AK Wild Salmon Day honors iconic fish

PALMER — Over the weekend, people from across the state celebrated the importance of Alaska’s wild salmon with several events organized by The Alaska Center’s Stand for the Salmon program, spanning from Fairbanks to Juneau. On Aug. 11, Adrian Baer hosted his first Stand for Salmon event as the new Mat-Su Organizer for the Alaska Center.

“I’ve been getting oriented and in the mission and vision of the Alaska Center; and seeing what I can do help the Mat-Su,” Baer said.

Baer put this event together to promote overall awareness and education about Alaska salmon and their habitats, with a special emphasis on HB 1. There were free salmons sandwiches to snack on while listening to presentation about salmon, including life cycles, environmental impact and so on.

“A lot of families showed up,” Baer said.

There were also several activities for the whole family like the art workshops where participants made their salmon prints with real fish, paint and fabric sheets. Frankie Barker, retied environmental planner for the Mat-Su Borough was the guest speaker for the officially recognized holiday that started back in 2016, while she was still with the borough.

Baer said that he was drawn to the Stand for the Salmon program because see what changes he could make at the state and local level after growing up here in the Mat-Su. He used to work at the Alaska Department of Fish and Game before coming to the Alaska Center (formally the Alaska Center for the Environment). Many kids in the Valley in the recent years likely participated in educational workshops with Baer during his time in the Fish and Game’s Salmon in the Classroom program, which his father, Craig taught before him.

“Take it from me, I know exactly what you need for salmon to survive,” Baer said.

Baer said that he did a lot of studies about salmon during his time at the Fish and Game. Like many other Valley kids, he grew up surrounded by fisherman of all walks of life and done some fishing of his own.

“I’m very affiliated with Salmon. I do a lot of sport fishing. I have a lot of friends who are sport fishermen, commercial fisherman, subsistence fishermen- and depend on salmon for food and enjoyment,” Baer said.

He said that he will be at the open mic night event hosted by Julia Scully, a recent Palmer High School graduate whom was recently chosen as one of four Alaska Youth for Environmental Action Youth Salmon Fellows, a program that fosters youth voice and presence. Scully’s event will be centered on salmon and is open to anyone, from fisherman to scientists- as long as they have a passion for the state’s iconic fish. Scully was at Baer’s event to support him and he plans to do the same for her when her event at the Palmer Downtown Deli later this month.

For more details about the open mic event, email Julia Scully at: [email protected]. To elarn more about the Stand for the Salmon program and how to donate, visit: www.akcenter.org. For questions about the fellowship, email Tasha Elizarde at [email protected].

“Nearly all Alaskans are impacted by salmon in some way – whether through subsistence, recreational, or commercial fishing, or just sheer appreciation for Alaska’s abundant wildlife… HB 128 [establishing Wild Salmon Day] is intended to celebrate these uniquely Alaskan ways of life, and share our appreciation for wild Alaskan salmon with the rest of the world,” via Wild Salmon Day website.

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