In Attendance: Amelia Wilson, Rebecca Bellmore, Gretchen Augat, Brynn Presler-Marshall, Ricardo Contreras, Julian Narvaez and Ian Johnson.
BEACH Monitoring Program in Hoonah: Are Hoonah beaches a potential Public Health Risk?
The goal of the project is to evaluate potential health risks indicated by fecal coliform and enterococci bacteria and to notify the public when levels exceed state standards. Community concern about Cruise Ships and other possible sources of fecal bacteria were the main factors getting our IGAP department involved in this study. The program provided two years of funding through DEC’s Alaska Beach Program.
BEACH Monitoring: What are we looking for?
The samples we took for testing levels of Fecal Coliform and Enterococci. They’re found in birds and mammal guts. Most species are not actually harmful, but they are key indicators of fecal contamination.
BEACH Monitoring: Our Sampling Protocol
We started with a DEC approved QAPP which included weekly sampling from May-September. The samples had just 6 hours after collection to make it to the LAB in Juneau. Summer months make shipping samples out more reliable under the time constraints. We sampled 2 sites which were Gartina Harbor/ Gus’s Beach and Inner Point Sophia Beach. A DEC Quality Assurance Officer reviewed our sampling procedure and was impressed by
BEACH Monitoring: Results
At our two sites we had very low results with no exceedances outside of one instance in Gartina. The conditions of the exceedance were less concerning but a potential point of interest. The water sampled that day was during a very low tide, so it was not being influenced by the harbor.
Along with the weekly sample for fecal coliform and enterococci bacteria, we did one Microbial Source Tracking sample. At the Inner Point Sophia Beach there was none detected. At the Gartina Harbor Site Human and Bird were detected but again, even with both combined, neither sample was above the DEC’s safety standards.
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BEACH Monitoring Questions
A question from a community member was brought up about the study. It is known that people tend to set crab pots out on the other side of the harbor breakwater, and they were curious if the results showed anything concerning regarding harvest from that area. The samples were done within a few hundred yards of the popular harvesting site and was closer to a potential main source of human born bacteria and didn’t exceed those limits.
Field Season Wrap Up Discussions
The second half of our meeting was about quick wrap up on each department’s completed or ongoing projects from the field season as well as what to except over the next few months.
Invasive European Green Crab Monitoring
Our Green Crab Monitoring efforts will continue, and you can find more about that here: Invasive Species Make Us Crabby – HIA Environmental (hia-env.org)
Environmental Education Department Updates
On the environmental education side of things, Julian Narvaez is continuing on into the school year. The main focus at the moment is the fisheries technology course and the RASOR class, classes the Hoonah High School students can take for college credit with University of Alaska Southeast. RASOR is going to be assisting in youth led scientific studies. They’ll be looking at things such as where things wash up on the beach and where to search. There are also monitoring plates in the harbor for invasive species monitoring and the students are having fun.
The Alaska Youth Stewardship program wrapped its field season recently. Julian added one of the many things that made it so special was the community support and how excited people have been to work with them. You can read more about the season here: 2022 Alaska Youth Stewards Re-cap – HIA Environmental (hia-env.org)
We covered a brief update about IGAP, which had most to do about our stream temperature monitoring network. IGAP added to the network by installing in 3 more locations. This expanded our network to include 2 loggers in the Suntaheen and Gartina watersheds. During the projects’ 3 years, we’ve only lost 1 stream logger due to high flow events which leaves our total at 11 sites. The project over the summer included going out and collecting the logger data from all of those sites.
HIA Environmental Department Update
Over the next few months, the environmental staff will be putting together a Climate Adaptation Plan. We plan to start off first by getting community feedback. The goal of the plan is to help guide us in understanding how and what is important for us to protect in our community as the climate changes. We have started out by centering our focus on traditional foods and resources as they have a direct impact on how we continue to preserve our way of life as tribal citizens.
We also would like to remind everyone we have a Tribal Local Foods Coordinator position open and have cast the net as far as we can for potential candidates. Applications are still being accepted!