Strategic Energy Planning in Hoonah

Community members clustered around tables at the Hoonah Indian Association (HIA) community building in Hoonah on Sunday afternoon. Some had already celebrated Mother’s Day in the morning and now were here to discuss energy solutions in their small islanded-grid town of 800. Hoonah became one of five high priority areas for the Department of Energy’s Office of Indian Energy and the National Renewable Energy Laboratory when HIA was accepted into the Strategic Technical Assistance Response Team (START) program in 2015.

Participants categorize energy projects and goals for discussion

Participants categorize energy projects and goals for discussion

The first step of the program is to complete a three-day community meeting in order to develop a Strategic Energy Plan for Hoonah.  Many efficiency and renewable energy priorities were discussed throughout the three day meeting.

You can find energy data on Hoonah and all Alaskan communities through the Alaska Energy Data Gateway.

Community members discuss an energy vision with the help of moderator Paul Kabotie, Kabotie Consulting

Community members discuss an energy vision with the help of moderator Paul Kabotie, Kabotie Consulting

 

Trip Report from Community Exchange to British Columbia

As a participating member of the “Emerald Edge” program that is supported by The Nature Conservancy in Washington, British Columbia and southeast Alaska, Community Exchanges are facilitated each year to support shared learning between coastal communities on how common challenges to sustainability are being addressed by people throughout this bioregion. In addition to the photos included in the post below, click here to see the full photo album

I participated in an Emerald Edge community exchange to British Columbia along with community catalysts from Kasaan (Carrie Sykes), Kake (Loretta Gregory) and Sitka (Chandler O’Connell). Our friend Michael Reid of TNC Canada arranged the trip for us so that we could learn from folks in Vancouver, Bella Bella and Klemtu about their Supporting Early Aboriginal Stewards (SEAS) Community Initiative program, Coastal Guardian program, Qqs Projects Society and the Heiltsuk Integrated Resource Management Department (HIRMD).

The four of us flew down on Sunday night. Michael suggested we stay at Skwachàys Lodge in downtown Vancouver. This is a “Social Enterprise” that I first heard about while taking the Community Economic Development course at SFU a couple years ago. The lodge is very nice and includes an excellent native arts gallery, as well as native art throughout the lodge, including unique installations in each room. Profits from the business are used to support an artist in residence program, many of whom have artwork in the gallery.

After we checked in at the lodge we had a very “Portlandia” experience while ordering a late night dinner at a local restaurant called the flying pig. It took the waiter about fifteen minutes to go over the beer menu, complete with descriptions of the aroma, foretaste, aftertaste, overtones, undertones, etc. that was fit for a stage. By the time the waiter got to Chandler she knew to head him off before he got started and just asked for an amber. Food was good (so was the beer of course).

Michael arranged a dinner between the SSP catalysts and Coastal Stewardship Network folks in Vancouver.

Michael arranged a dinner between the SSP catalysts and Coastal Stewardship Network folks in Vancouver.

We had nothing scheduled on Monday until dinner so we each had a free day to explore the city, visit with local friends or catch up on office work. We met for lunch at a Taqueria that was a favorite for the group that participated in the CED course in 2014 (especially Marjorie).

In the evening we met with Michael, Lara and Jana for dinner and had a nice meal while we learned about the Coastal Stewardship Network (CSN) and where things are at with data management systems. We identified many common interests and discussed opportunities for a community exchange between folks who work for CSN and communities in southeast Alaska.

On Tuesday we flew out to Bella Bella. We arrived at about noon at the ~ 1,200 person Heiltsuk village and immediately jumped on a Sea Taxi to head out to Koeye (pronounced “kway”) lodge. After running for about two hours we arrived at the camp where we were greeted by Larry (Qqs Executive Director) and Chris (Koeye caretaker). The kids were all out in the field so we immediately got a tour of the facilities from Larry, including a traditionally constructed longhouse.

This is a traditional style longhouse at Koeye that the kids use for dancing, singing and other activities.

This is a traditional style longhouse at Koeye that the kids use for dancing, singing and other activities.

After the tour and getting ourselves tucked into our cabins we sat down with Larry to learn more about the history of Koeye. It was an awe-inspiring story of vision, leadership and the right thing at the right time. We learned that Koeye’s origins, like the Kake Culture Camp, stemmed from Bella Bella’s interest in doing something about teen suicide in the village during the late 70s and early 80s. Larry was originally brought to the village to help combat this issue, which soon led to a program that dovetailed a “reoccupation” of traditional territory with a family oriented approach to reconnecting with traditional cultural values in several remote cabin settings. The Koeye lodge got its start by being next to one of the first 10 cabins that were built throughout the territory. After being acquired by the Qqs Projects Society and serving a number of years providing refuge and a place for families to heal and grow stronger together, the original Koeye lodge burned down. This tragedy served to further galvanize the growing circle of people involved in this good work and they were able to raise funding to scale this work up and build the village-like facilities we see today at Koeye.

Again, same scene as the last few shots but this time including the longhouse in the foreground.

Koeye longhouse near the sandy beach at the river mouth with SEAS students from Klemtu and Bella Bella returning to camp.

There are innumerable layers of empowerment work that Larry shared with us as part of the origin story of Koeye; from the way the land and original lodge were acquired and how the new lodge buildings were constructed using local wood milled in Bella Bella, to the restoration of the hereditary chiefs’ role in community governance and growing local capacity for the community to blend traditional ecological knowledge with scientific approaches to natural resource planning; and much more, too much for me to go into here. For the purposes of this brief field report I will add that about the time the lodge was being rebuilt after the fire there was a joining of forces with the newly formed Supporting Emerging Aboriginal Stewards (SEAS) Community Initiative and together they became a stronghold for cultural revitalization on the BC coast.

Oblique view of Koeye settlement from the drone at about 200 feet elevation.

Oblique view of Koeye camp taken from the drone at about 200 feet elevation.

I ended up missing out on the first night with the kids because I passed out early and did not wake up for dinner. Oh man did I need it too. I was woken up briefly a couple times after the dinner hour: the first time by the gleeful laughter of the kids as they played various forms of tag just outside the cabin door; the second time by the voices of the kids singing traditional songs around the campfire.

Our second day at Koeye was another sunny one, even to the point of being hot! The kids headed out early to explore up the Koeye river and go for a swim. We stayed back and spent some more time with Larry before he took us up the river in a skiff to do some exploring of our own. What a fantastic estuary! And a sockeye system to boot! Brown bear and wolf tracks mixed in with the kids’ footprints on the sandy beaches near the mouth of the river. Dungeness crab scurried away from the boat as we plied the sandy shallows on the way up the estuary. Mergansers, loons, eagles, kingfishers, etc. all clear indicators of the riches that this watershed provides to its inhabitants. Larry dropped us off in a lush meadow at the upper reaches of where the tide influences the river, right next to a Grizzly Bear rub tree and set of “hot-feet” (my favorite kind of animal sign!). If Larry had not won over my heart by then, the rub tree and hot-feet would have certainly done the job:) While we were stretching our legs in the meadow I took the opportunity to fly the drone and got some cool video of this lovely spot.

Kids having fun during a swimming activity.

Kids having fun during a swimming activity on the Koeye river.

The Koeye watershed was designated by the Heiltsuk people as a conservation area through the Great Bear Rainforest Agreement. There is a detailed management plan (developed by the Heiltsuk Nation) for this and other areas of ecological and cultural significance in the Heiltsuk traditional territory that is implemented and kept up to date by the Heiltsuk Integrated Resource Management Department (HIRMD) based in Bella Bella. An overview version of this plan is linked in a paragraph below.

Looking down on Koeye from the drone at about 1000 feet. Note the lodge is situation in the second-growth forest in lower left.

Looking down on Koeye camp and watershed from the drone at about 1000 feet. Note the lodge is situation in the second-growth forest in lower left.

After returning from the boat ride up the river we had dinner with the kids. On this night, and over the course of the 3 days we spent at Koeye, I had conversations with young people, school teachers and SEAS coordinators that spoke volumes about the value of the SEAS program to them personally, and to the present and future vitality of their culture and communities. I was particularly struck by conversations I had with a few adults on the whale tail deck where they told me about how SEAS not only introduced traditional cultural practices to the young people in their schools, but also introduced these practices to many adults, including themselves. They described themselves as part of a lost generation; between where traditional cultural practices brought punishment from missionaries in the past and the cultural revitalization that is happening today.

This deck is shaped like a humpback whale tail. Nice spot to watch the sunset!

This deck is shaped like a humpback whale tail. Nice spot to watch the sunset!

We also discussed how well it was working to have kids from Klemtu and Bella Bella staying together in an environment where they couldn’t fall into the trap of isolating themselves by using their electronics or even their social cliques. We talked about how present day politics between Nations and within villages can undermine the work of cultural revitalization and recognized the power the Koeye experience could have in reducing future political conflicts by helping the young people from the different villages to form bonds of friendship at an early age. Here again the SEAS coordinators and community school teachers at camp described themselves as missing out on this kind of opportunity when they were young but also appreciating their chance to form similar bonds with the coordinators and teachers from other villages today.

Kids enjoying the feel of the drone's prop wash.

Kids enjoying the feel of the drone’s prop wash as it descends from just above them.

At Koeye lodge (and the Qqs Projects Society in general), the programs are guided by principles for youth education, environmental awareness and cultural awareness. On our third day, and the kids’ third day, the emphasis was on cultural knowledge. We started out with a leisurely morning around “the big house” with the kids playing games and me flying the drone. I also had a chance to walk the property (80 hectares) with Larry to talk about opportunities to integrate some terrestrial restoration activities as part of the programming there (the property was clear-cut about 30 years back). After lunch we all headed down to the longhouse for singing and dancing. We only had about an hour before the sea taxi returned for our departure but it was clear from watching the group learning to celebrate their culture together that the enthusiasm was sincere and that the whole experience was a kind of healing and strengthening of culture that also served to nurture future leaders who will carry on these traditions throughout the BC coast.

Shot of Chandler on the back deck of the sea taxi as we head back to Bella Bella

Shot of Chandler on the back deck of the sea taxi as we head back to Bella Bella

The ride back to Bella Bella was stunning, though a little choppy. We arrived in the late afternoon and immediately went over to the HIRMD office to meet with their staff. Kelly, the HIRMD Director, was a very gracious host and fed us dinner while we learned about the amazing array of programs and projects that they are currently managing. I was particularly impressed with their stories of restoring a local sockeye run, regaining access to herring eggs, the extensive geospatial mapping of traditional use data they have achieved, and the overall level of influence this office has over the use of natural resources in their traditional territory. Here again there is just too much to go into any detail (plus our brains were packed so full by the end of the night I am certain that I can’t remember half of what we heard) but please explore these links to learn more about the many cool projects they are working on in Heiltsuk territory.

We were invited back to the HIRMD office for a breakfast herring eggs and to share some of the work that is happening via the SSP that the Heiltsuk people may be interested in. We shared the Hoonah Native Forest Partnership, Path 2 Prosperity business plan competition, some good stories about salmon habitat restoration (a new interest at HIRMD), the success of the community carving sheds in Hoonah, Hydaburg and Kasaan, the development of the cultural tourism campus in Kasaan and overall how the SSP operates. Folks were grateful for the overview and were interested in doing an exchange to the north to learn more first hand.

Local school building incorporates native art in architecture.

Local school building incorporates native art in architecture.

At the end of our visit HIRMD Chair and Heiltsuk Chief William brought out a family heirloom; a Haida dancing apron that includes a Chilkat blanket woven in. He brought it out to show us because he knew that Carrie would be particularly interested in this item of shared heritage. While watching the group learn about the apron I was struck by how imaginary the border is, at least in some ways, between the US and BC; that in fact it is truly One Coast. Many nations have inhabited, and will inhabit the lands and waters of British Columbia and southeast Alaska – but a trip like this really drives home the basics about our connections to one another through the land and the sea, and our common interests in cultural diversity, youth education, wild food gathering and the awe-inspiring beauty of the emerald edge that we all have the great fortune to inhabit.

Larry's son recieved this apron, which incorporates a chilkat blanket, from his ancestors. We are at the HIRM office here.

Larry’s son William received this apron, which incorporates a chilkat blanket, from his ancestors. We are at the HIRMD office here.

From LEDs to Insulation, Team Electrifies Energy Discussion on Prince of Wales

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Jim Fowler auditing a shopping plaza in Craig with owner, Ken

The traveling energy team is on the move! After visiting Hoonah and Haines in June, the crew spent eight days in Prince of Wales Island. Kicking off on a Friday, it was a busy weekend as the group: Shaina Kilcoyne (Sustainable Southeast Partnership/Renewable Energy Alaska Project), Robert Venables (Southeast Conference) and Rebecca Garrett (Alaska Energy Authority), traveled with Karen Petersen (UAF, Thorne Bay) to Coffman Cove, Thorne Bay, Whale Pass and Naukati Bay, engaging community leaders and businesses about energy saving opportunities in their buildings.  We were fortunate to also be traveling in the company of Chester Carson, a Juneau native now staffing the U.S. Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee.  As such, he works closely with Senator Murkowski and was interested in learning more about the realities of energy generation and consumption in rural Alaska.  Thanks for joining us, Chester!

Retired generating unit in Naukati Bay

REAP and Southeast Conference were joined by Carolyn Ramsey of Alaska Housing Finance Corporation and Jim Fowler of Energy Audits of Alaska for the rest of the week. Working with the Chamber of Commerce, cities, tribes and businesses, Mr. Fowler provided 15 Level I Energy Audits totaling nearly 100,000 ftin just three days! As a result, they’ll receive an energy audit outlining ways to save energy.  These audits were paid for with funding from Alaska Housing Finance Corporation, the Sustainable Southeast Partnership, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Hydaburg Totem

Hydaburg Totem

The team was able to wrap up the week in Hydaburg in a productive meeting with Minnie Kadake and Jess Dilts of the Hydaburg Cooperative Association and Lisa Lang from Haida Corp, discussing efficiency and renewable opportunities in Hydaburg. Hydaburg is a beautiful community with recent infrastructure and economic development activity. They are preparing to work through the Technical Assistance Program with the Department of Energy to develop a Strategic Energy Plan.  Among other projects, Haida Energy is busy with Híilangaay (Reynold’s Creek) Hydro, which will produce 5MW of power annually.

Businesses and public commercial buildings are able to save 30% on energy costs annually with energy efficiency measures, such as lighting and controls.

Improving their bottom line may allow businesses flexibility in their budget or even allow growth.  The energy team is committed to working with these businesses in order to see them improve and succeed in their energy goals.

What do hogs and LED light bulbs have in common?

The Energy Hog in Kasaan

The Energy Hog in Kasaan

Carrie and Minnie helped organize assemblies at the Kasaan and Hydaburg schools as I brought the Energy Hog with me. What is the Energy Hog you ask? The Energy Hog is a great way to introduce students to energy use and energy savings concepts in a fun, entertaining and memorable way.  This is the second year that the Alaska Energy Authority has rented the costume and coordinated its appearance in schools around the state. Here’s footage from Energy Hog assemblies done in Angoon, Hoonah, and Kake, starring Tasha McKoy as the Energy Hog Buster. Video courtesy Tlingit-Haida Regional Housing Authority and Nathan Havey of Thrive Consulting Group:  http://youtu.be/8iDAMfs7iuk.  I’ve participated in these programs and am pleasantly surprised at how engaged the students are.  We had a lot of fun at both schools. I was also able to speak to the principals about AK EnergySmart, an Alaska specific curriculum developed by Renewable Energy Alaska Project and Alaska Center for Energy and Power with the support of Alaska Housing Finance Corporation.

In Kasaan, Carrie is interested in promoting energy efficiency opportunities for residents. We will continue to discuss the most effective ways to do this. I’ll share more about this soon. In Hydaburg, the tribe is interested in energy efficiency and district biomass heating for some of the larger, centrally located commercial buildings in town. I look forward to following up with Minnie, the Tribe and the consultants who have been looking at the buildings already. I also met with Machelle Edenshaw and Dennis Nickerson in Kasaan. They are working to build even further collaboration on energy and environmental issues among the Island’s tribes, and organize the Earth Day event on Prince of Wales. It was great to finally meet Dennis, as we have been emailing for months now. I will help them look into options to improve Kasaan’s energy independence. At the very least I hope to be involved in the Earth Day event in 2015, which draws hundreds of students Island-wide.

Carrie at OVK's new Cafe

Carrie at OVK’s new Cafe

 

Restoration monitoring with the Angoon Watershed Crew

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The crew monitoring a canopy gap in the young growth forests near Todd Cannery. Roger Williams (Angoon), Kaung Kyi (Myanmar), Scott Harris (Texas), Aaron McCluskey (Angoon)

Last week we teamed up with a watershed crew from the Angoon Community Association and the Tongass National Forest to monitor the effectiveness of restoration work on Sitkoh River and the forests near the old Todd Cannery in Peril Strait. This is our third year of teaming up with the Angoon crew and the Forest Service for this work.

In 2012, we partnered with the Forest Service to implement an in-stream restoration project in Sitkoh River. Since then we have been diligently monitoring the effects of that project.

The forest around the old Todd Cannery in Peril Strait was clearcut logged nearly 80 years ago. In 1990 the US Forest Service created canopy gaps in the young growth forests to encourage the growth of plants for deer. Mainly due to the advocacy of the late Greg Killinger (USFS) these gaps have been well-monitored. And we joined that effort last year and this year.

Besides collecting data critical to understanding the effects of restoration actions, we are involving community members from Angoon in hands-on stewardship efforts, in forests and streams within their traditional use areas.

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Roger Williams collecting a tree core to age the forest stand.

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Aaron McCluskey taking a siting with the autolevel

Kasaan Harvest Event

 

In Kasaan, a Haida community, food is culture and serves to instill a sense of pride in identity and culture. Traditional foods serve as medicines for physical, spiritual, and mental well-being and reconnect people to the land, nature, and their traditions. Revitalizing this for Kasaan people is important to understanding food origins; the relevance of traditional foods to diet and culture, and for encouraging preference for locally harvested foods.

A series of events were held in KCanoeAd-12asaan with the purpose of engaging community members in the harvesting, processing and consumption of wild and traditional foods, medicines, and materials. Additionally an evening class was offered on food preservation and Cottage Foods Businesses (led by Sarah Lewis from the UAF Cooperative Extension Service). This evening workshop was followed by a three-day harvest event led by Carrie Sykes, Kasaan Community Catalyst, and Dolly Garza, UAF professor Emerita.

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Over the course of three days 27 people (primarily from Kasaan and Hydaburg) congregated to learn about identification, proper harvesting techniques, and processing methods of wild foods, medicines, and materials. Participants congregated at the Totem Café and were transported to the sites of the plants to be harvested. Over the first two days participants learned to pick Hudson Bay Tea or in Haida, Xíl kagan, and Devil’s Club, Ts’íihlanjaaw. The kids especially enjoyed the picking of the Hudson Bay Tea, and bags were quickly filled with the fragrant, leathery leaves to be dried in the sun. Devil’s club was also harvested, and the more involved technique for processing the medicinal bark was practiced by everyone.

KassanWildHarvestSmalls (28 of 94)

Day two was filled with beach asparagus and goose tongue. An early start to the day led to a hard earned lunch and seven cases of pint jars filled with pickled and plain canned beach asparagus. We learned the importance of “pKassanWildHarvestSmalls (27 of 94)KassanWildHarvestSmalls (10 of 94)icking clean” the first time around to expedite the processing…

Dolly Garza, an expert on traditional use of marine resources by Alaska Native cultures and intertidal foods led a beach walk and shared her knowledge of edible seaweeds on the third day. Almost all of the seaweeds we found were edible and tasted great if prepared in the proper way.  Most seaweeds, with the exception of fucus can be dried and then stored in airtight containers for up to a year. Dolly brought all sorts of samples to share that she had already prepared– including kelp salsa, kelp pickles and an assortment of dried seaweeds.

Everything prepared was distributed among the participants and a portion was set aside for community events.

Check out Dolly’s book here.

Check out the identification guide created for the event here.

 

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