Connect with us

Alaska

Unhinged Alaska: Some things never change. Nor should they | Peninsula Clarion

Published

on

Unhinged Alaska: Some things never change. Nor should they | Peninsula Clarion


I have recently received emails requesting an encore of a column I once wrote about our preps for the holiday.

I think following is the one they are referencing. If not, my apologies to those making such entreaties whilst preening their tanned keisters on the Gulf Coast. Meanwhile, I’m recovering from attempting a vertical approach to my rig while performing a series of ungainly triple axels after forgetting my ice cleats.

Per your request:

In the dawdling days prior to Thanksgiving, things are usually as serene as a gentle snowfall within our modest piece of nirvana. The only sounds customarily floating through our cabin are the melodious refrains of seasonal classics and the light jingle of ornaments as my bride prepares to decorate for the holidays.

Advertisement

Jane is an artiste at turning our log home into a holiday enlightenment so cool that Kris Kringle leaves her gourmet chocolate muffins-n-milk along with a side of imported cheeses.

My job is to primarily stay out of the way and let her craft her latest masterpieces from turkey-n-things feasts to a Yuletide tree so stunning that it glimmers without illuminated lights.

I, of course, am not without responsibilities.

I contribute to the massive project by pointing out anomalies in the ornament layout of tree such as crookedness, appropriate visibility, and the proper balance of colored lighting. All, while attempting to keep up with the myriad of football games with the closed caption engaged to ensure her background music remains prioritized.

Easy now. Before you start with the gnarly snarks, chill.

Advertisement

It is at her behest that I remain in the shadows during her favorite projects of the year because she learned early in our marriage that her idea of sculpted Christmas themes and décor did not quite coincide with mine.

Hers, without question, are classified as exquisite artistic innovations of special seasonal themes.

Mine? Well, even my loving mother and relatively blunt father considered my attempts at adornment layouts as being deeply influenced by multihued landfills.

Back in the day, I was banned from getting anywhere near a tree with a fist full of tinsel.

My idea of distributing the silvery strings was to fade back and rocket a towering pass on the theory that the tinsel would separate evenly and serenely float down to cover the green limbs in a radiant veneer. Thus, allowing me a swift return to the backyards of raging snowball battles between other happy household exiles released from the grind of the festooning scene.

Advertisement

Things did not go as planned.

The resultant glob ended up resembling a crashed communication satellite dangling from the main angle’s wing which did not impress either parent. Thus, I was relegated to holiday litter patrol and primary snow shovel engineer much to the glee of my E-vile snitch-empowered sister.

Unfortunately, my festal season skills and responsibilities haven’t transmuted much since then, other than my wife claims that she has finally started noticing a glimmer of maturity in a couple of my aging buds.

That didn’t last long.

Last week, just as we were settling in from a sojourn north to complete my bride’s culinary requirements list and do a little pre sales reconnaissance, Willie came roaring into the driveway in his latest version of an antique Tijuana taxi crossbred with a severely damaged Baja off-road racer.

Advertisement

Turk was riding shotgun and was so pale I thought for a moment I could see through him.

It looked as though he either had eaten some of Willie’s road kill casserole or had just experienced another out of body experience with W behind the wheel.

It turned out to be the latter.

As Turk stumbled around the driveway trying to reestablish his sense of balance and thwart feelings of pending doom, Willie jabbered like an acutely over caffeinated protester who couldn’t remember the latest cause of the week but kept babbling because someone was filming it on TikTok.

When he finally wound down to the stage of semi coherency and was able to speak in tempered sentences, he confessed that he had lost our communal bird that was supposed to have been this year’s banquet centerpiece.

Advertisement

It turned out that the scrap wood aviary Willie built for the turkey took wing, along with our main course, when a fiendish wind storm hurtled through the area during the night leveling the structure.

Turk just stared at W while mumbling something about paybacks that may or may not have included neutering.

Jane remained unfazed and announced that the four of us will still be enjoying a toasty tom with all the trimmings.

It turned out that, because my wife is both an excellent hunter and gatherer, she harvested enough while foraging in the markets to nail a free 20lb. gobbler so we are all set for the big day although I’m a bit worried about Willie.

The way Turk was glowering at him before they left, W may be enjoying his meal through a straw.

Advertisement

Nick can be reached at ncvarney@gmail.com






Source link

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Alaska

NOAA Fisheries releases more information about ‘high level’ of killer whales caught this year by Alaska trawl fleet

Published

on

NOAA Fisheries releases more information about ‘high level’ of killer whales caught this year by Alaska trawl fleet


Six killer whales caught in trawl net gear this year in waters off Alaska died as a result of their entanglement, while a seventh whale was seriously injured by this gear, according to a NOAA Fisheries statement released Friday.

Bering Sea trawlers this year also encountered three other killer whales, which NOAA Fisheries determined had died prior to making contact with the nets of these fishing vessels.

The trawl fishing industry’s 2023 take of killer whales, first made by public NOAA Fisheries in September, is significantly higher than in recent years past, according to a review of NOAA Fisheries death tolls through 2021.

Advertisement

The NOAA Fisheries statement Friday also reported that an 11th whale died this year as it became entangled in longline gear deployed by a vessel contracted by the agency to conduct a federal fishery survey.

[Trawl catch of killer whales brings new scrutiny to federal science behind Alaska take levels]

“Given the high level of incidental catches of killer whales in 2023, we knew it was important to move as quickly as possible to better understand whether these incidental takes pose a conservation concern to any of the potentially affected killer whale stocks,” Robert Foy, director of the Alaska Fisheries Science Center, said in a written statement. “As a result, we expedited processing and some procedures …”

NOAA Fisheries was able to obtain genetic samples from eight of the killer whales. Tests indicated that they all were Eastern North Pacific Alaska residents that feed on fish, which are more abundant than a separate population of transient whales that feed largely on marine mammals.

These resident killer whales were found to all be females.

Advertisement

This year’s Bering Sea killer whale death toll has given new ammunition to critics of the trawl fleet, who have long raised concerns about the impacts of the vessel’s incidental take of a wide range of marine life.

“This is another tragic example of the problems with bottom trawling,” said Jon Warrenchuk, a senior scientist and campaign manager with Oceana, which submitted public records requests to gain additional information — including photos — of killer whale deaths in Alaska fisheries.

Bering Sea killer whales are not listed under the Endangered Species Act but are protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act. NOAA estimates that — at a minimum — more than 1,900 of the resident killer whales reside in the Gulf of Alaska and Bering Sea.

In a finding required by the Marine Mammal Protection Act, the agency has determined that up to 19 of the Eastern North Pacific Alaska resident whales can die each year due to entanglements or other accidents involving humans without impacting the overall stocks.

That annual take number has received lots of scrutiny.

Advertisement

Some scientists say it’s based on an outdated assessment that sets the threshold too high. The case for revising the threshold number — known as the potential biological removal — was first made a decade ago in a study led by Kim Parsons, a NOAA Fisheries researcher, who found strong evidence of genetically distinct subpopulations of resident killer whales that prey largely on marine mammals.

A federal move to reclassify them into smaller groups would need a formal reassessment of stock structures that looks more closely at their range, diet and other information. An Alaska scientific review group has repeatedly recommended that a study be done, according to Craig Matkin, a former member of that group who said he quit in frustration when that failed to happen.

In October, the Center for Biological Diversity filed a 60-day notice of intent to sue the federal government for failing to protect killer whales and other marine mammals from being killed in the trawl fisheries.

The take of marine mammals by the trawl fisheries is tracked through the years by NOAA Fisheries. From 2017 to 2021, seven killer whales were seriously injured or died in the Bering Sea fisheries, including a female killed in 2021 in a trawl net as another whale — believed to be its calf — was released alive, according to the agency.

So far, the information released for 2023 does not give any detailed incident reports or locations where trawlers encountered the whales. But the most recent statement does offer more information about the fishing gear that encountered the whales.

Advertisement

One whale carcass was taken by a boat using large trawl nets used to catch pollock. NOAA Fisheries determined this whale was not killed by the trawl gear. It died prior to being caught, said the statement released by NOAA Fisheries.

[A struggle to dodge salmon in pursuit of a massive pollock bounty]

Nine of the whales were taken by another type of trawl vessel that tows nets along the bottom to largely target flatfish. Six of those killer whales died from the entanglements, one was seriously injured but alive when released and two were already dead prior to contact with this gear, according to NOAA Fisheries.

In October testimony to the North Pacific Fishery Management Council, an industry official said killer whales have been encountered in a Bering Sea bottom trawl fishery known as the deep-water flats.

John Gauvin, fisheries science director for the Alaska Seafood Cooperative, told the council that vessels involved in this fishery started having increased interactions with killer whales in 2020, and that all the whale entanglements this year involved this fishery.

Advertisement

“We want to conduct our fisheries without harming orcas and we’re taking steps to avoid future mortalities,” Gauvin said in his October testimony.

The deep-water flats fisheries unfold at depths often of more than 1,000 feet in a zone where the continental shelf gives way to the slope. It yields harvests of turbot and arrowtooth flounder as well as black cod.

In an earlier interview, Gauvin said that the whales are feeding in front of the nets. And, one vessel skipper this year set out a kind of water kite that covered part of the net opening. The kite did not appear to impede fishing, but more study is needed to determine how effective it could be in keeping whales out of the net.

Other options under consideration include a widely spaced rope barrier at the mouth of the net or an excluder device that would lead a whale to an escape portal, according to a research proposal.

In Friday’s statement, NOAA Fisheries said agency officials will “continue to work with the industry and our own survey operations teams to explore ways to reduce killer whale interactions.”

Advertisement

• • •

Journalist Hal Bernton has covered Alaska fisheries issues extensively. He was a longtime reporter for The Seattle Times, and previously reported for the Anchorage Daily News and The Oregonian. Reach him at hbernton@gmail.com.





Source link

Continue Reading

Alaska

OPINION: Alaska needs to find the most affordable, advantageous fuel

Published

on

OPINION: Alaska needs to find the most affordable, advantageous fuel


Many people have recently been submitting commentaries on the transition to renewable energy in Alaska to the ADN and other publications. The difference in the approaches is between fear of greenhouse gas buildup and concern over potential failure of the electric system. In my opinion, we need to build a reliable electric system from the start, even if it means keeping the natural-gas-fueled generation for a lot longer. In Alaska, public safety is more important than decarbonization.

The way to move forward with the incorporation of renewable or alternate energy sources into Alaska’s electric power systems is clear. Start with the displacement of the most expensive fuel sources in the state. Kotzebue, Kodiak, Cordova and other locations have been doing this successfully. These communities have taken advantage of their strengths to modify their power systems. Wind, solar and hydropower have been used to modify the hydrocarbon-fueled power systems to allow a decreased dependence on hydrocarbon fuels. In these locations, the fuels are shipped in and stored in tanks, at considerable expense. The remote communities in Alaska have an advantage in the move to renewables, which is that they have extremely expensive existing fuel supplies, which gives them good incentive to make the changes to their systems. The electric loads in these communities are relatively small compared with urban and industrialized areas, so they can more easily fulfill a high percentage of their connected load with solar and wind farms near the community.

The second part of the solution for progress toward non-hydrocarbon fuel is to find the local resource that can provide the base source of energy. This replacement base source energy supply, would provide energy to the system when the renewables are inadequate to meet the needs of the community. These communities must currently maintain a supply of diesel fuel to provide energy to the electric system when the wind doesn’t blow, the sun doesn’t shine and the river doesn’t run as strongly. It has been a plan for decades that excess renewable energy(such as solar in the summer) would be used to electrolyze water and produce hydrogen which then can be stored in some manner to use when needed weeks or months later. This has not proven out yet for Alaska, but we are working on it.

Advertisement

The Railbelt electric utilities can’t realistically make a quick and massive move to renewables, since the cost of renewable energy is not really less than the cost of natural gas or coal-fueled generation yet. Texas, which has more wind turbines than any other state, does not have lower electric power prices, and California, with all its solar power, also does not have cheaper power than hydrocarbon and nuclear power sources can provide. The Railbelt can smartly incorporate renewables into the system to provide for microgrids outside the urban areas of the system, so that the rural parts can be energized when primary power sources are interrupted or transmission and distribution are affected.

Many had anticipated that the Susitna-Watana Dam hydro project, Eklutna Lakes pumped hydro, or some other pumped hydro project would eventually provide a significant amount of base power for the utility, but public opinion has been very negative for such projects in Alaska outside of Southeast Alaska. Pumped hydro is a preferred method, as the pumping can be energized by 100% (no constraint) of the excess energy developed by the variable, renewable energy sources. Without hydropower, it looks like we will need to look toward geothermal, hydrogen or nuclear for a stable base source of energy.

There are some things we can do to make proper progress in our power systems that will result in affordable power with the ability to promote industrial growth in Alaska, everywhere in Alaska.

1. Develop a demonstration hydrogen electrolyzer project that would be used to help remote communities work out how hydrogen production can be incorporated into their power systems.

2. Accelerate assessment of potential geothermal resources near Mount Spurr for the Railbelt and at Mount Wrangell for Interior locations, including some mine locations and communities not on the Railbelt.

Advertisement

3. Look for other potential geothermal resources near existing and planned mines in Alaska.

4. Make innovative and aggressive efforts to secure more Cook Inlet gas for the Railbelt energy needs for at least 20 years into the future.

5. Provide positive incentives for continued solar and wind system installation, including possible community solar farms. If there are obstructions to the community solar farms or other wind and solar applications, let’s have some discussion of what enabling legislation or other incentives are needed.

6. If we can’t get a natural gas pipeline from the North Slope, maybe we can run a high-voltage transmission line from the Slope to Fairbanks and use the natural gas to power generators at the source of natural gas.

We just need to keep working on plans that will provide affordable energy to fuel a great economy and increase industry within the state.

Advertisement

Robert Seitz is an electrical engineer and lifelong Alaskan.

The views expressed here are the writer’s and are not necessarily endorsed by the Anchorage Daily News, which welcomes a broad range of viewpoints. To submit a piece for consideration, email commentary(at)adn.com. Send submissions shorter than 200 words to letters@adn.com or click here to submit via any web browser. Read our full guidelines for letters and commentaries here.





Source link

Continue Reading

Alaska

I’ve finally visited all 50 states. As it turns out, I saved the best for last.

Published

on

I’ve finally visited all 50 states. As it turns out, I saved the best for last.


  • In 2023, I finally visited my 50th state — Alaska.
  • I thought it’d be perfect to save the biggest, most remote state for last.
  • Alaska was filled with incredible food and activities and I would go back. 

For years, it’s been my goal to visit all 50 states.

Growing up in Pennsylvania, frequent road trips to New England and Florida allowed me to check off coastal states in quick succession.

In subsequent years, easy access to New York City airports made it relatively easy to use holiday weekends to check off more. Around 2010, I saw No. 48 (Hawaii) and No. 49 (North Dakota) as part of family vacations.

Advertisement

But instead of making plans for Alaska, No. 50, I pivoted my focus to exploring Asia, Europe, and South America. My idea was that Alaska would always be there.

But after the height of the coronavirus pandemic around 2020, I refocused on North America. By 2023, I knew it was time to visit my last state.

Here’s why I’m glad I saved Alaska for last.

Alaska is so big that each city almost felt like a different state

Yellow train with "Alaska" on the side driving through tree-covered mountains

Alaska is a massive state.

Brian Cicioni

Advertisement



Alaska’s vastness is put into perspective when you remember you can fit two of the second-largest states (Texas) inside of it.

In part because of its size, each part of the state has a different feel.

I started in Fairbanks and had to wear sunglasses on the way to my hotel — it was so bright and sunny out even though it was around 10 p.m. In Ketchikan, I experienced rainy, Seattle weather.

In Anchorage, I was reminded of home as I experienced traffic jams. Here, though, they were caused by a goat that went too far down a cliff adjacent to the Seward Highway.

Advertisement

The state was filled with incredible activities and memorable cuisine

Plate of salmon, pickles, and lemon on white rectangular

Brian Cicioni



I mined for gold outside Fairbanks, sampled reindeer sausage in Anchorage, and explored the scandalous side of Ketchikan’s history along Married Man’s Trail.

I visited several museums and was especially impressed with the Alaska Native Heritage Center in Anchorage’s replicas of where indigenous people lived. Each dwelling had a member from the given tribe to tell stories and answer questions.

Advertisement

Food-wise, I ate at least one memorable thing in each city. The omnipresent Thai food huts in Fairbanks served as the backdrop for the most surprising culinary experience I’ve had in the United States.

I ordered my pad Thai through a window and never got out of my car, which made more sense once I learned most vehicle owners use heaters to stop their engines from freezing in the below-50-Fahrenheit winters.

Bangkok Thai small restaurant with one chair and umbrella outside in Alaska

Brian Cicioni



I tried salmon in Ketchikan, the salmon capital of the world, but I most remember the soft, Parisian-like seaweed gnocchi I ordered in the most touristy part of town.

Advertisement

In Anchorage, I had Southeast Alaskan oysters with plum-wine foam that made me nearly forget every oyster bar I’ve ever tried in the Northeast.

I was intimidated at first, but I’m glad I saved Alaska for last

Small yellow plane on water in Alaska

I enjoyed my travels to Alaska and I would go back.

Brian Cicioni



Alaska ended up being No. 50 for two main reasons.

First, it’s probably the most difficult to get to from the Northeast, with direct flights being seasonal and limited.

Advertisement

Second, I was intimidated. How would I, who never even lived in an unattached house, enjoy the largest, least densely populated state?

But once I was aboard Alaska’s Denali Star train, enjoying the changing landscapes over a plate of reindeer bolognese while oblivious to the lack of cell-phone reception, I realized I may have saved the best for last.

And I know I’d definitely like to return.

Advertisement



Source link

Continue Reading
Advertisement

Trending