Archive for the ‘rural development’ Category

One Small Step At A Time

January 20, 2013


The number of households that are keeping poultry has skyrocketed in the last 5 years. You hear all the time about cities changing their zoning and animal laws to allow for small numbers in a ‘backyard’ flock.

Zoning laws are seldom the reason chickens are not raised here in rural Alaska. Three issues affect our ability to raise chickens out here in Western Alaska: Getting the chicks out here alive in the first place, keeping predators at bay, and, of course, keeping them warm enough in the winter.

Most of us bring the chicks in via mail in the spring. You order weeks in advance and try to guess when the temperatures will be mild enough not to kill them off in transit.

It is most important that you  keep them at 90+ degrees for the first 3-5 weeks, as they feather out and can then regulate their body temperature.

Yes, heat lamps can help but I have found if the general room temperature is not at least 75 degrees they will just pile up on top of each other, under the heat lamps, to get warm and your losses will be huge.

When you run your household and business off as much as 70% renewable energy, wind in our case, loading on a few 250W  heat bulbs or a 1300-1500 W heat lamp the costs start to rise quickly, making the project less sustainable.

This year we decided to try something a little different, starting the process in the fall.

We got chicks the week before Thanksgiving, during one of the few weeks that had negative temperatures. The pilot on the mail plane was kind enough to make sure the box of babies was kept away from drafts, covered with a blanket and in the warmer area of the plane. As things went a couple, originally from Texas, that were on their way out of the area sat next to the box of chicks coming  IN from a Texas hatchery!!

They arrived quickly (less than 4 days) from the hatchery which greatly improves the chances of getting them off to a good start.

The first 2-3 days are the toughest so I have found if I keep them in a box or tub in our house, with a heat lamp or two, we can keep the rate of death to almost nothing. One small complication we found this time is that one of our (new at the time) kitties is a very determined hunter. Now the box or tub must have a screen or metal rack of some type over it at all times or we will find the count down and  stray feathers showing up here and there.

Into this adventure almost two months now, all seems to be working well. We have found  that our brooder, located in an outbuilding that has electricity but not heat,  works well down into the single digits for temperature. It is insulated between the concrete floor and bottom of the chicks, has some insulation on the top and sides and a couple of places for lights, heat or otherwise. We did not hook our 1500W infrared heater up this time and have not used the thermostat to turn off one of the heat lamps just yet.

Given our success this time we hope to use this same method through the summer and into the fall to try to raise more meat birds. They  are harder to raise than these replacement layers  but we are hopeful we can do it and have another source of meat.

There are number of other issues to consider -like figuring out alternative food sources for the frozen times of the year and housing so they can ‘free range’ once they are feathered out.

A chicken 'tractor' that allow poultry to be move around safely outside.

A chicken ‘tractor’ that allow poultry to be move around safely outside.

The possibilities for having local and ‘fresh’ sources of food seem to be possible, just working to figure out the details to make sure they are sustainable too!!

Things Have Been A’growing

October 26, 2012

Fresh tomatoes this summer at a Farmer’s Market

For those of you who have followed our efforts to address rural issues from the very beginning, you might remember the majority of us hoped we would be able to make a difference, not only in the short-term, but to help find some answers for the long-term, at least on some issues.

Sponsoring a food drive for the hungry year after year was not something we wanted to do. Although it was greatly needed and did help a number of families, and ALL of us will forever be thankful, we did not feel that being just another group with some form of a handout was what was wanted OR needed.

We feel the  great majority of people in these great United States prefer to earn their own way and to be as self-sufficient as they possibly can be. This might be contrary to the stereotype, but we have seen it too many times to believe the opposite.

(picture above is of a farmer field in Fairbanks. Amazing bounty and variety)

On that note it has been fantastic to see the food ‘movement’ from the lower 48 and around the world start to reach all the way up here and into the Arctic. A great variety of organizations and individuals have devoted a lot of time and energy to reach out, teach, encourage, offer forums, and other methods to spur all of the activity we have seen in the last 2-3 years towards growing at least a portion of our own food in the state.

Alaska has  always had a great dedicated group of people of all types here that   make their living by farming. What has been so rewarding in recent times to see  their continued interest and support in helping others learn the skills needed to grow food.

Through their industrious efforts they have formed the Alaska Community Agriculture Association which has the following as a mission:

The Alaska Community Agriculture Association is an organization of Alaskans growing crops and livestock for direct sale to the public. Its members are committed to promoting, supporting, and working towards healthy, sustainable local food systems. We want to encourage agricultural practices that benefit our environment, our communities, and our customers.

This offers both new, and established farmers, an organization to work together to gain wider markets, much-needed research, and a variety of other needs. This in turn makes available even more options for healthy, fresh, local foods.

Other efforts have brought about such things as the establishment of the Alaska Grower’s School, which focuses on rural Native, specifically Tanana, residents. However, it is open to all on a space-available basis. Classes are offered via a number of methods, from the Internet and conference calls to guest speakers and even study at your own pace, to help everyone from thevery beginner who wants to farm or garden to out-of-date farmers re-entering the industry. They do this over a course of 22 lessons, sharing great ideas and resources. All this is capped off, for those who complete the beginning, advanced class work and an essay, with a full week of hand-ons on a working farm in Fairbanks. You can follow them on Facebook if you are inclined.

There is now a strong Farm to School program in the State of Alaska. It is not as fully functional as some other states’ programs but it is still just a few years old. The program brings local farm products to our local schools across the state.

This helps our farmers or ‘producers’, (those who do grow food but do not feel they are a ‘regular’ farmer) and  our kids. The schoolchildren are introduced to products, often grown near their homes which they might otherwise be unfamiliar with.  The taste difference is noticeable and the kids are ‘getting’ that message.

This program is part of a larger national program and an important avenue to increase the nutritional value of the meals our kids get at school, for many the only well-balanced meal of the day.

It strengthens our economy not only on the statewide level but also in our more rural areas. As this effort grows many of us believe you will see foods being supplied from closer and closer sources to all of our schools. Opening up lands not typically thought of as ones suitable to grow foods, makes our state more sustainable but also helps the local villages and their boroughs.

(picture above, Bristol Bay Wild Salmon, huffington post supplied)

On the heels of the Farm to School program Alaska has now started a Fish to School program. This first began in a couple of different school districts back in 2009/2010 and has spread to more villages along our western coast line. Getting our local fish and seafood into the school lunch program is still another way of helping our kids get better meals while  also supporting the local businesses.

To help facilitate all of this Alaska also now has a Food Policy Council to assist with the growth of a sustainable food system in Alaska.  The council first began working together a couple of years ago to evaluate the present food ‘system’ in Alaska and how they might facilitate the growth and strengthening of it so as to assure ALL Alaskan’s access to healthy, affordable, and local foods.

This is an exciting time to share with you what we are learning and the impact the food movement is beginning to make in our state. (the work the council is doing can take up a number of posts on it own. We will fill you in on some of the happenings in the coming months)

Finally, Moving Back Inside!

October 23, 2012

Has it been since July that we last had a new post up? Unbelievable! You can tell most of us just can’t make ourselves sit in front of a computer when so much is happening to share it in as timely of a manner as we would wish.. If we could work out how to clone ourselves for that activity, we are open to suggestions!

As I am sure many of you have figured out when Alaskans get a chance to be outside, especially in the summer, we are!

Well the weather is getting colder, and the days shorter. Most of us have done the most critical things to prepare for the winter, now we are left with just some of the detail work to be completed.

Over the coming months, as things change pace, but seldom get really ‘slow’, we hope to catch you all up with some of the great things that have been happening across our great state.

Everything from fishery and by-catch issues to our Community Development Quota, CDQ, organizations reviews that are supposed to be coming, we have things to share.

Of the trips taken to learn new things so we can share with those around us. Lots of  updates on past discussions are coming.

Village and rural issues that deal with food security, in the widest of views….everything from availability of healthy food to preparing for emergencies. Of course we will have to share the updates on the food we have been growing and the efforts across the state in some of the most far-flung places to grow more of their own food.  From swamps to almost rock beds, you will be amazed.

Rural power issues are also on our radar, as well as some of the efforts being done by villages to make their villages sustainable in as many ways as possible.

As you well can tell by the lack of posts, we have not been sitting still or in front of our computers, so get ready!

Spring? It Should Be!!

March 20, 2012

Frozen rivers still abound!

On this first official day of spring it is still a little hard to feel it will be here in a few short weeks no matter what it might look and feel like now. 
While much of the lower 48 has had a much warmer than ‘normal’ winter and probably that trend will go into the spring, Alaska has not. Many places have shattered records for snowfall and cold temperatures and we have not been released from the grips of winter just yet, despite the calendar.  

Somewhere under all that snow is a wood deck, 25' high bank, and river!

Those of us who garden, and farm, have been telling each other ‘it will be OK’, spring will come and thus we keep up with our plans and activities. Seed catalogs that have pored over for at least weeks, if not months, now are yielding orders for the chosen seeds. Seed mats and flats are out and being put to work. If there is a grow lamp it is being hung up again and plugged in.
There is much discussion about how deep the frost level might be, given the mild fall, snowfall and THEN deep freeze with still more snowfall. Many old timers are thinking the ground is not frozen very deep and once the thaw starts it will move fast. Flooding might also be a concern for some areas.
Garden plans are coming closer to finalization and those with high tunnels and greenhouses are making sure they are cleaned up and ready to accept the seeds and starts once they warm up more.  
The bug to support those producing local food and/or to grow more of your own seems to have hit Alaska full force in the past few years. Whereas much of the lower 48 has been experiencing this movement for somewhat longer, it is something that has still not reached its full power here in Alaska.  
For many it seems impossible that such a cold, many times inhospitable place when it comes to growing conditions, could also be able to give us variety and great locally great food. It is not just the cold, but in many places the wind and soil that is less than perfect that has kept many from feeling anything of much value could be produced.  
The Interior region of Alaska has had a reputation for years due to its jumbo cabbages and other extra-large produce but the variety has always been questioned. Other areas of Alaska have never developed a reputation for growing much of anything but that is changing. 
Tim Meyers of Bethel,  whom we first wrote about in 2009 after attending the Alaska Sustainable Agriculture Conference, has helped bring attention to that area of the state. Dillingham has now run an ever growing gardening set of workshops to the growing movement there. Sitka is ahead of most villages and cities for its holistic view to growing local. It is making it a city-wide effort that hopefully more cities will follow.  
In our backyard here on the Alaska Peninsula we are moving forward with plans to build on the last few yeas of lessons learned. We will putting more land into production, expanding the varieties we grow and hopefully increasing the volume of food we can actually produce.
Hopefully this year we will actually have time, the space and means to raise some turkeys. Some plans for the a future orchard will be explored. We hopefully can add some additional types of fruit to the mix and mostly show still more people what all we in Alaska can accomplish.

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

If only it was simple. Pebble mine.

September 25, 2011

We have municipal  elections coming up  October 4.

In my area, we are considering a number of propositions and will vote to fill Assembly seats.

Folks all around the state will be making similar decisions for their communities about who will represent them and how they will conduct their community business. In many respects and if we are organized under home rule charter, we get to make more decisions at the local level than people do in most other states .

News and comment about the “Save our Salmon ” initiative which is on the ballot in the Lake and Peninsula Borough has been heavy in recent days. Pebble Prospect, Mine, Whatever, is on state land situated in the Lake and Pen Borough

The seemingly simple language to amend Lake and Pen’s planning code is not simple at all, in any respect, and has caught the attention of people all over the state and Outside because of the issues surrounding the proposed Pebble Mine.
View this document on Scribd

I asked friends in the Lake and Pen Borough how and what was going on locally.

If the deluge of scanned mailers which hit my inbox in response could make a sound it would have been along the order of a huge ARGGGHHHH!

My first response, looking at all the mailers, was all the things my ma used to say when she was trying not to swear: Egads! Gadzooks! Crimenently! and Pfffttt!

Most of this kind of campaign stuff is of no use whatsover in helping people make informed voting decisions but it sure whups up emotions and, too often, leaves lingering damage to reputations and  resentments between neighbors, as well as muddying issues in general.

There are a lot of eyes watching this initiative vote and following some of the news about it. The proposed Pebble mine is scaring the bejabbers out of many like me who fear we have really done nothing in this state to develop a clear and complete framework which does what this initiative proposes to do-which is to say no to large  resource extraction development projects which pose clear dangers to salmon habitat and clean water.

The basic declaration of  Mineral Development Policies  of the State of Alaska  has some appearance of  balancing water and habitat interests but vesting DNR , Department of Natural Resources , with lead authority :

Alaska Statute – Title 27. Mining. Chapter 05. Administration and Services. Article 1. Department of Natural Resources. Section 27.05.010. Department responsible for mineral resources.

(a)The department has charge of all matters affecting exploration, development, and mining of the mineral resources of the state, the collection and dissemination of all official information relative to the mineral resources, and mines and mining projects of the state, and the administration of the laws with respect to all kinds of mining.

(b) The department is the lead agency for all matters relating to the exploration, development, and management of mining, and, in its capacity as lead agency, shall coordinate all regulatory matters concerning mineral resource exploration, development, mining, and associated activities. Before a state agency takes action that may directly or indirectly affect the exploration, development, or management of mineral resources, the agency shall consult with and draw upon the mining expertise of the department.

has in reality made for a cockeyed view of what could be said to be balance between mineral extraction and fish and wildlife habitat and water uses. Unlike many other states, Alaska does not house Fish and Game within Natural Resources so Fish and Game issues don’t really have equal footing with mineral development. The acceptance within DNR of industry notions of what constitutes appropriate mitigation, remediation or recompense, blah, blah, blah for noncompliance or failure on the part of the extraction companies fails to fully encompass what could be said to at stake, especially as relates the huge plan for Pebble.

The complaint filed by six Tribal Councils of federally recognized tribes against the State, DNR, and then Commissioner of DNR Tom Irwin is an excellent read in the frustrations Alaskans have with DNR as relates to minerals v other uses and well worth the time to really look at.

The repeated use of the term ad hoc
done for particular purpose: done or set up solely in response to a specific situation or problem, without considering wider or longer-term issues

in the complaint is especially pointed and,  to my mind, valid as it relates to the cavalier appropriation and redefinition of so many terms  defined elsewhere in our laws to push mineral extraction in the 2005 BBAP, which as the complaint notes is ” the state’s principal land use plan for state lands in the Bristol Bay area .”

After the usual initial flurry of motions and a couple of hearings the complaint sits as an undisposed and  open case over 2 years later and no one I know has a clue about what comes next.

The letter the Board of Fish sent to the Legislature , after hearing and denying a proposal  to establish a fish refuge in Bristol Bay  , was cause for some hope that the Legislature would move to really look at statutory framework  for mine permitting which addressed fish and water concerns from their own value as opposed to bits and pieces of a mining proposal. Money was appropriated but members of the Legislative council could not come to a common understanding about what to do  so they changed the focus of the study.

As an everyday person and  citizen of Alaska , this process has been wearing and disheartening  on so many levels. The Pebble Partnership has interjected itself in every step, every argument. Some of it is logical given its stake in the proposal, some of it is horsepunky. Along with specifics about this proposal,  Alaskans are trying to sort out overarching principles of balance between competing but concurrent uses of our lands and waters that we had not had to face before the Pebble Prospect reared its head. We take the idea that our resources should be managed for the benefit of all Alaskans very seriously but I don’t think we have ever had to look at the whys, whats, hows, of what could be called “benefit”, “all”, and so on with such a critical eye to what we might lose if we screw up.

Next: the initiative itself

Alaska IS Growing… More of Our Own Food!!

September 17, 2011

Tomatoes grown in Bristol Bay

Gardening or farming in Bristol Bay seems to be taking off again with gusto! If you ask around  you find   almost everyone gardened until relatively recently. Many things point to the high salmon prices of the 80’s as the main mover but sometime, somehow, the desire and then the skill went away.

 Growing your own food has taken off again for a variety of reasons, amongst them high cost  and generally low  quality of produce which has to be shipped in,  coupled with lots of new ideas about how-to-grow from the lower 48 figure prominently.

A variety of projects are assisting the effort from grants to help pay for high tunnels, to a ‘growers school’, to tours and cooking classes. In Dillingham, for the second year, a Gardening Symposium will be held later this week. Everything from canning to helping figure out what ails your plants will be covered.

All summer all over Alaska many have been taking part in Alaska Growers School in variety of ways. From study at your own pace, conference calls , and  webinars people have been learning the basics of gardening from botany to how-to specifics for growing in the various part of Alaska. The first group of students then gathered in Fairbanks for some hands-on skill building. Over 40 of us from 26 different villages, a number in the Bristol Bay area, ended up with a wealth of knowledge backed up by great handouts and links to keep us going.

Ugashik's Community Greenhouse

Some villages, like Igiugig, have community greenhouses and outside garden plots to help residents get into the mood to grow more of their own food. Some residents and villages have those who grow for personal use but some are also looking at supplying near-by lodges with produce.

Learning about venting! This is easy to do in Alaska in early spring!

In touring and talking to a number of participants it’s obvious there is a learning curve. Many community operations are ‘staffed’ by volunteers and a number of issues have arisen, from learning how quickly the houses can warm up in the spring,  easily over 100 degrees as early as May, to the onset of gray mold or botrytis in those with circulation issues.  Hopefully, as these issues have come up, they are identified and solutions have been worked out so the efforts of many can be built upon.

In the past, weeds and the spreading of those darn things, has caused some villagers to give up after a few years of trying but hopefully as more people learn how to deal with these issues they will give producing their own food a try again.

Locally grown strawberries

Everyone should be able to enjoy a fresh bowl of greens, berries or veggies from their backyards if they so desire.

Quinhagak prototype home started!

October 3, 2010

Oct 3, 2010

Energy-efficient home in Quinhagak off the ground

Rendering of an energy efficient, cold climate home

Published on October 1st, 2010

Workers in a Southwest Alaska village are building a prototype house designed to shrug off painful heating costs and the wet winds that rot walls.

On Monday, builders with the Cold Climate Housing Research Center in Fairbanks began teaching a crew of three in Quinhagak how to build the octagonal house, said Aaron Cooke, a center architect.

After it’s built, he’ll monitor the three-bedroom, 1-bath unit to determine its energy-efficiency, using sensors to assess everything from moisture content to heat loss.

Its heavily insulated walls and other features should “drastically” reduce heating bills — the top expense for many rural budgets — cutting them at least in half, he said.

And, thanks partly to minimal building materials, the center expects the house to go up for about half the price of the last home built in the village, Cooke said.

That’s a goal, he cautioned.

That last new house, which arrived off the barge with pre-built walls, cost $430,000, said Patrick Cleveland, head of the tribal government’s housing department.

Residents, many of whom live in houses that engineers say should be condemned, are excited and curious about the project, said Cleveland.

The lucky family will see a “big, tremendous” savings on their heating fuel bill, which now averages at least $4,500 annually per house, he said. Heating fuel is costly — $5.50 a gallon — and winters long.

So who’s moving in when the place is built in five weeks?

Cleveland doesn’t know yet — the tribal government hasn’t created guidelines for the selection — but plenty of families are ready to apply.

“Oh gosh, the waiting line will be at least a page long,” he said.

In 2009, a sample analysis of 55, 1970s-era houses found soft subfloors, rotten walls, crumbling entryways and unhealthy mold levels. The 10 sample homes were called “unsafe for occupancy,” said the center and PDC Engineering of Fairbanks in the review.

The community of 700 lies along the Bering Sea about 70 miles south of Bethel. Winter arrived on Thursday, when snow fell on the crew as they put in the foundation, said Cleveland. The three local hires will be crew chiefs in the future, because the village expects to build more of the energy-efficient homes.

The housing department invited the center, a nonprofit based at the University of Alaska Fairbanks, to design the prototype. The village is paying for the work with a loan from the U.S. Agriculture Department, Cleveland said.

Innovative features, created with advice from villagers at design meetings, include an Arctic entryway that wraps part of the house to shield it from wet, southeast winds.

That wrap-around design, and its unusually long length, will keep that area and the house inside warmer compared to standard rural entryways that jut from the house, he said.

No windows will be built on the north side, reducing exposure to dry Arctic winds.

And because it’s octagonal, less of the house will be exposed to cold winds and snowdrifts that pile against the boxy collection of current houses.

During design meetings, villagers said they wanted an intimate family space for the 1,100-square foot home. They didn’t want hallways that would create cold spots in the house, said Cleveland.

As a result, the floorplan sort-of resembles a donut, with the living and dining room in the center and the bedrooms, bathroom and kitchen occupying much of the outer ring.

The home includes a new concept Cooke said was invented by the center that allows walls to be thicker — and therefore more insulated — than is common in most houses.

Open-faced steel beams will replace the typical wooden wall studs and floor joists, a feature that reduces shipping costs because the steal beams nest together and save space.

Most of the house fits into the belly of a single DC-6, Cooke said. For example, the trusses for supporting the roof were built just small enough to fit through the plane’s cargo door.

“When shipping or freight is 30 percent of the entire cost of a house in the Bush, every inch and pound you can save matters,” Cooke said.

The center is playing an increasing role in rural Alaska in recent years. It’s been hired by tribal governments and housing authorities to produce energy-efficient designs, often with a traditional twist.

In Southwest, it’s helped the eroding village of Newtok design an emergency shelter with the steam baths preferred by elders for bathing.

Above the Arctic Circle in Anaktuvuk Pass, it’s worked with the village to build a prototype house partially covered by tundra for warmth, resembling old sod homes used by Alaska Natives.

On the North Slope in Atqasuk, the center trained villagers with the local housing authority to build a home that also comes with some earth insulation. They plan to take the center’s design and build more, Cooke said.

Reprinted with permission from The Tundra Drums


The homes that need replacing

Homes that were built in Quinhagak in the 1970s are not a practical solutuion for people living in cold climates. Interior heat and exterior moisture have,  over the years, left people dwelling in rotting, mold infested homes that are expensive to heat and are not suited for the area they were built.

We are glad the Cold Climate Housing Research Center is pursuing a home building-model that will be both location-friendly and affordable.

The CCHRC home’s donut design, with the offset cold weather entry and central communal area, seems to take historically logical cold weather housing concepts and delivers a home that blends traditional design with modern comforts.

We hope the successful completion of this project will lead to similar home-building projects in Quinhagak and other remote villages where mold is a major health concern.

Alaska’s Sap-Suckers

May 13, 2010

May 13, 2010

“Sap begins to run when nights are still cold enough to form “sapsicles ” from the spouts. Only the water in the sap freezes; the tree sugars remain as a syrupy coating. Evan Humphrey, the original Birch Boy, tastes one.”

photo courtesy of  Birchboy Gourmet Birch Syrup

Spring has been TRYING to arrive in  our area of Alaska, until the past two to three days. After days of sun, low wind and day time temperatures well above freezing, our river broke out, ground was thawing and things looked to be heading in the right direction.

Then came the last few days when temperatures dipped into the 20s during the day, freezing rain and blowing snow arrived and projects we thought we might get a jump on are stalled.

During the these warmer days I was torn between getting much needed inside things done and wanting to be working in the garden.

I had a post about ready on some research that seemed to show that fish was a very digestible protein for humans, but wanted to check some details. Let me just say that is has been one of the biggest run arounds and  I am still chasing it. I will get it to you but at this time I need to head into other things that have been planned.

As you know if you follow our blog, I attended Alaska’s Sustainable Agriculture conference in Fairbanks. We talked a lot about having the opportunity for remote areas to produce more of their own food, among other sustainable agriculture issues.

Something that is new to me is the Birch Syrup industry here in Alaska. From what I have been able to find there are a few Alaskan producers who seem to be doing a growing business. In talking to producers, expenses are still high and the public is also on a big learning curve to actually go looking for the product.

One producer is in Haines, Birchboy:Gourmet Birch Syrup , and two others are in the Mat-Su area: Alaska Birch Syrup Co and Kahiltna Birchworks .
I had heard a tad bit about them in general conversation at the conference and then came across a write up in the ADN recently.

The industry seems to be similar in a number of ways to the famous Maple Syrup industry of the NE, BUT rarer! The trees are still tapped but instead of producing 1 gal of syrup for every 40 gal of sap as is average in the Maple industry, it is 1 gal for 100 gallons of sap. Only about 10%-15% of the sap is taken each year so it allows this to easily be a sustainable process for the trees.
Numbers like tapping 5,700 trees by just one Alaskan company helps to understand that demand for the product is growing.

Everything I have read show these to be a labor intensive small  family owned operations. Many of them more rural than urban.

Beyond something to go over your ice cream or pancakes, Birch syrup is being used in all sorts of other products. Things like marinades, barbeque sauces, baked beans, coffee, breads, sodas and ice cream.

I got to thinking of a marinade for that fresh salmon we should be getting soon? How about then smoking the salmon? I don’t know about you but my head gets to spinning about all the possibilities!!

There are some recipes on one site that will get you going along these lines too.

But back to sustainable, local, and something we can participate in to help local Alaskans, the  tiny industry was summed up well by one birch syrup company owner…

“It’s development, but on a small-scale,” Dulce Ben-East said. “I love the local movement. It’s so much a part of how I like doing things. Being a part of that is great.”

~Victoria Briggs~

Happy Anniversary Anonymous Bloggers! Looking back on our first year:

January 21, 2010

Anonymous Bloggers

Working together to bring relief to our fellow Americans!

Jan 21, 2010

Has it really been a year since Jane started this site?  We went from just a few of us who gathered here to exchange ideas on how to bring relief to rural Alaska, to having hundreds of people visiting here every day brainstorming both short and long term solutions to the issues that face rural Alaska.

We remember in the beginning when we first got excited that we had more visitors than board members.  Today we have someone visiting AB on average every 6 minutes!

What has brought nearly 100,000 hits to Anonymous Bloggers this first year?  Let us review.   Please feel free to wander the side bar and the archives to see everything we’ve been doing.

Here’s the time-line Jane created with a lot of hard work and patience.

Anonymous Bloggers our 1st year…a review…..

Jane started AB on January 21st, 2009  but we need to go back a few weeks before that to get a full understanding of why she made this decision.

Nicholas Tucker, Yup'ik Elder, Emmonak, Alaska

January 9, 2009

The crisis in rural Alaska came to light when Nicholas Tucker presented a letter to Fuel Summit Participants sharing the stories of people in his village who were suffering. His story was picked up by regional news outlets and eventually became headline news in Alaska.

Emmonak man seeks food airlift to combat economic crisis

A combination of extreme cold and high fuel prices has created a humanitarian crisis for the village of Emmonak, according to resident Nicholas Tucker.

January 14, 2009

Prominent Alaska blogger AKM brought the crisis in rural Alaska to the attention of hundreds of readers on her blog, TheMudflats, and asked for donations to send a filmmaker to Emmonak to document the situation. The footage eventually appeared on CNN.

A Cry for Help from Rural Alaska. Is Anyone Listening?

The Mudflats

January 14, 2009

One of our local progressive media heroes, Dennis Zaki of The Alaska Report, is stepping up trying to raise money to get to Emmonak and other villages to put a camera where it needs to be. Many national and international media outlets are interested in seeing footage. Flights are not inexpensive, and he’ll be traveling on his own dime. If you want to help put a spotlight on this issue as it relates to Emmonak and ALL Alaska’s rural villages in crisis, consider donating with the Paypal button below.


Emmonak’s Nicholas Tucker interviewed on KUDO.

Hope Coming to Emmonak and Beyond?

The Mudflats

January 14, 2009

If you didn’t get the opportunity to hear Nick Tucker talk to CC on KUDO, he had a message for all those who have stepped up to help rural Alaskans who are having to make the choice of whether to keep their children and elders warm, or fed. “It’s a blessed day. It’s like angels have landed on Earth.”

January 16, 2009

AnnS left this comment on TheMudflats:

January 17, 2009

Enough money to pay for Dennis Zaki’s flight has been raised and he is set to depart the following day.

Alaska’s Rural Villages in Crisis – Update.

The Mudflats
January 17, 2009 Thanks to generous contributions to the effort, many coming from Mudflatters, Dennis Zaki of The Alaska Report has raised enough money to pay for travel to Emmonak and other remote villages, to talk to locals on camera, and capture footage for use by the national media. Dennis needed $2000 for his ticket, and will distribute the rest for energy relief when he arrives in the bush. As of this writing, there is $6283. in the account!


AnnS left a comment on Margaret& Helen’s blog (a blog that went viral in the fall when Helen made one of many on-target assessments of Sarah Palin’s character) saying that the crisis was more widespread. More people jumped into help.

By: Struggling in Nunam Iqua

January 17, 2009 at 4:45 PM

Hi everyone,

I was asked to come here and blog. I have been blogging on about how it isn’t just Emmonak that is struggling.

It’s not just Emmonak that is struggling it’s the entire Yukon Delta. I live in Nunam Iqua, a village that is 25 miles south of Emmonak. Not only are we faced with the same issues as Emmonak but also our crisis is harder because we no longer have a store here. Our trading post collapsed several months ago, so we have no place here to get groceries.


January 21, 2009

The attention the crisis in rural Alaska was receiving in the comments section on Helen & Margaret’s blog caused complaints by some who thought the conversation was to far off-topic. Information about ways to help were strewn across the comments section of a number of blogs – it need a clearinghouse.

We our started our Facebook group and registered our domain name on Jan 21, 2009


January 23, 2009

The first boxes arrive in Nunam Iqua and we started our blog!


January 25, 2009

The first, and maybe only, story in the main stream print media about the crisis was published in the Los Angeles Times on January 25, 2009.

In rural Alaska, villagers suffer in near silence

By Kim Murphy

January 25, 2009

Reporting from Tuluksak, Alaska — As the temperature plunged to minus-40 degrees last month, Nastasia Wassilie waited.

The 61-year-old widow had run out of wood and fuel oil, and had no money to buy more. Nor was there much food in the house.


February 5, 2009

Almost a month after the crisis in Alaska made news there, CNN brought it to national attention

In rural Alaska villages, families struggle to survive

By Mallory Simon


(CNN) — Thousands of villagers in rural Alaska are struggling to survive, forced to choose between keeping their families warm and keeping their stomachs full, residents say.


February 6, 2009

Victoria Briggs first reported that the suffering extends to the Alaska Peninsula.

Letter: Hardship exists on the Alaska Peninsula, too

Victoria Briggs Ugashik February 6, 2009 at 1:28PM AST

Before you read any farther please realize we are not putting our hand out for assistance, but certainly do need it! I am a resident in a village that is very small, 10-12 full time residents, that face many of the same issues that the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta does.


February 13, 2009

Food and donations from far-flung relief efforts begin to make a difference.

Worldwide donations find way to lower Yukon

A wave of donated food and cash has swept into lower Yukon River villages over the past month, with more than 19,000 pounds of supplies and $13,000 landing in Emmonak alone.


February 17, 2009

The first boxes of food arrive in Ugashik/Pilot Point

ugaVic Says:

February 18, 2009 at 3:47 pm

Update – the first food reached us yesterday, thanx Seattle and MO (forgot the town – is written down – will fill in later) We got a box of food out to each of our most needy households yesterday. Since we hadn’t really said much about what we were doing until we had our food show up, they were surprised, overwhelmed and just so grateful my words can’t say enough. All of you who are working on this have them so surprised that someone actually cares – I can’t tell you the impact that has already made.


February 19, 2009

Sarah Palin announces plan to visit rural villages on February 20.


February 20, 2009

Sarah Palin Visits Russian Mission with Samaritan’s Purse

Video of Sarah Palin, upon leaving Wasilla with Samaritan’s Purse personalities to deliver faith-based aid to the villages of Russian Mission and Marshall. She states government is not the answer, faith-based organizations can help in the interim, but suggests young people should consider leaving their villages to find temporary work and return to the villages with the salaries the have earned to take part in the subsistence living skills they are trying to preserve.

Nicolas Tucker Sr., the brave villager from Emmonak who brought this crisis to our attention, flew to Russian Mission to speak with Sarah Palin. View a video of their conversation.


March 2, 2009

Sustainable Gardening Becomes a Topic

The last few weeks in February brought some lively chatter in our Cold Weather Gardening threads. We were looking for sustainable solutions to life in the bush and got plenty of ideas and suggestions. Victoria answered many questions about garden tunnels and potatoes as a traditional staple; her growing season and tomatos and the 90 one-day-old chicks she was raising for summer egg production.

She told us privately she had been trying to get funds from the Ugashik and Pilot Point Village Councils to attend a sustainable gardening conference in Fairbanks to help start a community garden in Pilot Point but had not been successful.

We asked you to come up with creative ways to get her there.


March 6, 2009

Victoria Will Travel to the Sustainable Gardening Conference in Fairbanks:

Thanks to all of you I am going to the sustainable/gardening conference!!!

L.Gardener stepped up and offered to pay for my plane ticket so it would be a ‘for sure’ thing. Then as people contributed we could gather funds and reimburse her. That is now done with a number of people from all over jumping in to help defray the cost. She shares some of the things she learned in her garden journal.

Victoria is a powerhouse! This post is a must-read to get an idea of her energetic enthusiasm in pursuing a more stable and richer life for Native Alaskans. By the end of it she’s already talking about her next project – the salmon bycatch issue!


Emmonak’s Nicholas Tucker rips Sarah Palin for “disrespect”

Emmonak’s Nicholas Tucker wrote to editor Dennis Zaki and asked him to print his letter about his dissatisfaction with Governor Sarah Palin’s slow and lackluster response to the food/fuel crisis plaguing the villages of Western Alaska.


March 17, 2009

Salmon Bycatch in the Pollock Fisheries

Our first post about the devastating effects salmon bycatch in the pollock fishing industry was having on the the salmon fisheries rural Alaskans depend on for winter sustenance.

We called for people to write letters to the North Pacific Fishery Management Council, which would be meeting in Anchorage April 1-7, demanding they call for a lower bycatch number than the one they were considering. We posted a petition and collected signatures from people from across the US and Canada and as far away as Germany who endorsed a lower bycatch. They were delivered by hand before the March 25 deadline for comments.


March 31, 2009

Victoria to Attend the NPFMC Salmon Bycatch Meeting in Anchorage

Victoria, in an update, reported that she and Ann had been invited to attend the North Pacific Fishery Management Council meeting to speak before the council about the effects salmon bycatch is having on rural Alaska.


April 5, 2009

Victoria Live Blogs From the NPFMC Salmon Bycatch Meeting

Victoria wrote about her first two days at the NPFMC meeting and continued to live blog through the rest of the conference. Sadly, the 68,392 limit was adopted, not the 32,500 that we had been urging, but Vic gave it all she had on behalf of all of us.


April 16-27, 2009

Unusually early break-up on the Ugashik River

Normally it is right around the very end of April or the first of May before we start to see holes in the ice or the river flowing.

We usually go through days or even a week or more of open holes and areas of water. Then some breaking up of the river. We woke up Sunday morning, after a night of some winds in the 20-30 knot range and the river was flowing some.

Hubby, who grew up in the village does not ever remember it going from basically solid to flowing like this.


April 24, 2009

First the bad news…

Out of Fuel in Nunam Iqua

Ann reported that Nunam Iqua’s fuel/stove oil tank had run dry. This happened because the early fall freeze in 2008 prevented their last fuel order from being delivered.

The next day, with the food drive slowing down, she and Victoria gave us a detailed update on the situations in their villages. This post offers another glimpse of the monumental task Ann and Vic undertook to help their fellow villagers and the extent to which people from all over pitched in to help.


May 6,2009

In a conversation Victoria brought up to Ann how busy she was getting ready for the fishing season, and they were in need of  a good crew member for summer.  After hearing how mostly nonexistent the commercial fishing on the Yukon would be this year,  Segundo and Ann decided to take the offer and leave Nunam Iqua to spend the fishing season in Ugashik.


May 9,2009

‘Tsunami’ Of Ice Wreaks Havoc On Alaskan Town

Breakup brought it’s own challenges on the Yukon, especially in Eagle Village which was flattened by an ice flood. FEMA stepped up to the plate this time and a plan for sensibly rebuilding the town using kit homes with the help of volunteers from the US, Canada and beyond was completed before winter set in. Bloggers worldwide contributed by donating money and supplies.


May 18-27,2009

Watching and Waiting for Breakup on the Yukon

As breakup continued down the Yukon, communities along the way kept close watch on the flood warnings.

Bloggers waited anxiously for news from Ann in Nunam Iqua at the rivers mouth. She sent updates on May 18, May 19, May 22, May 23, May 26 and on May 27 when she reported that planes were able to land in Nunam Iqua and that her family would be leaving for Ugashik the next morning.


May 28, 2009

The Stronghearts arrived in Ugashik.  Things are different there,  including cooking in Vic’s modern kitchen and bathing in the land of running water!


June 28, 2009

Palin tweets that Emmonak residents are meeting subsistence needs

by Channel 2 News Staff

Sunday, June 28, 2009

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — According to Gov. Sarah Palin’s posts on Twitter, half of the people in Emmonak have met subsistence needs and the other half believe they can do the same. Palin says her rural advisor, John Moller, recently returned from Emmonak and those were his findings.


June 30, 2009

Emmonak villager demands apology from Palin camp

Posted by thevillage

Posted: June 30, 2009

What was that good news? I asked Palin’s spokeswoman, Sharon Leighow, today in an e-mail.

“The good news – At the Federal Subsistence meeting in Emmonak last week, Nick Tucker reported that 50 percent of the residents have met subsistence needs and other 50 percent are confident they will meet their needs,” Leighow replied.

(Tucker drew statewide and national attention this winter when he wrote a letter describing a food and fuel crisis on the lower Yukon.)

Here’s where it gets complicated. Tucker says he never said that and is demanding a public apology from the governor’s camp.

“I want them to take it back,” Tucker said in a short phone interview today.


July 3, 2009

John Moller: I talked to many, many people over those two days

The Alaska Daily News rural blog, The Village, interviewed John Moller, Sarah Palin’s rural advisor, on Wednesday. They we’re specifically interested in the display of civil disobedience in Marshall but, since Moller was just back in the office after being out of cell phone range while fishing, he couldn’t address that so they talked about other rural issues including the Governor’s tweet about Emmonak.


Governor Palin Resigns – Ann Asks What That Will Mean for Rural Alaska

After all the time we Alaskan Natives have been dealing with both the Palin administration’s actions and inactions toward the plight of our rural people, we now find ourselves asking a lot of questions. When I look at where we’ve come from and what I want for my people in the future, I find myself contemplating right now: What does this new leadership mean to bush Alaskans? Fisheries? Subsistence? etc etc


July 11, 2009

Vic Took a Time Out to Give Us a Glimpse of Summer in Ugashik

So much of this time of year in Alaska, at least the western parts that fish, is rush, rush, rush!! You do any projects that need decent weather, earn most of your yearly income in a few short weeks and, if you can, get the relatives up to visit when it isn’t below freezing.

In the past few weeks I felt you needed to see part of what we try to sandwich in all this work, work and more work.

Time to view all the flowers, well some call them weeds, that spring up and give us color.


August 2, 2009

AnnS Aired Rural Woes Internationally

Monday, August 3, 2009 – Salmon Ban on the Yukon River: (listen)

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game has banned commercial fishing for king salmon along the Yukon River and is limiting subsistence fishing. The ban is in response to the state not meeting their treaty agreement with Canada for the past two years to deliver 45,000 kings via the Yukon. But groups of Native fishermen are ignoring the ban – facing possible jail time, heavy fines and equipment seizure. How will village residents make it through another tough winter if they’re not allowed to fish this summer? Guest is AnnS from the village of Nunam Iqua.


August 5, 2009

Ann Writes an Open Letter to Rural Advisor John Moller

…During the program, moderator Harlan McKosato mentioned that he put in a call to you before the show but never got a call back.

Because rural Alaskans are openly voicing their serious fears about the coming winter, we were disappointed that you were not involved in the conversation with Ann and Nick on the air. Rural Alaskans need to know advisors have the ear of Governor Parnell and need to believe that the governor realizes today that things may be even worse this winter for rural Alaskan villages than the previous one….


August 7, 2009

Alaska’s Governor Parnell Urges Disaster Relief for Yukon Fishery!

In a letter today, Governor Sean Parnell asked Commerce Secretary Gary Locke to declare a fishery disaster in the Yukon River Chinook salmon fishery.


August 10, 2009

Legislature overrides Palin’s stimulus veto By SEAN COCKERHAM

Published: August 10th, 2009 02:31 PM

Last Modified: August 11th, 2009 06:25 PM

The Alaska Legislature voted Monday to override former Gov. Sarah Palin’s veto of $28 million in federal stimulus money for energy cost relief. But it was as close as a vote can get.

(snip) Palin vetoed the appropriation of $28 million in federal energy stimulus cash in May, two months before she resigned as governor.

She kept up her fight against the money by posting a message on her Facebook page Sunday.

“As governor, I did my utmost to warn our legislators that accepting stimulus funds will further tie Alaska to the federal government and chip away at Alaska’s right to chart its own course.


August 11, 2009

Excerpt from a letter to a Tribal Administrator from Nick Tucker:

“…I want you, your children and grandchildren to get education. We’ve always been strong, intelligent, and wise, particularly our culture precious with values and teachings. Take that for our next generations. But, keep your heads up, your whole generation. We will have been a forced to be reckoned with, because I think, many of us are beginning to turn to God, and we might just rule with justice, goodness, fairness, and generosity again, but educated…”


August 12, 2009

Obama’s Rural Tour Visits Bush Alaska


Published: August 12th, 2009 10:42 PM

Last Modified: August 13th, 2009 06:20 PM

BETHEL — Four of President Obama’s cabinet members whirled through a pair of remote Alaska communities Wednesday to hear an earful about the state’s novel needs and the borderline third-world conditions in some villages.


August 14, 2009

Ann Writes an Open Letter to Governor Parnell, John Moller and others

…Although with another non existent salmon fishing season on the Yukon and winter fast approaching I am worried that this winter will in fact be worse than last winter. I was happy to see that Governor Parnell made a disaster declaration for the Salmon Fisheries on the Yukon, although I fear that this will not be enough

We at Anonymous Bloggers have been trying, in vain, to find out if the rural villages have enough fuel for the winter. We have contacted, with little to no response, the Rural Advisory Panel and the Rural Subcabinet and Rural Advisor Moller and the Attorney General.


August 16, 2009

First Nations Call for Zero Bycatch

More than 65 first nations in Alaska and the Yukon are asking the United States’ Secretary of Commerce to ban the pollock industry’s bycatch of chinook river salmon.

At its annual meeting held recently at Lake Laberge, the Yukon River Inter-Tribal Watershed Council (YRITWC) voted in favour of a resolution urging Gary Locke, the U.S. commerce secretary, to invoke his emergency regulatory authority and order the pollock industry to reduce its annual bycatch to zero.


August 18, 2009

We were all saddened by the unexpected death of Segundo Strongheart on Tuesday, August 18. He suffered a massive heart attack in the early morning hours and despite immediate attempts to resuscitate him including use a defibrillator under the guidance of medical professionals by telephone, he passed away at 6:00 A.M.


September 4, 2009

Another Open Letter From Ann to Governor Parnell, John Moller and Others

…Not only is the lack of both subsistence and commercial fishing, greatly diminishing our ability to put away fish for the winter but also the lack of funds brought in from commercial fishing is now making it hard, if not impossible, for rural Alaskans to put away other subsistence game.

Moose season is now. The birds are flying now. Now is the time to be out hunting for seals and whales. All of these types of game are critical for us to survive this winter. If we cannot purchase gas to go out and hunt then I fear this winter we will have a crisis of much greater proportions than last winter. Last winter we were able to depend a little bit on other game that we had put up for the winter since we were lacking fish.

It looks like this winter that option will not be available to many rural Alaskans because they simply cannot afford the gas and other necessities required to go out hunting…


October 23, 2009

Pres. Obama Reaches Out to American Indian Tribes


Published: October 23rd, 2009 11:03 AM

Last Modified: October 24th, 2009 04:19 PM

The Obama administration is launching a rapid, sweeping review of the way the federal government manages subsistence hunting and fishing in Alaska, Interior Department officials said Friday.

“The system, frankly, today is broken,” Interior Secretary Ken Salazar announced in a video shown at the annual Alaska Federation of Natives convention in downtown Anchorage.


November 5, 2009

President Obama delivers remarks at White House, Tribal Nations conference

Pres. Obama delivered the opening remarks at a White House Tribal Nations Conference and participated in a discussion with leaders from the 564 federally recognized tribes. The conference is addressing issues facing American Indian tribes such as economic development, housing and education. This is the first such meeting since 1994. Washington, DC.


November 26, 2009

Fall Sea Ice Flood in Nunam Iqua Leave Residents Struggling

Ice piled up during the Fall Flood at Nunam Iqua 11/11/09

The flooding wreaked havoc on the Yukon River ice. The flooding brought in massive amounts of sea ice from the Bering Sea that unfortunately is still clogging the Yukon. Several people lost their fishing nets they had set under the ice and a couple of families even lost their boats during the flood.

With all of this sea ice still in the Yukon River at Nunam Iqua it has caused a hardship on the residents. Normally during the winter families will go out onto the river and place fishing nets under the ice to catch fresh fish. But due to the mess of sea ice currently in the Yukon this has become very difficult if not impossible to do now. Fresh fish caught under the ice with nets is a large staple for families during the winter.

Since Ann is spending this winter in Ugashik,  she is gathering information for promoting an adopt-a-family program in Nunam Iqua to match donors and families directly.


December 3, 2009

Bright Outlook for Winter in Ugashik

There is some better news this year coming from Pilot Point and Ugashik when it comes to our ability to deal with our winter conditions.

Our fishing season was much better this year than last on our main season of Sockeye salmon, although the Chinook/King returns continue to be dismal.

This allowed for most everyone to either work in the industry if they wanted/needed to and also to get fish put up for the winter…


December 14, 2009

Rollie Briggs’ Energy Ideas for Rural Alaska

Roland Briggs watches new technology, guess it might be the Mechanical Engineering part of his background which keeps him “tuned in”, and he wants to share some of what he sees as exciting. As things cross his path and they look like they might have use in Alaska you will see him post on his new page in our Energy Section.

January 7, 2010

Alaska Federation of Natives calls for Native and rural subsistence priority on all Alaska lands

By Alex Demarban

The Arctic Sounder

The Alaska Federation of Natives lays out an ambitious agenda that seeks to expand hunting and fishing rights for Alaska Natives as part of the first-ever review of the federal subsistence program in Alaska.

In a letter to Interior Secretary Ken Salazar offering ways to improve the program, the statewide Native organization draws on historical arguments and legal precedent to make the case that all Natives, as well as rural residents, deserve priority over other hunters and fishermen.

Salazar announced the review in October.

The Jan. 7 letter, signed by AFN President Julie Kitka, also asks that the rural subsistence priority be applied to all land and waters in Alaska as Congress originally intended.

Read the story

January 15, 2010


January 15, 2010 by alaskapi

From Governor Parnell’s news release:

State of Alaska > Governor > News > News Details Federal Fisheries Disaster for Yukon Chinook Printer Friendly FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE No. 10-010

Secretary Locke Declares Federal Fisheries Disaster for Yukon Chinook January 15, 2010, Anchorage, Alaska –

Governor Sean Parnell today welcomed a decision by Secretary of Commerce Gary Locke finding that a disaster has occurred with the 2009 Yukon River chinook salmon run, opening the door for federal aid to the area. “I appreciate Secretary Locke’s recognition of the severity of the situation along the Yukon River and the dependence of Alaskans on these salmon runs,” Governor Parnell said. The federal disaster declaration is in response to requests made by Governor Parnell, the Association of Village Council Presidents and the Alaska Federation of Natives. The request detailed the biological and economic situation on the Yukon River and the impacts of the reduced chinook runs. The declaration does not bring immediate aid to the affected area. The congressional delegation must still secure a federal appropriation. Federal aid, once secured, could be used for relief programs, stock research, training programs, fisheries infrastructure, or other regional projects.

Here's a copy of the actual letter from Sec. Locke to Gov. Parnell