Real Progress Is Being Made
A total of 5 foresters representing several organizations have visited Napaimute this summer to observe our timber harvesting operation and to provide technical assistance. This might be some kind of record for forester visits to a community – especially for the Middle Kuskokwim.
Most recently, Rick Jandreau from the State of Alaska Division of Forestry and Ben Seifert and Eric Geisler with BLM Alaska spent 3 days with us. It was, once again, very rewarding to spend time with professional people with vast expertise in the field of forestry. Many things were learned during these 3 days that can be applied to future timber harvests in the Middle Kuskokwim by Napaimute personnel.
The first day the three foresters spent observing our timber operation. We were fortunate that there was a barge in Napaimute to pick up wood so they got to see the end product of all our work: barge loads of locally harvested wood heading for customers on the Coast. Later, they spent time with Administration reviewing draft timber sales agreements our Council is currently considering. Since this was the first time Napaimute’s leadership has looked at a timber sales agreement for areas beyond tribally-owned lands, their input was especially valuable.
The second day they observed the actual timber harvest and spent time talking with our crew about ways to improve the harvest and how to better manage the slash (branches, brush, etc.) for better natural regeneration. The remainder of the day was spent looking at additional parcels available for timber harvest in the immediate Napaimute area.
Day 3 was long day on the River and in the woods as we all traveled downriver to look at potential timber harvest parcels on State and BLM land. Working side by side with the Foresters, our Environmental Director and I learned much about our forest resources that we weren’t aware of before. We learned how to calculate the volume of timber per acre by doing a 1/10 acre sample plot – trees in this relatively small area are counted and their diameters and heights are measured. Comparing this small sample to aerial photographs, foresters can accurately determine the volume of timber over a particular area. In addition, they aged some of the trees to examine their health and to determine where they are in their life span (many were at least 150 years old).
We also learned to recognize the signs of bark beetles attacking spruce trees; numerous trees were observed with bark beetle damage in each of the different areas we covered.
All in all these were very valuable days as our knowledge about the Middle Kuskokwim forest resources grew and will result in better manage of our local resources.
We sincerely appreciate the time Rick, Ben, and Eric spent with us.