka Sound than anyone. I make my living from the land and sea by hunting, fishing, foraging for food that sustains myself and that I share with others. My culture, as a Chilkat Tlingit whose ancestors have lived off this land since time immemorial depends on these resources. My father, Chief George Martin Jr., clan leader of the Chookaneidi, who passed away this year, honored these resources and I too honor them by sharing with elders, with family and friends across this region. My business is based on natural resources and the health of those resources. Without a healthy coastline, I not only perish but the system fails. Without these lands, my culture is lost, I am lost. We need to conserve and protect our resources in a way that ensures their longevity and their health. That’s why I love working with SCS and taking my friends on staff out on the water to show them a slice of my life in Sitka Sound. I teach them how to fish and harvest and give them experiences and an understanding of a system I know so intimately because I spend over two hundred days of the year on the water witnessing the cycles and living and depending on them. I have seen major changes, decreases in herring spawn and odd fish behavior, scarce seaweed on rocks I’ve harvested for 30 years, and our hillsides of cedars on the coastline die-off. Protecting these lands and understanding them is critical. By working with SCS I have found a way to give this knowledge to those who are working to take action to protect the land I love. Sitka Sound and Hoonah Sound are my home. I have experiences through my years leading a fish processing/distribution plant. I’ve traveled around the country to share our seafood and I know that what we have here is unique. Our land is what makes us special, keeping the land healthy is our duty and the only way we have a future.

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Photos: A bald eagle flying around Sitka Sound during Herring Season © Bethany Goodrich Photography; Clams. © Bethany Goodrich Photography; Fish to Schools. © SCS.

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10 Tongass National Forest est. 1907

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Revolutionizing Fish to Schools Fish to Schools, a phrase we’ve coined in Sitka, is an effort to get local fish into school lunch programs in fishing and port communities. Since the start of the program in 2010, we’ve relied on donations from generous commercial fishermen to make sure all kids in Sitka schools can eat a healthy fish lunch once a week. Now we’re working to create an economically sustainable business model to keep kids munching on delicious salmon and rockfish. SCS hopes to invest in a business initiative that will create school lunch products from local fish. Tracy On, the head chef for Patagonia Inc., joined us this summer to develop kid-friendly recipes from locally sourced fish and vegetables. Before too long you might see her recipes, including salmon corn dogs and salmon enchiladas, on school lunch trays across Sitka.

Protecting the natural environment of the Tongass while supporting

the development of sustainable communities in Southeast Alaska

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The temperate rainforest of Southeast Alaska is an ecosystem where communities of life intertwine in complex, fascinating, and mysterious ways. The King Bolete mushroom in this photo is growing in an estuary buffer forest along a rich salmon system in Gut Bay in the South Baranof Wilderness. This mushroom is the visible part of a much larger fungal network of root-like mycelium. These mycelium have underground connections with the root systems of all surrounding trees. These fungi live in a symbiotic relationships with the trees and help them absorb the nutrients of the salmon left by bears and birds in estuary-buffer forests every summer and fall. Š Lione Clare Photography.


Science, Conservation, and Observing with Intent Kitty LaBounty SCS Board Member

What do you notice when you first go outside? Stunning views? The songs of the birds and streams? Perhaps the feel of the warm sun or the smell of spring flowers? Since I was young I have been captivated by blooming flowers and fruiting fungi and the singing birds. It was only a few years ago, after I took a tracking class, that my eyes were opened to a world full of animal signs. Tracks, both small and large, nibbled leaves and stems, bark shredded by deer antlers, and bear hair adorning trail-side snags —I had never noticed all the ways animals give away their activities by what they leave behind. This phenomenon has been repeated every time I have been taught to recognize something new. Suddenly, my attention is attuned and I catch a little more of what I had been missing. Careful observation and a strong sense of curiosity are traits of any naturalist, but they are also important in scientific study. Curiosity and careful observation lead to hypotheses that can be tested with directed observation or designed experiments. Scientific management of the natural resources that are important to us require long term observations and data collection with careful analysis of the information we gather. SCS is deeply committed to programs that foster scientific curiosity and understanding. We specifically engage with youth, offering 4-H science programs, supporting stream teams and the 4th grade bioblitz, all of which encourage curiosity and careful observation of the diversity of life where we live. We host interns who, in partnership with other organizations, work on a variety of studies and restoration projects important to improving management of the resources we depend on. Fostering these skills leads to a higher degree of environmental literacy vital to growing the next generation of engaged and well informed citizens of the Tongass. Next time you get outside, see where your curiosity leads you and let us know what you observe!

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Photos: Wild edible mushrooms. © Bethany Goodrich Photography; A sunset on Harbor Mountain, © Bethany Goodrich Photography; Callie Simmons holding a seashell. © Bethany Goodrich Photography.

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Engaging Youth Through Citizen Science Valuing subsistence living, engaging youth, and utilizing the power of the scientific community to protect the Tongass are integral to our work here at SCS. In a recent partnership with the Sitka Tribe of Alaska, we coordinated a citizens’ science camp to engage high school students in monitoring resources that impact subsistence harvests. The Sitka Tribe of Alaska has an extensive biotoxins lab that tests shellfish samples for the toxin that causes Paralytic Shell Poisoning, a toxin that until recently, was limiting the amount of shellfish harvested in Southeast. Students collected phytoplankton and shellfish specimens and learned how the lab processes samples. Through their hands-on work, students gained valuable insight on the balance between western science and traditional ecological knowledge and how this partnership leads to protecting subsistence resources.

Protecting the natural environment of the Tongass while supporting

the development of sustainable communities in Southeast Alaska


The mountain goat is one of the most admired creatures in Southeast Alaska. It lives in some of the most extreme environments of the Tongass—on steep mountain cliffs, ridgelines, snowfields, and at the edges of glaciers. Mountain goats persist and thrive in places where most others can’t, carefully balancing their hooves on rocky terrain. Conservation is a balancing act between respectfully using the environment and protecting large intact areas to ensure the longevity of species. © Ben Hamilton.


Storytelling for Social and Environmental Change Ben Hamilton and Katina Rajunov Pioneer Studios For thousands of years, storytelling has been a crucial part of human existence. It’s our way of educating, entertaining, and examining our lives. Today, filmmaking is one of many ways we tell stories in our modern era and it allows viewers to be transported through time and space to places they could only dream to see. For ten years I have been telling stories in the Tongass National Forest, inspired by its rugged landscape and the unique way of life people lead on the Tongass. Some of my films have been educational, others entertaining, but this year I had the incredible opportunity to team up with the Sitka Conservation Society to take viewers on a very special journey. In July, my wife and I set out to tell the story of salmon and their importance to life in the region. Our expedition took us from remote salmon streams filled with bears, eagles, and ravens to Forest Service restoration and monitoring sites. We ventured out to sea with seiners and trollers to hear stories about family businesses, and followed a fly fishing guide up river as he showed clients the thrill of sport fishing. We visited the communities of Kasaan and Kake to gain an understanding of the rich historical and cultural connection to salmon and met an artist who paints salmon for a living. With a lens as our eyes, we experienced the diversity of ways that salmon connect life here. Now, with editing tools, we can curate our journey for others to experience time and time again. That is why we love making films and why this medium is a vital tool for conservation. Through filmmaking, we can transport people from around the world to the Tongass, and use storytelling to build momentum for social and environmental change. We look forward to sharing our film with you on salmon from the Tongass in 2017.

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Photos: A small waterfall in the woods near Salmon Lake. © Crossroads Photography; Gumboots; Sea Lion profile. © Bethany Goodrich Photography; The ‘Scenes from the Southeast’ photoshow. © Bethany Goodrich Photography.

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Connecting People and Place through Art In Southeast Alaska, we look to the land and sea for everything. We build family businesses with our natural resources. We turn trees into homes and artwork. We feed our bellies and souls with smoked salmon. We celebrate a rich and vibrant culture and a quality of life that is rooted to our sacred backyard. ‘Scenes from the Southeast’ was a local pop-up photoshow hosted at Old Harbor Books during a 2016 Artwalk in Sitka. It included a tapestry of 225 images our Communications Director Bethany Sonsini Goodrich, photographed across the region that explore the beautiful details of our landscape and the people who honor it. This photoshow was an opportunity for us to share with our hometown the spectacular views we enjoy and honest people we meet as we work across this vast region.

Protecting the natural environment of the Tongass while supporting

the development of sustainable communities in Southeast Alaska


The bald eagle is our national symbol. It lives in abundance along the wild coasts of the Tongass National Forest. The sight of a bald eagle summons feelings of national pride in our country and our democracy. As part of that democracy, it is our responsibility to be stewards of our public lands and public resources. It is our duty to continue the legacy of the national leaders who had the foresight to create these public lands for all of us. Photo: Š Crossroads Photography.


SCS: The First Fifty Years Richard Nelson SCS Board Member

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Fifty years ago a group of friends got together to form the Sitka Conservation Society. The town had a new pulp mill, fed by clearcutting in the Tongass National Forest. Huge swaths of old growth forest were disappearing from places as close as Starrigavan Valley and Redoubt Bay. Timber also came from Tenakee Inlet, where I lived on an old homestead. I’d never thought much about clearcutting until I watched mountainsides across the inlet being stripped bare of trees. The sense of loss tore a hole in my heart. Surely the founders of SCS felt the same way. As wood users ourselves, none of us objected to selectively cutting timber. But we could not countenance the massive scale of logging that destroyed habitat for deer and bears, damaged salmon streams, and depleted the wild beauty that we treasured. When I moved to Sitka thirty-five years ago, I immediately joined the SCS board. Like the founders of SCS, I was passionate about both changing Tongass management and maintaining Sitka’s unparalleled quality of life. Since then, it’s been incredibly gratifying to witness the move toward more enlightened management of the Tongass rainforest. Logging will soon be limited to second-growth trees, and our remaining old growth will assure the future for wildlife, tourism, recreation, subsistence hunting and fishing, and commercial fisheries. Entering its fiftieth year, SCS is a widely respected mainstream organization, fully integrated into Sitka’s community life—working with students in the schools, supporting forest restoration projects, collaborating on a wide range of research, involved with everything from climate change to sustainable fisheries. SCS has become a highly progressive, innovative, and nationally recognized community conservation group. For me, one of the greatest rewards from three decades of involvement with SCS comes when I see whole mountainsides and valleys clothed in ancient, unbroken forest, thanks to all the efforts of SCS along with our fellow advocates throughout Alaska and all around the country.

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Photos: A bear looking for salmon. © Bethany Goodrich Photography; A scenic view from Harbor Mountain. © Lione Clare Photography; A fallen log in a river. © Crossroads Photography; Vessel leaving Sitka Sound. © Crossroads Photography; An owl resting. © Crossroads Photography; A view of Sitka from above. © Lione Clare Photography.

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Changing Times, Changing Institutions At one point, SCS viewed the US Forest Service as our principal opponent as the agency was overly influenced by the timber industry. Today, while we still push back against projects we think are misguided, we work closely with the Forest Service and have even created joint positions and partnerships. Helping guide this agency is our responsibility as members of a democracy with vast public lands.

Protecting the natural environment of the Tongass while supporting

the development of sustainable communities in Southeast Alaska


Hiker Photo © Lione Clare Photography, Bear Lake Photo © Bethany Goodrich Photography.

The Sitka Conservation Society is...

Spencer Severson

Steve Fish

Kitty LaBounty

Board President

Board Vice President

Jasmine Shaw

Marian Allen

Dane McFadden

Scott Harris

Bethany Goodrich

Board Member

Clarice Johnson Reid Office Manager

Board Member

Conservation Science Director

Board Treasurer

Board Member

Sustainable Southeast Partnership Communications Coordinator

Judith Lehmann Board Secretary

Debra Brushafter Board Member

Chandler O'Connell

Sustainable Communities Catalyst

Richard “Nels” Nelson

Brendan Jones

Board Member

Board Member

Board Member

Mariah Leeseberg

Melissa Hamilton

Andrew Thoms

Board Member

Mary Wood

Sustainablity Organizer 4-H and Community

Board Member

Sophie Nethercut

Community Organizer

Lexi Fish

Executive Director

Luke A'Bear

Tongass and Conservation Management Resident


Edie Leghorn

Living WIlderness Stewardship Staff

Cassidy White

Alaska Climate Change and Renewable Energy Organizer

Adam Andis

Lione Clare

Kendall Rock

Tongass Living Wilderness Steward

Communications and Storytelling Intern

Photo and Video Storyteller

Julia Tawny

Molly Johnson

Alyssa Russell

Living with the Land and Building Community Specialist, Jesuit Volunteer (2016-2017)

Alexander Bilz: Technology Volunteer Gail Ferris: Database Volunteer Alice Hanson: Archive Volunteer

...and all of our SCS volunteers and members like you!

Living with the Land and Building Community Specialist, Jesuit Volunteer (2015-2016)

Digital Systems Coordinator

Lee House

Photo and Video Storyteller

Tracy On

Patagonia Volunteer

At the Sitka Conservation Society, we focus on protecting the Tongass National Forest and supporting the development of sustainable communities in Southeast Alaska.

Callie Simmons

Community Sustainability Americorps Volunteer

Ryan Morse

Graphic Designer and Content Coordinator

Sienna Reid

Office Assistant

Thanks to all the incredible photographers who contributed. Thanks to Andrew Thoms, Sophie Nethercut, the SCS staff, and our SCS partners for providing their writing and editing skills to this report. Designed by Ryan Morse and Adam Andis. Produced by Bethany Goodrich and Andrew Thoms.

Find us at www.sitkawild.org


Sitka Conservation Society Annual Report The Sitka Conservation Society, Alaska’s oldest conservation organization, works to protect the natural environment of the Tongass, the nation’s largest National Forest, while supporting the development of sustainable communities across Southeast Alaska. This calendar and annual report is full of beautiful images of the Tongass and stories of how SCS works to protect it. Thank you for your support.

Sitka Conservation Society P.O. Box 6533 Sitka, Alaska 99835 info@sitkawild.org (907) 747-7509

www.sitkawild.org


SCS 2017 Annual Report