The Sitka Conservation Society will host a local foods tasting and recipe pouch making event for kids ages 7-10 from 2-3:30 p.m. on Wednesday, June 21, at the Sitka Public Library.
This program will help kids learn how to make delicious, kid-friendly snacks from foods foraged from the Tongass National Forest. There also will be materials to make local foods recipe pouches and recipes to take home. This is a drop-in activity.
For more information, contact Maite Lorente at 747-8708 or Julia Tawney at 747-7509.
The Sitka Spruce Tips-Alaska Way of Life 4-H Club will begin a six-week Wild Edible Series starting on Wednesday, Sept. 7.
Kids will get outside and explore the bounty of wild edibles in Southeast Alaska. Activities include picking berries, identifying mushrooms, hiking through the muskeg, smoking salmon, and making jam and fruit leather. Get ready to taste the Tongass.
4-H members ages 5-8 will meet from 3:30-5 p.m. on Wednesdays and ages 9 and older will meet from 3:30-5 p.m. on Thursdays (the location will be revealed once you have registered). The registration fee is $20 and scholarships are available. Please register by Sept. 2.
For more information, email Julia Tawney at firstname.lastname@example.org or call the Sitka Conservation Society at 747-7509.
Friday, May 20, is the 50th anniversary of Arbor Day in Alaska, and the Sitka Spruce Tips 4H Club will celebrate by planting a few trees from 3-5 p.m. at the Swan Lake recreation area (near the corner of Lake Street and DeGroff).
We will be planting maples, but giving away fruit trees for people to plant at home, said Molly Johnson, who helps coordinate the Sitka Spruce Tips 4H Club for the Sitka Conservation Society, in partnership with the University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service Sitka District Office.
“4H is excited to host a celebration in honor of Alaska Arbor Day to celebrate how important trees are in our lives,” Molly said. “We see the significance of trees in the clean air and great habitat they provide whenever we explore the Tongass (National Forest). This will be a fun event to honor that significance closer in town. It is a great opportunity to come together as a community and celebrate trees!”
This event is co-sponsored by the Alaska Community Forestry Council, the USDA Forest Service, and the Alaska Division of Forestry. Because of its commitment to trees in town, the City and Borough of Sitka has been recognized as one of the Tree City USA award-winners from the Arbor Day Foundation.
The Sitka Conservation Society will highlight one of its community sustainability projects when it hosts its annual meeting and potluck (aka, the Voices of the Tongass Gathering) from 5-7 p.m. on Sunday, Feb. 28, at the Sitka Kitch community rental commercial kitchen (located inside First Presbyterian Church, 505 Sawmill Creek Road).
The Sitka Kitch was a project of the 2013 Sitka Health Summit, and the project is coordinated by the Sitka Conservation Society, in partnership with the Sitka Local Foods Network. The Sitka Kitch can be rented to teach cooking and food preservation classes, by local cottage food industry entrepreneurs who need a commercial kitchen to make their products, and for large groups needing a large kitchen for a community dinner.
Join the staff and board of the Sitka Conservation Society for an evening filled with great food, conversation, and idea sharing. The Voices of the Tongass Gathering is an opportunity to bring your ideas about how to promote sustainable communities in Southeast Alaska. Let your voice be heard.
In addition to the Sitka Kitch project, the Sitka Conservation Society also coordinates the Fish to Schools
program in Sitka. There also will be discussion of tiny houses, local wood projects, Tongass policy, and youth projects such as 4H.
This annual meeting is free and open to the public. For more information, call Sophie Nethercut at 747-7509 or email email@example.com
Salmonberries await picking near the entrance to Sitka National Historical Park
The Tongass National Forest, Sitka Ranger District, is reminding people that any berry-picking or other gathering for commercial use on national forest lands requires a special-use permit. The rules clarification comes after a sign recently was posted outside a grocery store offering payment for salmonberries. Personal-use berry-picking and other gathering is allowed, so long as no money changes hands.
Please note, these are not new regulations and they have been on the books for many years. But the USDA Forest Service wants to remind people about them because many Sitka residents don’t know them.
“Here is an interim policy for special forest products attached (see link below), but it is long and cumbersome for most to read,” District Ranger Perry Edwards wrote. “The short version is you can collect berries, mushrooms, etc., for personal use in a national forest. But once you sell them it becomes a commercial use and a person needs to have a special forest product permit. So far, no one has officially gone through the process to get one from the Sitka Ranger District, as it does take some time for the USDA Forest Service to do the analysis and the public process.”
The interim rules and regulations run several pages, but the two paragraphs below help clarify Special Forest Products and commercial uses.
- Special Forest Products – Special forest products (SFPs) are defined as products derived from non-timber biological resources that are used for subsistence, personal, spiritual, educational, commercial, and scientific use. SFP resources include, but are not limited to: mushrooms, boughs, Christmas trees, bark, ferns, moss, burls, berries, cones, conks, herbs, roots, and wildflowers. Also included are cuttings (such as of willow used for restoration) and transplants (as for landscaping purposes). SFP resources exclude saw-timber, pulpwood, cull logs, small round-wood, house logs, utility poles, minerals, animals, animal parts, rocks, water and soil.
- Commercial Uses — SFP resources that are sold, processed for sale, or used in business operations are considered commercial use. Research collections for bioprospecting or other purposes by entities that do not have a cooperative agreement with the Forest Service or other federal government agency or department are considered commercial use and are subject to the same permitting procedures and requirements as other commercial uses. Commercial use on the Tongass National Forest is subject to the standards and guidelines in the Tongass Forest Plan, national and regional SFP policies, and the following management guidelines. In all cases, commercial use should not displace subsistence, personal or other non-commercial uses.
The Alaska Division of Parks and Outdoor Recreation has similar rules for harvesting from Alaska State Parks, and earlier this summer began requiring a special permit for gathering seaweed at the Halibut Point Recreation Area in Sitka.
• Interim Special Forest Products Policy for Tongass National Forest, Sitka Ranger District
The Alaska Way of Life 4-H club gardens at St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm in 2013. (Photo by Matthew Dolkas, courtesy of the Sitka Conservation Society)
The Alaska Way of Life 4-H club would like to get its hands dirty and grow some food this summer.
We would love some mentorship and modeling to help us out and build community between our youth and gardeners. If you are interested in sharing your skills and spending a few hours with youth this summer, contact Mary Wood at the Sitka Conservation Society, 747-7509 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mary said the 4-H club has space at St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm, so they are looking to meet with local gardeners and see what they are doing; so more like site visits. She’s hoping the gardeners also might be interested in taking volunteer leadership roles with the club and developing mentoring partnerships, which will help make the club program sustainable.
Sitka’s 4-H club is a positive youth development organization that gets youth civically engaged and physically active. Sitka has three 4-H projects: Baking, Shooting Sports, and the Alaska Way of Life outdoor education program. Sitka 4-H Community Club meetings are held at 12:30 p.m. the second Saturday of each month (April 12 is the next meeting) at the Sitka Unitarian Universalist Fellowship Hall (408 Marine St.).
- Shooting Sports: Contact Paul Rioux for more information,
- Baking: Contact Amy Sweeney for more information,
- Alaska Way of Life: Get outside, explore the Tongass, and build community with 4-H. Visit the Sitka Conservation Society website for more information on current events. Summer club registration for hiking, and gardening, and other activities is coming soon. Contact Mary at the Sitka Conservation Society for more information, 747-7509 or email@example.com.