The Southeast Alaska Conservation Council (SEACC) has published a report about the development of the Kake Community Forest Project. This is an ongoing effort that began in the spring of 2009 to examine how to use collaborative efforts between the community, private sector and Forest Service to create sustainable forest projects.
The document details the project and what the next steps could be, as well as reporting ways Kake’s landscape and community are interrelated.
“The entire goal of the project was to create sustainable forest management in the Kake area and to do that using community-based collaborative land management,” said the report’s co-author, SEACC Community Organizer Sarah Campen.
Campen described collaborative land management as working with communities and different sectors to create solutions for social and ecological issues. She said the importance of this is it factors in local social and cultural aspects and helps create local jobs in forest management.
“Basically, it means trying to have a stronger community focus in the land management process,” she said, “In Kake, this means involving the community members in processing, managing lands in a much more sustainable way.”
She said Kake’s forests are mostly national lands overseen by the U.S. Forest Service, but there are also a fair bit owned by the state and corporations. She said the project aims to create a collaborative involvement for all of these.
The report provides specifics that can be employed to create this type of land management. One example is forming the Kake Community Forest Collaborative to involve city and tribal governments, staffs and the community to work on restoration and trail projects and trails projects.
A press release states the Forest Service will be offering small contracts to Kake contractors for forest stewardship and restoration work as part of this. This is in addition to small timber sales to Kake mills.
The Forest Service feels that researching such a collaborative involvement is a good aid in making decisions for future projects, said Forest Service Ranger Chris Savage of the Petersburg District. He said the authors looked at how cultural, historical and social factors are linked to economics in forest management.
“Our stance on it is it’s a good report that takes a different look on how Kake’s people express their interests. It’ll definitely serve as a good reference and good guide on what their concerns are for the Forest Service,” he said.
The report’s other author was ecologist Bob Christensen of Southeast Alaska Wilderness Exploration, Analysis and Discovery (SEAWEAD), who described the effort as a way to balance forest management with what the rural community needs have traditionally been in the area.
He said the general approach was to assess forest conditions, interview those in the community on how they use the forest and what their needs are and then develop improvement methods based on that. He said this can often lead to restoration projects to compensate for the booms and busts of old growth logging.
“What we did in Kake is further develop the concept of a community forest to be comprehensive in job creation and honor traditional and cultural forest uses by Native Alaskans,” he said.
SEACC and SEAWEAD collaborated on a similar project in Hoonah a few years ago.
• Contact reporter Jonathan Grass at 523-2276 or firstname.lastname@example.org.