Archive for January, 2012

Just Have to See!

January 26, 2012

Ugashik Lagoon

As parts of the US have had mild weather, then killer storms, and some parts of Alaska are getting buried by record snows the Alaska Peninsula has had just ‘heavy’ snows and a long cold snap.

As usually the case for our part of Alaska when we get these cold snaps we usually get lots of bright sunshine!

SunDogs in January

It makes for some great opportunities to enjoy the abundant wildlife .

A neighbor!

One resident, Robert Dreezsen, and his wife live in an area of the Alaska Peninsula many do not venture into during our coldest months. He has agreed to share some of his great pictures with all of you. We hope you enjoy them as much as we do!

A pair of eagles seen fairly often in the area.

A Chuckle While Tidying Up…

January 11, 2012

Tidying Up

A couple of our favorite blogs have changed their “homes” recently. We would like to congratulate them on their new digs and encourage you to look at the the projects they’ve taken on since moving.

Bill Hess , Alaskan photographer and blogger extraordinaire (amongst all his other accomplishments and activities ) has moved from his delightful Wasilla by 300…  to a more photograph friendly set up at Logbook -Alaska, Wasilla, Beyond.   The quality of the visuals on his new site are blow-your-shorts-off better . Bill is the same , thank heavens, and has created another wonderful place to visit.

Saima of Kotzebue had started a blog about raising chickens in the far north at Tundra Chicks in 2009 on a Blogger platform. This last October she moved to a WordPress platform and the new tundrachicks  promises to continue to delight as a window on her chicken projects as well as family life .

The links in our blogroll on our Home Page lead to the new homes our neighbors have moved to and we hope you stop by and see what they are up to!

A Welcome Smile

Search terms which bring  folks to Anonymous Bloggers tend to be fairly predictable. People who have questions about Alaskan Salmon, cold climate housing, cold climate gardening, and fishing issues stop by regularly since they tend to choose  those terms for searching.

We see folks regularly popping in to read the little bit we have about subsistence issues, alternative energy info, and so on.

Sometimes a term just makes us wonder though, wonder how it got people here and what they got out of their visit.

In this last few days “just found out alaska is not an island” has brought someone(s) to visit here 3 times.

I laughed until I almost cried when I saw that in the Search Engine Terms list in the background here.

It reminded me of so many funny and sometimes frustrating attempts to get things shipped into or out of Southeast Alaska, trying to explain we don’t have UPS Ground because we don’t have any roads ,well yes, we have local roads, but there is no road into or out of Southeast, no, we’re not nearer Hawaii than Seattle, the barges which serve us come out of Seattle, yes, we are mostly islands but also part of the continental United States while not being part of the contiguous United States… Agh!

I remembered opening a gift at Christmas when I was 6 and how my excitement  turned to horror when I really looked at it . It was a map puzzle of America and Alaska was an island off in the South Pacific ! My ma assured me with a smile that Alaska hadn’t fallen off  the continent but I never did put that puzzle piece back in that place. I  laid it north of  Washington State and taped it on so it wouldn’t fall off ever again!

We appreciate everyone who stops by, even and especially those who remind us in unconventional ways of how much we treasure this place, this Alaska, this non-island on the huge island of North America.

Thanks for stopping by.

CDQ 101

January 8, 2012

We are  approaching the  first decennial  review of CDQ entities after  2006 changes to the law governing the Community Development Quota program and entities took effect.

UgaVic and I hope to talk about a number of the issues surrounding CDQs and the upcoming review in the coming weeks.

We thought it might be best to start  with a very basic overview of the CDQ program- to refresh the memory of those who know about it already, as well as   provide a framework for those who have never heard of it.

Setting the blade on high and risking leaving some very rough patches as I blaze over the subject but hoping to be somewhat inclusive of any folks who have never heard of CDQs I will make a flying run at it all.
CDQ, Community Development Quota , is the federal legislative response to concern by small communities on the Bering Sea in relation to their ability to partake in the catch share programs in federal waters off the coast they live on.
The law established that a percentage of  yearly allowable catch , in multiple fisheries, be set aside for these villages who could not and would not be eligible for shares under the rules established for allocation of shares otherwise because of their historical lack of presence in the fisheries . (Their lack of presence , the whys, hows, and wherefores is a piece of the whole but needs a post by itself) )
Six regional non-profits were organized to manage the monies derived from the profits the sales of the set aside quota made. The ones I’ve had occasion to cross paths with are organized as 501(c)(4)s -social welfare-but I have never checked to see if all six are. Member villages  have representatives in the regional corporations. Each CDQ entity has bylaws governing how those representatives are chosen.
As often happens, the term CDQ began to stand for the organizations themselves as well as the program  so there’s a lot of flinging around of the term which gets confusing.
The law required that all CDQs have Community Development Plans and limited investments , outside of monies earmarked for education opportunities for stakeholders in their villages, to fishery infrastructure and support related projects.
It also required yearly state oversight of the CDPs to see if  intent and reality matched
Within a few years , some of the CDQs started fishing their own quota rather than receiving the monies  from sale of their quota, by investing as partners in other companies or buying their own boats/ships/processor companies. This was hailed as win-win as they  were then in the position of being able to provide employment opportunities to their stakeholders as well.
Along the way , the law was changed to drop yearly state oversight, lengthen reporting time between CDPs,  and allow for some non-fisheries related investment amongst other changes.
Some CDQs now  have large for-profit corporations  which operate as “feeders” of monies to the parent non-profits.There have been wrangles over how much information the “feeders” do or do not share with their parent non-profits and stakeholders, as well as how much  information the CDQ entities must share with their stakeholders .

People ask about  what  the real benefits to CDQ communities are/ might be – it’s not simple to answer.
Many of the metrics used to measure benefit fall into what I think of as taking the temperature of the picture of the people on the box the thermometer came in.
They are measures of dollars piled up, spread around, employment figures without full context, glossies of completed projects, and so on.

The current  law says :


(i) IN GENERAL.—During calendar year 2012 and every 10 years thereafter, the State of Alaska shall evaluate the performance of each entity participating in the program based on the criteria described in clause (ii).

(ii) CRITERIA.—The panel shall establish a system to be applied under this subparagraph that allows each entity participating in the program to assign relative

values to the following criteria to reflect the particular needs of its villages:

(I) Changes during the preceding 10-year period in population, poverty level, and economic development in the entity’s member villages.

(II) The overall financial performance of the entity, including fishery and nonfishery investments by the entity.

(III) Employment, scholarships, and training supported by the entity.

(IV) Achieving of the goals of the entity’s community development plan.

At this point, the State of Alaska is attempting to develop a way to evaluate performance and looking to funding to perform the review.

Many stakeholders in member villages feel that the weaknesses identified in this 1999 report have never been addressed and should be integrated in meaningful measure in the upcoming evaluation process.

“Perhaps the greatest weakness of the CDQ program as implemented is lack of open, consistent communication between the CDQ groups and the communities they represent, particularly a lack of mechanisms for substantial input from the communities into the governance structures. There has also been a lack of outreach by the state to the communities to help ensure that the communities are aware of the program and how to participate. Some controversy has surrounded the uncertainty about the intended beneficiaries of the program—essentially, whether the program is intended primarily for the Native Alaskan residents of the participating communities, and, if not, review the governance structures to ensure that non-native participation is possible. “

I think stakeholders are correct here. Accepting what these CDQ entities say about their own performance, weighted at their own discretion, creates  a very narrow window on what might be called “success” .

With that in mind, I do not think we will be able to judge clearly whether the CDQs are really benefitting their communities if we cannot extend or adjust the way we measure success and benefit to include criteria for judgment not normally employed by “blue ribbon panels”  or self interested self-reporting.

Stakeholders and their communities , the supposed beneficiaries of “success’ must have  a place at the table, a part in the evaluation process, for the process to be credible.



 I have skipped right on by anything to do with the uproar over CDQs participating in trawl fisheries which are suspected of damaging other fisheries including subsistence fishing but it is an important aspect of questioning real benefit as well