Sunday, January 24, 2010

Resistance to Cruises- Part Deux

Alaska to cruise lines – clean up or don’t come

Posted by Anita Dunham-Potter On March - 28 - 2008

Cruising in AlaskaStarting this year, ships sailing Alaska waters will be required to obtain permits to discharge their waste in the state’s waters. State regulators say the stricter standards are required by the cruise ship ballot initiative passed in 2006.

Among its many provisions, the initiative required that the state develop a wastewater permit for cruise ships.The permit has more stringent standards for certain pollutants, including copper and ammonia, than is required for Alaska’s drinking water, or for industries and cities that discharge treated sewage into the state’s waters.

Problem is cruise lines say they can’t comply because the necessary treatment technology isn’t yet available for cruise ships. If the standards aren’t changed many ships are likely to detour outside of Alaska waters to discharge their treated wastewater, and that could shorten the amount of time they spend in Alaska ports say cruise lines.

Resistance to Cruises

Alaska group to sue Princess and Holland America

Posted by Anita Dunham-Potter On July - 3 - 2008

According to a report in the Anchorage Daily News, state inspectors are being denied access to waste treatment facilities on cruise ships operating in Alaska. The first report of the season on the state’s ocean ranger program found restricted access and/or a lack of cooperation on nine of 28 ships sailing Alaska waters.

Responsible Cruising in Alaska and Campaign to Safeguard America’s Waters says it plans to file suit against Holland America Line and Princess Cruises. Both groups say that the lines are restricting the access of the state’s ocean rangers, who go aboard ships operating in Alaska waters to monitor their adherence to environmental regulations.

Princess said it just recently received its first status report from Crowley Marine Services, the company retained by the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (ADEC) to carry out the new ocean rangers program.

In a statement Princess said: “We are continuing to work with the ADEC to ensure ocean rangers can and do fulfill all of their job duties while maintaining a safe and effective working environment on board all of our vessels in Alaska.”

Holland America stated it previously developed policies intended to provide ocean rangers the access they needed “while still giving due regard to safety and security concerns as well as the other work responsibilities of the ship’s crew.”

The line said it had not received complaints from ADEC or Crowley Marine Services prior to this week that had not been quickly resolved after meetings onboard the ship.

Based on this week’s report from Crowley, Holland America said it has already made changes to give unrestricted access to the ocean rangers. The line added that it is encouraging ADEC to send a staff member to sail with an ocean ranger to evaluate operations.

Time Lapse Bore Tide

Here's a time lapse video of the bore tide mentioned in class on Fri.:

Here's another video of the bore tide along coming in along the coast. (Embedding disabled)

And some tidal bore surfing (a favorite Alaskan past time):

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Volcano Erupting

Here's a timelapse from youtube on the smoke coming from the volcano...

Hopefully we'll be able to see it!!

Friday, January 22, 2010

some people aren't helping

this just in:

Thursday, January 21, 2010

These people are going all out.

There's a couple who are blogging about relocating to an eskimo village above the arctic circle. They're really getting into it by eating all the native food. This is raw caribou. Yikes...

infrastructural damage...solution?


Keeping It Frozen

In Alaska, a low-tech solution helps the ground stay cold enough, for now

FAIRBANKS, Alaska—While the world debates the causes of climate change and what, if anything, to do about it, Alaskans are busy dealing with its consequences.

Permafrost, the frozen ground that lies just beneath the surface in most of the state, has become less stable in many areas, thanks in part to higher average air temperatures. It has begun to thaw in the warmer months and refreeze in the winter, causing shifts that wreak havoc on the structural integrity of the pipelines, railways, roads and buildings that sit on top of it.

"If we're going to build on frozen ground, we want to keep it frozen," says Dan White, director of the Institute of Northern Engineering at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

To do that, engineers increasingly are turning to a low-tech solution: devices called thermosiphons that draw heat out of the ground. It's a solution that shows how effective even relatively simple ingenuity can be in the absence of a more comprehensive, policy-driven response to climate change. But Alaska's experience also shows the limits that such stopgap measures often run up against.

Alyeska Pipeline consultant Mike Mertz provides a look at how the company is coping with thawing permafrost on the Trans-Alaska Pipeline. The Wall Street Journal's Jim Carlton reports.

Alaska's permafrost has been degrading since 1982 amid record warm temperatures, according to a 2006 study funded by oil giant ConocoPhillips. Milder winters are keeping the permafrost in many areas from getting cold enough to stay frozen during summers that are also getting warmer. Between 1949 and 2007, average annual temperatures in Alaska rose 3.4 degrees Fahrenheit, including an increase of 6.3 degrees in the winter, according to the Alaska Climate Research Center at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

Development worsens the problem by stripping vegetation, an effective insulator, from the surface, replacing it with heat-absorbing man-made materials or leaving the ground bare.

With permafrost thawing and refreezing in more of Alaska over recent years, highways and railroad tracks have to be constantly repaired because of cracks, heaving and sinking. All around Fairbanks, homes can be seen listing on foundations that have been unsettled as the permafrost underneath them has thawed, and buildings in many other parts of the state have the same problem.

That's where thermosiphons come in. The device essentially is a tube filled with gas that can't escape. Part of the tube is buried in the ground, with the top exposed in the air. As temperatures plunge in the winter, the gas condenses into a liquid and falls to the bottom of the tube.

Jim Carlton/The Wall Street Journal

Thermosiphons protrude out of support beams on the Trans-Alaska Pipeline.

Heat Release

The relative warmth of the ground then causes the liquid to evaporate back into gas that rises to the top of the tube, where the heat it carries is dissipated into the air. The cycle keeps repeating itself, with no need for any kind of power source or any intervention other than maintenance. Scientists say the process cools the ground around a tube so much during the winter that it stays frozen even in summer.

Branching Out
Thermosiphons have been around in the Arctic for about 50 years. For most of that time they weren't used much outside of large infrastructure projects like the Trans-Alaska Pipeline, which is outfitted with about 120,000 of them. But they have been deployed more widely in recent years.

Arctic Foundations Inc., a company that specializes in ground-freezing systems, says its annual sales of the devices have jumped 50% over the past five years as it has installed them in hundreds of places in Alaska, including around schools and water tanks. The company, based in Anchorage, Alaska, has even used the devices as fence posts, since fences anchored by the usual kinds of posts are frequently "frost-jacked," or driven out of the ground by shifting soil, says Ed Yarmak, the firm's chief engineer.


One of the heaviest concentrations of thermosiphons is around Fairbanks, a metropolitan area of about 100,000 people. Among other uses, the devices ring a Federal Aviation Administration building, are stationed near utility poles and transmission towers, and have been installed along various roads in the area. On a one-mile stretch of Thompson Drive near the University of Alaska Fairbanks campus, engineers from the school put in a thermosiphon demonstration project five years ago. The devices are working as designed in keeping the ground frozen, says Doug Goering, dean of the school's college of engineering and mines.

The devices are being used in other Arctic regions, too. Arctic Foundations of Canada, an affiliate of the Alaskan company, says its sales of the devices have tripled over the past five years. That's partly because the thermosiphons have proved useful in shoring up structures in the many mines that have been opened in the Canadian Arctic in recent years, says John Jardine, president of the affiliate. Similar devices are being deployed in Russia and China, where they are helping stabilize the Qinghai-Tibet railroad.

Cost and Maintenance

While thermosiphons have proved effective, they aren't foolproof. Like any device, they sometimes malfunction. Alyeska Pipeline Service Co., an Anchorage-based company that operates the Trans-Alaska Pipeline, long ago embarked on a program to make sure that thermosiphons all along the pipeline keep working. Alyeska crews on the ground inspect the pipeline, using infrared cameras to scan the devices. If the telltale glow of heat being released is too dark, that indicates a gas blockage that may need repair.

In all, Alyeska has had to repair about 16,600 of its thermosiphons since 2001, or about 14% of the total, says Michelle Egan, an Alyeska spokeswoman.

Jim Carlton/The Wall Street Journal

Thermosiphons flank a Federal Aviation Administration building in Fairbanks, Alaska. The devices help keep the permafrost frozen beneath buildings and infrastructure in Alaska by transferring heat out of the ground.

Also, while the use of thermosiphons has surged, cost is an issue for many users and potential users. The devices are available in different sizes, but typically each one cools an area no more than about 10 feet in diameter, so it can take many of them to protect a structure. To shore up a home with nine of the devices would cost around $20,000, and protecting infrastructure on a massive scale is of course far more expensive.

As a result, thermosiphons are being used strategically. For example, 14 of the devices were installed by Alaska state highway officials along a stretch of Chena Hot Springs Road outside Fairbanks about 16 years ago. The reason: The location lies at the bottom of a hill, where there is more permafrost, and so more permafrost-related problems, than in many steeper places, says John Zarling, professor emeritus of mechanical engineering at the University of Alaska Fairbanks.

"It's too costly to protect the whole world," Mr. Zarling explains. "So you pick the problem areas."

moose dropping festival

"Head to the VFW for the Moose Drop Dropping – a raffle sponsored by the VFW. Don't be late! (If you are on "Talkeetna Time", all you will get to watch is the kids and dogs kicking moose droppings around.) Shellacked and numbered moose poop is hauled up in the air in a net and then dropped on a bullseye. Raffle numbers correspond to numbers on moose poop. Winners include the closest and farthest from the bullseye. Sounds like not-much-fun but it is a highlight of the day!"

definitely the most interesting recreational activity I have found so far

Everyone who likes skiing, this is pretty intense.

this is something we could try while we're there if we have time and mulah

Only In Alaska

found this link while looking at stuff for recreation, I'll put some of it in my presentation. But thought it might be fun for everyone to glance through

Informational Websites

Hey guys, 

These are just some of the websites, that I have found information about Alaska with the Demographics and Economy, some which will be in my presentation and some will be left out.  Just in case anyone wants them in the future they will be posted below.

Cost of Living Alaska

Labor Statistics -

Tourism Facts -

Census Facts -

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Dear Students

I have made arrangements to visit the Port of Anchorage for a tour. Below is the correspondence from Leo Carroll, Director of Special Projects. He is really enthusiastic about our visit. Please read his letter and follow the suggested links to get a better understanding of the Port and its current issues. I will fill you in on the news on Friday:


It was nice talking to you today about your visit to the Port of Anchorage.  I have attached a link to our web page and would encourage you to look at the Intermodal Expansion Project information contained there. I have scheduled our meeting with you and your students for 10:00 am on Thursday January 28, 2010.  It will be held in the Port Administration Building Conference Room.  I will send an outlook calendar notice in a separate e-mail.  We have scheduled Governor Sheffield to attend the meeting. Barring any unforeseen schedule conflicts, he will be able to share some great insights with your students.  He is a former Governor of the State of Alaska, former Chairman of the Alaska Railroad, and is currently the Director of the Port of Anchorage.

We propose to give you a short presentation about the role the port plays as the transportation hub for shipping goods throughout Alaska and also the current Port Intermodal Expansion Project.  We are adding 135 new acres of commercial waterfront property, three new 100 gauge cranes, new docks, rail links, and a number of new facilities.  The project is scheduled for completion in 2015.  In the last 2 years we have added 60 acres of new land and a new wet barge berth and a new dry barge berth. The Port of Anchorage is mainly a commercial shipping port.  We have 2 containership companies that call on the port twice a week.  Each ship holds approximately 600 containers, so when they are fully loaded they will deliver 2,400 containers per week.  We also have calls from cement ships, steel ships, and many fuel ships and barges.  In addition, we are a Department of Defense Strategic Port.  We ship military equipment from all the 5 military bases in Alaska to various locations around the world.

As I mentioned in our conversation, we are very excited about our new cruise ship business.  We have had periodic visits from smaller cruise ships over the years. For instance the Residencesea ship “the World” called on the port last summer.  However, next summer we are having the Holland America Ship MS Amsterdam call on the port every other Monday. We have been told by Holland America that sales are going quite well.  If we are successful next summer there is a strong likelihood of increased cruise ship business.  In which case, we will need to look at long term arrangements to accommodate this business.

The bottom line is that your timing couldn’t be better.  We need to start thinking about a cruise terminal!

I hope the weather is clear when you and your students are here.  Right now I’m looking at the snow covered mountains across Cook Inlet and can see the plume rising from the Mount Readout Volcano.  This is a stunningly beautiful place when the weather is good.

We look forward to seeing you and your students.

Leo Carroll
Director of Special Projects
Port of Anchorage
2000 Anchorage Port Road
Anchorage, AK 99501

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Waste and the Cook Inlet

Next time you flush, think about where it goes

The other day, I was driving through Johnson Pass when I saw a guy pulled over along the side of the road. He was staring off into the mountains. At the other end of a long leash, his lab was leaving a deposit in the snow. I knew what the guy was up to. He wasn't going to clean it up. He was going to get in his car and drive away, as if nothing happened.

But before we judge him for thoughtlessly soiling a pristine landscape, I want to make a comparison. I want you to think about your toilet and what goes in it.

As adults, most of us do not like to get caught up in fantasy. We don't put lost teeth under our pillows and we know who leaves the presents under the tree. But there is a little pretend story we tell ourselves every time we put something nasty down the drain.

It just disappears, right? I mean, of course, some government someone somewhere --the EPA or the DEC or the FBI or whoever-- must be keeping an eye on things to make sure nothing bad happens. But in general, for most of us, it's out of sight, out of mind. Not too different from the guy with dog.

That's the way of thinking that keeps us from coming up with a better long-term plan to deal with the tons of pollution we dump in Cook Inlet every day. Think doo in the snow is gross? Try this: salty, oily run-off from city streets, runway de-icer and tons of filtered and chlorinated sewer discharge. Now imagine it marinating your halibut steaks.

This is our approach to waste water here. It has not changed much in 30 years.

Let us take a little trip down the drain. What you flush travels through a series of pipes until it reaches the waste water treatment plant at Point Woronzof. When it gets there, it goes through what is called "primary treatment." A big screen filters larger solids. Then the water goes to big basins, where floating material is skimmed off, and sludge is removed from the bottom. All that stuff gets incinerated. Heavy grit and incineration ash goes to the landfill. As one of the guys at the plant explained it to me, you got your "floaties," your "sinkies" and your "lurkers."

What lurks once you get rid of all that floats and sinks? Water soluble pollutants like detergents and chemicals, particles of decomposing human waste and bacteria. That "effluent," as it is called, gets chlorinated and heads out into the inlet. The liquid is relatively clear, but it has more decomposing material in it than what is being discharged almost everywhere else in America. Piping it into Cook Inlet is legal thanks to a waiver from the Environmental Protection Agency we've been getting renewed for the last three decades. We're in another renewal process right now.

Treatment plant:: Gravity sludge thickeners, foreground, and larger primary clarifiers are used in the wastewater treatment process. (ERIK HILL / Anchorage Daily News)Treatment plant:: Gravity sludge thickeners, foreground, and larger primary clarifiers are used in the wastewater treatment process. (ERIK HILL / Anchorage Daily News)

It used to be a lot of places got waivers like ours to pipe minimally treated sewer water into the ocean. That's not true any more. The number of waivers has gone from many to a handful. Now there are only a few places like us left (including a number of communities in Southeast Alaska). Many are smaller than Anchorage. Some big ones, like Honolulu and San Diego, may be forced to change because either the EPA or the locals aren't comfortable with what they're doing anymore. Sewage treatment upgrades cost hundreds of millions of dollars. These communities have been left to fight the EPA or scramble for a plan.

Some people say not to worry about the shrinking number of waivers. The inlet is uniquely suited for wastewater discharge, at least when it comes to the standards measured by the feds. It's silty, so murky effluent doesn't mess it up too much; it's churning, so pollution and chemicals disburse quickly; and it's super oxygenated, so there's enough oxygen for the metabolic processes of decomposing waste as well as the fish. The sewer utility tests methodically for heavy metals, industrial and agricultural pollutants. And in all these years, it hasn't found much that causes alarm. But then, there are many things it doesn't test for, including an emerging group of pollutants whose effects have not been widely studied. Take, for example, all of the anti-depressants swallowed and excreted by the people of our city, or the birth control pills, or the steroids or the antibiotics or the vitamins or the Benadryl tablets. And then there is all that laundry detergent, and the anti-microbial cleanser and the musk-scented body wash.

What does all that do? We don't know. Studies in other places have shown that pharmaceuticals and personal care products persist in the environment and do weird things to fish and mollusks, messing with reproduction. The EPA is studying these pollutants now, looking at what needs to be regulated. For the first time, the EPA will consider these as it goes through the process of considering renewal of our waiver. There is very little sewer technology anywhere to deal with emerging pollutants.

Complicating matters even more is the fact that Cook Inlet beluga whales have been recently listed as an endangered species, and federal regulators want more protection for the inlet. The EPA will consider all of that in the permit process, too. Whale populations declined, some experts say, because of subsistence hunting that wasn't well managed. That stopped, but the population didn't recover. No one knows why. No study has linked their problems to pollution from the sewer or anywhere else. But then, there haven't been that many studies. And as far as I can tell, there's also little known about how pollution from Anchorage affects other animals, including the fish and shellfish we eat.

We're banking on getting federal waivers forever, even though they are becoming rare in the U.S. There is growing concern about the environmental impact of a new group of pollutants in our waste discharge that we have no idea how to deal with. And we have an endangered whale population swimming where we are doing our dumping. Why not be pragmatic and face our waste? Why not start talking about our wastewater disposal and how we might pay, eventually, to improve it?

And while we're facing ugly water facts, maybe we should be thinking about storm water, too. It contains oils and road salts as well as lots of pet waste. It goes right into our urban creeks, untreated. Guess where they end up? And there's the airport, where propylene and ethylene glycol, as well as urea and potassium acetate (both known to kill fish in certain concentrations) are used to melt ice. Though there are efforts to curb it, some of that is making its way into the inlet, too. Some days at levels above what regulators consider kosher.

When I asked people about what our wastewater and run-off might be doing in the inlet, the main answer was that it hasn't been studied enough. That might be a place to start. If we know what's causing harm, we can address it. Right now, there are far more questions than answers.

In the meantime, try this: next time you flush or buy scented fabric softener or let your dog go on the trail, think about where it all ends up.

Do you really think we can keep doing this forever?

Inlet Tower Hotel

Helsinki Redevelopment

Here's a link the website for the Port of Helsinki in Finland. Helsinki has 4 major ports in the city, and there are proposals to turn 2 of the 4 into a housing and mixed-use development.

The 2 ports are the North and West Harbours.

Monday, January 18, 2010

7:00 to 9:30 pm
7:00 to 10:00 PM
Folk's Tales Back Alley Banned
Edward San Martin Rogues and Wenches
Chugach Mountain Range Cloggers Roger Fuson Story Teller
The Mouse Behind the Dresser Davya Flaharty
High Lonesome Sound Cherry Jam
Marcia Knorr Wade Hampton Miller
Denise Martin Batteries Not Included
John Alexandroff Marian Call
The Twangabillies HEADLINER 9:00 pm ~
1:00 to 6:00 pm
7:00 to10:15 pm
Greatland Children's Chorus Alaska Button Box Gang
Aunt Rhody's All Stars Red Elk
Henry Duffel TGB
Down Home Easy Jubilee
Mike Robins Melissa Beck
Almost Ready Copper River Drifters
Sir Ratsalot & Court Hip Hop Violinist
Cordova Kids Henry Shavings & Crew
Melanie Trost Ron Stevens
TAD A MAB Barbwire Twisters
Nuther Brothers Caitlin Hopper
HEADLINER 3:45pm ~ Robin Hopper
Midnight Sun Cloggers
Chugach Mtn Range Cloggers Youth Reverend Poor Child
Fountain of Youth
ANNUAL MEETING - 5:00 to 6:00 pm
1:00 to 5:00 pm
7:00 to10:30 pm
Trailblazers Cloggers Northern Lights Celtic Dancers
Cora Trowbridge Diamond Willow
It's All Relative Rachel & Dolores
Aziza Sapargasimova Grateful Reds
Esther Golton and Friends Peg Leg
Brenda Jaeger Al Koenig
George Faust Sourdough Biscuits
Delaney Scott Midnight Starlight
The St. Mary's Praise Singers
Bill and Crista HEADLINER 9:00 pm ~
Nick the Dream Weaver SWEET SUNNY SOUTH
Wilo Ensemble
JIm Kerr 10:15 or so ~
Crow Creek Pipes and Drums
Wendy Withrow
The Irish Dance Academy

Alaska Natives

Native traditions are celebrated across Alaska and Anchorage has several visitor attractions and special events aimed at sharing the culture.  Photo: © Kristen Kemmerling, ATMC/ATIA

Alaska Natives make up about 16% of the Alaska's total population, including more than 200 rural communities separated by vast distance and unique geographical regions. Anchorage is often considered the largest of Alaska Native villages.

Alaska Natives: Cultural Profiles

Aleut & Alutiiq
The area stretching from Prince William Sound west along the Gulf of Alaska to the Aleutian Islands is home to the Aleut and Alutiiq peoples. The natural marine environment defines subsistence lifestyles and cultures that date back more than 8,000 years ago. The Aleuts and the Alutiiq differ in language and culture but a commonality was created from the first contact with the Russians in the 18th century that is evident today.

The Alutiiq language, called Sugcestun or Alutiiq, is one of the Yupik branches of the Esk-Aleut language family. The Alutiiq are known for their skill in building and handling kayaks or baidarka, as the Russians called it.

The Aleut, also known as Unangan, are known for being expert boat builders and sailors and well known for their kayaks. The Aleut language, Unangax, also derives from the Esk-Aleut family.

Athabascan (Indian)
Athabascan Indians live in interior Alaska and have the largest land base of any other Alaska Native group. The Athabascan is efficient hunters and fishers and the moose, caribou, salmon and the birch tree are the most important resources. These provide food, clothes and shelter.

In summer, they spend a great deal of time at their fish camps along major river systems - including the Yukon, Tanana, Innoko, Chandelar, Koyokuk and Tolovana rivers. In winter, they hunt caribou, moose and smaller animals. There are 11 different languages spoken by Alaskan Athabascans.

Inupiaq & St. Lawrence Island Yupik (Eskimo)
The Inupiaq & St. Lawrence Island Yupik live in a region that stretches from the St. Lawrence Island to the northern Canadian border and beyond. Their territory also includes most of the Brooks Range.

Today, as in the past the food is determined by the region and season of the year. The hunter/gatherer societies is based largely on an active subsistence hunting and traditional use of foods such as, berries, salmon, moose, whale, walrus, seal, duck, and other marine mammals to provide substantial portions of their diet.

Tlingit, Haida, Eyak and Tsimshian (Indian)
These four Indian groups of southeastern Alaska are considered to be a part of the Pacific Northwest coast culture area. Each group speaks their own language and has their own clan systems.

The four cultures are similar in the use of art and oral traditions, as well as complex legal and social systems based upon matrilineal clans. They share a similar use of art and are known for their totem poles and dramatic carvings.

Yup'ik & Cup’ik (Eskimo)
The Yup'ik & Cup’ik people, named after the two main dialects of the Yup’ik language, live in southwestern Alaska from Bristol Bay along the Bering Sea coast to Norton Sound. The availability of fish, game and plants determined the location of seasonal camps and villages. Yup'ik & Cup’ik are hunters of moose, caribou, whale, walrus, seal and sea lions and harvest salmon and other fish from the Yukon, Kuskokwim and Nushagak rivers. Bird eggs, berries and roots help sustain people throughout the region.

The summer and fall seasons focus on gathering food and hunting while the winter season is for traditional ceremonies and festive events.

Alaskans drink beer?

No more bear maulings... That's a plus!

Quiet year for Anchorage bears after maulings of 2008

RARE: Officials had no reports of chasing or charging bruins.

Where did all the bad bruins go?

One summer after grizzlies swatted, chased and seriously mauled three people in the municipality of Anchorage, residents again this summer were hiking, biking and recreating in the great outdoors. The difference: they weren't being harassed and attacked by bears.

"I don't recall having any calls about close encounters this summer," said Rick Sinnott, an Alaska Department of Fish and Game biologist -- the same person who got an earful last summer from city residents after three people were mauled by grizzlies, two of them while using a trail in a city park.

In a typical summer, one or two people will report they have had a close encounter with a bear in Anchorage, but not this summer, Sinnott said. Not only have there been no maulings but he hasn't received any reports of people being charged or chased by bears.

"It is a little quieter than usual," he said.

Officials don't know for sure why it was an encounter-free summer, but point to better education of humans, increased use of bear-resistant garbage cans and fewer salmon running in city streams as possible causes.

Whatever the reason, it's a lot quieter than last summer when badly behaving bears had city residents joining two emotionally charged camps: those who wanted all the bears killed and those who wanted them left alone. Most residents wanted something done but weren't sure what.

The din to do something grew after a 15-year-old girl in a bike race in Far North Bicentennial Park was mauled by a grizzly and nearly bled to death. The call to action got louder when a middle-aged runner was attacked by a grizzly on the same trail.

Residents living outside the city proper weren't immune to bad bear behavior. A man in Eagle River, about 10 miles north of Anchorage, was walking home one evening when he ended up boxing a brown bear. He was injured in the encounter but escaped with his life. Ask him and he says he won the fight.

"It was just a weird year for brown bear incidences," Sinnott said.

This summer was eerily quiet compared to last summer, but wildlife officials say from their perspective it was a more normal summer.

"In the past, prior to last year, there would be an occasional sighting of a bear's behind going across the trail or scat on the trail," said John McCleary, recreation superintendent for Anchorage Parks and Recreation. "That is what I call normal."

The only bear-mauling deaths to have occurred in the municipality were in July 1995 when a mother and son were killed by a bear defending a moose carcass along a trail.

Sinnott said human behavior may have changed this summer in Anchorage. Fewer cars have been parked at Far North Bicentennial Park where the two women were attacked last summer on Rover's Run trail. The trail, which runs next to a salmon stream, was closed in early June to reduce the chances of people encountering hungry bears. It remains closed but may be reopened now that cold weather and winter is on the way.

McCleary said park usage appears to be getting back to normal.

Killing the bear that attacked runner Clivia Feliz probably did the most to quiet things this summer, Sinnott said. An analysis of DNA found in saliva and hair revealed it was the same bear, also believed to have chased and charged other park users. The sow's two cubs were sent to the Indianapolis Zoo.

"Part of it was one brown bear sow with her two cubs that was in the wrong place at the wrong time -- from a human perspective -- and was willing to take protection of her cubs to the limit," Sinnott said.

The DNA test determined that it was not the bear who committed the most serious attack of the summer when Petra Davis' carotid artery was partially severed and her trachea crushed during the bike race.

Removing the troublesome sow also didn't explain why the Eagle River area was quiet this summer after Devon Rees was attacked last summer. There also were numerous reports of people being charged by perhaps a second grizzly in the town, Sinnott said.

Maybe the bear "wasn't in the mood" or moved on, he said.

"I don't know," Sinnott said.

Organizers of Anchorage's "Bear Aware? Know Before You Go" program said thousands of people received education this summer on how to avoid bears and what to do if you encounter one. Activities included bear know-how games for children and bear clinics for adults.

After last summer, some residents were afraid to enjoy the city parks, said Elizabeth Manning, education and outreach specialist for Fish and Game.

"We have just been trying to arm people with as much education and information so they can get over that fear," Manning said.

The increased use of bear resistant trash cans by residents also may be making a difference, Manning said. Use is up from about 150 cans a couple of years ago to about 800 now.

Friday, January 15, 2010


two of my favorite subjects: inflatables + iceberg  = oh yea... check this out at Strange Harvest, a great archi-blog... 
"This inflatable Iceberg™ is another example. While the Artic ice shelf collapses perhaps by designing, marketing, and playing with these inflatable iceburgs is a way of dealing with loss - a sad desire to re-make the world as we found it rather than what it has become. On the other hand, this could be irony heavy, Futurist-esque celebration of the increasingly artificial landscape we inhabit - a fun way to be part of the problem."

read all about it

Below are two articles about the proposed ferry port landing. It is a bit heated if you look at the comments section. We are not held to these situations, but I thought you should know about public debate.

Question for you guys: I have been going back and forth on the question of whether we should ask for a meeting with people in the government (mayor's office) who have been looking at this potential project. On the one hand it seems like they would have good insight into the "reality" of the situation, but on the other hand, sometimes too much focus on this bogs the creative part of the project down. In general, people in government like to meet with students, so I don't think it would be a problem getting the meeting, but wanted to throw it out there as a public debate. So, what do you think?

Here are the articles:

History of Anchorage

Thursday, January 14, 2010

The Trouble with Wilderness; or, Getting Back to the Wrong Nature

by William Cronon, May 2005

The time has come to rethink wilderness.

This will seem a heretical claim to many environmentalists, since the idea of wilderness has for decades been a fundamental tenet—indeed, a passion—of the environmental movement, especially in the United States. For many Americans wilderness stands as the last remaining place where civilization, that all too human disease, has not fully infected the earth. It is an island in the polluted sea of urban-industrial modernity, the one place we can turn for escape from our own too-muchness. Seen in this way, wilderness presents itself as the best antidote to our human selves, a refuge we must somehow recover if we hope to save the planet. As Henry David Thoreau once famously declared, “In Wildness is the preservation of the World.” (1)

But is it? The more one knows of its peculiar history, the more one realizes that wilderness is not quite what it seems. Far from being the one place on earth that stands apart from humanity, it is quite profoundly a human creation—indeed, the creation of very particular human cultures at very particular moments in human history. It is not a pristine sanctuary where the last remnant of an untouched, endangered, but still transcendent nature can for at least a little while longer be encountered without the contaminating taint of civilization. Instead, it’s a product of that civilization, and could hardly be contaminated by the very stuff of which it is made. Wilderness hides its unnaturalness behind a mask that is all the more beguiling because it seems so natural. As we gaze into the mirror it holds up for us, we too easily imagine that what we behold is Nature when in fact we see the reflection of our own unexamined longings and desires. For this reason, we mistake ourselves when we suppose that wilderness can be the solution to our culture’s problematic relationships with the nonhuman world, for wilderness is itself no small part of the problem.

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Artic Ice Caps

decent article on melting ice caps + effects:

Scientists go to extremes for Arctic research

If you want to know how polar bears are doing, it's not enough to spy on them with satellite telemetry and other technology. You have to go where they live.

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You have to tap into the stories these bears carry in and on their bodies, and drop in on the tiniest of organisms beneath the places they walk, the ones that feed the shrimp-like creatures that feed the fish that feed the seals that feed the bears.

That's what scientists did for five weeks this fall aboard the U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Polar Sea as they addressed the question: How are polar bears coping with sea-ice loss due to climate change?

To get some answers, they traveled to a part of the world few get to see, and far fewer get to see from beneath the sea ice. Or would want to.

"It's definitely not for everyone," said Katrin Iken, associate professor of marine biology at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, who led the team of ice researchers from UAF.

The ice divers, layered in polypropylene, fleece and dry suits, went to work through holes cut in the ice to gather samples from biological communities associated with sea ice. Tethered to a team member above, they went as deep as 40 feet to explore the bottoms of ice ridges -- the underwater version of the pressure ridges up top -- for a look at what lives down there.

In the big picture, it's all about understanding what melting ice means to the larger food web in the Arctic.

To Iken, the underside of sea ice is a beautiful and fascinating place.

Shawn Harper, team member and underwater photographer, calls it "captivating" and "otherworldly."

Among those working up top was George Durner, an Anchorage research zoologist with the USGS Alaska Science Center. He's been capturing and collecting data on polar bears since the early 1990s, helping keep tabs on the southern Beaufort Sea population, currently estimated at 1,500. Durner and his colleagues do the majority of their sampling in the spring based out of Barrow, Prudhoe Bay and Kaktovik, flying 50-100 miles offshore.

"You can only fly a helicopter so far before you have to go back and get more fuel," he explained.

The Polar Sea expedition offered a chance to go places he's never been able to access before, including this summer's ice pack, the edge of which was more than 200 miles off the coast of Alaska.


Access to this remote sea-ice habitat will help researchers understand how bears that spend their summers in profoundly different ways fare by comparison in the face of climate change.

In the past two decades, due to extensive sea ice retreat, bears have split up, either spending their summers on the deep-water pack ice far offshore, or spending it on land. Based on radio telemetry, researchers estimate that at least 80 percent stay with the pack ice. And what they are hearing from seal researchers is that there aren't a lot of seals out that far.

One problem: This year, the extent of the summer sea ice was the third-lowest on record.

Researchers had their sights on 11 previously collared bears for recapture and comparative sampling. But because the ice was too thin to do their work safely, for themselves and for the bears, they were able to capture and sample only four.

"The irony of it all is the very processes whose effect we are attempting to study was basically keeping us from doing our research," Durner said. "But we did get some very good data from these animals, and we learned a lot."

He and other project scientists, including collaborators from the University of Wyoming and the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, are still analyzing that data, so it will be awhile before they can say what it all means.

That, he said, is going to take a lot of serious thinking.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Youtube Test

Heres an awesome video that I found!