Feb 16, 2011
One of the things that most Alaskans feel is a positive about our state is the ability for its citizens to get involved in the ‘politics’ of the state and stand the chance of actually having an impact if so desired.
Predator controls, aerial wolf shooting , a teacher killed by wolves, bear maulings, coupled with subsistence issues have all made the headlines in the past. All of these issues get dealt with, or ignored, by our state Board of Game, part of the state’s Department of Fish and Game. The Board members are appointed, once they voice an interest, by the Governor and then confirmed by the legislature for terms that expire on a rotating basis.
There are a number of Advisory Committees, each dedicated to a specific geographical area and serve as a place for local residents and villages to address issues that come before the Board of Game. Anyone can make proposals for changes in statues of how game units are run. Every three years each area comes before the Board for those proposals to be reviewed and dealt with.
The Alaska Peninsula, that long skinny part of the state that stretches out to where the Aleutian Islands begins is up before the Board in March. Proposals have all been submitted months ago by a variety of local residents, village and city councils, guides, concerned citizens and of course the Department of Fish and Game.
Our Advisory Board, that deals with a small portion of that area, met this about three weeks in Pilot Point.
Due to a horrific event on Christmas Eve that happened in our yard the interest from this household was even more peaked than normal. This interest comes on top of heightened interest due to an area teacher being attacked and killed by wolves last year, a continued issue with nuisance Brown bears and diminished opportunities for hunting game meat.
To make it to that meeting those of us in the villages near Pilot Point had one option of traveling over the frozen swamps, lakes and river to get there.
While making this trip under mostly blue skies, low winds and temperatures hovering around 0 degrees, not counting windchill it came to mind that many would have no idea what that entailed.
This distance between the two villages is only about 7 miles by way of the crow flying but overland in the winter it turns into about a 10-12 mile trek. Snowmobiles and 4-wheelers traversus a frozen river, a number of creeks both frozen and not, frozen lakes, and a swamp that can frozen but again can have spots where it is not. (the thing to remember is we are near active volcanoes and this means there is activity that keeps some things from freezing solid all winter)
There has been some good snowfall in the week beforehand that I had heard caused a few places in the trail to need shoveling to clear. Also the trail is not marked except by tracks from traffic which can disappear from either more heavy snowfall or thawing that erase them.
We have to deal with things like ‘overflow’ which is where the tide as it moved up and down seeps up into low areas where the ice is cracked.
We must also move through areas where the ice has not frozen smooth. These types of areas can have parts where it is just a little heave…..
….or these heave areas can go on for some time and be higher or rougher than you can transverse with a snowmobile or 4-wheeler.
There is also the issue of getting on and off the actual river. Think of it this way….if all the ‘beach’ is taken up and all you have are the high banks of the river…how do you get up and over it?
Of course we have the normal issue of things like fog. I have literally seen fog move fast enough to overtake a speeding skiff!! Just the other day I watched the fog roll in ……
…….and cover more than 8 miles in less than 5 minutes!
So, given all these issues sometimes getting to a meeting to lend your voice to an issue needs a little extra ‘consideration’ than just jumping in a car for the short 7 mile ride!!