Kruzof and Baranof Islands Integrated Natural Resource Management Assessment (2015)

Client Organization: 
Sitka Conservation Society
Project Location : 
Katlian Bay; Sitka, Alaska 99835
Summary of Project Idea: 

The Kruzof and Baranof Islands Integrated Natural Resource Management Assessment evaluates and offers recommendations for current management initiatives while identifying strategies for future management, restoration, and outreach plans for the surrounding area. Our project is divided into three main focus areas: Social, Restoration, and Education.

The social component of our project aims to assess the perceptions and opinions of area residents and stakeholders regarding natural resource management within the Sitka USFS Ranger District. Our team employed two methods to obtain and assess this information. First, we designed a cross-sectional survey questionnaire featuring a mix of open-ended, closed-ended, and contingency assessment questions. The survey also included a novel participatory mapping component, which collected information on areas of special significance to area residents. In September of 2014, 2,300 of these questionnaires were distributed through the Sitka Sentinel newspaper and through online surveying software. Additionally, survey results are complemented by the findings of 11 in-person and 5 telephone interviews with key public, state, and federal stakeholders from Sitka and the greater Tongass National Forest. Survey results and stakeholder analysis are synthesized with outside research on existing community forestry and firewood procurement agreements in the final report. All findings are supported by a two-week information-gathering period on the ground in Sitka and on Kruzof Island.

The restoration component evaluates restoration efforts that have been implemented since 1980 on Kruzof and Baranof Islands, and continue to play an important role in land management. Although the U.S. Forest Service continues to conduct large scale restoration projects within the study areas, the effects of past restoration projects on habitat quality have not been systematically assessed. Additionally, the natural succession of ecosystems after clear-cutting harvests are not well documented in the project study areas. The restoration assessment portion of this project aims to 1) assess the success of past restoration and 2) gather baseline information to provide monitoring data and better understand the natural succession after clear-cut harvest disturbances. This process included a bio-assessment to determine the success of past restoration and gather baseline information after clear-cut harvesting. The bio-assessment analyzed aquatic and riparian health by measuring indicators in sites that had been disturbed, sites that were left undisturbed and when possible, sites that had experienced restoration work.

The education component of this project is geared towards creating awareness of marine invasive species and the importance of monitoring ecological health. After conducting educator interviews in Sitka, we identified a need for materials specific to certain grade levels that complement Alaska State Standards. This process included the development of lesson plans for sixth grade students on area marine invasive species, along with the creation of aquatic and riparian monitoring field labs. We also compiled an extensive field guide of invasive and non-invasive marine species, which helps students understand and identify the species more easily. Overall, the educational component of this project serves to help younger generations to understand and explore ecological issues that are affecting the region. 


SEAS Program Areas: 
Conservation Ecology (Aquatic Sciences, Terrestrial Ecosystems, and Conservation Biology)
Environmental Policy and Planning
Environmental Justice
SEAS Faculty Advisor: 
Jeff Schaeffer and Bob Grese
Master Students Involved in Project: 
  • Amanda Harvanek, MS Conservation Ecology/Behavior, Education and Communication
  • Nathan Jacobson, MS Conservation Ecology
  • Gwen Oster, MS Conservation Ecology
  • Sara Cawley, MS Environmental Policy and Planning/Behavior, Education and Communication
  • Sisimac Duchicela, MS Conservation Ecology/Behavior, Education and Communication
  • Esther D'Mello, MS Conservation Ecology
  • Katie Browne, MS Environmental Justice
  • Catie Wytychak, MS Environmental Policy and Planning/Conservation Ecology
Project Status: 
Past Project