|Yellow Cedar (Xáay), spruce (shéiyi), and mountain goats (jánwu) are three species commonly used for artistic and cultural purposes including weaving and carving. While Chichagof Island lacks mountain goats, tribal members can travel to the mainland in search of the wool they’ve left behind on bushes and rocks to use when making Chilkat robes. Many other species are used in traditional art but are considered elsewhere in this document (such as animals used for their skins and furs).|
DECREASED SNOWPACK WILL REDUCE INSULATION ON CEDAR ROOTS, LEADING TO TREE MORTALITY.
While it may sound counterintuitive, the warmer winters will increase how often cedar roots freeze. Snowpack normally acts as a blanket on top of the roots and protects them from below-freezing air temperatures, but if snowpack is reduced, the roots can freeze and kill the tree. Large losses have already been documented on western Chichagof and are expected to expand in coming years, which will make it harder for community members to access the cedar they need for traditional art.
WARMER SUMMERS WILL LEAD TO SEVERAL FOREST-BASED THREATS, INCLUDING INSECTS AND THE RISK OF FIRE.
The past several summers, the Tongass has been heavily hit by infestations of blackheaded budworms, which has led to massive swaths of brown forests across Southeast. While some level of budworms is a natural part of the ecosystem, if the environmental conditions allow them to breed out of control, it could lead to increased tree deaths. While the total amount of rain in Southeast is expected to increase, increased variability in rainfall will lead to dry spells which heighten the risk of forest fires. While fires in Southeast are currently quite rare, dry spells will force residents to be more careful about their fire practices to avoid catastrophe. Scientists focusing on the interior and south central have also found that their models to predict forest fires aren’t working as well as they used to because of the variability in environmental conditions.
MOUNTAIN GOATS WILL FACE AN INCREASINGLY LIMITED RANGE DUE TO WARMING TEMPERATURES.
As an alpine species, mountain goats are adapted for cold weather and are threatened by rising temperatures. The warmer weather is expected to lead to heat stress, reduced foraging abilities and significantly less viable habitat. The summer range is expected to decline between 17 and 86 percent depending on the emissions model over the next 70 years. Increased rain on snow events throughout the winter and at higher elevations will form a thicker crust on the snow which prevents the goats from finding food underneath. Goat herds also produce fewer offspring than moose and deer and are thus slower to recover from population losses. Smaller herds are particularly vulnerable, including the three distinct subpopulations within Glacier Bay National Park. Under high-emissions simulations, all three groups are expected to be practically extinct by 2085. Because mountain goat herds tend to stay on separate ranges, there is low genetic variability which means they’ll have a harder time adapting to changing conditions than more inter-mixed species will. It is highly likely that by the end of the century mountain goat wool will be much rarer and tribal members will need to use alternative materials for weaving.
1.1: Develop strategies for Spruce/evergreen winter preparation including maintaining soil moisture levels pre-freeze, insulating roots with added mulch, avoiding deicing salt buildup near tree roots, utilizing windscreens, and protecting bark from sunscald and frost cracks using tree wraps. (1, 2)
1.2.1: Track seasonal changes to best predict when the ground is expected to freeze in a given year
1.2.2: Acquire materials to be used for winter preparation measures
1.2: Update community procedures for cases of forest fires
1.2.1: Evaluate current forest fire procedures
1.2.2: Understand the patterns of forest fire that are most likely to occur
1.3: Form partnerships with researchers and other communities in the region to further monitor forest fire risk levels and develop a network of knowledge regarding current forest fire risk levels
1.4: Educate community members about options for fire prevention and mitigation
1.5: Monitor and report blackheaded budworms and other species to the Forest Service’s crowdsourcing app, iNaturalist.
1.6: Use mountain goat wool sparingly and explore alternative fibers.
2.1: Implement Spruce winter preparation measures to increase the longevity of the trees as snow pack diminishes
2.2: Implement emergency preparedness workshops to keep community members informed of best practices in the event of a forest fire
2.3: Investigate alternative residential and community heating options
2.4: Explore how to use expected changes in vegetation for traditional practices (e.g. an increase in mushrooms in arts, medicines, foods, etc.)
2.5: Create subsistence access program targeted at elders
2.6: Generate a map of all culturally important resources located throughout and near Hoonah
3.1: Plant Spruce in areas away from roads and other heavily salted areas
3.2: Update infrastructure to be more resilient to forest fires
3.3: Invest in mental health infrastructure to prepare for any community and cultural losses that may be felt by the changing climate