Menu Schedule Links

Rachel Waldholz, KCAW - Sitka

“One of the dangers there, as oil prices continue to go up, is that people will start to shift over to electricity, and all that additional capacity that you’ve gained by raising the dam will just go into existing inefficient buildings, or into new inefficient buildings,” says Jon Heller. (Blue Lake Expansion photo/Desiree Brandis)

Sitka Gets Creative To Pay For Its Dam

After a month of discussion, the Sitka Assembly on Monday night settled on a modest electric rate increase. Residential rates will go up by about 6 percent in the coming year, to pay for debt service on the Blue Lake dam.

Listen now:

May 12, 2015
Federal Government Proposes Taking Humpback Whales Off Endangered Species List

Federal Government Proposes Taking Humpback Whales Off Endangered Species List

The federal government is proposing to remove most humpback whales from the endangered species list. Forty-five years after the whales were first listed, federal scientists say that most humpback populations – including those common in Alaska – are stable and growing.

Download Audio

April 20, 2015
AK: An Artist On A Quest To Bring Otter To The Runway

AK: An Artist On A Quest To Bring Otter To The Runway

This spring, Sitka artist Peter Williams took a trip to New York City, to show his work during fashion week. A designer and marine mammal hunter, Williams makes everything from hats to earrings from sea otter and sealskin. He’s been trying to break into the lucrative fashion world for years, and he’s got a larger goal in mind – bringing Alaska Native designs to luxury buyers worldwide. Williams says that one way to save a traditional art form, is to create a market for it.

Download Audio

April 17, 2015

Co-op Herring Fishery Means Fewer Boats, Quiet Year In Sitka

Most years, the sac roe herring fishery in Sitka means boats filling the harbor, crew members filling the bars, seiners jostling for position within sight of town, and spotter planes in close formation overhead. But this year fishermen voted to abandon the competitive fishery in favor of a co-op. That meant a much smaller footprint, with fewer boats, crewmen, tenders, and spotter pilots. The reason? Low prices for roe, for starters. And a strong US dollar that makes all American exports more expensive.

Download Audio

April 7, 2015
First Two VPSOs Graduate From Firearm Training

First Two VPSOs Graduate From Firearm Training

Two Village Public Safety Officers graduated from firearm training today (Friday, 4-3-15), becoming the first officers in the 40-year history of the program to be armed.

Download Audio

April 6, 2015

Sac Roe Herring Fishery Quieter This Year

The Sitka Sound sac roe herring fishery is a quieter affair this year, as the fleet conducts its first fully cooperative fishery since the mid-90s.

March 18, 2015

Roe Herring Fishery Gets Two-Hour Notice

The Sitka Sound sac roe herring fishery will be on two-hour notice starting 10 a.m. Wednesday, the Alaska Department of Fish & Game announced this Tuesday afternoon. A test sample taken from a body of herring west of Black Rock showed about 7% mature roe, which is low for the commercial fishery. But the Department said that percentage could rise rapidly over the next few days as less mature herring separate out from those ready to spawn.

March 17, 2015
Sitka Police Officer Noah Shepard serves coffee to inmates in Sitka’s jail, while supervisor Dave Nelson looks on. (KCAW photo/Rachel Waldholz)

Alaska Budget Cuts Threaten Local Jails

Police departments across the state have been taken aback by a state Department of Corrections proposal to end funding for local jails. Sitka is one of several local departments who say the cuts are so deep, it could force their jail to close.

Download Audio

February 17, 2015
The Eyak bids goodbye to the tugboat Marauder, which brought it into Sitka Channel. (KCAW photo/Rachel Waldholz)

Eyak Salvaged, Back In Sitka

The Eyak is back in Sitka. Ten days after the 80-foot tender and mail boat ran aground and sank just north of the Goddard hot springs, it’s back afloat — after a virtual alphabet soup of state and federal agencies and local companies worked together to salvage it.

February 2, 2015

Tongass Advisory Council Meeting In Juneau

The Tongass Advisory Committee is meeting for the fifth time in Juneau this week. The committee is tasked with hammering out how the Forest Service should handle the Obama Administration’s transition away from old-growth logging and to a new focus on younger trees. But, for some people the most important questions are the ones the committee isn’t supposed to address.

Download Audio

January 21, 2015
Sitka search and rescue volunteer Jake Denherder took this photo of the sinking F/V Eyak from the Alaska State Trooper vessel Courage, early on January 19, 2015. (Photo courtesy of Jake Denherder.)

Four Rescued As F/V Eyak Sinks Near Sitka

Four people were rescued from the F/V Eyak early Monday morning after the boat went aground near Calligan Island, just north of the Goddard hot springs.

January 20, 2015

Humpback History: Soviet Whaling

Like nearly all the great whales, humpbacks were heavily hunted. And one question researchers have grappled with is how many animals there were before the whaling fleets took their toll. To solve this mystery, it turns out, you have to take a trip back in time, and into the secret history of Soviet whaling.

Download Audio

December 30, 2014

Origins Of The Endangered Species Act

Humpback whales may be coming off the endangered species list soon – federal officials are expected to announce a decision within the next few weeks.

Regardless of what they decide, one thing is clear: without whales and other marine mammals, there might not even be an endangered species list.

In the first of a series exploring humpback whales and the Endangered Species Act, KCAW reporter Rachel Waldholz and biologist Ellen Chenoweth explain how one of the nation’s most enduring environmental laws emerged from the office of one of its least revered presidents.

Download Audio

December 23, 2014
Bishop David of Alaska visited Sitka for St. Michael’s Feast Day in November, 2014. (KCAW photo/Rachel Waldholz)

Nine Months In, Orthodox Bishop Takes Stock

When David Mahaffey was installed as the Orthodox Bishop of Alaska in a ceremony in Sitka this past February, he became the 16th leader of America’s oldest Orthodox diocese.

Bishop David has now been on the job for nine months. He returned to Sitka this fall.

Download Audio

December 8, 2014
Aerial view of the Starrigavan boat launch, looking south. (ADF&G photo)

Sitka herring forecast lowest in a decade

Sitka’s commercial herring fleet should expect to catch significantly fewer fish this spring. That’s the news from the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, which released its preliminary harvest level for the 2015 Sitka Sound sac roe herring fishery on Friday.

Download Audio

November 25, 2014

President Obama Highlights Sitka Schools on Technology

The Sitka School District has a big fan: President Barack Obama.

Sitka Schools Superintendent Mary Wegner was in Washington D.C. on Wednesday for a White House summit on technology and education.

Download Audio

November 20, 2014
Tongass Advisory Committee meets in Sitka

Tongass Advisory Committee meets in Sitka

Representatives from across Southeast and the country will meet are meeting in Sitka this week to hash out timber issues on the Tongass.

Download Audio

November 19, 2014
Sitka Democrat Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins celebrates with campaign manager Berett Wilber. Kreiss-Tomkins beat back a challenge from Petersburg Republican Steven Samuelson in state House District 35. (KCAW photo/Emily Kwong)

Kreiss-Tomkins Reelected By Wide Margin

The first time Sitka Democrat Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins ran for State House, in 2012 at the tender age of 23, he squeaked through, beating Haines Republican Bill Thomas by just 32 votes. The candidates had to wait weeks for the final results. Not this time. On Tuesday night, Kreiss-Tomkins, now 25, won convincingly.

November 5, 2014
Nelson Kanuk, seated, and Katherine Dolma, standing, were two of the six young plaintiffs who sued the State of Alaska, demanding it take action on climate change. The pair are pictured here in Barrow, following a Supreme Court LIVE hearing at Barrow High School.  (Photo by Jeff Seifert/ KBRW)

Youth Climate Lawsuit Dismissed

The Alaska Supreme Court last week dismissed a case brought by six young Alaskans, demanding the state take action on climate change. The suit was one of several filed nationwide, and the first to take its argument to a state supreme court. In dismissing the case, the Court said that climate policy isn’t an issue the judiciary can decide – it must go through the political process.

But, for the young plaintiffs and the nonprofit supporting them, the ruling included some silver linings.

Download Audio

September 17, 2014

Four-Day Southeast Troll Closure Starts This Weekend

Southeast Alaska’s commercial troll fishing fleet will have to stand down for a few days, starting this weekend.

Download Audio

August 6, 2014