Analyzing feasibility, resource policy

Richmond Toolie prepares to butcher a reindeer carcass in Savoonga. Photo by Erin Carr
Richmond Toolie prepares to butcher a reindeer carcass in Savoonga. Photo by Erin Carr

The village of Savoonga owns a herd of more than 3,000 reindeer, and a decreasing supply of walrus and other marine mammals has the St. Lawrence Island community thinking more about its reindeer as a source of food and employment.

Josh Greenberg, a natural resource economist with the School of Natural Resources and Extension, teamed up with the Reindeer Research Program to develop a series of business plans that will allow Savoonga and possibly other villages to evaluate different production strategies for a reindeer meat industry.

The feasibility of reindeer operations is just one of many economic studies conducted by Greenberg over the past 30 years. Recent projects have evaluated the feasibility of raising musk ox for qiviut under different scenarios, the effect an industrial road to the Ambler Mining District might have on subsistence communities and the impact of individual fishing quotas on the Alaska sablefish industry.

Greenberg has specialized in fisheries but he has also studied many other Alaska resource issues, including the economic value of reindeer range, the peony industry, sustainable livestock production and carbon sequestration. He studies various management and allocation issues and the effect of policy changes on user groups.

“We’re a resource-based state and how we manage our resources is critical,” Greenberg said. “You’re basically providing information to policy makers that they can look at in addition to public testimony.”


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