Groups petition to list yellow cedar

  • Wednesday, June 25, 2014 11:20pm
  • News

ANCHORAGE (AP) — Four conservation groups have petitioned the Interior Department to list an iconic Alaska tree as threatened or endangered because of climate change.

Yellow cedar for centuries has been carved by Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian people for canoe paddles and totem poles. They could remove a lengthwise strip of bark from a living tree to use for weaving baskets and hats, and as backing in blankets because the trees can compartmentalize the damage and heal themselves.

Yellow cedar can resist insects and rot and live more than 1,000 years but their shallow roots are vulnerable to freezing.

In a paper published in 2012, U.S. Forest Service researchers concluded that climate warming has meant less snow, and less insulation for the ground. Elevated mortality began around 1880-1890 and peaked in the 1970s and 1980s, according to the study.

Across 781 square miles of Alaska’s Panhandle, more than 70 percent of yellow cedar trees have died because of root freeze induced by climate change, according to the petition.

The petition was filed to raise awareness and to take steps toward curbing warming, said Kiersten Lippmann of the Center for Biological Diversity.

Without steps to curb climate change, the diminishing snow pack means yellow cedar at higher elevations will be affected, according to the petition. Researchers have recorded almost no new sites where yellow cedar has regenerated.

“This is another species on the list that is not going to last until the end of the century because of climate change,” Lippmann said.

A listing would also protect remaining yellow cedar from logging, she said. Unsustainable old-growth logging continues to target yellow cedar in southeast Alaska and British Columbia and contribute to its rapid decline, she said, because of the honey-color wood’s value.

A yellow cedar listing would be the first for an Alaska tree and only the second plant listed for the state.

The other groups filing for yellow cedar protection are The Boat Company, a nonprofit educational organization that offers eco-cruises in southeast Alaska, the Greater Southeast Alaska Conservation Community and Greenpeace.

More in News

Kenai City Manager Paul Ostrander speaks at a ribbon-cutting ceremony at Kenai Municipal Airport on Friday, Aug. 6, 2021 in Kenai, Alaska. A kiosk that will offer educational programming and interpretive products about the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge is coming to the airport. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsua Clarion)
Wildlife refuge kiosk coming to airport

Kenai National Wildlife Refuge stickers, T-shirts, magnets, travel stamps and enamel pins will be available.

This illustration provided by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in January 2020 shows the 2019 Novel Coronavirus. (CDC)
5 more COVID deaths reported

The total nationwide fatalities surpass population of Alaska.

Velda Geller fills goodie bags at the Kenai Senior Center on Friday, Oct. 22, 2021 for next weekend’s drive-through trick-or-treat event. (Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
‘This has been a lifesaver’

Seniors seek human connection as pandemic continues.

Kenai City Hall on Feb. 20, 2020, in Kenai, Alaska. (Photo by Victoria Petersen/Peninsula Clarion)
‘A very slippery slope that we need to be careful of’

Approval of library grant postponed after Kenai council requests to preview book purchases

This undated photo released by the Alaska State Department of Public Safety shows Robin Pelkey just before her 18th birthday. The remains of a woman known for 37 years only as Horseshoe Harriet, one of 17 victims of a notorious Alaska serial killer, have been identified through DNA profiling as Robin Pelkey, authorities said Friday, Oct. 22, 2021. (Alaska State Department of Public Safety via AP)
DNA match IDs serial killer’s victim after 37 years

Robin Pelkey was 19 and living on the streets of Anchorage when she was killed by Robert Hansen in the early 1980s, investigators said.

A moose is photographed in Kalifornsky, Alaska, in July 2020. (Peninsula Clarion file)
Illegal moose harvest down from past 5 years

The large majority of moose this year were harvested from North and South Kasilof River areas.

Renee Behymer and Katelyn Behymer (right) of Anchorage win this week’s vaccine lottery college scholarship sweepstakes. (Photo provided)
Dillingham and Anchorage residents win 6th vaccine lottery

“Get it done,” one winner said. “Protect us all, protect our elders and our grandchildren.”

Most Read