Environmental group holds 25th annual forum this week

Alaska Forum on the Environment holds annual meeting
Published: Feb. 6, 2023 at 7:13 PM AKST
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ANCHORAGE, Alaska (KTUU) - How to protect Alaska’s wild creatures like fur seals to polar bears, erosion, and how to protect rural communities are part of the conversations planned for this week during the 25th annual Alaska Forum on the Environment.

“The topics are really broad, but very personal to a lot of these folks coming in,” Executive Director for the Alaska Forum on the Environment Kurt Eilo said.

Around 1,200 participants representing over 80 communities had already arrived to participate in the forum on Monday — with more to come later this week, according to Eilo.

The event began in 1990 as the Alaska Federal Facility Environmental Roundtable as an annual conference focused on contaminants, hazardous waste cleanup, hazardous materials management and pollution prevention, according to the organization’s website.

Organizers say they’re already seeing a difference in this year’s event compared to the last one held in 2020.

“A higher level of participation then our last in-person event three years ago,” Eilo said.

This year’s even will offer a hundred technical workshops, in addition to several sessions discussing topics such as, waste management, emergency responses to disasters and air quality. The hottest topics during the forum, Eilo said, will be their sessions on PFAS and climate change.

“A lot of our sessions involve aspects of climate change where villages are being impacted by greater storm impacts,” Eilo said. “And these villages are either needing to move, or they are having serious emergency response needs.”

The conversations had during the forum — both with officials and residents — allows them to share a deeper perspective on how these issues impact their communities.

“A lot of communities are feeling consequences of things like climate change. And this is a great place to learn how we can do better to address those and what we can do better in minimize climate impacts,” Eilo said.

The forum runs both virtually and in-person Feb. 6 through Feb. 10, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.