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Copper Center, AK - The Alaska Department of Fish and Game Division of Subsistence, working with the support and partnership of the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park and Preserve, will be surveying residents of four Copper Basin communities this winter and spring about their subsistence harvest activities. The survey effort will start in the Kenny Lake/Willow Creek area January 18, while the additional communities of Gakona, Chitina, and McCarthy will be surveyed later in the spring of 2013. A similar survey took place in Chistochina in 2010 and in the communities of Copper Center, Slana, Mentasta Lake, and Mentasta Pass in 2011. The Chistochina report is now complete while the report for the 2011 study year is in the process of being finalized.
The main purpose of the survey is to provide up-to-date information on the estimated harvest, sharing, and use of wild foods in the area. Information on where and how resources are harvested will be collected as well as information on community subsistence economies. Many of the questions concern harvests of the past year, but researchers are also interested in whether and how subsistence harvests might have changed in recent years and any other issues of concern for area residents. Survey results will assist state and federal resource managers in their subsistence management responsibilities and will also be used by local and regional advisory councils in making recommendations regarding the fish and wildlife management in the region.
This project involves a survey documenting households' subsistence harvests and activities, followed by analysis of the data, review of the survey results by participating communities, and the publishing of a technical report. Participation in the survey is voluntary, although research staff hopes that most people will be willing to be interviewed. The data will be collected in such a way that the names of households or families are not associated with the results. In other words, no individual household will be identified and all who participate will remain anonymous.
Preliminary findings from the first two study years indicate not just a continued reliance upon wild resources, but it appears that the harvest of subsistence foods by Copper Basin residents has increased since the last survey of this sort was conducted in 1987.
For additional information, contact Barbara Cellarius, the park's subsistence coordinator, at (907) 822-7236, or Robbin La Vine, ADF&G Division of Subsistence, at (907) 267-2362.