Bear Witness Circle. Twelve Children and 8 adults gathered in an immense clearcut near Homer to complete this circle. In light rain they wrote blessing words on prayer flags torn from old sheets found in the abandoned cabin at the edge of the ravaged forest. The children planted baby spruce trees inside the circle formed by fern leaves and blackened, splintered shards of wood. At the center of the circle was a life-size bear mounded from living moss and lichen. We planted the "tree of life" in the center of the red-cloth heart at the bear's center and buried meaningful objects in the body of the animal. We set fire to the spruce pitch in the bear's glass eye and each spoke aloud a word of hope in simple ceremony around our creation: Resurrection, Transformation, Faith, Earth, Sun, Endurance, etc. The forest will rise again. Never again will it be cut here.
The Chugach Indians called this vast, glaciated land in South-central Alaska, the forest made from ice. Today, the Chugach National Forest, a land of grand mountains, glaciers, islands and fjords, abundant wildlife and fisheries, is clearly one of the world's most majestic intertidal ecosystems. It is also the nation's second largest national forest and, relative to others, perhaps the least impacted.While there has been some logging in readily accessible areas of the forest, huge scale road-building and clearcutting has not yet occurred. On the Kenai Peninsula, the western extent of the Chugach, a massive spruce bark beetle outbreak has recently devastated most of the forest there. A few scientists speculate years of fire control may be the culprit in the outbreak. Others say beetles may indeed be a natural cycle in a very mature, old growth forest. No one really knows.The spruce-hemlock forests on the Chugach represent the northernmost temperate rainforests in the world. At Alaskan latitudes, low solar insolation, long winters and poor, unstable soils make forest regeneration a very slow process. Clearcuts, like the one pictured above near Homer, take an exceptionally long time to heal.
Dreamcatcher Zero. "This circle and another below it that cannot be seen in this picture was built by a group of Prescott College students to call attention to the web of life and the healing power of the vortex. One could look through the hanging circle, the web of life (grass woven into an alder frame and hung from a birch damaged and twisted by heavy logging machinery) to another larger circle, the power vortex below (rocks and flowers and charcoal from burn piles in the clearcut.) The two circles speak of interconnectedness, of combining the energies of activists into a web and vortex of power and protection. They speak, also, of personal power. Whatever plans you have recently put in motion are represented in the web of life and in the swirling fingers of fate around you. For the forest, our own conscious, interconnected actions can be powerful enough to counteract those who would seek to destroy the forest. In this land made from ice, one is reminded of the healing power of time." -- Glendon Brunk, Professor, Prescott College, Arizona.
This year, Congress has proposed over 60 anti-environmental riders, 11 of them by Alaska's delegation of Murkowski, Stevens, and Young. One of the worst is the Chugach Road Rider. This would grant a 29 mile easement across the Copper River Delta to Chugach Alaska Corporation (CAC) to access their inholding. This road would cross over 200 salmon streams and jeopardize the spawning grounds of the world renowned Copper River salmon as well as the staging area for over 16 million shorebirds annually.
To join efforts to protect Alaska's forests contact:
Prince of Wales Foundation: alan stein <email@example.com
Alaska Center for the Environment, 519 West 8th, Suite 201, Anchorage, AK 99501, 907-274-3621.