Sockeye salmon swim upstream in Yakutat, Alaska. (U.S. Forest Service/Nate Catterson)
Alaska’s Chugach and Tongass national forests are sometimes referred to as salmon forests, producing all five species of wild Pacific salmon: king, coho, sockeye, pink, and chum.
Salmon is vital to Alaska’s economy, and last year’s statewide commercial salmon harvest is being noted as a banner year. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game announced the salmon harvested in 2013 set a new record at 272 million fish.
About 45 percent, or 122 million, of these commercially harvested salmon relied on habitat managed by the U.S. Forest Service. Much of the harvest consisted of pink salmon, the most abundant of salmon found in Alaska. Don Martin, the aquatic and fish program leader for the Alaska Region, said that 95 percent of the habitat where pink salmon spawn in Southeast Alaska is on the Tongass National Forest. The work of Forest Service fish biologists contribute to the health and viability of these salmon. Read more »
Mount Edgecumbe volcano is on Kruzof Island in Southeast Alaska, just west of Sitka. The Mount Edgecumbe Volcanic Field consists of more than a dozen volcanic vents and domes. The field first erupted more than 600,000 years ago, and volcanic activity continued until 5,000 to 6,000 years ago. (U.S. Forest Service/Jim Baichtal)
Seldom does one find a way to directly date a prehistoric volcanic eruption, but 11-year-old Blake LaPerriere opened such a door for excited scientists in Southeast Alaska.
Last September, Blake, his parents, and his younger brothers were exploring a beach on southwestern Kruzof Island, part of the Tongass National Forest landscape and just west of Sitka, Alaska, where they live. Blake investigated a deeply incised creek behind a pile of beach drift where he found a standing burnt tree embedded in a tall bank of pumice. He brought it to his family’s attention, asking “Do you think that’s from a volcanic eruption a long time ago?”
Curious, Blake’s father Zach took photos and sent them my way. Read more »
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 »