It is our mission to steward, conserve, preserve, enhance, and protect places and customs that are of significant historical, cultural, and environmental importance by using traditional ecological and cultural knowledge and science.
To steward, conserve, preserve, enhance, and protect those places and customs that are of significant historical, cultural, and environmental importance; using traditional ecological and cultural knowledge and science.
In the summer of 2017, Ketchikan Indian Community partnered with the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation’s Division of Water to carry out the Alaska BEACH Grant Program. This program allows marine water quality monitoring to be done on high priority beaches to test for fecal contamination. Testing was done through the months of July and August in Ketchikan. There were two sites that were found to be above the regulatory limit for fecal contamination: Thomas Basin and Bugge Beach.
The Cultural Resources Department has been working on this project for about a year now. The goal of this project is to limit the interaction of bears with solid waste around Ketchikan. This not only protects tribal members and keeps Ketchikan clean, but it also keeps the bears safe. Once bears begin to associate humans and trash as sources of food, they begin to not fear humans and that is when dangerous incidents can occur. Our department has been working on educational materials, building enclosures in areas that need it, and providing bear proof materials to tribal members.
We now have ratchet straps for trash cans available at our office.
INVASIVE WEEDS PREVENTION
KETCHIKAN COOPERATIVE WEED MANAGEMENT AREA
Tansy ragwort is in full bloom along the Tongass highway and adjacent lands. It is one of the exotic invasive plants that Ketchikan’s invasive plant group is targeting for removal because it is toxic to wildlife that graze on the leaves and flowers. Invasive plants are defined in federal documents as “non-native species whose introduction does or is likely to cause economic or environmental harm or harm to human health.”
A Cooperative Weed Management Area (CWMA) partnership is currently still in its infancy with the following key agencies playing a leading role: USFS, KIC and City and Borough in addition to some highly motivated individuals who have long worked to remove invasive species before they become widespread and take more time and effort to remove.
The organizations goal is to: Protect native plant communities and wildlife habitat from spread of non-native invasive plants known to cause economic and environmental harm within the Ketchikan Gateway Borough.
Ketchikan Cooperative Weed Management Area focus has been on (1) current exotic invasive plant management efforts, (2) developing a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to be signed by land owners to form a local CWMA, (3) efforts to obtain funding for exotic invasive plant management, and (4) outreach and education.
Residents and visitors to Ketchikan Gateway Borough benefit from the natural beauty and productivity of native plant communities, and from the services that native vegetation provides. Invasive species out-compete native species for habitat, pose risks to native wildlife, and alter fish habitat. Invasive species can also reduce the availability of traditional subsistence foods for members of the community. Early removal of highly invasive plants is a preventative measure to ensure forest, wildlife, and stream health. Japanese knotweed alters fish habitat, tansy ragwort causes permanent liver damage to browsing animals, and blackberry can take over meadows. Removal of invasive species also inherently improves the value and longevity of structures and other facilities. Where invasive species are removed, native species generally reestablish.
The CWMA is working to survey for high-priority invasive species and begin treatment in a strategic manner to locally eradicate and reduce their spread. If no action is taken, invasive species will spread and become excessively expensive or impossible to control.
OCEAN ACIDIFICATION MONITORING
OCEAN ACIDIFICATION MONITORING
Ocean acidification is the lowering of the ocean’s pH caused by the increase of atmospheric carbon dioxide. The ocean has become 26% more acidic, changing from a pH of 8.2 to 8.1. While that might not seem like a lot, our oceans are home to some very important species that we rely on for subsistence. Even this slight change in pH has caused stress to shellfish, plankton, and finfish.
To help better understand what is going on in our oceans, Ketchikan Indian Community will be partnering with SEATOR to send in water samples to test for pH, pCO2, dissolved oxygen, temperature, and salinity. This will allow us to study the changes in our oceans and make plans for how to deal with these changes.
Our Environmental Specialist is currently working on a monitoring plan to look at basic parameters for multiple streams around the Ketchikan area. It is our hope that this kind of monitoring will allow us to study the changes in streams around Ketchikan.
We are also hoping that this monitoring project would help prepare us for larger stream monitoring projects, such as monitoring the Unuk River for effects from Transboundary Mining.
Harvesting our natural resources is still as important today as it was hundreds of years ago. This is why it’s vital we honor this traditional way of life while keeping our resources fully intact. Knowing how to safely harvest shellfish, devils club, berries, cedar bark, and more will protect both you and the resource itself.
In partnership with the Southeast Alaska Tribal Toxins Program, Ketchikan Indian Community is testing two harvesting sites to allow tribal members to make informed decisions on whether or not to harvest shellfish. The two sites are Seaport Beach and the beach near Whipple Creek. Tests such as microscope analysis of phytoplankton, testing of shellfish tissue, and filtering of water for phytoplankton contents are used to determine the safety of these sites.
Please visit seator.org/data to see what current toxin levels are in the Ketchikan area in regards to Paralytic Shellfish Poisoning.