The Chugach National Forest BioBlitz – an intense period of biological surveys – included surveys of all organisms in Portage Valley including fungi. Ecologist Kate Mohatt leads a walk for the public to identify all mushrooms fruiting in the valley in 2011. (U.S. Forest Service/ Mona Spargo)
While many people look forward to fall for football rivalries and tailgate parties, others enjoy a different pastime — foraging for fall’s crop of fungi.
In Alaska, the season’s fungi festivals will find enthusiasts lined up for hikes into the woods to search for lichens and forage for mushrooms.
In September, the Wrangell Ranger District on the Tongass National Forest hosted a two-day event near the Rainbow Falls Trail. Karen Dillman, the forest’s ecologist, and Kate Mohatt, an ecologist from the Chugach National Forest, shared a variety of tips and information on fungi with locals and visitors including information profiled in the video “The Mushroom Maven of the Chugach National Forest.” What are the differences between edible and poisonous mushrooms? The pair described how to look for telling colors of the mushrooms after they are cut open, as well as the distinctive features of the caps and ridges. Read more »
Through the end of August, you will get the chance to be entertained as sockeye salmon swim along Alaska’s Steep Creek as the adults spawn before swimming to their final deaths.
The Forest Service has placed the salmon cam in the creek on the Tongass National Forest so viewers world-wide have the opportunity to view fish in their natural setting. The ability to watch salmon in the wild is a treat for many people, but the underwater camera gives you a more intimate, unique look. Read more »
Coree Seward Delabrue (U.S. Forest Service photo)
Finding a sense of place is a huge factor in the life of this district interpreter on the world’s largest temperate rainforest – the Tongass National Forest in Alaska.
Corree Seward Delabrue has either lived in or travelled through many of our nation’s states. But Alaska holds the allure of the natural environment that has her fusion of interests: being a natural foods foodie, passionate about working with kids and being committed to community. Read more »
Fly agaric / Amanita muscaria (Copyright Steven A. Trudell; reprinted with permission)
The fly agaric (Amanita muscaria) sits on the forest floor in Alaska as if it is waiting to be cast in an Alice in Wonderland movie.
Its recognizable bright red cap dotted with white warts belies their toxic nature. Although the effects vary, experts warn against eating them. In Alaska, fly agaric is generally found around birch or spruce trees and loves the northwest environment. Read more »
Two yellow cedar trees have fallen victim to the yellow cedar decline; the smaller tree on the right recently died, the larger tree on the left is slowly dying. U.S. Forest Service photo by Mary Stensvold.
Yellow-cedar is an ecologically, culturally, and economically important tree species in the coastal temperate rainforests of Alaska and British Columbia. This slow-growing tree has few natural insect and disease agents and is capable of living more than 1000 years.
But less snow in Alaska’s winters is leading to the demise of yellow cedar trees at and just above sea level. During hard freezes when little or no snow is on the ground to insulate the yellow cedar’s shallow roots, the roots freeze. Ultimately this leads to the tree’s death. This yellow cedar decline has occurred over the past 100 years. Read more »
Lodgepole pines, also called shore pines (Pinus contorta subsp. contorta) add punctuations of green to this muskeg near Sitka, AK. Pines growing in muskegs are stunted and very old. Tufted bulrush (Trichophorum caespitosum) plants are a dominant ground cover in this part of the muskeg and add color as their foliage turns orange and brown in the autumn. Flecks of red in the foreground are the scarlet foliage of bunchberry (Cornus suecica). Photo by Mary Stensvold.
Muskegs, a colloquial term for peat bogs, blanket 10 percent of the Tongass National Forest. These wetlands range in size from a few square feet to many acres. Over the ages, muskegs formed as Sphagnum mosses, rushes and sedges grew and built up spongy carpets in these very wet, almost treeless areas. Read more »