Matt Piche -Board Chair, Cordova

Matt Piché resides in the coastal community of Cordova and when not working on the Copper River and its delta he’s out recreating on it. Matt has a background in biochemistry, aquatic ecology and fish biology and a profession as a fish biologist for the Native Village of Eyak Department of the Environment and Natural Resources. His background and profession allow him to work with a diverse set of agencies and stakeholders to help ensure opportunities exist for robust fish populations to persist through periods of environmental and anthropogenic fluctuations. As a board member Matt hopes to give back to an organization that dedicates itself to protecting and promoting stewardship of a watershed that provides for so many Alaskans. Matt considers himself one of the fortunate few who can call the Copper River and its delta home.

Nelly Hand – Vice President, Cordova

I’m a commercial fisherman living in Cordova. Working on the water, I feel lucky to be building my life as a member of the commercial fishing fleet and a steward of the Copper River Delta. I believe the work of the Watershed Project is incredibly valuable and important for the health of the wild salmon that run through this river system. As a board member, I’m looking forward to sharing my time to give back to this organization that works so hard to protect and promote stewardship of this wild watershed.

Tenley Nelson – Secretary, Strelna

I grew up in southern coastal Maine and moved to the Chitina River Valley in May of 2002. Over the past 20 years, I have worked various seasonal jobs in both McCarthy and Chitina, become a mom to two (currently 12 and 15 years old), started a market garden business, and fully engaged in our hybrid subsistence/homesteading lifestyle. I enjoy learning about regenerative agriculture (beyond organic), soil health, changing climate, and local insects especially pollinators and applying what I learn to the living practice of producing food in the subarctic boreal forest.

Caitlin McKinstry – Treasurer, Cordova

Caitlin received her MSc in marine biology from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington and moved to Cordova 2011. Her experience as a marine biologist for the Native Village of Eyak has taken her all over the Copper River Basin and Prince William Sound. The Copper River and its health play an important role in her life as an avid forager, subsistence fisher, and conservationist. As a supporter, periodic volunteer, and now board member of the Watershed Project, Caitlin is excited to help further the mission of this important organization.

Lishaw Lincoln – Copper Center

Ntse’ do’tae? (How are you all?) I am Udzisyu (Caribou clan) of the ‘Atna’ koht’aene (Copper River people) from Tl’aticae’e (Native Village of Kluti-kaah). I’ve lived off the Copper River all my life. My mother has a fish camp, the same fish camp that my late Great-grandparents Tony & Mary Jackson used for over 60 years ago, where we harvest salmon. This is the same spot that we’ve gathered from for generations. When I first heard of CRWP, in Mentasta back in 98-99, and learned about the watershed, my first thoughts were how to protect the waters – mainly the Fish Creek in Mentasta and my family fish camp along the Copper River (well, all the Copper River). Over the years I’ve worked with MSTC and Native Village of Gakona as an Environmental Assistant and have learned ways to protect and do outreach to the communities for the preservation of the Copper River watershed.

Sunshine Meitzner – Board Member, McCarthy

Living on an active salmon stream on the McCarthy Road introduced me firsthand to the struggles (ie culverts!). Working as a firefighter and logistics coordinator highlighted the importance of knowing where the anadromous stream are and how we can protect these waterways. And residing in the Basin for 11 years has provided me with a deep appreciation for the land and the life it supports. The Copper River and its tributaries comprise the lifeblood of this region. I feel privileged to live in such an abundant ecosystem.

Steve Richards – Board Member, Cordova

Stephen Richards started his flying career in the Copper River Basin in 1995. He has been lucky enough to work all over this beautiful and unique part of Alaska ever since. After many years of flying out of McCarthy, he made Cordova the home for his air taxi in 2017 and has been happy to serve the various groups of people that visit the watershed for recreation, science, or industry. He is happy to serve on the board of the Copper River Watershed Project, and hopes that his participation will help CRWP furthering their mission of a healthy and vibrant watershed for the future.

Kate Wilson – Board Member, Copper Basin

Kate was born in Daytona Beach, Florida. While growing up, members of her family,  including her Grandparents, lived in Alaska. She remembers as a child, seeing her Grandfather carefully unloading fish boxes while explaining the different types of salmon and his favorite ways to catch them in Alaska.  Kate was given the opportunity to come up to Alaska for a summer job and has been here ever since. She has an interest in water treatment along with an operators license. Her current job offers great experience in providing knowledge of the wildlife, fish and habitat that surrounds her home in the Copper basin and has served to create a deep understanding of the importance of its preservation.

A message from a former Board President

“I came to the Copper River Valley in 1975 and was one of those ‘newcomers.’ Over the years I have seen changes in the communities and have watched many more newcomers arrive harboring the same feelings I have…a love for the beautiful mountains and country, rural community atmosphere, friendly neighbors, few people, clean environment, a ‘country life.'”

“Over the years there have been changes. Some were gradual, and some happened all of a sudden. The construction of the Alyeska pipeline; the designation of the Wrangell Mountains as a National Park and Preserve; the Park Service acquiring Kennicott Mining District; the Gulkana River becoming the king salmon capitol of Southcentral Alaska, to name a few. More recently, I have seen 11 new residences on the short 12-mile stretch of road I live on; development of a Princess Tours lodge on the bluffs of the Klutina River; residents having to use a bike path along the Edgerton Highway because of increased tourist traffic; plans to pave the McCarthy road; talk of paving the Denali Highway; talk of constructing a road and/or trail from Chitina to Cordova; and increased commercial events such as extreme skiing and snow machine races.”

“I am not sure if all these changes are good or bad. But in light of them more changes will follow. I would like to have a voice in our destiny. Growth is inevitable. I cherish this sacred place we call the Copper River Valley and want to see it grow in a healthy way. That is why I am a member of the Copper River Watershed Project. I believe that if we all work together, we can grow together in a way that will maintain our cherished values that attracted us here in the first place.”

“The Copper River Watershed Project gives us that forum to work from. The CRWP is willing to help with projects that the community determines are important to keep our lifestyles. Join me in becoming a member of the CRWP and be a voice for our community.”

Janelle Eklund, Kenny Lake
former CRWP President