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Roadtrippin’: Hike in a boreal forest

Updated: Jun. 10, 2021 at 5:27 PM AKDT
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - Next on the bucket list for the Alaska’s News Source team was to hike in a boreal forest. Some people might ask what a boreal forest is.

A boreal forest is basically a northern forest. It’s also called taiga or a snow forest. The boreal forest lies just south of the Arctic Circle, between the tundra to the north and temperate forests to the south, which includes a large chunk of Alaska.

The boreal forest’s name is derived from Boreas, Greek god of the north wind.

The boreal forest in Alaska is part of the North American Boreal Forest, which means the forest in the state is part of one really big forest that extends from Alaska to Newfoundland.

People will mainly see conifers, or trees with needles and cones for seeds, in a boreal forest.

“You have white spruce and black spruce,” Kory Eberhardt, owner of A Taste of Alaska Lodge in Fairbanks, explained. “As you go further up the hill you get out of the wetter wetland area you have more reliability of seeing a white spruce.”

Eberhardt is familiar with this forest, since it’s in his own backyard.

Not much grows except conifers in a Boreal forest.
Not much grows except conifers in a Boreal forest.(Alaska's News Source)

“The black spruce are those little teeny trees you see growing in the lower areas,” Eberhardt said. “That’s because they grow where other trees can’t because of permafrost, and wetlands and acidity of the soil and they don’t have a tap root. So they have all above ground roots because they are typically in frozen areas.”

The boreal forest has pretty poor soil for growing other things, but it is home to a number of animals.

“Moose, fox, different birds, cranes in more open areas that connect to it,” Eberhardt said. “But mainly fox and little critters, and kind of the guaranteed Denali National Park animal: a squirrel, a red squirrel.”

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