Boreal Alaska – Learning, Adaptation, and Production, a research and K-12 outreach project, is enhancing the understanding of the boreal forest.

Graduate students take forest measurements for the BAKLAP project.
Graduate students take forest measurements for the BAKLAP project.

In one of the most ambitious forest regeneration experiments in Alaska, University of Alaska Fairbanks forest scientists surveyed the massive Rosie Creek Fire site (burned in 1983) to determine biomass potential. Previous work was halted after funding disappeared decades ago. “I knew there was more to the story,” said Professor Glenn Juday. “With BAKLAP we were able to salvage the initial investment and make it pay off 30 years later. That’s really gratifying.”

The data the researchers collected on forest regrowth gives state foresters unprecedented information to better discern the impacts of a changing climate.

The outreach aspect of the program, OneTree Alaska, shares the excitement and creativity of science, technology, education, art and math education through the study of birch trees. The program conducts K-12 outreach to thousands of Fairbanks-area students and offers unique professional development opportunities for teachers.

Students grow saplings, tap for sap, create art from tree products and create business marketing plans. Collaboration with schools, artists, graduate students and scientists is key to success. “The community has really embraced OneTree and made it its own,” Janice Dawe, One Tree Alaska’s director, said.