About

Home / About

watershed: “that area of land, a bounded hydrologic system, within which all living things are inextricably linked by their common water course and where, as humans settled, simple logic demanded that they become part of a community.”

-John Wesley Powell

The Southeast Alaska Watershed Coalition focuses on informed community watershed management and we value the long-term sustainability of Southeast Alaska’s communities and wise management of the region’s watersheds. We believe our work is important because healthy and productive watersheds are the life blood of our region’s communities, natural resource-based economies, subsistence lifestyle, and overall quality of life. We work to build the capacity of the region’s communities to implement local and collaborative approaches to the management, development, and stewardship of the region’s watersheds.

Our mission is to inspire Southeast Alaskans and support community organizations working toward the wise management of our region’s watersheds. Over the past 10 years we have done this by building the capacity of community organizations to identify, develop, and implement local and collaborative approaches to the management, development, and stewardship of the region’s natural resources. Currently we are taking our mission into the future by working to develop policy that promotes sustainably community development by incentivizing watershed restoration and enhancement in Southeast Alaska.

Our story:

SAWC was formed by a collective of Southeast Alaska watershed councils in 2005. These citizen-lead organizations recognized that by building a network of professionals and community leaders they would be more effective at sharing resources, implementing projects on the ground, and fostering awareness and stewardship of the many watersheds in southeast. SAWC’s core objective is to build a regional voice that promotes community watershed stewardship. SAWC does this by bolstering the capacity of communities throughout Southeast Alaska to implement local and collaborative approaches to the management, development and stewardship of the region’s watersheds.

Goal: The Southeast Alaska Watershed Coalition’s goal is to build a network of community-based efforts achieving informed management of the resources in Southeast Alaska

Mission: We inspire Southeast Alaskans and support community organizations working towards the wise management of our watersheds.

Vision: We envision a unified Southeast Alaskan voice that promotes the long-term sustainability of our rural communities and wise management of the region’s watersheds. We seek a balance of human and wildlife use within the watersheds in order to benefit our communities, our natural resources-based economies and our quality of life.

Coalition Staff

Rob Cadmus, SAWC EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

rob@sawcak.org | (907) 957-9818

Rob and his wife Kate live in Juneau and are both passionate about sustainability and enjoying the outdoors.  While working with the Convention on Wetlands, an international treaty promoting the wise use of wetlands, Rob facilitated restoration projects designed to provide clean water to people in Africa and Asia.  Closer to home, he protected wild places in the Tongass National Forest as Conservation Director for the Southeast Alaska Conservation Council.  He is excited to partner with the people of Southeast Alaska to bolster the long-term sustainability of communities and wise management of watersheds.  He has a Masters in Ecology from the University of Otago, focused on the restoration of coastal wetlands, and he can often be found sailing, packrafting, or skiing. 

 

Angie Flickinger, Communications Coordinator

angie@sawcak.org | (907) 302-3849

BioPhoto_AF

Angie grew up in Grand Rapids, Michigan and first came to Southeast Alaska in 2008. After traveling the lower 48 and failing to find a place that compares in beauty and character to Southeast, she returned to Wrangell in 2010 and has been there since. Over the years she has worked various field jobs with the US Forest Service and conservation corps, as well as a local wilderness behavioral health program. She earned her Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Studies and Communications from Western Michigan University and is working to promote community-based watershed management and sustainable community development throughout Southeast Alaska. Angie began working with SAWC in 2012 and loves the opportunity her position offers her to connect and work with the variety of vibrant communities that make up Southeast Alaska.
Rebecca Bellmore, Science Director

rebecca@sawcak.org | (812) 603-4910

Rebecca bio photo

Rebecca recently moved to Juneau after almost a decade in the Pacific Northwest. She’s enjoying exploring the many hiking trails, berry picking, and fishing. She’s excited to get to know Southeast Alaska’s communities and work with them to protect and improve watershed health and sustainability. Rebecca has a graduate degree in Environmental and Natural Resource Sciences from Washington State University. She has studied stream watershed nutrient cycling in the context of mitigation strategies for the loss of salmon, land use effects, and climate change.

Jess Kayser Forster, Aquatic Resource Mitigation Coordinator

jess.kayser@sawcak.org | (907) 314-3257

JessBio

Jess Kayser Forster lives in Haines and coordinates SAWC’s Aquatic Resource Mitigaiton Program. Jess has been with the Coalition since the very beginning, helping to found and direct SAWC through it’s first 5 years. Jess developed and wrote the Final Instrument for the Southeast Alaska Mitigation Fund, and currently works to engage the Army Corps of Engineers and SAMF Interagency Review Team to keep edging the SAMF toward program approval and implementation.

Lia Heifetz, Community Food Sustainability Catalyst | Sustainable Southeast Partnership

growsoutheast@gmail.com

Lia-heifetz

Lia Heifetz is the Food Sustainability Regional Catalyst for the Sustainable Southeast Partnership. She was born and raised in Juneau, left to further her education, and soon returned to call Southeast Alaska home. She enjoys spending time outdoors – hiking, biking, running, and kayaking – and all things food. If there’s growing, harvesting, catching, canning, drying, freezing, or sizzling in a cast iron skillet happening, she’s happy.

Lia runs a small consulting business, Grow Southeast, that works with regional and community based organizations throughout Southeast Alaska to increase food security. Grow Southeast works with a collective impact initiative, the Sustainable Southeast Partnership, striving to nurture resilient Southeast Alaskan communities. Within the Partnership, Lia works to strengthen and localize food systems in an effort to support long-term self-reliant communities, vibrant place-based culture, healthy functioning ecosystems, and robust local economies.

Lia works closely with many rural communities and tribes in Southeast Alaska. Lia engages community members, entrepreneurs, and organizations to identify opportunities and overcome challenges related with building sustainable food systems and businesses as a mechanism to increase economic activity in the region. Lia is also a governing board member of the Alaska Food Policy Council where she strives to connect efforts in Southeast to statewide initiatives and projects, and bring statewide resources, perspectives, and lessons learned to Southeast communities.

SAWC participates in the Sustainable Southeast Partnership, hosting Lia’s work to advance regional food security and sustainability.

Colin Peacock, Local Foods Coordinator | Colin@sawcak.org, 907-205-4028 Ext. 102

Colin spent most of his youth camping and exploring the American west, and while mostly nomadic, often called Tucson, Arizona his home. He eventually would settle in San Francisco, California where he graduated from the California Culinary Academy in 2003 with an Associates Chef’s degree. After 5 years promoting the use of local and sustainable food in kitchens, he was ready to get back into the wild. He went on to lead conservation biology field programs in places such as Namibia, the Yukon, and the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. During which he moved east to Massachusetts, and received a Bachelor’s degree in Conservation Biology from Clark University in 2011.

After graduating, he changed course once again to peruse the life of a photographer. Colin used his marketing and photojournalism skills to help sustainable development projects, local food organizations, and non-profits achieve greater results through media and marketing. Culminating in 2016, where he launched a sustainable development company of his own in the rural high plains of Peru, Pachakuti Foods.

Through all of his travels, Colin has always heard the call of glaciers and salmon. It was with great joy that he found his way back to the lush rainforests and rich coastal areas of the Alaskan Southeast. To him, there is nothing finer than doing good work that benefits local people, the environment, and food. It is an especially large honor to do so in such a wild, intact, and incredible community and place like Southeast Alaska.

Community Representatives

Nicole Kovacs, Program Manager | Taiya Inlet Watershed Council, Skagway

nicole@taiya.org | (907) 983-4068 ext 4.

NK - SAWC photo1

Nicole is from Massachusetts and first came to Southeast Alaska in 2013 working as a climbing guide in Skagway and Haines. She is now the Program Manager for the Taiya Inlet Watershed Council and Environmental Coordinator for the Skagway Traditional Council. Her projects include, Salmon in the Classroom, invasive plant management and education, and clean boating outreach. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Science from the University of Massachusetts – Amherst. Over the past few years she has worked various field jobs from studying ground squirrels in Idaho to endangered tiger beetles along the Connecticut River and as a natural resource volunteer for the National Park Service in Skagway. When she’s not working she enjoys climbing, trail running, skiing and playing in the mountains.

Meredith Pochardt, Executive Director | Takshanuk Watershed Council, Haines

meredith@takshanuk.org | (907) 766-3542

16753846119_c02f361f91_b

Meredith has worked with the Takshanuk Watershed Council since 2010 beginning as a summer intern Field Technician and then moving into the Food Security Coordinator position, where she developed and managed the Grow Strong program to promote and build a local food economy in Haines. Now as the ED Meredith is excited to bring the organization forward and develop TWC as a local resource for the watersheds we steward. She believes strongly in the power of environmental education and is excited about developing new research and restoration projects in the Chilkat Valley. In her free time Meredith enjoys exploring the beauty of the watersheds around us on boat, skis, or foot and harvesting the bounty of fish, berries, and mushrooms.

In addition to her connection to the Haines community, Meredith brings to the Coalition her skills and experience in grant writing, program management, water quality monitoring, and wetland functional assessment.

Amy Sumner, Program Coordinator | Juneau Watershed Partnership, Juneau

juneauwatersheds@gmail.com

Amy works part-time as the Juneau Watershed Partnership’s (JWP) Project Coordinator. A native of Baltimore, Amy unexpectedly fell in love with Juneau after moving here in 2000. A year later, Amy became an unpaid intern at the JWP (back when the organization was called the Mendenhall Watershed Partnership), and has continued working with the organization in various capacities since then. She received her B.S. in Marine Biology from the University of Alaska Southeast, her M.S. in Environmental Studies from Antioch University, and has a Prof. Certificate in Watershed Management from Michigan State University. She also currently serves as a member of the CBJ Wetland Review Board.

Amy brings to the Coalition her strengths in community outreach and engagement, as well as project development, design, and management.

Brandy Prefontaine, Program Coordinator | Prince of Wales Watershed Association, Naukati

pow.watersheds@gmail.com

16947306441_eb078e4650_o

Brandy Prefontaine is the Watershed Coordinator for the Prince of Wales Watershed Association, a collaborative of representative from Tribes, municipalities, businesses, and organizations from 10 communities on Prince of Wales Island. POWWA works to promote healthy watersheds and community engagement from alpine to shoreline. Brandy facilitates engagement and information sharing among the 10 POW communities with which she works.

co·a·li·tion: an alliance representing different sectors and/or perspectives to a common issue. Coalitions are formed around a common interest or problem for the purpose of uniting resources to be used toward a common goal.

The Southeast Alaska Watershed Coalition is made up of locally-led member groups that work to improve and promote the conditions of the watersheds, the economy and the quality of life in their communities.

Coalition members strive to develop a long-term vision and roadmap for achieving a comprehensive understanding of the region’s watersheds and identify creative and collaborative solutions to the challenges and opportunities that exist in achieving the informed management of our region’s watershed resources.

SAWCCommunities

Southeast Alaska Watershed Coalition Member Organizations:

Board of Directors

In order to stay true to our core principles of building a voice for communities we believe this coalition should be steered by regional leaders and community professionals working to protect, promote and restore our region’s watersheds

Ben Kirkpatrick

Ben moved to southeast Alaska in 1981 for the amazing skiing and paddling opportunities. He started working for Alaska Department of Fish & Game in 1984 and spent over 10 years as the Habitat Biologist for northern southeast Alaska, including Haines, before retiring in 2008. One of his last and favorite projects was helping to found watershed councils throughout southeast Alaska including Takshanuk Watershed Council. This work reinforced his understanding about the connection between a healthy community and a healthy watershed. He believes community involvement and participation is critical to meeting these goals. Ben is also on the Steering Committee of Rivers Without Borders, a transboundary conservation organization, and a member of the Governor-appointed Alaska Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve Advisory Council.

Malena Marvin

Malena lives in Petersburg where she commercially fishes with her partner. Malena previously served as Executive Director for the Southeast Alaska Conservation Council. She completed her Graduate Internship with the founding member groups of SAWC in 2006, and has since continued advocacy in the non-profit, grassroots based world of natural resource management in Southeast AK and the Pacific Northwest.

Steve McCurdy

Steve lives in the community of Hollis on Prince of Wales Island. With an education in Fisheries Biology from the University of Washington, Steve worked for nearly 20 years as a fisheries biologist. Most of his career has been spent in Southeast Alaska working for ADF&G and the Forest Service. Steve brings his experience and understanding of the life histories of the native salmonid fishes found in Southeast Alaska, including their freshwater habitat requirements and factors limiting their production, to council SAWC’s program and project development.