If you have a P.O. box in Unalaska or Dutch Harbor, it's likely you've received a bright orange postcard in the past few days. That card is a notification for an upcoming subsistence harvest survey through the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.
The survey is part of a larger project, according to Jackie Keating, a researcher with ADF&G's subsistence division. And the goal of that project is to document local knowledge and concerns about subsistence harvesting.
"The data collected from the research gives us a better idea of whether folks are able to meet their subsistence needs or if resource abundance has changed," Keating said. "Because people on the ground obviously know these resources really well and know what has changed over time."
This is the first time since the '90s that Unalaskans have had the chance to participate in a local harvest survey like this one, according to Keating.
The information collected will be used to determine whether regulations are providing reasonable and sustainable opportunities for subsistence harvesting, she said. The survey is completely confidential and voluntary, and all findings will be presented on a community level and never from individual households.
The survey is about 23 pages long, and how long it will take to complete depends on how much harvesting participants have done, said Keating. But it's still helpful for locals who don't actively harvest to fill out the survey, she added.
"Our research kind of aims to create this holistic picture of the role that subsistence plays in the community," Keating explained. "So even if you don't harvest or fish or pick berries or something like that, it's still important to fill it out."
The project also aims to understand how resources are shared within the community.
The paper survey contains a sample of coffee and a bright green raffle card that, according to Keating, participants can fill out for a chance to win several prizes.
"We've got five prizes that are $200 each and then we have one really awesome grand prize that's $1,000," Keating said. "So if you fill out a survey and a [raffle] card and mail both back to us, we'll make sure that your survey is actually complete. If it is, your card gets removed, so that it's completely separate from the actual survey, which remains confidential."
In order to be eligible for the drawing, which will take place the first week of March, participants must have their surveys postmarked or returned to a local Fish and Game research assistant by Feb. 22. According to Keating, research assistants will be stopping by to pick up completed surveys on designated pickup days, which can be found in the survey packet.
Unalaskans can expect to start seeing the surveys, which will be delivered in waterproof bags, popping up on their doorsteps as soon as next week.
For more information, call (907) 267-2368 or visit ADF&G's subsistence information webpage.