Archive for the ‘Spring’ Category

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.

Cold Climate Growing, Oh the Possibilities!!

January 11, 2011

Jan 11, 2011

Hopefully by this time next year when we have days like this outside ……..

We can be growing things like this inside, unheated…

Originally my hope was that with the new ‘high tunnels’ we were lucky enough to get via a grant this past fall we could hope to have fresh produce of one kind or another for maybe 7-8 months out of the year if we used them without any added heat.

Then I got to reading and hearing more about full winter productions with little or no heat. Realizing with some addition of added protection over the crops planted directly in the ground we might be able to stretch that maybe another month. Again I was figuring most everyone who was doing the full winter growing was in a much milder climate than our zone 5 ish, USDA Plant Hardiness Zones.

Eliot Coleman has authored a number of gardening books, of which many of us have read or at least had heard about. Well this winter I decided to dig into the slim coffers and buy his newest one The Winter Harvest Handbook. He has been growing organic produce in the NE for a good many years, most recently in the great state of Maine. (Ok I have to say the few times I have been to Maine I have felt I could move right in. I enjoy the people, the history, the great seafood, just about everything I have gotten to ever see in my short times there, thus just the mention of the state gets my interest!!)

He has worked out a way to produce a fairly wide selection of winter, and the normal summer, vegetable fare year around in his zone 5 conditions. With more research I figured out we are of course on a farther northern parallel, which makes a difference for daylight as much, if not more, than just the temperature. There is a darn good chance that within a year or two we here, in this area of Western Alaska, can capitalize on his research and experience. To be able to even get close to maybe a full ten months of fresh produce would be fantastic. Something tells me we might well be able to accomplish this. I am not even getting so far ahead as to think we can tap into our low temperature geo-thermal when making these statements. (Remember those volcanoes we have here in Alaska …we have them as close as 20 miles from us …and one that steams almost daily!)

When I see all of this coupled with the work Tim Meyer is doing in the Bethel area in the summer, it seems  we here in some major portions of Western Alaska could quickly become much more self-reliant for a greater portion of our food consumption.

I was recently sent a decent list of  ‘gardening’ events happening in 2011 here in Alaska by one of my contacts.`This is the first time I have seen such an effort to get the word out like this to help educate a wider variety of potential food producers. Great things in the produce arena could well be on the way for our villages and outlying areas. Absolutely exciting no less!!

It’s That Time of Year Again…Spring in Ugashik

May 18, 2010

It has been a heck of a ride since this time last year. So many ups and downs. We got through last summer – one that saw a fish harvest that was drastically better than the season of ’08.

My understanding, from my contacts on the Yukon and the season’s forecasts, is that they are expecting something better this year, after the disastrous the ’09 season. We will see if we can get you an update on how things are looking up there after breakout.

Our winter temperatures of 2009/10 were not as cold, although we did get caught with higher than normal snowfall during what many call the start of spring – February to April and finally onto a late break up of the river.

Thank the heavens the fuel prices were much lower, $2-$3 in our area, than the previous year.

To think that just a little over a week ago the river was chocked full of ice and now the beaches are ice free. We still have some drifts of snow hanging around in places, but they are fading fast.

The first of the freight hauls, of all sorts of equipment, supplies and big things you can’t bring in other ways, started this week. So much to move in such a short window of time.

May 5th with ice in the river and YES that is a walrus that just washed up on our beach, 20 miles up river. No one in the area remember ever having a  “Wally” this far up river!!

During all this we had a little excitement…..a walrus washed up on our beach. Mind you we are 20 miles up river and no one remembers, EVER remembers, us having a walrus this far up river. There had been a week of heavy winds that we think blew him in and then he somehow got trapped or hurt in all of it. It is sad that he died, and on our front doorstep, but neat that we all got to see him, how huge and just the wonder of these guys.

This might give you an idea of the size of one of these guys!!

Bear season, which is an every other year thing, opened this past Monday in this area. So far, from what we hear, most of them are not out and moving around much as there is still a fair amount of snow pack up high still.

A local ‘growler’ deciding he wants to check out a local’s target. He is just a ‘little’ guy, standing probably about 6′-7′ (Photo: Robert Dreeszen, Ugashik Lakes)

Please understand I enjoy our Brown Bear (Grizzly to some of you) and all they bring to the area. What I do not like seeing is them starving. There are so many of them that they wander into the villages looking for food. This can’t be allowed as it is just too dangerous. This includes moms and babes, which usually means the moms get shot and then in a few weeks, when the babes are REALLY starving we have to shoot them too.

I am hoping that the guides and the lodges in the area are very successful in thinning the ones they can, which is usually the males. That the locals who have a tag on their hunting license allowing them to kill a bear, which we are only allowed one every 5 years, can do still more thinning, again usually males.

This might give the moms and babes a better chance…but I am off the general subject I started on.

We are currently hiring crew for the operation. Thankfully that chore is almost done. It is hard to choose people that you feel will make the journey, work out well, make as much money as they possibly can and most importantly go away from our part of Alaska feeling they had a heck of a good experience. Since no matter how much you send pictures, have people read testimonials or try to prepare them for either Alaska or the fishing season in Bristol Bay you just can’t.

We continue to work on getting our new airstrip improved. This project will likely take another couple of years to get it where we can accept most aircraft used in the bush and used on a year around basis if needed.

I am sure most people have no idea how vital airstrips are to most of rural Alaska. Given we have no highways connecting major hubs or even between most villages. Without airstrips that are long enough to allow various sized freight and passenger airplanes to make deliveries and pickups it leave us to the mercy of many times only one airline. I AM sure most people can guess what that means when it comes to cost and service.

Fishermen, processing and support companies are scrambling to get people hired, supplies shipped in for these few short months of work. The barges from the lower 48 and Anchorage have been heading this way for the last few weeks. I heard today the ice pack is still not far off shore in the bay which has to be delaying some deliveries farther north.

Village governments are putting their orders in for at least their spring and summer fuel. Projects that require good weather are in full swing, or close to it.

The Ugashik Lakes have ‘blown out’ most of their heavy ice and thus pretty much ice free. This year there is a research sonar project to count our out migration of salmon smolt, baby fish,  in the next few weeks. I will be giving you a glimpse into that project in the next weeks. It is exciting for us and a great tool that is so needed.

The ‘rural’ part of Alaska is alive and busy and we will be sharing more as we move forward.

~ Victoria Briggs

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

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 themudflats.net 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.

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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

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January 23, 2009

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

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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.

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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

(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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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February 19, 2009

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

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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.

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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.

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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 AlaskaReport.com 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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.

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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….

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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.

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August 10, 2009

Legislature overrides Palin’s stimulus veto By SEAN COCKERHAM

scockerham@adn.com

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.

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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…”

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August 12, 2009

Obama’s Rural Tour Visits Bush Alaska

By KYLE HOPKINS

khopkins@adn.com

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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…

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October 23, 2009

Pres. Obama Reaches Out to American Indian Tribes

By KYLE HOPKINS

khopklins@adn.com

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.

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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.

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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.

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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…

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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

FEDS DECLARE YUKON FISHERIES DISASTER

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

YES WE CAN!!!!

Counting down…Ugashik or Bust

May 22, 2009

Picture of the river from Nunam's dock.

The Yukon River viewed from Nunam's dock.

May 22, 2009

We are scheduled to fly to Ugashik on the 28th.  It will be a long day – we leave Nunam in the morning and arrive in Ugashik in the evening.  The first leg with either be to Bethel or  Emmonak.  From there we will fly to Dillingham,  King Salmon and then to Ugashik.

Flights and route are dependent upon break up, flooding, and weather.

*   *   *

Break up/Flooding Update

The news reported that the village of  Marshall had some pretty bad flooding and residents in low-lying areas had to evacuate to higher ground.  Emmonak is on flood watch.

We went down to the dock last night and there is a lot of open water on the river.  There is still lots of ice and it hasn’t started shifting yet.   The river ice has started moving up and down with the tides again.  I asked a relative whether she thought we were going to flood, and she replied that it really  depends on how the coastal ice breaks up and jams even if the river break up looks normal.

We are scheduled to fly to Ugashik on the 28th

Alaska Peninsula begins to thaw…

April 17, 2009

april-15-and-16-003

Overlooking river and looking down river.
All this is ice and now dirt showing as it is starting to melt.
We had 4-6  feet of ice this year.

When I think of spring here on the AK Peninsula I do not think of daffodils, tulips and green grass like I have in all the other places I lived over the years. I do not think of dogwood or cherry blossoms, morning doves or robins.

The first thing that comes to mind for me in this part of the world is the LOUD cracking sound of ice trying to shift on the frozen river. (when I first moved here and it would happen at night I thought it was a loud deep gun shot sound, too many years in the city:-))

Of the first little patches of open water that show on up between cracks of ice on the same. From that point the daily watch for more open water patches showing up in the river, a breaking up of ice pack, the flushing in and out with the tides of  ice huge chucks, sometimes over 20 foot tall. Think ice bergs!!

Finally when all the ice is out of the river and then the beach ice can be then washed away also. The entire process is very dynamic.

Then, usually after three to four weeks, the sound of the river running free again. It is hard to describe that sound, a low roar? A rushing? Nope, well yes, I guess both of those sounds together.

The return of first seagulls, which come with the first open water, and then tundra swans as the little lakes that surround us for miles, open up. The first song birds we see, usually robins and chick-a-dees. Canaries, blue jays and so many more return it is a chorus the rest of the summer.

The ALL at once the ducks, geese, cranes and shore birds that come to join the great horned owls, eagles and an occasional hawk. (We are located on the Western Fly Way for migrating birds and are surrounded by a bird reserves)

I have learned to not look for the greening of things for many weeks after it seems like it should be happening. We first get the willows sprouting, somewhat similar to pussy willows.

A few local ‘weeds’ start to show signs of green. A few of our locals still remember hunting for these when they were young, but seldom done now. A practice I am going to try this year. I will update as I figure this out, with educated help)

Once we can get boats into the river, meaning beach ice is gone, most of us are heading up river to ‘egg island’ a few times in the course of a week or two to collect seagull and duck eggs. “Egg Island’ is named for the supply of fresh eggs where seagulls and various ducks nest in the middle of the Ugashik River.

There are ‘rules’ for harvesting; if there are more than 3 eggs, leave them.

If not you can take them.

Do not bring dogs, unless well behaved so as not to destroy nests, or leave them in the skiff.

Walk carefully as the nests are usually well covered with grasses and sedges.

Only pick eggs for the first 3 weeks after break-up.

This starts the spring traditions – getting ready for fishing is another one.  As we move forward I will try and share some with you.

~ Victoria