Archive for April, 2010

NPFMC to host Council Coordination Committee in Anchorage in May

April 23, 2010
Standing, left to right: Denby Lloyd, Sam Cotten, Roy Hyder, Dave Benson, Doug Mecum, Mike Cerne, John Henderschedt, Bill Tweit.  Seated, left to right:  Duncan Fields, Dan Hull, Dave Hanson, Eric Olson, Nicole Ricci, Ed Dersham, and Lisa Ragone.

Apr 23, 2010

From Groundswell Fisheries Movement:

Alaska regional fish council to host coordination committee May 17-21, 2010

Posted by Stephen Taufen on Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The North Pacific Fishery Management Council is going to host all of the nation’s regional fishery management council’s leaders in Anchorage from May 17-21, 2010.  The Magnuson-Stevens Reauthorization Act established the Council Coordination Committee (CCC) which holds two annual meetings, one hosted by a RFMC (regional fishery management council).  We haven’t seen any public notification of this meeting and the clock is ticking…

Apparently public oral and written comments may be allowed…. so stay tuned.  NOAA is required to give adequate public notice, as well.

The CCC’s May 17-21 Anchorage meeting agenda is not yet available.  It is expected that Director Jane Lubchenco and other top NOAA officials and guests will be present, along with council and other muckety mucks.

Read the post here.

We also looked for the agenda and call for comments and haven’t had any luck. We will update this thread as more information becomes available to the public.

Great Horned Owls Roosting in Ugashik

April 21, 2010

Apr 21, 2010

Surprise!!! The Couple Were Found!

After I wrote the last post I planned to go searching for last year’s Tundra Swan nest before they showed up and the bears were out. I also planned to head down to the old village cannery to see if there was any evidence of the Great Horned Owls nesting or at least roosting.

Well as beautiful as it was yesterday it was overcast, windy and cool today. Today was spent running some errands; mail, supplies for demolition work crew and more items to the mail hut for shipping out.

More than normal spring cleaning of quarters but that nasty job is about done so I was planning for a quick salmon dinner from the freezer tonight.

After checking on our generator, the dogs and I headed to the warehouse to pull dinner from the freezer.

As we walked in on the ground I spotted……

Since this is a fuzzy, wispy kind of feather AND hubby had just cleaned the warehouse and floor before leaving this week for work I KNEW there was a good chance we had had visitors.

I looked up into the rafter and sure enough I spotted one owl, THEN I heard a soft hoot! Over on another rafter was another owl.

No camera, do I risk heading back to the house, an eighth of a mile? Yes, go quick!

As I was coming back to the warehouse I hear more soft hoots, a sound I just love and the dogs HATE!

Thank heavens the Chessy was off doing something else or she would have been barking to get rid of those pesky owls!

Went in and looked up again…the happy couple were now together. Got off ONE fuzzy photo and then battery goes dead!! Damn, damn and damn again!

Scramble back to the house!

Come back for a few more pictures.

You can see they have different coloring, one with more white on the breast and underside of the tail. It is unusual to have them in the warehouse this time of year BUT we normally do not have it open this early AND there are not usually people in the old village. cannery.

Then enough was enough when it came to my talking to them, the dogs watching and the picture taking. The last shot, if you look on the far left side in the space between the door opening you will see the faint outline of one flying out. Wing span is 6+ ft.

Life goes on in Ugashik.

~ Victoria

Spring is coming to Ugashik…

April 20, 2010

Apr 20, 2010

During the last week or so the weather is managing to stay above freezing during the day, although nights still dip into the 20s.

It seems spring is finally on its way.

Last week, while at the funeral of an elder I saw some “Queen Anne’s Lace” plant/weed poking through the brown tundra. Got me realizing spring is coming faster than it seemed.

Once home I went looking to see if we had anything showing yet. Not yet, funny how a few miles makes a difference.

Part of what I am trying to learn while here in Alaska is to recognize local/native ‘greens’. I have forest foraged in the past for things like fiddle heads and chanterelle mushrooms. I got a good book recommendation from Erin when her and hubby Hig were traveling through here in 2008. ‘Am learning but it is a slow deal.

Tundra Swans – photo: R. Dreeszen

We have been seeing Tundra swans coming in groups of two and three. A few geese too, mostly small groups. Today while we were at the airstrip we heard cranes, which took us a bit to find where they were. Sure enough a group of three of them were flying around. The pale brown with black wing tips are easy to spot.

Our village dock, remember that one that has had LOTS of grant monies invested in it, is due to be demolished starting this week. They TRIED to work on it last year, details later, but it managed to collapse on them so down it will come. (No one was hurt which was the most important thing)

Great Horned Owl

We have a pair, maybe more, of Great Horned owls that hang out there part of the time. I am hoping that I will get a tad bit of time in the next few days to hunt around to see if I can find out where they might be nesting this spring. Each year we end up with the parents and at least one of the youngsters in our warehouse off and on all the summer. There are no trees in our area so they have only 2-3 places they can be nesting. I found them in a local barge two years ago and got to see little furry heads poking out of the nest a few times. So special.

I am off to explore..see if I can find the old nest of the Tundra swans from last year that were out on the lake behind us. To see if I can find the owl nest for this spring and see what other goodies are sprouting this spring….will report back in a bit!

~ Victoria

More and More Chicks in Rural Alaska!

April 16, 2010

Apr 16, 2010

Remember last May when Victoria received a shipment of baby chicks?

Between something delaying my chicks from getting in the mail until after our mail plane already left yesterday, bad weather this morning – snowing and fog, and then the normal airline red tape, my poor baby chicks got here about a day late.

I had 19 DOA and one more expired a bit later. I THINK I brought about 10 back from near death, won’t know for sure until tomorrow or next day.

I was reminded of this entry after reading a post over at the Tundra Chicks blog. Saima talks about a box of chicks she received awhile back from Triple D Farms which piqued my curiosity. Could something as simple as a box of baby chicks make a difference in a rural community?

Triple D Farms not only ships many breeds of chicks throughout rural Alaska, they also ship just-hatched turkeys, geese, ducks and peacocks.

According to Mother Earth News:

Right before hatching, chicks and other baby poultry absorb the last of the yolk — their food source during incubation. For most species, this last bit of yolk provides enough nutrition to sustain the baby for about three days without eating or drinking, which makes shipping chicks through the mail possible, if they arrive quickly.

And how common are chickens in rural Alaska? The Village Rural Blog at the Anchorage Daily News asked that last October and here are some comments:


wrote on 10/06/2009 08:26:39 AM:

(snip) As for it being common, my grandmother’s sister has about 5 chickens that she keeps in a coop in the summer and her garage in the winter. I have 14. I think the Iten’s have a dozen or so in camp… Its becoming pretty common probably because of the rising grocery prices here in Kotz. The chickens that I have haven’t started laying eggs yet but they are coming on 20 weeks pretty fast and that is when they usually start to lay. I’m going to provide them with a light all winter so they can become seasoned layers by the spring. I plan on getting a couple of turkeys next spring to raise until the fall, we’ll see how that goes. Anyway I’ll try to get some pictures to you this week. Thanks for posting this.


wrote on 10/05/2009 03:20:21 PM:

The mayor in Grayling (on the yukon) has been raising chickens for about 6 years now. The Grayling school also started raising a different group of chickens last year. Its nice to have fresh eggs for a much cheaper price… the chickens are fairly easy to care for.


wrote on 10/04/2009 11:19:39 PM:)

Igiugig, a small community on Lake Iliamna, has chickens too.

We heard about the last one from Vic after she returned from the sustainable gardening conference in March:

We then heard about Igiugig, in the northern part of Bristol Bay with about 60 people in the winter. This village serves a number of lodges and outside visitors in the summer. They have also been working on becoming sustainable for years in some pretty ground breaking ways.

They have a community food scraps for eggs program. Residents bring food scraps to a central location and in exchange are able to get fresh eggs from a community flock of chickens.

Chickens will never replace salmon in the kitchens of rural Alaska but their eggs could be an affordable supplement to the diets of many village residents. Flocks of chickens could translate into cash-based egg and poultry businesses as we follow the  trend to eat locally.

We would like to hear from people who raise chickens in rural Alaska and other similar climates. What areas are best suited, what are the best breeds? How would a village get started such as Igiugig did?

Additional reading

We don’t like to get political here but for people who no longer consider Sarah Palin a politician, hop over to Tundra Chicks and read about Sarah Palin, the bossy white chicken…

So here’s Sarah Palin, she’s white, she’s proud of being white, and she lets everyone know that she’s the only white momma in the chicken house!

Here you see Miss Palin snacking on her favorite treat, popcorn. If another chicken comes into eyesight of her treat she will scream and peck until they leave her pile alone. Yeah, she’s my most bossiest chicken momma yet.

Coincidentally, chicken Sarah Palin came from the very same Double D Farm that hosted the real Sarah Palin’s Turkey pardoning.

~ Jane

Become an Anonymous Blogger!!

April 15, 2010

Apr 15, 2010

Last year we concentrated on life in two areas, the  lower Yukon and Bristol Bay. Going forward we are expanding our scope and hope to hear from people from all parts of bush Alaska. It’s hard for people on the outside to understand how different life in the bush is. We all got a glimpse of it last winter and it was eye-opening.

If you live in bush Alaska and would like to become an anonymous blogger or you are passionate about rural issues and have knowledge to share, please consider becoming a contributor to this blog.

If you are a blogger and post something that would be of interest to our readers, let’s cross post. Photographs are always welcome and sometimes tell stories that words can’t.

We support positive discussion and allow respectful opposing views. We don’t tolerate narrow, closed-minded opinions and moderate the comments closely.

If you would like to join us in our effort to bring rural issues that affect your life or your community or you feel you have something to say that could make life better for those living in a remote corner of our planet, please let us know.

This blog was started with the purpose of bringing attention to the progress and the plight that  rural Alaskans face.

If you can help us moving forward, you are welcome here.


We apologize to our subscribers for the number of emails you received today. There was no other way to restore some damaged pages and we felt their inclusion was important in maintaining the continuity of the blog for new readers.

We have replaced missing photos where we could but many were unrecoverable so we have tried to remove links to all of them. If you run across broken links we missed, please drop us a line. Also, some pages were highly pictorial and lost their value without photos. They have been deleted.

Ann Strongheart Leaves Anonymous Bloggers

April 14, 2010

Apr 14, 2010

Ann’s life has taken some sudden new turns. We don’t have many details, but she has chosen to leave Anonymous Bloggers to pursue other interests — a new life, a new love, a new home. We know this comes as a bit of a surprise to you as it has to us.  However, we have revisited our goals for the work we set out to do, and we continue to move forward with our mission of starting conversations about life and issues in rural Alaska.

To our subscribers:

You will be receiving emails of repaired posts that had been damaged. We apologize for the inconvenience.

Why do we do this?

April 12, 2010

Apr 12, 2010

We learned much about life in Nunam Iqua last winter during the fuel/food crisis. Here’s a look at a side of the village that is not pretty but only by discussing solutions will life in bush Alaska ever change.

Alaska Pi addressed it thoughtfully at Her post is reprinted here with permission.


An important story hit the news this week, first in the Tundra Drums, then in the rural blog at the ADN.

Staff quits Nunam clinic; officials scramble to find solution


The employees at a Southwest Alaska village clinic are quitting, citing a lack of local police that makes their job potentially dangerous and exposes them to harassment from fellow villagers.


The Juneau Empire and Associated Press have picked it up.

Information about what is going on in the bush is sparse and often lacking context. This story , as reported in both original venues, is more well rounded and in context than is the norm.

The comments on the ADN story took the usual turn … right away.

Important facts and issues in the story took an immediate backseat or were forgotten in the stampede to spout off about village life, Alaska Natives, Native corporations, big and samll…

Aside from the lack of knowledge displayed by so many commenting there ( yikes- those folks are my neighbors too !) the utter disregard for the issues facing Nunam Iqua, the health clinic there, the VPSO program as it really works was astounding.

The articles , right away,  set me to thinking about my community and what we do and what we expect :

In my community first responders, EMTs, are accompanied/met by police officers who secure unsafe  situations so that medical folks can do their job.

In my community bullies and ne’er-do-wells are brought to task when they try to shove others around…

In my community harassing health care workers would bring the whole town down around the ears of the harasser(s)…

Nunam Iqua has a long way to go to come together as a community,  picking up and making it’s way into the future, but simplistic responses to these troubles won’t get them there…

Not within Nunam nor without…

Nor will ignoring the problems there , willfully or by default,  advance Alaska as a larger community.

Not within Nunam nor without…

Far too often villages stay quiet about problems  simply because of all the horsepunky which crops up immediately like the move-who-cares-you-all-drink- gobbbeldy gook  spouted off at the ADN.

If we are going to get real about solving domestic violence and related unacceptable behavior , we are going to have to get real about our attitudes…

All of us…

While solutions must start in the community, it must gain the  will to face it’s own problems, they must be solidified by the larger community with  the kind of framework and infrastructure  which supports the rest of us in our quests for safe communities.

So, why do we do we always seem to derail off into the ozone  when stories like this appear?

To the point of forgetting what the point even is…?

Why do we do this?

Sustainable Gardening: Village Success Stories

April 5, 2010

Apr 5, 2010

It has been an interesting March and very early start of April. Not sure where the last month went but as it seems we are sliding into the final days of what I always USED to think of as spring, my head it planning for things in the ground. The gardener/farmer never leaves the soul!

The Fairbanks Agriculture conferences were even MORE fantastic, sorry I know that’s not the best use of English!, than it was last year.!!

I then was able to take a little time to head south to the lower 48 to see dashes of spring, much needed and absolutely heaven!! It has been a great way to end the month and start a new one.

What was also nice is I got a chance to defuse some, absorb what all I had seen and learned the previous week, then on top of that, get to do more ‘research’ into another area’s agriculture.

Now to roll all of that into some planned thoughts and hopefully future action.

To see the effort that goes into making agriculture an industry in Alaska is amazing. So many people working to further the residents and businesses of the state getting good fresh products continues to amaze me. Everything from putting together more and better CSA’s to seeing if we can form a statewide organization to serve various needs of the industry is great to see.

We saw so much effort being put into food being grown in places such as Galena, off the road system, Igiugig, a tiny Bristol Bay village, and even rainy places such as Skagway.

Galena shared how they were excited to hear last year that they should be able to get a high tunnel, similar to a greenhouse but without heat, delivered into Alaska at a reasonable cost of $1200. This had happened in other areas in Alaska and this gave them some hope. You see Galena has been on this sustainable food ‘kick’ for a few years already.

They hold a food fair in the late summer, help each other learn new ways to garden and are getting more and more of their own villagers involved each year.

Well it seems that this is the story on the high tunnel….

High tunnel (freight included) to Alaska …..$1200
Highway built so high tunnel can be ‘delivered’ …..$2.3 billion
Desire to have fresh local grown food…..priceless

To say that we ALL laughed and many understood first hand would have been an understatement!

Soooo they dug in and went to work salvaging anything and everything they could to help put up small cold frames and sheltered areas and getting still more people involved. We were shown pictures of 5 gal buckets with potatoes growing in them, windowsills filled with starts of things like tomatoes. This village that is northwest of Anchorage, off the road system, in a growing zone of 2, I believe. The roughly 600 people there are putting a large value on growing as much of their own food as possible. This might mean a bucket of potatoes or a full sized garden, but producing food none the less.

We then heard about Igiugig, in the northern part of Bristol Bay with about 60 people in the winter. This village serves a number of lodges and outside visitors in the summer. They have also been working on becoming sustainable for years in some pretty ground breaking ways.

They have a community food scraps for eggs program. Residents bring food scraps to a central location and in exchange are able to get fresh eggs from a community flock of chickens.

The community had gotten a small grant to help start a greenhouse, acquire some low tech garden machinery and other technical help to assist them in increasing their current food production. The village had been growing things like potatoes as a staple for some time to help subsidize villagers subsistence efforts.

They were able to increase their food growing knowledge, potato production and other needed skills to move forward toward still more sustainability with the help of a visiting extension agent.

Although their first attempt at constructing and running a small greenhouse ended when they got close to a full week or 50+mph winds that blew the structure all over the tundra they have not given up.

They are back at it this year with a structure to withstand the winds better and I believe bigger still. I will be watching to see how they do.

What all the communities have in common is that the effort is happening from the ground up. People want to have a hand more in the furnishing of their own food. Part of it comes from the economics of it but also the increased variety we can get by growing some of our own.

After a packed week I headed to the lower 48 for some R&R. Of course laced with just relaxing I got in a time for a bead and then needlework shop visit.

More importantly a great local neighborhood farmers market, time on the water front browsing vendor booths and peeking in on a cheese making facility. (I laugh at myself each time I get near a cheese making facility. When I was attending university there is NO WAY you would get me into food processing and especially cheese processing. At that time it was dominated by large yucky product producing companies, in my eyes. NOW I would give my eye teeth to have had some experience in cheese making … hopefully in time :-)

To see how the farmer’s markets have progressed from mainly fruits, veggies and flowers to now offering local meats, smoked products, fish products, of course fruits, vegetables and flowers. There are local cheese and candy makers. Even a company that was making jewelry from seeds. All local and mostly organic.

There is hope for villages and our rural areas. I KNOW we can grow and produce at least some of these products.

None of these companies are big, have huge inventories or ship their products far from home. They all spend time trying to improve their products and offer something the customers want.  I do believe it is possible for many areas to offer products to support the variety of different businesses that are in the areas; processing facilities, lodges, guides, restaurants and of course schools. These can help to supplement the local year around markets and provide opportunities for small companies.

It is just a matter of exposure, belief that it is possible and support from all of us. Maybe overly optimistic but I guess that is what keeps me going in bush Alaska.

~ Victoria Briggs