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Researchers take climate change seminar to Venetie

Submitted by Nancy Tarnai
Phone: 907-474-5042

11/25/08

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Venetie, AK
Residents of Venetie last week welcomed 10 researchers from the UAF Bonanza Creek Long Term Ecological Research Program for an open discussion about climate change and its implications for rural villages and their subsistence livelihoods.

Nearly 35 people attended the forum. Venetie is a community of 181 on the East Fork of the Chandalar River, 45 miles northwest of Fort Yukon. Leaders from several neighboring villages, including Fort Yukon, Circle, Beaver and Arctic Village, also attended.

"We went to hear about climate change by learning from local residents who have a rich knowledge of the land and animals of that region," said Gary Kofinas, associate professor at UAF's School of Natural Resources and Agricultural Sciences and Institute of Arctic Biology. LTER researchers also presented information from their research on fire and moose ecology, rural-urban moose hunting and climate-change scenarios.

"Those of us from UAF were impressed with the firsthand observations on climate change by local harvesters and pleased at the excellent exchange of ideas between researchers and residents." Kofinas said. "People were hungry for information and eager to share their stories."

The project with Venetie began last year, when 19 local subsistence harvesters were interviewed about their observations on climate change and how people are responding to it. Last week's session began with a presentation of the results from those interviews. Two UAF research projects will continue with Venetie for at least the next three years.

Bonanza Creek is part of the National Science Foundation's LTER Program. The site's researchers focus on the importance of understanding long-term consequences of changing climate and disturbance regimes in Alaska's boreal forest, as well as how social and ecological systems interact.

CONTACT: Gary Kofinas, 474-7078 or "a href="mailto:ffgpk@uaf.edu">ffgpk@uaf.edu. Nancy Tarnai, UAF School of Natural Resources and Agricultural Sciences public information officer, 474-5042 or fnnjt@uaf.edu.

NT/11-25-08/067-09