Center, just below the white crane arm, is the towering Lutz spruce which will soon adorn the West Lawn of Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. (Photo credit: Chugach National Forest, U.S. Forest Service)
For over 90 years the majestic Lutz spruce stood silently in the Chugach National Forest near Seward, Alaska.
Hidden from most tourists, except intrepid hikers, the spruce, as high as a seven story building, would have aged in obscurity but for a stroke of luck: this Lutz spruce was chosen among the more than five million acres of the Chugach’s wooded forests to be the proverbial “People’s Tree” and grace the slope of the West Lawn on Capitol Hill just beneath the soaring white dome that unites both wings of Congress. Read more »
The Stream Watch Volunteer Program reaches out to many fishermen who congregate on the Kenai Peninsula each summer season for the annual salmon runs. These enthusiasts are fishing on a backwater channel of the Kenai River just downstream of the Kenai/Russian Rivers confluence. (Photo courtesy of Ron Neibrugge)
The river banks of the Upper Kenai and Russian Rivers in Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula are known to attract some of the most avid fishermen. In the last couple decades, they have also lured a growing number of citizen volunteers who are equally passionate about an environmental stewardship mission to protect them.
The diverse system of plants that grow along the two rivers and their stream beds control erosion and help filter and keep those waters clean. But over decades of use, the numbers of anglers visiting these special places have left their mark. Read more »
Visitors at the Crooked Creek Information Center in Valdez, Alaska can see the spawning salmon from the viewing platform and the bears that feed on them. (USFS Photo by Jeannie Kirkland)
The City of Valdez, Alaska, offers a unique destination for visitors because of the proximity to the Crooked Creek Information Center, the most visited information center on the Chugach National Forest. Situated alongside the creek, a fish viewing platform beckons guests to take in the salmon returning to spawn each summer.
So what if you can’t make it to Alaska this summer? You can still experience the wonder through the Crooked Creek underwater fish cam.
An underwater camera has offered images of the swimming fish at Crooked Creek for several years; however, it was only linked to a monitor on the fish viewing platform. Visitors could get the bird’s-eye view of the creek from the platform, and then watch the fish underwater on the monitor. This summer, Andrew Morin, a fisheries biologist in Cordova, joined other Chugach employees to make the Crooked Creek fish cam available to the world via the Forest Service YouTube live streaming video. Read more »
They Are Coming! Salmon Poster
An easy nine miles from the city of Juneau, a portion of a small non-glacial tributary creek nestled among alder, cottonwood and beds of dense, lush moss and understory vegetation is again sharing its ancient story of birth, death and renewal: sockeye and coho salmon are swimming home to spawn.
Yet visitors who want to take in this yearly natural story can view the wonder from the comfort of their own homes via a live online streaming from an underwater camera. Read more »
Robert L. DeVelice, a vegetation ecologist on the Chugach National Forest, monitors invasive plants. (Forest Service photo)
Vegetation ecologists play an essential role in the U.S. Forest Service. They research the abundance and location of flora in their region as well as the factors that influence how the plants flourish. All nine Forest Service regions and most forests have ecologists on staff, representing a variety of interests. Some ecologists are fascinated by fungi, while others focus on lichens, wildflowers and other elements of biodiversity. In addition, plant ecologists and botanists provide quite a bit of support to the other disciplines and program areas within the Forest Service.
Robert L. DeVelice, a vegetation ecologist on the Chugach National Forest, fits the role well. His wealth of education, experience and personal interests have benefited both the forest and the local community. He grew up in New Mexico, received a Bachelor of Science in forestry from the University of Montana, a Masters in agronomy with a focus on forest soils from New Mexico State University, and a Ph.D. in plant ecology. When he arrived in Alaska in 1992, he was quite interested in native plants, their distribution and ecological occurrences across the landscape. Read more »
Robert Stovall, the deputy district ranger on the Seward Ranger District on Alaska’s Chugach National Forest, takes a moment to relax at the Russian River Falls Overlook. As a sport fisherman he enjoys hooking the big, aggressive silvers, also known as coho salmon. (U.S. Forest Service photo)
To be a wildlife biologist and to be in Alaska … it’s not a question, it’s the good life for this Forest Service land manager.
Just ask Robert Stovall, the deputy district ranger for the Seward Ranger District since 2009 for Alaska’s Chugach National Forest. There are no roads into the forest’s interior. Beyond a two to three-mile road journey, you’ll find yourself in back country with no improved roads, a land full of beautiful scenery, lots of native wildlife, adventures and challenges. Read more »