EXPECT DELAYS – Lines of traffic move slowly down Sawmill Creek Road today as a repaving project progresses near the Indian River bridge. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

Sitka Foresters Volunteer Professional Skills

By ARIADNE WILL

Sentinel Staff Writer

From creating brochures on how to gather firewood on National Forest lands to nurturing rare trees, the Sitka chapter of the Society of American Foresters has been busy with both old – really old – and new trees.

Pat Heuer is the chair of the Sitka chapter, which is comprised of six professional foresters.

SAF “keeps you up to date on your profession (and) allows you to learn things from other foresters in other parts of the country,” Heuer said in an interview.

Other members of the Sitka chapter of the organization are Gregg Dunn, Perry Edwards, Carol Goularte, TJ Witherspoon, and Allen Brackley. They meet monthly and take a break in the summer, Heuer said.

Among other endeavors, the group watches over and keeps a record of Sitka’s dawn redwood trees.

The species was found in fossil evidence in 1941 and was believed to be extinct until 1944, when living specimens were found growing in China. After seeds were brought to the United States, scientists distributed them widely to see how they would thrive in different climates. The late Fred Geeslin, a career Bureau of Indian Affairs official, was in charge of the federal facilities on Japonski Island at the time, and volunteered to plant a few in Sitka. One survived.

The local Society of American Foresters members have been watching over that tree from the beginning, and have planted six seedlings propagated from it at locations around town. Three are still living, bringing the number of living dawn redwoods in Sitka to four.

“Every year or two we take a look at them,” Heuer said.

The Sentinel interviewed Heuer as he was checking up on the dawn redwood located outside SEARHC’s long-term care facility, formerly Sitka Communty Hospital.

“I always look at them when I’m in the area,” Heuer said. “But since we haven’t measured them since 2001, I thought maybe it was time to remeasure.”

He said this tree has grown only 16 feet in 20 years, but said its diameter has increased from 4.5 inches in 2001 to 16.4 inches in mid-June.

SAF also focuses on promoting good forestry practices in the Sitka area.

The Sitka chapter recently published a brochure about firewood that can be collected on public lands around Sitka. It’s available at the U.S. Forest Service office at 2108 Halibut Point Road.

The brochure tells how to identify trees by their bark, and how different species rate as heating fuel.

Perry Edwards, the U.S. Forest Service Sitka District Ranger and a SAF member, said the brochure is, in part, a response to frequently asked questions.

“One of the common questions is what kind (of wood) is what,” he said. “So we have some pictures to help people identify it.”

Pat Heuer measures the dawn redwood in front of the Sitka Long-Term Care facility recently. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson) 

The brochure also tackles questions of drying and measurement.

“Come September, we start getting cooler nights and people start going out looking for firewood,” Edwards said. “That’s next year’s firewood. That’s not this year’s firewood.”

Edwards said burning wood that hasn’t been properly dried and conditioned can lead to chimney fires. 

Heuer hopes the brochure will help people decide whether they even want to use wood as a heating source.

“The emphasis behind it was to help people understand ... the heat output of wood as opposed to electricity,” he said. “They can see the comparison and figure out if firewood is something they want to do.”

The brochure is one of many projects of the Sitka SAF chapter. Others are the annual fifth-grade Forest Education Day and an upcoming collaborative forestry project with local Boy Scout troop.

“I’ve been talking with Paul Rioux with the Boy Scouts about possibly doing a project out by the high school (portion of the) Cross Trail,” Edwards said. “We’re going to ... try and get some light back and improve the growth of those trees.”

The project would involve thinning the second-growth forest in the area, which could also result in a Boy Scout firewood sale.

Until then, Sitkans can use the SAF brochure as a guide.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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August 5, 2020

A Note To Our Readers

Reopening: Phase One:

 

On March 30 the Daily Sitka Sentinel began taking precautions against the coronavirus, which was starting to show up in Alaska.

We closed our building to the public and four key employees started working remotely. Home delivery was suspended to protect our carriers from exposure to the virus.

Four months later, the virus is still with us and the precautions remain in effect.

In appreciation for the willingness of our subscribers to pick up their daily paper at drop-off sites, the Sentinel was free to all readers, and subscriptions were extended without charge.

As of August 1 the Sentinel is once again charging for subscriptions, but the present method of having subscribers pick up their papers at designated sites will continue.

The expiration date of all subscriptions has been extended without charge for an additional four months.

We thank our readers for their support in these uncertain times, and especially those who paid for the paper despite the free offer.

We look forward to the time when we can safely resume home delivery.

To check on the expiration of your subscription or to make a payment please call 747-3219. The subscription email address is This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. . We also will be mailing out reminder cards.

The single copy price is again 75 cents. The news racks do not require coins to open, but we ask that the 75 cents for a non-subscription single copy sale be paid with coins in the slot.

– The Sitka Sentinel Staff

 

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Alaska COVID-19
At a Glance

(updated 8-7-20)

By Sentinel Staff

The state Department of Health and Social Services has posted the following update on the number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Alaska as of 11:20 a.m. Friday.

New cases as of Thursday: 53

Total statewide – 3,536

Total (cumulative) deaths – 25

Active cases in Sitka – 20 (14 resident; 6 non-resident) *

Recovered cases in Sitka – 15 (11 resident; 4 non-resident) *

The state says the cumulative number of cases hospitalized is 141.

To visit the Alaska DHSS Corona Response dashboard website click here.

* These numbers reflect State of Alaska data. Local cases may not immediately appear on DHSS site, or are reported on patient’s town of residence rather than Sitka’s statistics. 

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20 YEARS AGO
August 2000

High prices for chum salmon, low pink returns, and record numbers of fish in Deep Inlet have turned the Sitka fishing grounds into Route 66 this summer. “Overall it’s been a fantastic season so far,” said Steve Reifenstuhl, operations manager for the Northern Southeast Regional Aquaculture Association.

50 YEARS AGO
August 1970

His Beatitude, Metropolitan Ireney, Primate of the Orthodox Church in America, will head a gathering of Orthodox prelates from North American and abroad in ceremonies canonizing the first American Orthodox saints, Father Herman of Alaska. A group of Sitkans will fly to Kodiak for the event.

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