HNFP Tech Team and Steering Committee Meet to Talk : Game Creek, Westport, and Strategy

The power of Partnership is usually best realized in face-to-face meetings! Since the Hoonah Native Forest Partnership (HNFP) began in 2015, its commitment to regular meetings is a big part of what has made it successful. On April 25th and 26th the HNFP partners came to Hoonah to meet as a technical team and steering committee. Here are the highlights!

Funding Strategies

There was a lot of discussion of how to prioritize the money from the Natural Resource Conservation Services grant that is the backbone of the HNFP. That grant has $1.2 million to spend on projects on the land in the next 4 years. Key questions for prioritizing it included:

  1. Where should the work happen?
  2. What types of projects are a priority?
  3. What is the community benefit?
  4. What is the community asking for in priorities?
  5. What is the land manager benefit?
  6. What is the land manager asking for in priorities?
  7. How much should be spent on certain types of work?

After discussion it was determined that the partnership would focus on Game Creek next. The last 6 years have been focused in Spasski Watershed, and nearly all identified projects there are complete. During our community surveying in 2016/2017 we found that Game Creek had high value to the community and also had the next most restoration opportunity.

The Partners also determined that they would focus on all of the passage opportunities in Game Creek. Passage projects help fish (a community priority) and help maintain road access (a community priority). Sealaska is currently undergoing a road management plan and having funding for Game Creek passage projects is timely for them to meet their management goals.

We expect there are ample culvert opportunities Game Creek to expend the NRCS award. Each blue dot represents a potential opportunity in Game Creek from our 2016 watershed assessments. This summer we’ll be revisiting the sites to ensure an opportunity exists there. We’ll collect new data and begin determining which passage projects are needed and the cost of those.

Planning and Needs

There was a lot of discussion around planning and new efforts. Some of these included:

  1. Riparian Gaps – this would be a new type of forest treatment around forests with young growth. The treatment would get light to the stream in areas where young growth is getting too thick in order boost stream production for fish and improve the habitat for deer and bear.
  2. Budworm Monitoring – Hoonah has halted all new thinning work for the summer until we can better understand the impact of the budworm outbreak from the last two years. There may be areas where thinning is no longer needed/appropriate due to stand mortality from the budworm. We’ll be doing extensive surveys from the ground and hopefully the air this summer
  3. Planning in Westport on the Road System – We have funding through Southeast Alaska Watershed Coalition to do work in the Westport watersheds. These will be focused on stream restoration activities. This summer we’ll be collecting data on project opportunities in Westport. We discussed the importance of Westport for deer hunters in Hoonah, and the need to maintain that road system where possible.

What Happened in 2022?

  • Restoration project in Spaski, stream that needed work with woody debris. 4 AOP sites, 1st goal was to increase stream function, 2nd was to catch the wedge of sediment that was above a double stacked culvert with the bottom one plugged and the top one perched. Replaced it with a bridge. Cameras were placed to watch the progress of the sediment properly moving down stream. This project was completed in 2 days, all hand project at the cost of about $5k. With large wood downstream, the plan is for the sediment to properly move and hold into areas that will restore the natural stream function.
  • Coho surveys to expand AWC, added 13 miles of Coho habitat focused on Spaski watershed.
  • BMP Review of Spaski heavy equipment project. Great review, project performed as expected. There were a few sites where the equipment created some ponding where the stream was accessed. Learned that the more brush and branches we can put down the better and another reminder to repair before the project is done. Some planting of spruce and hemlock occurred, typically it is seeded. The hope is that this will jumpstart the regeneration and give the conifers a head start
  • Thinning project on Wukuluk, several funding sources for this. 35 acres left to do roughly.
  • Thinning project on Spaski was finished, 700 acres for wildlife in 2 months. Contract thinning down through RCPP and TNC.
  • AYS/HNFP worked together on most of the projects and placed 2 AYS members onto the HNFP staff. Blueberry patch work to improve areas for berry harvesting.
  • 12 Large projects for HNFP this season, WFR training, inventory surveys, Game Cr. Data collection to determine priority projects. June-budworm outbreak surveys, thinning projects are halted for now until the full range of impact on the budworm outbreak is understood. NRCS is installed weather station (Snow tell) for snow/rain data. HNFP is planning to do the same on Gartina Cr. 2 stations going in this summer with plans for 2 more in the coming years.
  • Humpback Cr restoration creek. A trib. of Humpback along with some design work on the Humpback Cr. Bridge.
  • SASS funds for better deer management for Chichigof and West Ad. Bio monitoring for deer with trail cameras, relevant data collection. 5 years of funding with quarterly meetings.

Site Visits

The Tech Team visited passage projects in Spasski that were built in Spring 2023. Some of these have been in planning for more than a decade! Two bridges were put in and two culverts were replaced. We also visited a landslide spot in Spasski that came down in the December 2022, massive rain event that was categorized by the weather service as a >200 year event.

In Attendance

Ian Johnson-HIA, Samia Sevelle-NRCS, Bern Romi -Fisheries Bio USFS, Jason G-Sealaska Director of Natural Resources, Katie Russel-NRCS, Allan M-NRCS, Matt Boline-TU, Riley-TU, KK-USFS, Jeremy Johnson-HIA Forest Tech, Germain Johnson-HIA, (Online) Jackie Kragel-NRCS, Rob Cadmus-SAWC, Hank, Douglas Martin-Fisheries, KNFP, Neil Schoenfelder -USFW. Michele Metz – Land Manager for Sealaska, Rick Perkins – GIS manager for Sealaska, James Jack – Huna Totem/Sealaska, Fred Parody – COO Huna Totem., Michael Downs (USFS HRD Ranger)

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