PETERSBURG, Alaska, August 7, 2018 – The U.S. Forest Service will be hosting a recognition ceremony at the Mitchell Creek Fish Pass on August 16th, 2018, at 2 p.m., in honor of the late John Pickens, to celebrate the long-standing partnership the Tongass National Forest holds with the Student Conservation Association (SCA), and the rebuilding of the fish pass.
The original fish pass was built in the summer of 1992, on Kupreanof Island to allow coho salmon access to an additional 26 miles of stream and nearly 10 acres of lake and pond habitat past the barrier on Mitchell Creek. This fish pass is the only one of nine on the Petersburg Ranger District to have been built specifically to increase local sport fishing opportunities. The construction was completed with the assistance of a team of SCA interns.
Early in 2017, exactly 25 years after the Tongass NF initially worked with the SCA to construct the fish pass, forest officials decided to replace the structure with a sturdier, thicker-walled replica of the original. Again, they turned to SCA for support, offering six natural resource interns the opportunity to earn valuable experience on the project. Two of the SCA interns brought on for the fish pass reconstruction are the sons of SCA interns who helped build the original in 1992. Both father and son pairs will be attending the event.
The plaque being placed on the new fish pass is in memory of John Pickens, a 20-year Forest Service employee and Petersburg resident, who passed away in 2015. His years of work in the forest and role as guide and mentor for SCA interns during his career made the fish pass a fitting dedication.
“John was the best guy to work for. He’d spent a lot of his life doing construction work, and through that, had collected no end of funny stories and anecdotes to keep everyone happy,” said Joe Stratman, lead crab biologist for the Alaska Department of Fish & Game, who worked for John as an SCA volunteer in 1993. “John, and the experience he provided me, is a major reason I settled in Petersburg. I’m glad that he lives on in the work he did on the Tongass National Forest.”
The event will not be open to the public, due to safety concerns associated with the active construction site. Forest Service employees, SCA representatives, family of John Pickens and a few representatives of the media will attend the event. Visitation to the site will be possible when construction is complete.
For more information about the event, contact Eric Castro at 907-772-5924 or [email protected]
For more information on the legacy of the fish pass, read the three-part feature on the SCA website here (Fathers’ experience), here (Sons’ experience), and here (John Pickens). Time lapse videos of the demolition and reconstruction of the Fish Pass can be found on the Tongass NF Facebook page.
The Tongass National Forest is nearly 17 million acres and is the largest, intact temperate rain forest in the world. The forest a major economic resource to the communities of southeast Alaska, providing considerable employment and revenue through industries like tourism, commercial fishing, timber, mining and more. These sectors contributed 12,719 jobs regionally and accounted for more than $539 million in annual labor income in 2017. For more information about the Tongass NF, visit www.fs.usda.gov/main/tongass/home.
The Student Conservation Association is America’s oldest and largest youth conservation service organization. SCA conserves lands and transforms lives by empowering young people of all backgrounds to plan, act, and lead, while they protect and restore our natural and cultural resources. Founded in 1957, SCA’s mission is to build the next generation of conservation leaders, and 70% of its 85,000 alumni are employed or studying in conservation-related fields. For more information, visit www.thesca.org.
For interviews and information to be used for publication, or to RSVP to cover the event, contact the Tongass Public Affairs Officer at 907-228-6201 or [email protected]