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November is Avalanche Awareness Month and the Chugach National Forest Avalanche Information Center (CNFAIC) is preparing for the season. Forest Service avalanche specialists, working out of the Chugach National Forest Glacier Ranger District in Girdwood, provide detailed observations and forecasts and daily backcountry avalanche advisories from November through April.

Whether snowboarding, skiing, snowshoeing, snow machining, hiking, or climbing, the best way to stay safe is to be prepared and avoid dangerous situations. Most people caught in an avalanche actually trigger the slide as they travel on or beneath unstable snow. Outdoor enthusiasts are urged to ‘Know Before You Go’, get avalanche awareness training, know the conditions, carry rescue gear, including an avalanche beacon, shovel, and probe, and make safe choices.

 “Our goal is to increase avalanche awareness on the Chugach National Forest through advisories and public outreach to reduce avalanche accidents and fatalities by providing information and advice on how to manage avalanche concerns on any given day. We tend to focus on slab avalanches, as they are the main type of avalanche that causes the most harm to people,” says Chugach National Forest Avalanche Information Center Director, Wendy Wagner.

With funding help from Friends of the Chugach Avalanche Center, CNFAIC is able to employ three fulltime avalanche professionals. Free information is provided to the public with the goal of reducing and hopefully preventing backcountry avalanche accidents. The CNFAIC resources are available online at www.cnfaic.org. 

Upcoming avalanche awareness events include:

November 8, 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Southcentral Alaska Avalanche Workshop - University of Alaska Anchorage. The Chugach National Forest Avalanche Center, Alaska Pacific University and the American Avalanche Association will host a gathering of snow professionals for a day of learning, presentation, discussion, and networking.

November 14 at 8 pm, Snow Stories 2.0 Bear Tooth Theatrepub. Stories of several Alaskan’s and their lessons learned in the backcountry and what the public should ‘Know Before You Go’ to explore and enjoy the backcountry this winter.

November 21, 5:30 - 6 pm. Join CNFAIC forecasters at Alaska Mining and Diving Supply in Anchorage for a snowmachine specific avalanche awareness discussion on recognizing unstable snow on the go and common mistakes that can lead to an avalanche.

The mission of the U.S. Forest Service, an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is to sustain the health, diversity and productivity of the nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations. The agency manages 193 million acres of public land, provides assistance to state and private landowners and maintains the largest forestry research organization in the world. Public lands the Forest Service manages contribute more than $13 billion to the economy each year through visitor spending alone. Those same lands provide 30 percent of the nation’s surface drinking water to cities and rural communities and approximately 66 million Americans rely on drinking water that originated from the National Forest System. The agency also has either a direct or indirect role in stewardship of about 900 million forested acres within the U.S., of which over 130 million acres are urban forests where most Americans live.