ANCHORAGE AND FAIRBANKS
Lack of Money Ends Moose Recovery
A nonprofit group that picked up dead moose off roads in Anchorage and the Mat-Su Valley during the 2009-10 winter season, and had hoped to start a similar service in Fairbanks over the 2010-11 winter season, has suspended the program because of a lack of funding.
The Alaska Moose Federation in 2009 began responding around the clock to police calls when moose were killed in vehicle collisions. The AMF used a flatbed truck equipped with winches and emergency lights to haul the moose to various regional charities for butchering. Previously, the charities were responsible for removing the moose from the accident sites, and that often resulted in people butchering moose on the roadside—a dangerous situation that required the police to remain onsite for several hours. The AMF had a response time of less than half an hour, which allowed police officers to get back on patrol much more quickly.
The AMF retrieved about 50 moose from roads in the Anchorage bowl
over five months in the 2009-10 winter season, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported, but several sources of expected funding fell through in 2010 and the cost of buying commercial auto insurance for volunteer drivers was
prohibitive. The AMF is hopeful the retrieval program can be resurrected next winter with funding from the state, the News-Miner reported.
Avalanche Teams Get New Weapon
|Michael Penn/Juneau Empire|
|A new technology that blasts away snow with sound waves may help prevent avalanches on the slopes next to Juneau.|
The threat of an avalanche always looms in the mountains around Juneau, and causes a lot of worry for Alaska Electric Light and Power, the local utility company. Its power plant is several miles from the city, and the main line carrying electricity runs across several avalanche-prone slopes. Slides have caused lengthy outages on several occasions, leading the utility company to generate power with diesel—an extremely expensive proposition that can raise residential bills by hundreds of dollars.
Now, a new technology may help prevent those avalanches. AEL&P recently unveiled a new Daisy Bell Helicopter Avalanche Control System that hangs 150 feet from a helicopter and strategically moves snow by emitting precise blasts using mixtures of oxygen and hydrogen, the Juneau Empire reported. The utility hopes the device can replace dangerous explosives in its avalanche control arsenal.
The daisy Bell sets of blasts more quickly and precisely, keeps employees safer, and will save the company time and money—because it requires fewer employees to use the bell than to use explosives, and each charge costs less than dynamite—and may help prevent more costly power outages, the Juneau Empire reported.
Book Honors The Revered Xtratuf
|XtraTufs are brown rubber boots, often called Alaska sneakers, that are prized for their ability to stand up to harsh conditions.|
Look down at the feet of any Alaskan out fishing, walking the dog, doing yard work or strolling through the woods, and there’s a good chance they will be wearing what are commonly called Alaska sneakers: XtraTufs. The brown rubber boots are prized here for their ability to stand up to some pretty harsh conditions and, while they make no great fashion statement, keep the wearer’s feet dry in places where dry feet can help save a life.
Now, third-generation Alaskan Larry Johansen has authored a book examining the boots and the relationship Alaskans have with them. XtraTuf: An Alaskan Way of Life, combines photos of Alaskans wearing the boots with personal profiles and observations about life in Alaska and the boots that make it more comfortable, the Juneau Empire reported.
The book focuses on Southeast communities including Ketchikan, where Johansen grew up, Sitka and Tenakee Springs, which make up part
of the “XtraTuf nation.”
Originally designed in the 1960s for fishermen, the boot’s range is limited to the Pacific Northwest, and is virtually unseen on the East Coast. At least a third of the 100,000 pairs of boots produced every year end up in Alaska, the Empire reported.
Produce Growers Think Small
|A few Alaska growers are eschewing the stereotype of massive cabbages and super-sized pumpkins, and instead growing micro produce—tiny vegetable shoots for use in salads and as garnishes.|
Think of Alaska produce, and images of giant cabbages probably come to mind. But now, a few Alaska growers are aiming in the opposite direction by cultivating micro produce—tiny vegetable shoots for use in salads and as garnishes in Alaska restaurants.
Northern Latitude Controlled Environment Agriculture is one such grower. The company is using a hydroponic system to grow micro greens in a 1,300-square-foot warehouse in Anchorage. It produces broccoli, pac choi, arugula, beets, cress, endive, basil, cilantro, radish, pea shoots and corn shoots, the Anchorage Daily News reported. The vegetables are harvested
at five to 20 days old, and sometimes have intense flavors.
The micro green concept originated in California and, until now, a California company was supplying micro greens in Alaska. Micro greens are being served at Anchorage restaurants including Hot Stixx, Bear Tooth Grill, Ginger, Kincaid Grill, Marx Bros. and Southside Bistro.
The company also hopes to inspire people in Bush communities, where fresh produce is expensive and hard to come by, to grow their own micro veggies, the Anchorage Daily News reported.
Bed Tax benefits Multiple Groups
Ever wonder, when you see an itemized hotel bill, what that extra $25 or $50 called “bed tax” is really for? Well, in Fairbanks, it goes toward promoting tourism.
A city committee recently awarded $270,000 in funding from the city’s bed tax to 25 groups working directly or indirectly to increase tourism opportunities in the city, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported. The biggest recipients were the Fairbanks Arts Association, Festival Fairbanks and the Yukon Quest International Sled Dog Race. Smaller awards were handed out to local museums, parks and events, such as the World Eskimo Indian Olympics and the Iron Dog snowmachine race. A group of engineering students working on an electric car won funding by promising to promote the city by entering competitions with the vehicle.
The rest of the nearly $2.4 million raised in 2010 by the tax is slated for city-run groups like the Fairbanks Economic Development Corp. and the Community Service Patrol.
SOUTHCENTRAL AND INTERIOR
Alaska Sea Level Bucks Global Trend
Live here just a little while and you’ll notice that Alaskans tend to go against the norm. And that goes for the environment here too, it seems. Climate scientists say that absolute global sea level is now rising by about one-tenth of an inch per year due to the thermal expansion of warming ocean water combined with glacial and ice-sheet runoff. But not in Alaska.
The landmass along Cook Inlet and the Kenai Peninsula is rising two to four times faster than the ocean, so the sea level there is falling. The rise is caused by the collision of the North American and Pacific tectonic plates, and rebound from glacial melting at the end of the last ice age, the Alaska Dispatch
Other climate-related changes are also taking place in Alaska. According to University of Alaska Fairbanks professor Rich Boone, an ecosystem ecologist at the College of Natural Science and Mathematics, average temperatures in Fairbanks could increase by about 11-degrees Fahrenheit by 2100. That could change the harsh climate of Interior Alaska to a more moderate one, similar to Saskatoon, Saskatchewan, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported.
Models used by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change predict worldwide temperatures will increase by about 6 degrees Fahrenheit during the next century, but arctic regions are warming at roughly twice that rate, the Fairbanks Daily News-Miner reported.
Warmer summers and drier springs in the Interior have also allowed wildfires to burn deeper into the region’s ancient peat, releasing far more carbon dioxide into the air than previously thought, according to a study by a team of researchers at the University of Guelph in Ontario, the Alaska Dispatch reported.
The change means Alaska’s boreal forests are producing more greenhouse gas than they consume, and that could be the start of a self-perpetuating cycle that results in runaway climate change, the study, to be published in Nature Geoscience, stated.
Carver Recovers $50,000
When Barrow carver Gilford Mongoyak Jr. was driving along the Arctic coast recently, he didn’t expect to have to make a major moral decision. He saw a suitcase sitting in the road, so he stopped to pick it up and see if he could find the owner. At home, Mongoyak and his wife opened the suitcase and found a surprise: a large wad of cash wrapped up in white paper. There was nothing to identify the owner of the suitcase, so Mongoyak took the money to the police office and handed it over to an officer, saying he thought it was about $10,000, the Arctic Sounder newspaper reported.
The officer told him it was more like $50,000, and that a local restaurant owner had reported losing the suitcase containing the money just before flying out of town earlier.
“I was rich for, like, 15 or 20 minutes,” Mongoyak said, according to an Arctic Sounder report.
The owner of the cash offered Mongoyak a free dinner at her restaurant as a reward, but he declined, the Arctic Sounder reported.