Monday, February 10, 2014

The Kuskokwim Region Represented Well at the 16th Annual Alaska Forum on the Environment

 
 
With over fifty exhibitors and booth locations, five days of presentations, and a three day film festival, the 16th Annual Alaska Forum on the Environment did not disappoint.  I wouldn’t even touch the surface if I tried to share the entire wealth of knowledge that I gained from this year’s event.  Instead, I’ll just touch briefly on some of the presentations about our region that made the cut! 
 
AFE was held from February 3-February 7, 2014.   On Monday, Mike McCrum from BLM gave a presentation on the proposed 2014 action at the abandoned Red Devil Mine site to prevent tailings with high concentrations of mercury, arsenic and antimony from migrating into the Kuskokwim.  The BLM is currently planning community meetings on the Kuskokwim to further discuss this action.  More information on that can be found at http://www.blm.gov/ak/st/en/fo/ado/hazardous_materials/red_devil_mine/rdm_cercla_remedial/rdm_cip___tribal_consultation.html. 
 
Invasive species in rural Alaska and their impacts on subsistence and agricultural resources were discussed in a session on Tuesday.  Interested in learning more?  Try here: http://www.uaf.edu/ces/cnipm/.  There was a presentation later that day focusing on how people in the Kuskokwim River watershed are adapting to climate change.  From what I read, climate models indicate that changes will continue to accelerate into the future.  Presenters were from the Geos Institute and KRWC – contact them for more information! 
 
I wasn’t able to attend that session since I was in another room, giving a presentation during the Tribal water quality projects session, on the middle Kuskokwim River water quality database, which is housed at the GTC office in Anchorage.  Currently, water quality data from Sleetmute, Georgetown, Napaimute, and Kalskag are included – and following the presentation I was encouraged by the fact that there are several other villages on the Kuskokwim who will be including their data into the project as well.  Visit our website for more information! 
 
During a session on Thursday, Ben Balivet and Sophie Chaliak from AVCP discussed educational outreach to their communities on climate change in order to begin planning their responses. Contact AVCP at 1-800-478-3521. Also later that day, folks from the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services discussed the high levels of methyl mercury in pike and burbot in the middle Kuskokwim River, and how these levels are enough to be a public health concern. Check out this poster for some more information: http://www.epi.alaska.gov/eh/fish/MercuryPikePoster_NorthwestAK.pdf. 
 
The Telida Village Council was sharing information from their booth about a very well developed curriculum focused on topics of importance to the Upper Kuskokwim River.  To view the curriculum, check out their website: http://ukpreservation.com/environmental-curriculum/

All and all, I’d say the Kuskokwim region made a great showing at this year’s Alaska Forum on the Environment. Hopefully you’ll find these resources helpful, as I did at this year’s conference.  See you next year!

 

 

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