Robert Woolsey, KCAW - Sitka
Robert Woolsey is a reporter at KCAW in Sitka.
Two people are safe after a massive landslide destroyed the cabin they were camping in Sunday morning near Sitka. An air taxi pilot rescued the pair from a debris field estimated to be 20 feet deep. All their belongings were buried in the slide. Their dog remains missing.
A local legislative race in Alaska has caught the attention of national media, and is being held up as model for political change elsewhere in the country.
One of Southeast’s most prominent environmental organizations has started a marketing campaign – for timber. The Sitka Conservation Society recently printed a glossy brochure selling the virtues of second-growth Tongass timber for projects from furniture to housing. The only problem is: There’s no way – yet – to economically harvest and process second growth.
A bill that would relax the wastewater standards placed on cruise ships by Alaska voters is on the fast track in the Senate.
After refusing to implement an electronic monitoring program developed by fishermen, NOAA Fisheries is moving forward with a plan of its own to test cameras on boats this spring. But a top official who met with Sitka fishermen last week said too many questions remain about the system, and there’s no way a functional electronic monitoring program could be ready in the next two years.
Recently in Sitka, residents were invited to visit the library and sign a card of support for Joe Mille, a 2009 graduate of Sitka High, who lost his right leg in combat in Afghanistan, and who is now in a rehabilitation unit at Walter Reed Hospital in Maryland. The individual organizing the effort, however, is not in Mille’s family, or a member of his church. He’s the photojournalist who broke the story.
Redistricting has cost Southeast one legislator this session, and voters in District 34 have made things even more interesting by sending a freshman to the House. Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins will be 23-years old when he’s sworn in next Tuesday. Here’s a session preview from the state’s youngest legislator.
Monday, Jan. 7, is Christmas Day on the Julian calendar observed by the Eastern Orthodox Christians. Western churches and most secular institutions follow the Gregorian calendar. In both calendars, however, Christmas falls on December 25th.
The head of the state’s ferry system is stepping down. Capt. Mike Neussl’s last day of work as the Deputy Commissioner for Marine Operations will be next Friday, January 11.
A college professor who studies food systems is putting his money where his brain is. Nic Mink has spent the past two summers in Sitka meeting fishermen and learning about the economy salmon trolling. Now, he’s launched a business to connect individual boats with consumers in the Midwest.
A major gear group is pushing back against rules set to take effect this January that will put human observers aboard some smaller fishing boats. The Alaska Longline Fishermen’s Association has enlisted the help of the state’s congressional delegation to try and delay implementation of the observer program for small boats, and to adopt a more efficient electronic monitoring program instead.
A small cruise line with ties to the conservation community in Southeast Alaska has filed a lawsuit over the federal fisheries observer program, saying that too many Chinook and halibut.
The Sitka High wood shop is involved in an experiment to learn if young-growth timber can be made into high end furniture and other products. One of three class sections is using locally-harvested and milled alder in their projects; the other two are using traditional hardwoods from the lower forty-eight. Their teacher says his students don’t notice any difference.
A writer and salmon troller has published a new collection of articles written over the course of thirty-five years fishing in Southeast. As the Gurdy Turns is the first book for Ron Rau, who was a frequent contributor to The Alaska Fisherman’s Journal.
The certification of the House District 34 race this week has put Jonathan Kreiss-Tomkins in the legislature. At 23-years old, he is almost the youngest person ever elected to state government.
Sitka basketball legend Herb Didrickson has been named to the Alaska Sports Hall of Fame. Didrickson was selected for the honor over the weekend, along with former Eilson football coach Buck Nystrom.
Wood energy is making a comeback in Sitka. With fuel prices approaching record highs, locals are returning to firewood, and to other forms of wood fuel lumped under the term “biomass.” This Saturday, the community is holding a “Wood Energy Fair” to re-introduce residents to wood heat in the home.