|Wild berries are a key source of fresh fruit for all rural Alaskans and berry picking is one of the highlights of summer for many families. Berry picking not only helps tribal members avoid dependence on store-bought produce, but also allows for recreational opportunities and intergenerational communication. Commonly harvested species include blueberries (kanat’á), salmonberries (was’x’aan tléigu) and huckleberries (tleikatánk). Despite harvesting nearly 32,000 pounds of berries in 2017, 25 percent of families in Hoonah reported not getting enough vegetation. Tribal members reported being the most concerned about the availability of berry bushes near town, the quantity of berries on each bush, and risks from insects. There were also concerns about urban development harming berry patches and increased variability in the timing and availability of berries|
THE LENGTH OF THE BERRY GROWING SEASON IS EXPECTED TO INCREASE AS TEMPERATURES WARM, BUT THE TIMING OF THAT SEASON IS LIKELY TO CHANGE.
When berry bushes produce fruit is highly dependent on temperature and increases and variability in weather is likely to shift berry production times. In Kodiak, when the berry season and salmon season shifted and began to overlap, bears preferred eating berries to catching salmon. That meant increased harvest competition for humans, and fewer fish making their way to provide nutrients to the forest. Farther north, harvesters in the YK Delta have reported up to 75 percent decreases in the abundance of certain types of berries. This makes findings in Maine, where blueberries grown in artificially warmed plots had smaller fruit and leaves. The timing of seasons may also increase risk of plant death; several community members reported that the seasons seemed to transition faster now than they previously had, which can prevent plants from taking the time they need to store energy before winter.
PESTS ARE LIKELY TO PREY ON BERRIES MORE IN WARMER WEATHER.
Warmer temperatures are likely to expand the range, lifetime and reproductive rates of many species. Insects that previously died off in winter due to lower temperatures may be able to survive in the future.
INCREASED PRECIPITATION MAY HAVE VARIABLE EFFECTS ON BERRIES.
Increased rainfall will likely encourage plant growth but decreased snowfall may lead to more competition from deer if the branches are exposed throughout the winter. A study on low-bush cranberries, lingonberries and crowberries found a much higher loss rate of fruit in areas with less snow. Increased rainfall can also increase the risk of berries developing certain diseases. When their roots become waterlogged, it gives bacteria the opportunity to travel more easily and infect new plants.
LOCATIONS OF BERRY GROWTH ARE LIKELY TO CHANGE AND BECOME MORE VARIABLE.
A state-wide survey found that blueberries and cloudberries were the most impacted by that variability.Community members have reported that many of their favorite berry spots close to town have been reduced or eliminated due to increased urban development. Fuel cost, age, and vehicle availability can all make it more difficult to go out the road to harvest berries, which may be required in future years.
INVASIVE SPECIES MAY PROVIDE COMPETITION FOR BERRY BUSHES.
A study from UAF found that when pollinating insects were given the choice between invasive sweet clover and native berry bushes, they preferred the clover. As invasive species are expected to expand in range and diversity with climate change and increased travel throughout the region, invasive species may pose a threat to berry bush reproduction.
THE QUALITY OF BERRIES MAY CHANGE.
Scientists in Maine found that blueberries grown in warmer conditions accumulated more sugar and often got bigger than blueberries grown in cooler weather. Micronutrient decreases have been observed in several types of cultivated crops and may impact berries in the future.
1.1: Continue youth-led programs for blueberry patch enhancement near town.
1.2: Research possibilities for transplantation or enhancement of other berry types to more accessible areas.
1.3: Organize community harvesting events for youth, families and elders.
1.4: Communicate the locations of particularly abundant and accessible berry patches to community members, especially to individuals without car access or with mobility problems.
2.1: Develop citizen science efforts to monitor berry timing, availability and condition
2.2: Create designated areas for berry production and encourage community management of these areas
2.2.1: Include the development of trails in these areas to increase accessibility
2.3: Monitor water usage and availability
3.1: Investigate effective watering systems to promote berry growth throughout Hoonah
this was from the community event, but i’m not sure what this would help with – I don’t remember this specific conversation from the event