With support from SEACC, naturalist Bob Christensen, U.S Forest Service scientists and community members will begin surveys of Kennel Creek to assess the lingering impacts from past logging on salmon and deer habitat, the success of past forest restoration efforts and the area's ability to maintain healthy deer populations throughout the winter. They will also study potential trail locations and how suitable existing old growth stands are for future logging.
"This project is an excellent example of how forest users who have been traditionally at odds can work together to manage the land in a way that provides the community with a healthy forest, improved subsistence opportunities and steady jobs," said Russell Heath, SEACC's executive director.
The Kennel Creek restoration assessments this week will be the first on-the-ground work based on the collaborative Hoonah Community Forest Project Community-based Resilient Landscape Design report published in May 2008 by Christensen and SEACC.
The report stems from a February 2007 meeting in Hoonah where local residents, including customary and traditional land users, tourism operators, the owner and six employees of the local mill, Icy Straits Lumber, and others discussed their desires for future logging to have a smaller "footprint" than in the past and at the same time to keep the local mill running.
The report says, "The Kennel Creek watershed provides an excellent opportunity to experiment with mixing pre-commercial thinning with thinning for improved deer habitat and riparian forest conditions."
This would allow a reasonable amount of timber for the mill and at the same time would help the forest, salmon and deer to bounce back from the effects of past clear cutting.
In addition to the Forest Service scientists, Christensen hopes to have help this week from a local teacher, children volunteers and other members of the community. Christensen and SEACC will host a community meeting to discuss the project on June 26 in Hoonah.