Hey, I’m Maranda, a Tlingit from Keex’ Kwaan, Kake, and a lifelong resident of Southeast Alaska. I was raised on Prince of Wales Island and grew up like any other rural Southeast island kid. I spent my summers at culture camps and catching salmon with my sister at the creek with just a dip net and our bicycles. On the weekends, our dad would take us sportfishing for king salmon, but if the fishing was slow we would go hunting. I consider myself incredibly lucky to have grown up with the inherent knowledge and traditional values passed down to me.
As a young adult, I worked as a deckhand longlining and salmon purse seining. On the F/V Silver Dawn, we went as far south as Dixon Entrance and north to Juneau. We traveled from fishing communities with huge cruise ships to small villages with just a dock to tie up to for the night, to untouched bays and islands stretching across the region.
This is how I began to see just how unique Southeast truly is and learned why some places should remain untouched and protected.
In 2016, I sought out more. I started a position within a local Tribe’s environmental department. I spent five years working specifically on local, Tribal, and regional environmental issues. There, my passion for protecting our lands, waters, and resources became more ingrained as I developed a stronger understanding of our region’s history and environmental changes.
I then started looking for roles that would allow me to be fully involved in conservation and community organizing. I was thrilled, to say the least, when SEACC asked me to join them as the Tongass Forest Program Manager in March.
Since, the Tongass program has increased awareness and petitioned against the timber bill called SB85 in the Senate and HB98 in the House — a bill that tried to open the door to round log export, in turn risking hurting local jobs and forcing small timber operators to compete with global markets.
We celebrated the state’s long overdue recognition of Alaska Tribes, the House passage of the Roadless Area Conservation Act, and the signing of President Biden’s Earth Day Executive Order — Strengthening the Nation’s Forests, Communities, and Local Economies — which directed the Department of Interior and Department of Agriculture to create an inventory of mature and old-growth forests on federal lands.
We’ve also elevated the voices of Whale Pass residents who oppose a state timber sale in their area by assisting with an op-ed titled, “‘Shut up and take it’ says the State of Alaska to Whale Pass” which reached several newspapers. We’ve organized community events like town halls and trivia nights, along with tabling many festivals around Southeast. I was able to attend the Whale Pass Fourth of July celebration, the Coffman Cove “By The Sea” Arts and Seafood Festival, and Alaska Bearfest in Wrangell. It was great to talk in-person with people about Southeast issues that are particularly important to them!
We also look forward to joining partners and community residents in bringing together the Prince of Wales Unit 2 Deer Summit in Craig this October. We’ll also be co-hosting a virtual public information webinar about Biden’s Earth Day Executive Order and its relevance to the Tongass with select panelists. And we of course anticipate the U.S. Forest Service’s final publication of the Roadless Rule litigation this November.
As a lifelong Alaska native local to Southeast, I look forward to continuing to meet with our supporters. Together we’ll work toward improving Southeast while caring for our lands, waters, and resources … as we always have.