Alaska Wildlife Alliance forming first independent chapter in Juneau

Posted: Thursday, August 26, 2010

The Alaska Wildlife Alliance has created its first branch chapter in Juneau.

AWA is a nonprofit organization based in Anchorage that has been advocating the protection of Alaskan wildlife for more than 30 years. Its officials say they hope this pilot branch will go a long way in arousing local interest in wildlife preservation.

"This chapter is part of an outreach I'm totally thrilled to have in Juneau," said AWA director John Toppenberg.

AWA Southeast is headed by Tina Brown, who also serves as president of the statewide AWA board. Brown said the individual chapter was formed to engage local citizens in wildlife protection as well as to engage legislators.

"We hope to get a more active membership," she said. "And we want to develop a close relationship with lawmakers."

Toppenberg agreed the presence of the legislature makes Juneau a great location for the advocacy organization.

"I look forward to them (AWA Southeast) helping us have a greater impact than we've been able to have," said Toppenberg.

Patricia O'Brien of the AWA Southeast board of directors said the local chapter will also help get more people involved who are not part of the statewide organization. O'Brien herself was not affiliated with AWA before the branch formed.

Besides preservation, O'Brien said AWA Southeast will help promote wildlife viewing in Alaska.

"It's being formed largely because wildlife issues need to be better addressed here," she said. "We feel it's really important work we're doing."

Brown said the inclination toward a local branch started in March during a wildlife rally in Juneau. She said the event demonstrated a strong local interest in such issues.

"We had such a good response we thought it would be good to have a chapter in the capital city," said Brown. She said the organization for the chapter began shortly afterward and is now coming to fruition.

So far the new chapter has six board members. Brown said the goal is to have at least eight.

Brown said the Southeast chapter has already met with biologists and wildlife officials concerning the organization's goals.

O'Brien added they have also been following some high-profile cases of wildlife endangerment.

Brown said AWA hopes this will serve as a model to build other new branches on. She said those interested in more information on AWA Southeast should contact her at 209-4219 or tmbrown3@aol.com.

• Contact Jonathan Grass at 523-2276 or jonathan.grass@juneauempire.com.



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