My main project this summer has been to inventory a boreal forest in Tanacross, Alaska. There was a big blow down that happened a few years ago, so our objective was to go in and figure out how much wood could be harvested. We set up a stewardship agreement with the village of Tanacross, so that they could harvest the wood and use it for their bio-digester. Tanacross presented a few challenges along the way, and I have definitely had my ups and downs working this site. From the get-go, on the second day of work, I twisted my ankle scrambling over the blown down trees. While resting my ankle, we had a bigger issue. The third day of work, my fellow CLM intern, Katlyn Williard, and me realized that our plots in the GPS were off by about 500 feet each. We did not have any service in Tanacross, and had to call a BLM forester in California to resolve the issue. It was a slow process going, back and forth, from a spot we could get service to a spot with a distinguishable data point, but we finally got the problem resolved and were able to begin work again.
There are so many, intricate mysteries to the site and stories untold. Working at Tanacross is a constant look in the past. We are constantly finding relics of the time people spent in these forests. The site was disturbed in the 1940’s and used as a camp while building the Alaskan highway. From the satellite imagery, one can see where the old camp used to be by the way the forest is fragmented and compartmentalized. Working the site has me constantly curious about what times were like building the Alaskan highway.
The last thing I will say about Tanacross is that it is stunningly beautiful. The Alaska Mountain Range paints the backdrop of our site. I have seen it change from snowcapped peaks, to luscious greens in the summer, to vibrant yellow in the fall, back to being snowcapped as the fall slips into winter. Since tanacross is so far North, the northern lights are out most nights when the clouds clear, and I have been lucky to see them these past couple weeks bright and glorious.