Sealaska’s Haa Aaní Board of Directors held its quarterly board meeting in Klawock on Thursday, June 1 to discuss land management strategies and review operational goals for the year. Haa Aaní is responsible for Sealaska’s land holdings in Southeast Alaska, including land management activities such as ensuring access for hunting and fishing through road maintenance and other infrastructure, and the selective harvest of trees and bark for cultural purposes.
The board meeting included a tour of an active stream restoration at Big Salt Lake, located about five miles north of Klawock. The project will help improve the environmental health of tributaries that feed into the lake. The project was led by local crews, including the Klawock Indigenous Forest Partnership forestry team, and students in the Alaska Youth Stewards (AYS) program will continue restoration activities later this summer. The AYS program provides workforce development opportunities for local youth to gain hands-on experience working alongside experts in the fields of forestry, watershed management, ecology, and mariculture. Sealaska provides financial support to the program and provides training and career development opportunities to participants.
“Science-based salmon habitat restoration projects like this one are a great example of how community forest partnerships can have a direct and positive impact on the ecosystems around us,” said Jason Gubatayao, General Manager of Haa Aaní.
Through Haa Aaní, Sealaska invests in balanced land management — a strategy that helps to stimulate growth in local economies as well as growth in our forests; revitalize both fish habitats and culture; and build relationships as well as projects to support a strong future.
The second quarter board meeting also included a review of the cedar log stockpile near Klawock. These logs have been set aside for cultural use and are made available for donation requests from carvers and other artists. The Haa Aaní Board of Directors also had the opportunity to learn more about the company’s Carving and Bark Program, which provides cedar wood, bark and totem logs to shareholders for cultural art practices. In addition to harvesting logs for large carving projects like totem poles and canoes, Sealaska’s Carving and Bark team ships thousands of pounds of yellow and red cedar each year to art and educational programs across the region. So far this year, the team has donated 900 pounds of cedar wood and two totem logs.
The meeting was held at the Prince of Wales Vocational and Technical Education Center (POW VocTec) in Klawock. The center plays an important role in helping shareholders on the island gain access to education, training and hands-on skill building. The center is designed to offer a diverse range of vocational and technical training programs, equipping participants with practical skills that align with the needs of local industries.
As Sealaska has transitioned out of commercial timber harvesting, we remain committed to investing in our people and communities, providing workforce and economic development opportunities to shareholders on the island that previously had timber-based economies. As a part of this commitment, Sealaska provided full funding to the POW VocTec Center to hire a full-time executive director. Director Charles “Chas” Edwardson has helped increase momentum toward goals that include strategic planning, community surveys to identify workforce needs, development of curriculum and trainings, and fundraising for the center — all efforts that help provide long-term stability to the on-island workforce.
The board also reviewed an upcoming carbon credit opportunity through the Carbon Offsets Program, Sealaska’s third. By managing our forests under the carbon credit program, our lands are available to support recreation and tourism, maintain water quality and preserve salmon habitat, all while providing income to support the benefits enjoyed by our shareholders. Sealaska has seen credit issuance income from two finalized projects already.