Community Monitoring: A Four-year Summary of the Arctic Borderlands Ecological Knowledge Co-op
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(also known as “yellowberries” “knuckleberries,” “akpiks”)

Berries are an important part of community wild food diet, and are commonly harvested by elder women. Berry pickers report on the annual quality and quantity of salmonberries and cranberries. Local reports reflect variation of microclimates where berries grow in community homelands, timing of harvest, and conditions that yield poor and good berry crop.

Traditional Knowledge on good salmonberry years

  • “When the "cotton” [grass] grows lots ahead of akpiks, then the berries will not grow much. When the "cotton" don't grow, there's lots of berries (AI 98/99)”
  • “Shady and wet areas grow a good berry crop. In open areas [drier] very little crop… Early, hot weather burns the flowers.” (FM 97/98)

Climate links with crop quality

  • “Sun seems hotter, cooks berries.” (AI 97/98)
  • “It was too hot[for salmonberries], and we had no snow from April. The snow melted in April. Usually the snow stays until June and waters the ground” (AI 98/99)
  • ”The weather burned the berries sooner than they were picked. They were either small or shriveled by the time we went to pick them.” (OC 99/00)
  • “The berries really never grew this year due to it being too cold and windy. There were a lot of leaves but no berries.” (AI 99/00)
  • “Pretty good year, big and juicy... may be due to lots of moisture, sun, and a nice summer.” (OC 99/00)

Trends and concerns

  • “People only can go [picking] on the [Dempster] highway. Year after year, picking out some spots.” (FM 99/00)
  • “Dust from the highways are not good for the berries … includes chemicals that are on the road.” (FM 99/00)