National Park Service, Sitka Tribe of Alaska inaugurate historic partnership at Sitka National Historical Park

WORKING TOGETHER: The funding for a new partnership between the National Park Service and the Sitka Tribe of Alaska was officially approved by Congress on May 7. Sitka Tribe of Alaska employees, dressed in traditional red and black, will provide tours and presentations at Sitka National Historical Park and the Russian Bishop’s House throughout the summer. They also will provide educational resources for Sitka schools on behalf of the park year-round. From left are Louise Brady of STA, Angie Richman of SNHP, and Tristan Guevin of STA. (Photo provided by Sitka National Historical Park)

The partnership between the National Park Service (NPS) and the Sitka Tribe of Alaska (STA) has now reached a new level of collaboration.

On May 7, Congress completed its review of an Annual Funding Agreement (“AFA”) under which STA now officially provides visitor services for Sitka National Historical Park. This agreement underscores our close government to government relationship between the NPS and STA as well as embraces the spirit of the Department of Interior Secretarial Priority No. 4, “Ensuring tribal sovereignty means something.”

The new agreement funds STA to hire park interpreters and other visitor service positions working under the guidance of the park’s Division of Interpretation and Education. STA has hired eight staff members who are providing tours and interpretive talks at the Totem unit and the Russian Bishop’s House, managing visitor services for those two park sites, and delivering education services on behalf of the park for Sitka’s schools.

“We are excited to begin this new and significant partnership,” said park Superintendent David Elkowitz. “Our team put in a huge effort with planning, orientation and training to help STA’s employees hit the ground running. We believe this is the most comprehensive such agreement in NPS history.”

For STA, a federally-recognized tribal government, the May 7 kick-off of the AFA marks the culmination of several years of planning and discussions with the NPS.

“We are so pleased to see the vision of our Elders established by the Tribal Council under our former chairman, Woody Widmark, come to fruition,” said STA General Manager Lisa Gassman. “Under the guidance of our current chairman Kathy Hope Erickson and STA Tribal Council, we now have tribal employees providing tours and other services to visitors on what is historically tribal land. This is an exciting step for STA and our citizens.”

STA employees, wearing traditional red and black colors and the STA seal, will provide tours, information and assistance throughout the summer visitor season and provide park interpretive operations throughout the year. “It is wonderful to be able to hire so many employees from the local community and have more in-depth cultural content shared through our interpretive programs” said David Elkowitz.

For more information about this partnership, please contact David Elkowitz at 747-0111 or Lisa Gassman at 747-7380.

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Fly Fishing Film Tour makes a stop in Sitka on Friday, May 18

The 12th annual Fly Fishing Film Tour (aka F3T) is coming to Sitka, with a stop at 7 p.m. on Friday, May 18, at Harrigan Centennial Hall for folks interested in fly fishing or films featuring the great outdoors. Sitka is one of 175 cities in 18 countries that will host the F3T this year.

With an emphasis on the stories, characters and fisheries that help make up the vast world of fly fishing, the 2018 F3T will take you from Michigan to Honduras, from Wyoming to Greenland, from the mind of child to the heart of a musician, from the edge of your seat to the end of the earth and back. The tour includes a film or two about Alaska.

In addition to showcasing world-class fly fishing films, The F3T is dedicated to supporting the local fly shops and conservation groups that form the backbone of our sport’s educational and environmental efforts. Discount F3T tickets are available at more than 150 fly shops across the country (in Sitka, contact Sitka Fish Outfitters at 738-4011).

A portion of those ticket sales go directly to support the conservation work that keeps our favorite fisheries intact, healthy and available for us all to enjoy. In 2017 F3T events raised over $500,000 for conservation and fishing-related charities. In addition to fundraising, we’re dedicated to providing a platform that builds awareness and support of groups like Trout Unlimited, Backcountry Hunters & Anglers, Wild Steelhead Coalition, Bonefish Tarpon Trust, Utah Stream Access Coalition, Stop Pebble Mine and many more.

Tickets are available for $20 at Sitka Fish Outfitters or Old Harbor Books. Proceeds benefit the Sitka Gymnastics Academy. Doors open at 6 p.m., with a variety of gear on display and a chance to talk about fly fishing before the film starts promptly at 7 p.m. For more information, contact Jamie Steinson at 738-4011 or Sitka Fish Outfitters.

• 2018 Fly Fishing Film Tour Highlights

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Sitka National Historical Park switches to summer hours on Tuesday, May 8

Beginning Tuesday, May 8, Sitka National Historical Park will transition to its summer hours of operation. This year the Visitor Center and the Russian Bishop’s House will have the same hours of operation which will be open daily from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

Ranger-led interpretive programs will be held daily at the Visitor Center, with topics focusing on the stories and legends of the totem poles, the Battle of 1804, sea otter ecology and other aspects of the park’s natural and cultural history. The park’s 12-minute film will be played on request. Master artisans will be demonstrating in the art studios on days when cruise ships are in town.

The Russian Bishop’s House Ranger-led programs of the upstairs residence will be offered every 30 minutes on the hour and half-hour, with the first program beginning at 8:30 a.m. and the last tour beginning at 4:00 p.m. The first floor hosts a self-guided museum and video that are available anytime during open hours.

Park trails are now open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Cyclists are reminded that bicycles must be walked on park trails. A bicycle rack is provided at the visitor center for those wishing to explore the rest of the park on foot. Visitors are also welcome to walk dogs on park trails, but must keep their pets on a leash at all times and dispose of pet waste properly. Park staff appreciate your cooperation with these important park policies.

For additional information, visit the park’s webpage at http://www.nps.gov/sitk or call the Visitor Center at (907) 747-0110.

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About the National Park Service. More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America’s 417 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. Learn more about Sitka National Historical Park at www.nps.gov/sitk or visit the Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/SitkaNationalHistoricalPark.

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Sitka Sound Science Center to host Field Science School this summer

Field Science School registration is now open at the Sitka Sound Science Center.

Community members and students alike are welcome to sign-up for either the entire eight-week skills course, or for just one day. Sessions take place from 9 a.m. to noon every Friday, starting on June 1 and ending on Aug. 10.

Topics range from learning how to set a bear hair snare to conducting surveys for invasive crab species. Participants can become certified field technicians if they complete the full series.

For more information and to register, contact Callie Simmons at csimmons@sitkascience.org, or visit the Sitka Sound Science Center. This program is co-sponsored by the Sitka National Historical Park and the National Park Service.

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National Parks Conservation Association to host events in Sitka on Friday and Saturday

Jim Adams and Erica Carroll of the National Parks Conservation Association will be in Sitka on Friday and Saturday, May 4-5, and will host three events in conjunction with Sitka National Historical Park and Sitka Conservation Society. The National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA) is an independent group that promotes and protects America’s National Park System.

Join Sitka Conservation Society from 6-8 p.m. on Friday, May 4, at Sitka Kitch community rental commercial kitchen (505 Sawmill Creek Road, inside First Presbyterian Church) for a potluck and a short presentation from NPCA about their work in Alaska and beyond. Sitka National Historical Park​ Superintendent David Elkowitz also will share an update on our local park leading into the summer season. This event is open to all. Please bring something to share. An RSVP is recommended, but not required.

Erica and Jim will be at the Backdoor Café from 9-11 a.m. on Saturday morning, May 5, for a meet and greet over coffee. We’ll be the strangers with NPCA hats — come say “hello.”

Finally, from 1-3 p.m. on Saturday afternoon is a National Park Youth Fair. Bring the whole family for an informal afternoon of youth activities, such as bird walks, crafts, and science explorations. There also will be booths from the National Parks Conservation Association and Sitka Sound Science Center.

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Sitka Community Playground project to host work party on Saturday, April 28

 

The Sitka Community Playground will host a work party from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, April 28, at the playground site near the Crescent Harbor tennis courts.

The Sitka Community Playground was a community wellness project from the Sitka Health Summit. The plan is to build the first American Disabilities Act (ADA)-compliant playground in Sitka.

Volunteers can rake, make plywood footing covers, and other miscellaneous tasks — which will go under rubber safety tiles — to get ready for paving next week.

Basic carpentry skills, gloves, safety glasses, and hearing protection are needed. Those planning to do the raking should bring a rake. Saw horses also are needed.

Parking is at the Crescent Harbor parking lot, the Hames Athletic and Wellness Center parking lot, and former Stratten Library, to avoid impacting events at the Sitka Sound Science Center.

The major playground build party will be held in mid-June.

Volunteers can RSVP on the Sitka Community Playground group on Facebook, or contact Bridget Hitchcock or Kay Turner at Oceanside Therapy Center at 747-1771.

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Alaskan Brewing hosts coastal waterways clean-up event April 28 at Sitka Sound Science Center

Join the Sitka Sound Science Center for a beach clean-up event sponsored by Alaskan Brewing Co. Starting at noon, the Sitka Sound Science Center will hand out trash bags and send you on your way to clean up Sitka’s beaches.

After your efforts, join us back here to at 4 p.m. to celebrate a job well done and enjoy beer and BBQ during our prize giving celebration. Prizes will be given for the largest item found and the strangest item collected, along with a general raffle drawing for everyone who participates.

For more information, contact Justine Webb at 747-8878 or jwebb@sitkascience.org.

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