Anchorage SWCD: Cultivating Alaska’s Future

In November 2021, the Anchorage Soil and Water Conservation District (ASWCD) in Alaska was re-established with a renewed focus on addressing local environmental challenges. The district has swiftly expanded its team, with four experienced employees specializing in natural resource management. Current initiatives include the Invasive Species Program, Urban Agriculture Program, and Native Plants Program, along with collaborations on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson (JBER). ASWCD’s Native Plants Program has shown early promise, cultivating thousands of native plant seedlings to aid in local ecosystem restoration. This program also promotes community involvement and collaboration with the neighboring Eklutna Tribal Conservation District and Knik Tribal Conservation District. 

The scarcity of locally adapted native plant materials has been a significant challenge for land managers in Alaska. The Anchorage SWCD recognized this issue and, in partnership with neighboring districts, initiated a project to locally produce native plants suitable for ecological restoration. With support from partners, four native plant nursery sites were established. These nurseries aim to provide regionally adapted native plant species for ecological restoration projects. 

ASWCD has big plans to expand their native plant offerings, which will help land managers in Alaska handle their challenges more effectively. They will also lead an economic feasibility study that’s essential given recent conservation investments and the growing need to adapt to climate change. The demand for native plants is on the rise, and various organizations rely on them, but the current supply isn’t keeping up. The study aims to assess the opportunities and obstacles to create a local native plant nursery industry. This isn’t just about plants, it’s about building a sustainable future. Native plants are essential for strong ecosystems as they support biodiversity and are essential in landscape restoration. Local nurseries have a key role to play in meeting the growing demand while reducing the carbon footprint from imports. 

The revival of the Anchorage Soil and Water Conservation District reflects the community’s commitment to environmental stewardship. The ASWCD Native Plants Program’s early success and upcoming projects demonstrate a dedication to building a more sustainable and resilient future, making their mission all the more relevant.  

You can learn more about the great work Anchorage Soil and Water Conservation District is leading in their community by visiting their website, 

Tags: Forestry, conservation districts, Forestry Notes, district stories

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