Two environmental organizations in Homer are gearing up to host the Smithsonian National Board at the end of the month. The Kachemak Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve and the Kachemak Heritage Land Trust will host roughly 70 people with the Smithsonian’s advisory board.
Coowe Walker is the manager and the lead watershed ecologist for the research reserve.
“We have been partners with Smithsonian staff for years, pretty much since the reserve was designated about 20 years ago,” she said. “Over the years, we've developed a lot of research, had a lot of collaborations together.”
She says the Smithsonian visit this year was inspired in part by the reserve’s program that educates fishermen on healthy salmon habitat. The program is done in collaboration with the land trust.
“They reach out to fisherman, commercial fisherman, so far, and they arrange these field trips where they bring them out to sites," she said. "Then we talk with them there and show them juvenile salmon living in the stream, talk about how the landscapes are supporting those salmon, and it’s had a really big impact."
She says the research reserve will take the Smithsonian advisory board on similar trips during their one-day visit.
“We're going to be hosting them in field trips and primarily focused around the research we've been doing on how landscape support salmon and how communities have been engaged to understand that research and develop conservation around it," she said.
She hopes this will lead to more collaboration and funding opportunities in the future. The Smithsonian National Board will be in Homer on July 25.