Sitka Conservation Society
scott

About scott

Scott Harris and his family are happily “rooted” in Sitka. Scott is the Watershed Program Manager for SCS and is responsible for developing and implementing habitat restoration and watershed monitoring projects. As a true Leopold-worshipper, he believes that the conservation ethic is rooted in a personal connection with the outdoors. Therefore, all of his projects hope to inspire by involving student and community volunteers. Scott has a wide diversity of work and academic experience. He has a Bachelor’s degree in Engineering and a Master’s in Natural Resource Management from the University of Alaska Fairbanks. His research in Chilean Patagonia focused on economic activities for rural communities to conserve temperate rainforests. He also worked for several years as a Wildlife Research Technician, as a Senior Staff Instructor with the National Outdoor Leadership School in Alaska and Chile, and taught at Sheldon Jackson College in Sitka. In his spare time, Scott runs a kayak outfitting company – Latitude Adventures – and enjoys spending time outdoors with his wife and young son.

Jan 22 2014

Working with communities to study river restoration

Forest Service Biologist Sarah Brandy describing the Twelvemile Restoration Project to a group of students from the Tatoosh School

Scaling local projects to achieve regional impact!

The Sitka Conservation Society has entered a strategic partnership with the Tongass National Forest to engage local communities in the assessment of the habitat restoration projects on Twelvemile Creek, Prince of Wales Island.

In Sitka over the past several years, we have developed the capacity and partnerships to engage our community in pro-active natural resource stewardship. This has included developing a program to implement and study the effects of projects that restore fish and wildlife habitat damaged from past logging practices, developing K-12 and university curriculum materials for salmon habitat, and getting students and volunteers out in the field conducting ecological studies and collecting information that will be used by resource managers such as the US Forest Service.

Funding that has made this work possible include the Sustainable Southeast Partnership, the National Forest Foundation (NFF), and SCS members. Now we have the opportunity to work with the US Forest Service to bring these types of programs to communities on Prince of Wales Island. Funding will be provided by the National Forest Foundation. So by leveraging capacity and funding sources, we and our partners will have the opportunity to bolster and enhance watershed and fisheries programs across Southeast Alaska, and engage communities all along the way. Other partners and participants will include the Universities of Alaska Anchorage, University of Alaska Southeast, Alaska Dept. of Fish and Game, and schools on Prince of Wales Island.

SCS Executive Director Andrew Thoms: “This funding helps us take successful initiatives we have begun in Sitka to integrate stakeholders, community members, and students in Tongass Forest management to other communities and places on the Forest.”

Large wood was placed in Twelvemile Creek to help create habitat for spawning and rearing salmon

The program on Prince of Wales will use a “Triple-Bottom-Line” approach to help build socially, economically, and environmentally resilient communities.

Environment: Working with the Tongass National Forest, we will operate a seasonal non-lethal trap to count and assess salmon smolt that are migrating out of the Twelvemile Creek Watershed on Prince of Wales Island. Collecting this type of data is critical for evaluating the effectiveness of habitat restoration activities. The USFS Tongass National Forest, in partnership with The Nature Conservancy and the National Forest Foundation, conducted restoration work on this creek over the past few years to restore salmon spawning and rearing habitat impacted by past logging activities. This monitoring project will be an integral part of the Watershed Restoration Effectiveness Monitoring Program of the Tongass National Forest.

Economic: The Tongass National Forest produces an average of 28% of Alaska’s annual commercial salmon harvest.  Because salmon support 1 in 10 jobs in Southeast Alaska and create an economic impact of $1 billion dollars in the regional economy, projects that protect and restore salmon runs are of critical importance to Southeast Alaska communities.

Economic (part 2): In partnership with the UAS Fisheries Technology Program, local youth will also have vocational training opportunities as interns working at the fish trap, along with receiving career and educational counseling from fisheries professionals – possibly leading to careers as resource managers in the backyards where they grew up.

Social: Teachers and students from Prince of Wales communities will take part in classroom-based Salmon Curriculum and outdoor-based Steam Team activities. Stream Team is a statewide program where students collect field data to assess water quality and stream health.

 

Jul 12 2013

Field Science Opportunities!

Join us in the field to collect ecological monitoring data and learn about our projects! SCS is part of the Southeast Alaska Long-term Monitoring Network, which integrates citizen science with long-term monitoring of the environment. There are multiple opportunities to join SCS on our field projects this summer. Check this link to learn more.

May 07 2013

Science Sharing Night a huge success

The Student Science Sharing night last Monday, April 29 was a huge success. This was our second year of celebrating student learning in the ecological sciences. We had over 100 students and community members participate, and we had student projects from Sitka and Mt. Edgecumbe High Schools, Blatchley Middle School, and Keet Gooshi Heen.

 

This event is more than just a science fair. It’s an opportunity for the community and students to interact and share learning on topics that affect the long-term sustainability of our community. We are surrounding by public lands and depend upon the bounty of the sea and land to sustain our quality of life. Integrating community, young people, scientists, and natural resource managers in a shared learning experience will help ensure that we make well-informed decisions about managing these resources.
The Science Night was the culmination of the work of many people and organizations. It was supported by Sitka Conservation Society, University of Alaska Southeast, Sitka Sound Science Center, Sitka School District and Mt. Edgecumbe High School. But the people that did most of the work were the students!

May 02 2013

Science Mentor Program accepting applications for next school year

The Science Mentor Program is accepting applications for the 2013/2014 school year. This is the third year of this highly popular and successful program. Last year, students studied wintering songbirds in Sitka and conducted genetic research on the decline of Alaska yellow cedar. Students from any of Sitka’s 3 high schools are encouraged to apply. We will also have an informational meeting at Sitka High School, May 7, 1145am to 1220pm. Follow the links below for a program description and application. Contact Scott Harris at scott@sitkawild.org for more information.

 

 

Program Description link

Application link

 

Feb 13 2013

Review of Forest Restoration in the Tongass

Bob Christensen, original member of SCS’s Groundtruthing Project team, recently completed a comprehensive review of forest restoration methods for The Wilderness Society. This very readable work provides a thorough background of the why, how, and where of restoring forest habitats in the Tongass National Forest. It also describes a concise method for prioritizing restoration locations based on ecological, social, and economic criteria. We used this work to inform the prioritization we conducted for the Sitka Community Use Area. Efforts like this are critical to our understanding and ever-constant learning about how to restore fish and wildlife habitat in Southeast Alaska.

You can view Bob’s report below or download an 8 Mb version by clicking on this link.

Jan 17 2013

Restoration Priorities in the Sitka Community Use Area

The survey results are in. And the winner is….. Katlian River! We conducted a survey of Sitkans to identify community priorities for stream and forest restoration. Other places within the top 5 include Shelikof Creek (seen in the photo here), and Nakwasina River. Our survey also identified the values and activities that are most important to Sitkans when accessing public lands.

Click here to read the full report.

We combined the best of the ecological assessments with our survey data to come up with a Strategic Plan for restoring the watershed that are important to people living, working, and playing in the Sitka Community Use Area.

Jan 08 2013

The Next Restoration Opportunity – Kruzof Island

On January 16, 2013 at 6:30pm at Centennial Hall, Sitkans can share their ideas and priorities with the Forest Service regarding the future management of Kruzof Island. Over the next few years, multiple habitat restoration, timber management, and recreational developments and maintenance can occur on Kruzof Island. The community survey we conducted also identified the Central Kruzof – Iris Meadows area as the #3 priority for future restoration work. As part of this process, we sent a small crew to Kruzof Island to ground-truth these opportunities. You can read their report here….

 

 

 

 

Click on this link to to download a hi-res (approx. 50Mb) version of this document

Nov 24 2012

Have You Seen This Bird?


 

 

 

 

 

Attention all bird enthusiasts and nature-lovers! 97 birds with various sorts of colored leg bands have been spotted in Sitka. We need your help in recording sightings of these birds!

The weekend before Thanksgiving, certified bird bander Gwen Baluss, Sitka High student Naquoia Bautista, and many volunteers banded Juncos, Chickadees, and Sparrows. Naquoia is participating in the Science Mentor Program. She will be conducting a study of the habits of wintering songbirds in Sitka. Her project relies on local bird enthusiasts and folks with bird-feeders to look out for her color-banded birds. If you would like to help, download and print the observation form here. You can also record observations on the internet at this link. If you have questions, contact Scott Harris at scott@sitkawild.org or call 738-4091.

Nov 13 2012

Starrigavan Stream Team 2012

It’s November and the salmon eggs are all nestled in their gravel beds, but we can still dream of next year’s Blatchley Stream Team by watching this very cool video! Each May, over 100 Blatchley 7th Graders participate in Stream Team, where they help restore fish habitat and monitor stream health. This annual event is eagerly anticipated by the students as well as the organizers, which includes the US Forest Service, Sitka School District, Sitka Conservation Society, National Park Service, Alaska Dept. of Fish and Game, Corps of Engineers, and US Fish and Wildlife Service.

Nov 13 2012

2012 Science Mentor Program students selected

Three Sitka High School students were recently chosen to participate in the Science Mentor Program for the 2012-2013 school year. Program Coordinator Scott Harris and UAS Professor Kitty LaBounty stand with students Kaya Duguay, Naquoia Bautista, and Melea Roman. Kaya and Melea will be working on a cedar genetics study and Naquoia will be working on a winter songbird study.

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