Federal, university and city officials signed a memorandum of understanding Thursday that paves the way for the establishment of a temperate rainforest education and research center in Juneau. The Alaska Coastal Rainforest Center will stimulate and develop temperate rainforest education and research.
The ACRC is a collaborative venture of the University of Alaska Southeast, University of Alaska Fairbanks, the Forest Service's Pacific Northwest Research Station, the Forest Service's Alaska Region, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Alaska Region and the city of Juneau.
Mayor Bruce Botelho, U.S. Forest Service Alaska Regional Forester Denny Bschor, U.S. Forest Service Pacific Northwest Research Station Director Bov Eav, and University of Alaska Southeast Chancellor John Pugh were among the signatories in attendance at Thursday morning's signing, held at the U.S. Forest Service's Regional Office.
"The three campuses of the University of Alaska Southeast reside in the Tongass National Forest, the largest temperate rainforest in the world," Pugh said. "I am very excited about UAS partnering to provide educational outreach related to the Alaska Rainforest Center and look forward to working with partners on educational and research opportunities."
The ACRC will foster a collaborative environment that expands and enhances education and research opportunities by coordinating activities among the six cooperating agencies. In particular, the center will:
Provide formal and informal education at the university and community school-levels as well as professional training relating to coastal rain forest ecosystems;
Apply knowledge gained through the collaboration to meet education and management needs for sustainable resource use within coastal rain forest ecosystems;
Facilitate public policy discussions and foster greater public understanding of rain forest ecosystems.
It also will support work at the newly established Héen Latinee Experimental Forest, located north of Juneau, which will be officially designated during a celebration later today.
"The center will be looking carefully at ecosystem functions because these functions will likely change as the climate warms over the upcoming years," said Sandy Boyce, the U.S. Forest Service Alaska Science Coordinator. "Our work will help to inform the communities of southeast Alaska and their leaders about the speed and direction of these changes and prepare them for management and policy debates that will take place as the implications of these changes become clear."
Worldwide, temperate rainforests total about 75 million acres. In Alaska and coastal British Columbia, temperate rainforests encompass interconnected landscapes that extend from the coastal mountains through the temperate forests to the marine waters of the Pacific.
A public celebration ceremony, presentation and reception for the center was held Thursday at Centennial Hall.