Two photo stations have been installed at Jones Point to document change in the environment over time, a citizen science project spearheaded by the American Bald Eagle Foundation and Takshanuk Watershed Council.

As the name suggests, a citizen science project involves enlisting the public in the process of gathering and sharing scientific data.

“All the directions are at the photo station,” curator at the American Bald Eagle Foundation Katie Bard said. “You just go out there, set up your phone, snap a picture, email it to the email listed and it’s automatically uploaded.”

Over time, as more and more people upload photos at different times of the day and throughout the year, it will create a time-lapse of the view from the two stations—one at the main Jones Point trail on Takshanuk Watershed Council land, and the other on the new path built this year that goes up the hill overlooking the river.

The photo stations are part of a larger citizen science effort known as Chronolog, a volunteer-based organization with photo stations in the U.S. and U.K. The two photo stations at Jones Point are Chronolog’s first in Alaska.

“(Chronolog) has two goals. One is public engagement, to involve the public in the scientific process in the hopes that they will be more engaged in the findings. It’s a lot easier to convince someone of something if they’re involved in it,” spokesperson Audrey Mannuel said. “The second is to create a new data set. Scientists have limited resources. Utilizing people who want to help gives them a process for gathering information.”

Haines came to the attention of Chronolog as it was looking to expand into Alaska.

“We focus on stories told by change in the environment,” Mannuel said. Chronolog came across the American Bald Eagle Foundation while searching the web for environmental education organizations in the state.

The seasonal changes surrounding the salmon run and gathering of bald eagles made the area an appealing candidate for Chronolog, but the decision to participate is driven by a community partner interested in collecting data, in this case the American Bald Eagle Foundation and Takshanuk, Mannuel said. While the data collected is usually most relevant to the community partner, for example a fire ecologist looking at regrowth after a forest fire or a graduate student studying the growth of invasive species, through Chronolog, the data is made available to anyone online.

Bard said the decision to participate was influenced by a desire to get people engaged with the environment.

“This is a really easy citizen science project. It’s a socially distanced activity that can help locals be aware of their wonderful environment, but also people far away can feel that connection and can see the beauty of the Chilkat Valley,” Bard said, adding that the project has a conservation objective as well.

“Environments may be changing for specific reasons. This helps show and document those changes, and it generally supports conservation by getting people involved,” she said.

Jones Point was selected because the bend in the river allowed photo stations to look upstream and downstream, and because the trails see relatively high amounts of traffic from both locals and tourists.

“The bend at Jones Point is the best place to see the change on the river, the seasonal and tidal changes, and if we have this over several years, how the climate’s changing and how this affects the environment,” Bard said.

The photo stations, which began operating in mid-October, have already generated a few photos. They can be viewed for free online at https://www.chronolog.io/project/American-Bald-Eagle-Foundation-&-Takshanuk-Watershed-Council, along with time-lapses from Chronolog’s other photo stations.

Bard said Takshanuk and the American Bald Eagle Foundation plan to continue the project for several years, at least, as long as it sees use. Partnering with Chronolog involves paying an annual membership fee, which the two organizations are splitting.