A Sustainability Balancing Act!

The Copper River Watershed Project wins national Public Lands Foundation
 Landscape Stewardship Award

Copper River, AlaskaThis year for the first time, the Public Lands Foundation is honoring an Alaska group with its national Landscape Stewardship Award. The Copper River Watershed Project, created in the late 1990’s to benefit communities and promote sustainable development along the Alaska’s vast and sparsely populated Copper River and its tributaries, has made a positive difference promoting stewardship of BLM-managed and other public lands in the 26,500 square-mile watershed, and initiated successful educational stewardship programs.
To accomplish its programs, the Copper River Watershed Project partners with the BLM’s Glennallen Field Office and other federal, state, local communities, Alaska Native villages and corporations, nonprofits, and volunteers.  Its innovative approaches are helping local residents to balance their salmon- and subsistence-based economies with healthy ecosystems throughout the watershed and working toward future sustainability.  The project has successfully increased public awareness of the need to care for the watershed and its landscapes, the importance of the area’s cultures and history, and expanded the focus on its ecosystems and quality of life.
The Copper River Watershed Project sponsors several programs, including the Copper River Watershed Stewardship Program for area high school youth; FishWatch; fish habitat restoration projects such as a Gulkana River fish viewing platform to protect the sensitive salmon habitat or improved ATV trails on Fish Creek that reduce salmon stream crossings; tourism infrastructure such as wayside interpretive signage about the ecosystem; artists for nature; recycling; Growing Wild; and Trans-Alaska Pipeline System involvement where it crosses through the watershed.  The project trained and managed volunteers to collect water quality and human use data in Copper River watershed.  It used an efficient and cost-effective culvert-ranking protocol and mapping tool to help agencies and land owners prioritize culvert replacements to benefit fish passage and better protect against soil erosion.

The Public Lands Foundation is the only national membership organization dedicated solely to the protection and perpetuation of the National System of Public Lands under the administration of the BLM. It is a national nonprofit conservation organization whose members are primarily retired and active BLM employees.