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Community-based Wilderness Stewardship on the Tongass National Forest 2011/2012 PROGRESSS REPORT

Project Summary

In celebration of the 40th anniversary of the Wilderness Act, the U.S. Forest Service issued a stewardship challenge, calling for all Wilderness Areas in the National Forest System to meet baseline management standards by 2014. In 2009, the Sitka Conservation Society partnered with the USFS Sitka Ranger District on the Sitka Community Wilderness Stewardship Project (CWSP) to help meet the elements of the Wilderness Stewardship Challenge. Building on the success of the CWSP over the past two years, SCS continued this partnership in 2011 to include Sitka Ranger District, Yakutat Ranger District, Hoonah Ranger District, Petersburg Ranger District and Wrangell Ranger District. This work was funded by a grant from the National Forest Foundation and matched by SCS. Logistical, planning, and consulting support was provided in part by the Sitka Ranger District. This project will continue in 2012. The elements of the Wilderness Stewardship Challenge to be addressed through this project are: #2 The Wilderness was successfully treated for non-native, invasive plant species #4 Priority actions in Wilderness Education plan are implemented #5 The Wilderness has adequate direction, monitoring, and management for solitude #6 The Wilderness has a completed recreation site inventory #9 The priority information needs for the Wilderness area have been addressed


Project Location- Overview

Russell Fjord

Pleasant Island

Tebenkof Bay South Baranof

West Chichagof-Yakobi



Project Field Sites- West Chichagof-Yakobi

Yakobi Island

Mount Lydonia

Black River

Hoonah Sound Mount Baker


Slocum Arm

Project Field Sites- South Baranof Red Bluff Bay

Avoss Lake

Rakof Islands Maksoutof Valley

Gut River Valley

Brentwood Lakes


Non-native and sensitive plant surveys Summary Most Tongass Wilderness areas have never been comprehensively surveyed for invasive plants to due a number of factors including difficulty of access, challenging terrain, and large acreage coupled with minimal USFS staff specialists available for surveying. For this reason, SCS works closely with the Forest Service to augment the area surveyed for non-native and rare or sensitive plants. In addition, SCS botanists record base-line data on species' occurrence which is cataloged in the Arctos database (, a multi-institution database founded by the University of Alaska Museum of the North which enables researchers to search for, view, map, and download specimen data. This allows us to easily reference our field data in the future and make it available to partners, other stewardship groups, and the public.

Wilderness Stewardship Challenge: Element #2: The Wilderness was successfully treated for non-native, invasive plant species

Plant identifications are verified and cataloged with the University of Alaska Fairbanks. All field surveys were con- Principle botanist, Kitty LaBounty and Botany Intern, ducted by a trained botanist or SCS botany intern with Tomas Ward examine specimens in the field. oversight from a trained botanist. Rare and sensitive plant surveys followed the protocol in the USDA Forest Service Threatened, Endangered and Sensitive Plant Survey Field Guide and the 2009 R10 TES Plant List. Field site were selected based on specific characteristics including: • Unique geologic anomalies which may be habitat for rare plant communities • Areas of current or past human use which are likely vectors for introduction of exotic species • Areas of disturbance where exotic species have higher chance of establishing populations • Alpine areas which may be habitat for rare plant communities • Areas for which surveys have not been completed • Sites specifically selected by FS specialists 30 field days were spent surveying and treating invasive The Purple Monkey Flower (Mimulus lewisii) a rare plants, totaling 43.1 acres of surveys and 3.6 acres of in- plant found on a field expedition to the Maksoutof vasives treated. Valley in South Baranof Wilderness. Photo by Matt Goff. Field expeditions were conducted to 8 sites in West 5

Non-native and sensitive plant surveys- Continued Chichagof and 4 sites in South Baranof within Sitka District. In addition, 2 sites in Honnah District (Pleasant Island and norther Yakobi Island) and 1 site in Wrangell District (Stikine River) were surveyed. Removal of a plot of invasive clover (Trifolium repens) was started in Tebenkof Bay in Petersburg District. New populations of invasives species found include: Taraxacum officinale (common dandelion) at Surge Bay Light and “Chartreuse Beach� on Yakobi Island Trifolium pretense (clover) in Tebenkof Bay (Trifolium repens, Phelum pratense, and Taraxacum officinale were also present. T. pretense was not on the original species list for the site.)

Volunteers assist in plant surveys.

Other notable species include: Two species of Botrychium were collected from Surge Bay and from "Chartreuse Beach." Specimens were delivered to Mary Stensvold (USFS R10 Regional Botanist) who sent them to the University of Iowa for enzyme analysis for species determination. Mimulus lewisii in the Maksoutof Valley and Asplenium trichomanes in Red Bluff Bay, both considered rare Trifolium pretense found in Tebenkof Bay. species. Species list by site are tabulated in the document Community-based Stewardship on the Tongass National Forest 2011/2012 Data Report.

Above: Volunteers dawn gardening gloves and help pull invasive weeds in Tebenkof Bay. Left: SCS Botany Intern, Tomas Ward and Project Manager, Adam Andis record species occurrence on a patch of Karst bedrock on Mt. Baker. 6

Encounter and solitude monitoring Summary The Forest Service is required by the Wilderness Act to manage Wilderness areas to maintain “outstanding opportunities for solitude and primitive and unconfined recreation.” To properly manage for that goal, data is require on when, where, and how visitor use occurs. Collecting this data requires eye and ears in the field for extended periods of time. With over .5 million acres of Wilderness in Sitka District alone and only one Wilderness Ranger, this data has been lacking. SCS helps to collect this necessary data by involving volunteers, guide/outfitters, and staff to submit encounter observations.

Wilderness Stewardship Challenge: Element #5: The Wilderness has adequate direction, monitoring, and management for solitude

Volunteers are encouraged to record encounters and evidence of human-use on “Solitude Monitoring Forms” developed by SCS. Data measured includes location, duration, time, and numbers of encounters with groups, boats and planes seen or heard, as well as qualitative deA volunteer records encounters by headlamp. scriptions of impacts to solitude experience. Education is also an important component of volunteer outreach for this monitoring effort. All 61 outfitters and guide with permits to operate on Sitka Ranger District were contacted by SCS staff who explained the project, described the importance of Wilderness character, and asked the outfitters to collect data. In total, 1545 hours of encounter data was recorded. Complete observations and data set can be found in the document Community-based Stewardship on the Tongass Volunteers embark on a Wilderness expedition. National Forest 2011/2012 Data Report.

SCS staff and volunteers set up camp at the headwaters of the Maksoutof River during a 6-day packrafting expedition across South Baranof Wilderness area. 7

Encounter and solitude monitoring- data coverage West Chichagof-Yakobi Wilderness Area The maps below show change in coverage of base-line encounter monitoring data for West Chichagof Wilderness between the 2009/2010 and 2011/2012 project periods. In total for both Wilderness areas, 1545 hours of monitoring data were recorded in 2011/2012, 918.5 hours in 2010/2011, and 1041 hours collected in 2009/2010 project periods. 2009-2010 coverage

West Chichagof Yakobi Wilderness 2009-2012 encounter monitoring data (cumulative)

2009-2011 coverage

These maps and those on the next page do not show additional monitoring coverage collected by USFS on Wilderness Ranger Patrols. These maps should not be used for analysis.


Encounter and solitude monitoring- data coverage South Baranof Wilderness Area The maps below show change in coverage of base-line encounter monitoring data for South Baranof Wilderness between the 2009/2010 and 2011/2012 project periods. Field sites are chosen to collect data in sub-watersheds that are remote and difficult to access. 2009-2010



“Spirit Walker Expeditions was happy to help with the Wilderness Monitoring in West Chichagof this year. We value the stewardship work that SCS does in wild places and in protecting these areas for people like us and the visitors we take there. We look forward to being a part of the program next year.� Stephen Van Derhoff, owner/guide Spirit Walker Expeditions

South Baranof Wilderness 2009-2012 encounter monitoring data (cumulative)

Stewardship, Education, and Outreach Summary The most efficient way to ensure future protection for Wilderness and Wilderness character is education. As part of the Community Wilderness Stewardship Project, SCS produced outreach materials and hosted events focused on Wilderness.

Wilderness Stewardship Challenge: Element #4: Priority actions in Wilderness education plan are implemented

Events included: • A boat cruise to South Baranof Wilderness Area guided by project manager Adam Andis and USFS Wilderness Ranger Darrin Kelly. 75 community members and visitors from around the world attended. • A presentation on the project at the Sitka library by Adam Andis attended by 81 people. Wilderness Ranger Darrin Kelly speaks to guests on • Community kayak skills, Wilderness monitoring, and in- a Wilderness-themed sightseeing boat tour. vasive plant ID training attended by 14 volunteers. • Two Leave No Trace trainings certifying 4 professional guides, 1 FS Ranger, and 1 volunteer. • A presentation to over 150 Wilderness professionals on lessons learned titled “Building Partnerships with Non-traditional User Groups” by Adam Andis at the National Wilderness Stewardship Alliance conference. Outreach materials such as briefing sheets for outfitters, video trip reports, a blog of Wilderness expeditions, etc. were used to both educate and gain interest in Wilderness values. These materials and media such as an article by Botany Intern, Tomas Ward in a regional newspaper and interviews on regional radio stations can be found on the accompanying DVD.

Above: Poster for a public presentation on an expedition across South Baranof Wilderness Area by Project Manager Adam Andis. Left: SCS Staff Scott Harris demonstrates kayak rescue skills during a kayak saftey course. 10

Recreation Site Surveys and Monitoring Summary Recreation sites can include anything from remnant fire rings, hardened camps, or new trail development to trespass/outlaw cabins and illegally cut trails. In order to fulfill the mandate of the Wilderness Act that a Wilderness area must retain “its primeval character and influence, without permanent improvements or human habitation,� the Forest Service must survey for new human impacts and monitor existing threats. SCS helps to monitor known non-conforming uses and utilizes time in the field to record new incidences. Recreation sites are also high priorities for invasive plant surveys because of the possibility of humantransported plant material. Over 30 new recreation sites were recorded, 22 of which were returned to a natural state. Recreation site data was given to the Forest Service, but not made public.

Above: A volunteer helps scatter remains of a fire ring. Left: Removing campsite debris by kayak. Above and right: SEACC staff member Dan Lesh records recreation sites on Pleasant Island Wilderness. Right: A naturalized campsite.


Wilderness Stewardship Challenge: Element #6: The Wilderness has a completed recreation site inventory

Community Capacity Building- Gustavus Summary A major component of the 2011 Tongass Community Wilderness Stewardship Project, was helping other communities and ranger districts build their capacity to take on volunteer stewardship efforts. Drawing on past years of successful partnership and stewardship experience, SCS gave community presentation and worked with Forest Service staff in 3 new districts: Yakutat, Wrangell, and Hoonah Districts. Full reports on all three projects can be found in the included DVD of extra materials.

A full report titled: Tongass Wilderness Stewardship Community Profile: Gustavus and Pleasant Island can be found in the accompanying DVD.

Gustavus and Pleasant Island Gustavus is a small town surrounded by Wilderness (Glacier Bay National Park Wilderness and Pleasant, Lemesurier, Inian Island Wilderness). Pleasant Island Wilderness 16 residents of Gustavus attended a presentation on sits about 1 mile offshore from the community and is heavWilderness stewardship. ily used for hunting and recreation. Sixteen Gustavus residents attended a presentation on Wilderness Character and Stewardship. A beach clean-up was scheduled during the field survey and was attended by 8 volunteers who collected over 800 lbs of trash. The trash disposal was donated by the Gustavus Community Disposal and Recycling Center. A survey was distributed to better understand how the community uses and feels about Pleasant Island. Survey results are included in the report Tongass Wilderness Stewardship Community Pro- Volunteers from Gustavus helped remove over 800 file: Gustavus and Pleasant Island. lbs of trash from Pleasant Island Wilderness. An expedition to Pleasant Island was conducted by SCS staff and staff from Southeast Alaska Conservation Council. Rangers from Glacier Bay National Park joined the crew to share monitoring protocols and a volunteer birder from Gustavus maintained a species list.

Above: Accessing Pleasant Island by skiff. Left: Glacier Bay NPS rangers join SEACC and SCS staff for a field expedition to share protocols. 12

Community Capacity Building- Yakutat Yakutat and Russell Fjord An expedition and community visit to Yakutat and Russell Fjord Wilderness were conducted by SCS Watershed Coordinator Scott Harris and filmmaker/photographer Ben Hamilton to share lessons and protocol from our partnership with Sitka District. Highlights included a presentation given at the Yakutat Sustainable Outdoor Recreation meeting and a Leave-No-Trace class was held, certifying 1 FS ranger and 1 SCS volunteer. As part of this project, a combined SCS and Yakutat Ranger District crew traveled by kayak in the Russell Fjord Wilderness. The crew collected solitude data, recreation site inventories, bird species list, and site-specific plant lists. Ben Hamilton produced an educational outreach film about the value of Wilderness for use by SCS, USFS Yakutat District, and the public (the video “Experiencing Wilderness” is included in the accompanying DVD).

A full report titled: 2011 Wilderness Stewardship Challenge: Russell Fjord Wilderness can be found in the accompanying DVD.

“The Yakutat District has few resources to assist with

[the Wilderness Stewardship] Challenge, so the assistance from SCS was critical to increasing the [Challenge Element] scores and meeting the minimum stewardship level for Russell Fjord Wilderness.” - Lee Benson,Yakutat District Ranger


Above: An ermine peaks under a rock. Below: Hubbard Glacier. Both photos by Ben Hamilton.

Community Capacity Building- Wrangell Wrangell and Stikine-LeConte SCS partnered with the Wrangell Ranger District (WRD) to control invasive plant populations in the Stikine-LeConte Wilderness area. The crew consisted of WRD personnel Jackie DeMontigny, Dave Rak and Glenn Decker and SCS board member and principle botanist Kitty LaBounty. The main objective of the trip was to control the spread of Reed Canary grass (Phalaris arundinacea) in the StikineThe Stikine River. LeConte Wilderness area. Populations were targeted which had been previously identified but not yet treated in Guerin Slough. Additional sites received follow up treatment and assessment of control efficacy. The crew also visited and monitored several Special Use Cabins and permitted camp sites and conducted some site cleanup. Two new plots of P. arundinacea were found in Paradise Slough. In total the crew treated 3.5 acres of invasives. In addition to the field work, LaBounty gave a community presentation about Wilderness Stewardship in the town of Wrangell attended by 12 people. She also met with Forest Service staff and local citizens to share lessons learned Above: Forest Service staff and SCS Botanist and encourage volunteer stewardship activities within remove black plastic used to cover and exterminate Wrangell District. invasive plants. Below: An area being treated for invasive plants. Left: Forest Service Botanist Jackie DeMontigny displays invasive Reed Canary Grass (Phalais arundinacea).


Information and Collaborative Research Summary The following data sets were collected, organized, and entered into Excel and ArcGIS databases. Plant data is in Excel and Cybertracker). All data bases and analyses were made available to the Forest Service and project partners: • volunteer-collected encounter and solitude monitoring data • invasive plant data • sensitive plant species data (R10 TES Plant Element Occurrence Forms submitted to USFS) A volunteer sets up camp in the alpine country of • base-line plant species occurrence data South Baranof Wilderness. • base-line bird and mammal species occurrence data • recreation site inventory (Wilderness Campsite Condition Inventory Monitoring Worksheet submitted to USFS) See the document Community-based Stewardship on the Tongass National Forest – 2011/2012 Data Report for the tabulated data.

Baranof Goat Forage Study Mountain goats were introduced to Baranof Island in 1923. Since then, the population has become well established. In recent years, the population's range has been expanding into the South Baranof Wilderness area where the goats may be competing with native fauna and impacting native flora. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game partnered with SCS to continue an ongoing project to monitor forage patterns of goats in the Wilderness area, where SCS can help by collecting data on foot, rather than utilizing helicopters which degrade Wilderness character.

Alaska Yellow-Cedar Decline


Above: A volunteer takes a break while tracking goats. Below: A herd of mountain goats on Baranof Island. Below and left: A volunteer scans the ridge for mountain goats.

Information and Collaborative Research- Continued Yellow-cedar (Callitropsis nootkatensis) is a tree species of high cultural, economic, and ecological value. From British Columbia through the Alexander Archipelago, these trees have been dying off since the approximate onset of the industrial revolution. There has been a lot of research focused on understanding climatic drivers of this mortality. Scientists now understand that reduced snowpack makes yellow-cedars susceptible to sudden freezethaw events. Sitka Conservation Society contributed funding and volunteer support to Stanford University graduate student, Lauren Oakes, to help find out “what happens next?� As yellow-cedars decline, what will happen to these forests? To look for answers, she and her team established and measured A 360 degree camera used for recording canopy densplots in West Chichagof Wilderness. ity captures a researcher measuring trunk circumferHer research will advance our underence. Photo by Lauren Oakes. standing the process of succession in these forests and how it relates to valued services when managing lands for multiple uses and adapting conservation priorities. Cedar sketch by K. Cahill

Watershed Survey

Yale University student Daniel Constable received a Wilderness Expedition Grant from SCS to measure water quality and groudtruth landcover in local watersheds. This project will provide a baseline from which to compare future landscape studies. Although no significant human influence is expected with- Above: Researchers discuss priority study areas. in the Wilderness area, increased visitor usage, climatic Below: Researchers measure pebble size in Hoonah variability, and human activity along the adjacent non-Wil- Sound. derness land may detrimentally effect the area. Therefore, it is important to establish a reference point from which to compare future studies.

Cryptograma gentics During field surveys, SCS staff paid particular attention to occurrences of the Parsley Fern (Cryptograma sp.). When found, samples were collected and preserved in silica and an example specimen was pressed. Jordan Metzgar, a graduate student at University of Alaska Fairbanks, is conducting research on the genetics of 16

Information and Collaborative Research- Continued Alaskan species of this particular genus to determine how these ferns adapted during the Last Glacial Maximum. Knowledge of organismal behavior during previous episodes of dramatic climactic shifts would aid in projecting their response to ongoing global climate change.

Small Mammal Genetic Diversity Research based on DNA studies of small mammals such as voles, shrews, and weasels found on islands in Southeast Alaska in many Wilderness areas, has helped give Parsley Fern (Cryptograma sp.) can help inform scientists a clearer picture of which islands may have plants' reactions to global climate change. been covered with glaciers as late as 12,000 years ago. Small mammal samples were collected and sent to researchers at the University of Alaska Museum of the North.

Beaver Dispersal Study A biology class in the Sitka School District has partnered with SCS's field expeditions to survey for beavers and collect DNA samples for a genetic study of dispersal rates Tracks of a small mammal left in a mud bed in the and distance of beavers throughout Southeast Alaska. muskeg.

Glacier Study As part of the 2010 Wilderness Stewardship Project, with funds from the Yale Univeristy Richter Fund and support from University of Southeast Alaska, Yale student Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins partnered with SCS to study the local-level impact of climate change on the alpine glaciers of South Baranof Wilderness. Analysis has continued since then and the preliminary report for the project can be found in the include DVD materials.

Karst Survey Kevin Allred, co-founder of the Tongass Cave Project This graph shows the retreat of a glacier on Baranof accompanied a field survey in a limestone rich region of Island since 1979. West Chichagof Wilderness in search of notable Karst features. Allred discovered one significant cave, surveyed and mapped it, and named it "Calvin Cave." At the time of writing, notes and maps were still being compiled for submission to the National Speleological Society.

Right: Caver, Kevin Allred prepares to map a new cave. 17

Supplemental Materials on DVD Included with this report is a DVD with additional materials relating to the 2011/2012 Community Wilderness Stewardship Project. If you received this report without the DVD, you can contact the Sitka Conservation Society at or call 907-747-7509 to request these materials.

Supplementary DVD Index: • SCS Gallery- photos from the 2011/2012 season of the Community Wilderness Stewardship Project. • 2011 Data Report- raw data for solitude/encounter monitoring, plant species list, and bird list • Exp Cross Baranof Poster- poster advertising a talk by project coordinator Adam Andis about a Wilderness Stewardship expedition across South Baranof Wilderness. • Exp Cross Baranof Report- report titled Tongass Wilderness Stewardship: Expedition: Packrafting across South Baranof Wilderness on an expedition across South Baranof Wilderness • Exp Goat Research Flyer- information sheet about a research trip to study exotic mountain goats in South Baranof Wilderness • Exp. Goat Research Report- report on partner project between SCS, USFS and Alaska Dept. Fish and Game to study forage patterns of exotic goats in Wilderness • Exp Pleasant Island Report- report titled Tongass Wilderness Stewardship: Community Profile: Gustavus and Pleasant Island about a community capacity building and stewardship expedition • Exp Russell Fjord Report- report titled 2011 Wilderness Stewardship Challenge Russell Fjord Wilderness about a community capacity building and stewardship expedition in Yakutat and Russell Fjord • Exp. Tebenkof Bay Invasive Report- a report on an invasive treatment in Tebenkof Bay Wilderness • Glacier Study Report- preliminary report titled A Quantification of Glacier Retreat on Baranof Island, AK through Remotely Sensed Data about a 2010 stewardship expedition in South Baranof Wilderness • Gustavus Poster- poster advertising a public presentation and beach clean-up activity as part of a community stewardship capacity building project in Gustavus. • Hunting Guide Form- form developed specifically for big game hunters in Tongass Wilderness • Journey to the Tongass- An article published in the Capital City Weekly written by SCS Botany Intern Tomas Ward about the Wilderness stewardship project. • KCAW_interview_Wilderness- a sound file of an interview with Wilderness project manager Adam Andis about stewardship activities. • KCAW_interview2_Boat Cruise Wilderness- a sound file of an interview with project manager Adam Andis and FS Wilderness Ranger Darrin Kelly about an interpretive boat tour to a local Wilderness • Outfitter Briefing Sheet- a publication distributed to outfitters and guide about Wilderness character • Pleasant Island Survey- survey distributed to residents of Gustavus about how they use and feel about Pleasant Island Wilderness. • R10 Wilderness Partner Award- a publication about SCS being awarded the Region 10 Wilderness Partner of the Year Award by USFS for work with Sitka Ranger District on Wilderness stewardship. • Solitude Form Web- encounter monitoring form developed for volunteers • South baranof boat cruise 2011- poster advertising an interpretive boat cruise to a local


Supplemental Materials on DVD- Continued • • • • • • • •

Wilderness Volunteer Poster 2011- poster encouraging volunteers to collect Wilderness survey data Watershed Study Report- preliminary report on a watershed survey conducted as part of the Wilderness stewardship project. West Chichagof Coast_Intro- 1 of 4 video trip reports of a stewardship expedition to West Chichagof Wilderness West Chichagof Coast_Week1- 2 of 4 video trip reports of a stewardship expedition to West Chichagof Wilderness West Chichagof Coast_Week2- 3 of 4 video trip reports of a stewardship expedition to West Chichagof Wilderness West Chichagof Coast_Week3- 4 of 4 video trip reports of a stewardship expedition to West Chichagof Wilderness Wilderness Training Poster- poster advertising a kayak safety, invasive plant ID, and wilderness monitoring training Yellow Cedar Study Report- report titled What Happens Next? Understanding ecological response to Yellow-cedar Decline published in USDA Forest Health Conditions in Alaska-2011 Report about a research project which partnered with the Wilderness stewardship project.

For more information about the Community Wilderness Stewardship Project and to get up to date information about current activites, visit:


2011 Wilderness Project Final Report  
2011 Wilderness Project Final Report  

The Community Wilderness Stewardship Project seeks to connect local communities with Wilderness areas by facilitating volunteer stewardship...