With no road in or out of town, the people of Alaska’s remote city of Cordova live in a land where people and nature thrive together. From a Native fishing village, it grew to become a town created to be the “premier copper port of the world.” For generations, the people of Cordova have relied on unfailing goods and their Alaskan pioneer spirit to preserve their livelihoods and the rich ecosystem that surrounds them.
For more than a century, the local economy and people from different walks of life and professions have relied on the sustaining power of nature. I asked a local biologist about this relationship: “In my family, we don't buy any meat. The meat we consume in our house is what we ...
Brothers John and James were born and raised in Alaska. Both now in their 30s, John and James are now teachers of the great Alaskan pioneer tradition to their young children. In the interior of Alaska, fall is the perfect time of year for harvesting and stocking up on wild meat for their families, and today is a perfect day to take John’s daughter out for practice and a lesson on how to survive off the wild in the northern tundra.
Although John’s 6-year-old daughter Genevieve has no school today, John gets her up like any other school day and asks her if she still wants to go hunting with him. She replies with a simple “yes,” and one reindeer sausage-and-cheese omelet later, they are out the...Read More
“There are those who love to get dirty and fix things. They drink coffee at dawn, beer after work. And those who stay clean, just appreciate things. At breakfast they have milk and juice at night. There are those who do both, they drink tea.”
― Gary Snyder
There have always been lumberjack poets, dock-worker musicians and truck-driver landscape artists. Hell, I started taking photos and writing when I worked in the shipyard. My friends Brad and Dan grew up playing music together, rambling around in dented cars to bars and basements through the creative seasons of their young lives. In our home-town this meant not working in the shipyard, which meant a question mark where your future career sh...
She’s up before the sun every day. She rides an old dirt bike out to the pasture to wrangle horses and guide them into the red wood corrals at headquarters. By moonlight, she catches her horse – using nothing but patience and the bond she’s developed from hundreds of hours in the saddle. Her hands are soft yet tough like leather, a telltale sign of her untiring work ethic. She’s not a cowgirl or rancher like you’d see on TV. She’s calm, quiet, sweet, calculated, strong, and steadfast. She’s seasoned from years on horseback and countless hours studying the rhythms of the natural world in which she lives, works and leans on. She’s fit, pulls more than her weight and is a staple.
Her name’s Sam...
When it’s fire season, you don’t buy concert tickets. You don’t make dates. You miss your kid’s birthday.
When you’re at the top of the jump list, you don’t go out of range of the alarm. You stay on the base. Send friends to pick up your family at the airport. You don’t take your boots off. You wait.
“All day long, you're this coiled spring that's waiting for that [alarm] just to sound off.”
That’s Jarret Carle. Six foot five. Red hair. Fantastic beard. A healthy community of crow’s feet gather around his eyes. He wears an uncompromised grin.
Carle is a smokejumper. He jumps out of airplanes and fights fire without water. He doesn’t think that’s brave.
“I think bravery is running into a house to ...
There’s a wall of fire 12 feet away. Ponderosa pines burn to a roar. Like a jet engine ramping up for takeoff. Flames ignite branches and tufts of green needles on their way up the trunks.
Hotshots, smokejumpers and other Forest Service employees stand nearby. They’re not here to put the fire out. They started the fire. With torches. They’re here to make sure it burns.
“This is a forest forest,” says Dan Hoswald, the USFS burn boss guiding the team. “Putting fire back into the ecosystem is huge.”
A critical role in USFS’s stewardship of our national forests is fire management. During the summer fire season, 10,000 wildland firefighters are employed to fight fires – 98 percent of which are conta...
The Fly Fishing Collaborative may be the new model for social change. Based in Portland, Oregon, the organization uses donated guided trips to build sustainable fish-and-produce farms in developing countries. This Filson Life is part of Filson’s celebration of the Forest Service and the people of the Pacific Northwest Region of the USFS, Region 6.
Three years ago, Bucky Buchstaber was trying to find a way to combine his passions. Being an ardent fisherman of the Pacific Northwest’s streams—from the high creeks of the National Forests and wilderness areas to the brackish, wide mouths of rivers dumping into the sea—Buchstaber was looking to overlap his time on the river with his philanthropic g...
Last fall, Bruce McGlenn started his hunting school in Central Washington. It’s exactly what the sport is in need of: a modern, holistic approach to harvesting wild meat. This Filson Life is part of Filson’s celebration of the Forest Service and the people of the Pacific Northwest Region of the USFS, Region 6.
Learning to hunt can be like learning to sail a yacht. For the uninitiated and those who didn’t grow up doing it, the obstacles to entry can seem prohibitive. The options in the past were to hire a guide or teach yourself. Teaching yourself, via binge-watching YouTube how-to videos, will show you the nuts and bolts, but never get you out of your comfort zone.
Hiring a guide can be educa...Read More
Beaver ponds store a lot of water. Millions of gallons. And scientists are now realizing that reintroducing the animals to struggling streams is a way to buck a drying trend. This Filson Life is part of Filson’s celebration of the Forest Service and the people of the Pacific Northwest Region of the USFS, Region 6.
As the Northwest gets less snow, Kent Woodruff says it needs more beavers.
Less snow means less rainfall. Less rainfall means less water for farms and streams – which leads to a decrease in spawning ground and shelter for salmon.
Beavers dam streams and streams flood their floodplains, which produces more trees for more dams and provides millions of gallons of water for everything in...Read More
Traditional Yakama beliefs say the Creator put salmon in the rivers so that humans could live. Today, the tribe is returning the favor with a restoration program that is on the global forefront of salmon recovery. This Filson Life is part of Filson’s celebration of the Forest Service and the people of the Pacific Northwest Region of the USFS, Region 6.
Salmon do not like to spawn here.
The stream runs fast and uninterrupted. There’s very little new growth or diversity of vegetation. The floodplain hasn’t been regularly flooded in a long time. Nearby picnic benches sit on clean turf that looks like the manicured lawn of a Boca Raton retirement community. Standing along a section of Taneum Creek...Read More