About Us

Takshanuk Watershed Council

Interest in forming a local watershed council surfaced in 2001.  In fall of 2002, Southeast Conference solicited communities throughout Southeast Alaska for interest in forming watershed councils to help protect, conserve, and enhance salmon fisheries and habitat. The Community Watershed Project (CWP) was a cooperative agreement between Southeast Conference and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game to administer Southeast Sustainable Salmon Funds and to help establish community-based watershed councils. Though interest in forming a watershed council based in Haines was sparked as early as 2000, Takshanuk Watershed Council was formally incorporated in 2003 with the financial support provided through the Community Watershed Project.  Today, the council employs a full-time Executive Director, Education and Outreach Director and Science  Director, and three part-time seasonal Field Technicians.



Meredith Pochardt, Executive Director

Meredith has worked with the Takshanuk Watershed Council since 2010 beginning as a summer intern Field Technician and then moving into the Food Security Coordinator position. Now as the ED Meredith is excited to bring the organization forward and develop TWC as a local resource for the watersheds we steward. She believes strongly in the power of environmental education and is excited about developing new research and restoration projects in the Chilkat Valley.  In her free time Meredith enjoys exploring the beauty of the watersheds around us on boat, skis, or foot and harvesting the bounty of fish, berries, and mushrooms.

Derek Poinsette, Interim Executive Director

Derek has been in Haines for ten years.  He studied Fish and Wildlife Biology at Montana State University, worked on a number of research projects over the years, mostly with birds, and two years with Yellowstone National Park bison.  Additionally, and alternating with the wildlife work, he has run a small construction company for almost fifteen years.  Derek is looking forward to combining these experiences in helping the Watershed Council continue to grow and be an active part of the community.

Jolanta Ryan, Education and Outreach Director

Jolanta Ryan came to Haines in 2008 to work as the Education Coordinator for the Haines Borough Library.  She loved working with the youth, adults, and elders but after having her second child she took a sabbatical to enjoy being with her little ones.  Now that her kids are school age she has been working with the Takshauk Watershed Council since 2015.  Jolanta is excited to work with the school kids and community on fun educational projects.  Jolanta has a Masters in Environmental Studies from University of Montana and worked for 5 years in the Pacific Northwest studying salmonids and other environmental issues.  Prior to working in the Pacific Northwest Jolanta was a Natural Resource Extension Agent in the Peace Corps in Mali, West Africa and earned a degree in Biology from the Lewis and Clark College.  She loves the beauty of Haines, the small community feel, and playing outdoors.

Mario Benassi, Chilkat Forest Investigators and EcoProductions


Mark McNamara, EcoProductions

Board of Directors

Ben KirkpatrickPresident

Ben moved to southeast Alaska in 1981 for the amazing skiing and paddling opportunities.  He started working for Alaska Department of Fish & Game in 1984 and spent over 10 years as the Habitat Biologist for northern southeast Alaska, including Haines, before retiring in 2008.  One of his last and favorite projects was helping to found watershed councils throughout southeast Alaska including TWC.  This work reinforced his understanding about the connection between a healthy community and a healthy watershed. He believes community involvement and participation is critical to meeting these goals.  Ben is also on the Steering Committee of Rivers Without Borders, a transboundary conservation organization, and a member of the Governor-appointed Alaska Chilkat Bald Eagle Preserve Advisory Council.

Darsie Culbeck, Vice President

Darsie has been living in Haines 20 years since he came here  to be a river guide for the summer and never left.  He has  two great little boys and loves to explore the Takshanuk and adjacent watersheds by foot, boat and skis.  Darsie also has a serious condition that requires he go surfing in warm water every year for several months but manages to keep this condition in check by leading a semi-seasonal life between Alaska, Mexico and Hawaii.  Darsie strongly believes that a healthy watershed leads to a healthy community.  He is also passionate about environmental education and the positive values it can impart on our youth.  Darsie serves on the board to contribute all he can to further the TWC mission.  Darsie has a degree in Environmental Policy and 18 years of experience in adventure and educational travel.  He has  also been part of running several successful businesses and brings a strong background in risk management, creative marketing, and decision making.

Richard Chapell, Board Member

Richard is a Fishery Biologist with the Alaska Department of Fish & Game. He moved to Haines in 2003 with young family, and has stayed because Haines is a great place to raise kids.

Norman Hughes, Board Member

Norman first visited the Chilkat Valley in 1982 to fish subsistence coho salmon.  He later moved to Haines in 1984 and took up commercial salmon gillnetting.  He has been the owner and operator of the F/V Chilkat since 1988.  He serves on several fishery-related community and non-profit boards including United Southeast Alaska Gillnetters Association, Douglas Island Pink and Chum, Lynn Canal Gillnetters Association and represents Douglas Island Pink and Chum in United Fishermen of Alaska.


Scott Ramsey, Board Member

Scott has been working as a wilderness guide and environmental educator in Haines for over 20 years.  He lives off the grid with his wife and little girl and is currently working on finishing his dissertation in Sustainability Education.  As the director of the Alaska Outdoor Science School, he leads multi-day courses in environmental education and sustainability.  


Deborah Gravel, Board Member

"Debbie came to Southeast Alaska in 1976, drawn to the beauty of the Alaskan wilderness. She and husband, Peter Dwyer, began fishing commercially, built a home, and raised three children in Ketchikan. Debbie retired in 2013 after 20 years working in the Ketchikan Public Library. Moving to Haines was a new adventure. It has offered rivers to explore, mountains to climb, and a large garden to tend. Being on the TWC Board has been an opportunity to protect and conserve salmon fisheries and habitat."


Deborah Vogt, Board Member

Deborah came to Alaska in 1971 to go backpacking in the Brooks Range, fell flat out in love with it, and never left.  She guided hiking trips to the Brooks Range for twelve summers.  After law school in the late '70's (Boalt Hall, U.C. Berkeley) she served as an assistant attorney general for the state until retiring in 1999.  She mostly collected taxes from the oil industry.  She moved to Haines in 2001.

Our Partners

Southeast Alaska Watershed Coalition
Yakutat Salmon Board
Juneau Watershed Partnership
Taiya Inlet Watershed Council
Kasaan Bay Watershed Council
Chilkat Valley Community Foundation
River Network
Haines Borough
Pacific Salmon Commission
Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation
Alaska Department of Fish & Game
US Fish & Wildlife Service
National Forest Foundation
KHNS-FM Community Radio
Patagonia Inc. World Trout Initiative
ESRI Conservation Program
Fish America Foundation
NOAA Restoration Center
Southeast Conference
Natural Resources Conservation Service
EPA Region 10