HSC : December 2023 meeting highlights Landslide research and community-driven projects

The Hoonah Stewardship Council met in December for two meetings – one aimed at helping prioritize community projects for $30,000 in funding and the other to get an updates on the landslide research happening in Hoonah through the Khuti network.

Community priorities meeting :

In attendance :  Elizabeth, Faith, Jackie, Ian, Erica, Ernestine, Ben, Niccole, Jeromy

The goal of this meeting was look at all of the project ideas that have been submitted and answer three questions about them : Why is the project needed? What would this project do? What would the outcomes be? Over the course of an hour we worked through

  • Disaster Planning, climate risk analysis
    • Need : We do no have a disaster plan right now, need a plan for the wellbeing for the community
    • Outcome : create a plan for large natural disasters, wildfire, oil spills or cruise ship/oil tank catastrophes, Hoonah could be a leader on this issue
    • Questions : How can we get City involved? Can we adapt the USFS disaster plan? 
    • Elizabeth sees climate change connection in the angle of how risk and disasters are expected to change due to climate change
  • Mudslide/Landslide Monitoring, partner with Sitka
    • Need : Hoonah is unmapped and in a potential landslide area
    • Outcome : Increased safety for homeowners, an emergency plan, a map of landslide risk, a safety alert network
  • Green Crab Invasives (and invasives broadly)
    • Need : green crabs could be coming anytime and we need to catch them early
    • Outcomes : regular monitoring for crabs using minnow and light traps (jobs), protecting our coastal food system (crab and shellfish), protect environment, protecting commercial and private industries
    • potential 2024 RASOR program student research project on green crabs
    • connection to climate change through potential to destabilize already at risk coastal areas
    • Question: What can be done about the black slugs? How bad are they for our environment?
  • Wild Berries
    • Need : increase the food that people pick and eat, support cultural harvesting, increase opportunities for elders, berries are declining as young growth disappears
    • Outcome : We have a place to raise wild berries, like a garden
    • Questions : how do we integrate this in town? How do we make this more accessible in town? How do we implement this as a cohesive recreation strategy? 
    • Work related to berries going on around Alaska (we can reach out to UAF scientists if we want to get information about other berry projects): https://alaskapublic.org/2023/09/20/new-berry-booklets-for-alaska-pickers-combine-traditional-knowledge-and-science/ 
    • Elizabeth sees relation to climate change with expected changing conditions for berries in future years/decades
  • Black Seaweed Seeding
    • Need : Harvesting are far away and not diverse
    • Outcome : closer harvest sites, greater site diversity, learning on how to steward black seaweed
    • QUestion : what is temperature difference in sites?
  • Improve fish cleaning area at harbor
    • Need : current fish cleaning contributes pollutant into the harbor and increases bear attracting
    • Outcomes : improved cleaning areas for harvesters, and decreasing bear food in town
  • Mapping graves at Pitt Island and providing a facelift
    • Need : graves are unmarked, not well maintained right now
    • Outcome : better public safety, Cultural revitalization, ATVs can transfer coffins and people, coastal stewardship
    • Elizabeth sees connection to climate change in terms of need to stabilize in the face of increasing extreme weather brought on by climate change (ex. tree fell on totem pole)
  • Establish recycling center
    • Need : we don’t do this right now, anything that we don’t recycle goes into the burn pit
    • Outcomes would be : healthier air and soils, healthier water, less leaching out into the ground, less trash going into the burn pit extending life of the landfill, more opportunity to reuse things – for instance cardboard boxes have many uses
  • Compositing –
    • Need  – Increase health of soil, There are a lot of people in town that cannot do that anymore, Mitigating bear conflict issues
    • Central location for people to compost and access compost
    • Increased opportunity for gardens, decreased bear conflict, great food security, increased food sovereignty, Increase local participation and being a part of the solution to bear conflicts and local gardening
    • Question : can we add cardboard to this? Can we worm farm with this? Who could be partners in this?
    • Faith has verma worms
    • Elizabeth sees connection to climate change through the food security/sovereignty angle

Projects we have heard about but didn’t get to :

  • City Water Assessment for Advance Notice to Support City Decision-Making
  • Snow Pack Monitoring
  • Stream Temperature Monitoring Network, Spaaski
  • Shellfish population data
  • Foods
  • Herring Re-introduction
  • Smokehouse Program
  • Whale monitoring
  • Vet Clinic
  • Remove cards from yard
  • Fixing Gartina River
  • Cross Country Ski Trails

Next meeting to continue to discussing these is at 2:30 PM on January 18th!

Landslide Meeting

In Attendance : Annette, Elizabeth, Erica, Jackie, Jennifer Nu, Niccole, Jeromy, Ben M

Annette Patton from Sitka Sound Science center provided a detailed review of where things are at with the Landslide monitoring network and research in Hoonah. Below are slides from her presentation and a few key takeaways.

  • Landslide network : Expand risk management and geo hazard monitoring
    Expand monitoring networks and risk management tools for extreme precipitation
  • Atmospheric rivers can bring A LOT of precipitation
  • The questions : WHERE do Landslides happen? When do they happen? Very difficult to know where it will happen. The current literature looks at where something and happened, but that can be hard to transfer to the future.
  • Lately there has been increases in our ability to measure how wet soil is which is helpful for landslide monitoring
  • Sitka has already done a lot of work, and its summarized at sitkalandslide.org
    Uses rainfall characteristics to know when landslides are possible/likely
  • There are many impacts beyond landslides! Food systems, ecological system, biologist, salmon, more
  • Local knowledge is critical to understand these various aspects, provide to research. Working with communities is super important!
  • Question : jackie : Excited to hear about the study. What can be done for prevention if you know there’s a risk? Answer : need to have a good understanding of where it could be. That’s not always easy. However, in SE AK it can be hard to know where they are likely to happen. If you have that information what do you do about? Few things you could do. How far into the future do you want to plan? Plan development and infrastructure out of harms way. If there’s a spot that you are particularly worried about there’s engineering you could do : adding drainage, adding reinforcement, reduce the risk of a landslide, you’ll see that in the L48 on the highway system in areas that have multiple landslides. In the very near future you can evacuate or move but that requires a warning system.
  • Jackie : have a map that has a history of landslides and where they are at risk
  • City is being proactive on this issue, We are presenting at planning and zoning in January
  • There can be pushback, so know that in advance and prepare for that.
  • Is there a relationship between avalanche areas and landslides? Are all landslides in formerly logged areas?
    – There can be overlap there. Seasonal vs longterm buildup. Avalanches occur at prominent points of slopes so the snow isn’t supported. Landslides happen in the holes of a slope because they accumulate sediment and soil. The water pools there.

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