The Dudley T. Dougherty Foundation

Improving Protocols with New and Emerging Technology

Grant Information
Categories Environment
Location United States
Cycle Year 2022
Organization Information
Organization Name (provided by applicant) Ahtna Intertribal Resource Commission (AITRC)
Organization Name (provided by automatic EIN validation)
Ahtna intertribal resource commission
EIN 45-3221112
Contact Information
Contact Name Mr. Sterling Spilinek
Phone 907-822-4466
P.O. Box 613
Additional Information
Used for Purchase Thermal Imaging and software to improve wildlife surveys throughout the Ahtna Traditional Use Territory. Due to climate change, snow cover has been diminishing which has caused sightability to decrease leading to less precise estimates. These funds will greatly enhance our ability to accurately estimate wildlife populations to ensure future sustainability for our natural resources.
Benefits This grant will greatly benefit the monitoring already being conducted by incorporating technology to address low sightability due to changing snow conditions, leading to more precise estimates that will then improve the management of the resources. Recently caribou estimates were found to be inaccurate causing the population to drop well below herd objective. Management strategies will need to adapt to the changing climate if we hope to ensure the sustainability of natural resources for future generations.
Proposal Description

The Ahtna Intertribal Resources Commission (AITRC) was formed in 2011 after many years of planning to conserve, manage and develop the fish, wildlife, and plant resources of the Ahtna Region according to culturally relevant values.

The AITRC Board of Directors is made up of Tribal representatives that have spent their lives on the land. Our culture incorporates thousands of years of stewardship of the hunting, fishing, and gathering resources of the Ahtna Region. We are also committed to incorporating scientific best practices with our traditional ecological knowledge, which will guide the operation and policies of the organization.

AITRC was formed to be a coordinating body for subsistence resources in the Ahtna Traditional Use Area.

Membership is made up of the federally recognized tribes of the Native Village of Cantwell, Mentasta Traditional Council, Cheesh'na Tribe, the Native Village of Gakona, the Gulkana Village, the Native Village of Tazlina, the Native Village of Kluti-Kaah, and the Native Village of Chitina.  As landholders, the two Alaska Native Corporations, Ahtna Incorporated and the Chitina Native Corporation are also members.

AITRC has a priority to study and implement policies that will allow the Ahtna people to prosper on the land. Our policies are directed to achieve self-determination, food security, and full access to resources. Policies that support sustainable fish and wildlife populations and a harvest that will provide for our cultural, nutritional, and economic needs as Ahtna tribal people is the goal. This will increase self-reliance and provide for our families in a positive way.

Through this grant, AITRC will purchase a thermal camera (and appropriate software) to be mounted on fixed-wing aircraft for aerial surveillance. Surveys will follow already established GeoSpatial Population Estimator (GSPE) surveys and be used to calculate a correction factor for sightability. In recent years sightability has been an issue due to limited snow coverage causing estimates to be inaccurate, this has already proven to be an issue for the Nelchina Caribou Herd (NCH) with spring and fall composition counts varying greatly putting the herd well below management objective. 

This project will benefit the tribal members who rely greatly on the resources to maintain a subsistence way of life, but it will also benefit everyone in the area. The Ahtna Traditional Use Territory is the most popular area within the State of Alaska for recreation and harvesting, being between the two largest cities (Anchorage and Fairbanks) it endures a large influx of activity throughout the year. Without proper management of the resources, future sustainability will be compromised for the next generation.

I hope you see the merit in our proposal and will graciously fund our proposal so we can effectively manage the resources for everyone's benefit. If you have any questions or concerns please feel free to reach out to me anytime.

Thank you