ALASKA—Hydaburg, a traditional Haida village with a population just under 400, is located on Prince of Wales Island, Tongass National Forest. This year, the forest entered into a challenge cost share agreement with Hydaburg Cooperative Association that will allow association members to collect, analyze and use forest resource information to implement sustainable forest management practices, as well as offer job opportunities for local rural residents in natural resource fields.
To prepare the HCA crew for the work under this agreement, the crew spent two weeks in a stream habitat assessment (aquatics) academy, a specialized stream-mapping and classification training. Funding for the academy was provided through a separate agreement specifically for workforce development. Tongass aquatics practitioners were instrumental in the academy, offering eight Hydaburg residents classroom and field instruction to practice, develop and test skills in stream classification and fish habitat-mapping using Forest Service inventory protocols.
The association is currently working with the Tongass to complete needed stream inventories on National Forest System lands on Prince of Wales Island in young growth stands that are 55 years or older. These are areas where timber harvest took place prior to current riparian protection standards. Accurate mapping and classification work will ensure these streams are protected during future timber harvests.
Emphasis on federal lands will enable the Tongass to transition from an old growth-dependent timber sale program to a program based on young growth, while maintaining a viable forest products industry.
This is significant given the fact that the Haida are an Alaska Native people with long connections to salmon and continue to depend on salmon for subsistence and commercial fisheries. This partnership and shared role in resource management is an important shift in the way the Forest Service does business and a noteworthy example of an investment in rural Alaska.