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Takshanuk's program areas include Watershed Education, Habitat Restoration and Applied Research. Each of these areas provides a means to accomplish the vision of the council which is to to promote the recognition and sustainability of the healthy, natural ecosystems within the area. Through our research initiatives, we hope to attain a better understanding of the watershed’s ecology. We use this information to inform Watershed Education which encourages good stewardship of the streams, rivers, lakes and lands of the area. We seek a balance between human and wildlife use within the watershed and restoring degraded or inaccessable habitat helps the restore the balance.
Takshanuk's Watershed Education program includes programs for learners of all ages and abilities. Haines School students are served by the Living in the Forest program, supported by the Haines Borough. Our education programs include everything from exploring the life cycle of pacific salmon with pre-school age children to taking real data with the Haines High School Citizen Science class. Watershed Weekly audio podcasts and video series are other ways to explore the watersheds on your own. The audio series is available on the website with Teachers Guides.
Healthy fish habitat is key to the productivity, and in turn the economy, of our local fisheries. TWC works to identify areas of degraded or blocked habitat and create restoration plans for their improvement. TWC has partnered with NOAA, US Fish & Wildlife Service and the Haines Borough on several projects to increase access to fish habitat through the replacement of culverts known to block upstream access. Coho salmon fry habitat access was increased by up to 1/4 mile at Muskrat Creek near the Chilkat River in 2004. A culvert on Comstock Road that carries a branch of Sawmill Creek will be replaced in early 2011. A stream bank restoration and habitat enhancement project was completed on a larger scale at Big Boulder Creek in 2008 and 2010.
Takshanuk's applied research programs are aimed at helping communities of the Takshanuk Watersheds make informed development and conservation decisions. Our work to catalog anadromous fish presence in the area helps to identify areas that were previously unknown and unprotected. Eagle counts by local citizens help monitor the migratory seasonal populations and ongoing fish trapping data above and below culverts shows how fish are moving through new culverts. Reporting of invasive species is also an important function of the Citizen Science program. If you would like to share your observations of the Chilkat Valley, please use this form.
Since 2003 Takshanuk Watershed Council has been providing elementary, middle and high school students in Haines with vivid experiences on a small but important piece of habitat near their school. In April of that year TWC completed a restoration project on private property as an educational experience for local citizens and students. With the permission of the landowner, Phyllis Brown, a branch of Sawmill Creek was re-routed from a roadside ditch into a more natural constructed stream channel on the property. Students helped trap and move Coho salmon, cutthroat and Dolly Varden fish from the old channel to the new. Post-project monitoring by TWC continued with the help of students from the Haines Schools tracking the movement of fish in the area and monitoring stream health at the project site.
The purpose of TWCs project was, and remains, to provide a permanent outdoor science laboratory for all Haines Borough school children through the acquisition and conservation of the 1.58 acres of land. In 2009, Ms. Brown offered the parcels for sale to TWC and the council agreed to purchase the property. Little land remains undeveloped in the Sawmill Creek watershed and this riparian habitat is an important area to conserve and protect. Protected salmon habitat located within walking distance of the Haines Schools is not found elsewhere in the area. The Sawmill Creek Outdoor Education Lab has become the centerpiece of TWC's outdoor education program. It provides a safe, convenient and permanent space for ongoing natural history, ecology, and watershed science classes for educators and students of all grade levels. The lab will expand the capacity and capabilities of science classes by expanding ways to teach concepts as well as the possibility of alternative education for students. The children have invested their interest in the Lab, from the initial stream restoration during which they performed 'fish rescue', transplanting 200 juvenile salmon and trout from the old streambed into the new, to the re-vegetation along the banks and trash pick-up. A student can pick out the willow that he or she helped to plant, and track its survival and growth, year after year. Stewardship of the stream is literally in the hands of the children, with the help of TWC.