Fletcher runs through the snow on Saturday, Jan. 2, 2021, on Diamond Ridge near Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)

Out of the Office: How all the dogs in my life have kept me sane and happy

From Ginny to Fletcher and all the dogs in between, furry companions provide friendship, healing.

Fletcher runs through the snow on Saturday, Jan. 2, 2021, on Diamond Ridge near Homer, Alaska. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)
A fish friendly culvert in Alaska. (Photo by Katrina Liebich/USFWS)

Refuge Notebook: What’s your number? Mine is 5

Have you ever considered how many salmon streams you cross on your daily drive to work, school or another location you frequent? My number is… Continue reading

A fish friendly culvert in Alaska. (Photo by Katrina Liebich/USFWS)
Biological intern Annaleese Rasanen surveys severely burned alpine shrub tundra within the Swan Lake Fire burn July 27, 2020. (Photo by Matt Bowser/USFWS)

Refuge Notebook: A refuge manager’s perspective on 2020

A friend and colleague recently sent me a list of “things to consider” as 2020 drew to a close (all credit to the unidentified source… Continue reading

Biological intern Annaleese Rasanen surveys severely burned alpine shrub tundra within the Swan Lake Fire burn July 27, 2020. (Photo by Matt Bowser/USFWS)
Lost Lake Trail, winter route. May 16, 2018. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Tangled Up in Blue: Clearing my head

I set out for a run in the afternoon to clear my head. It was this past Wednesday, Jan. 6, and I left the trailhead… Continue reading

Lost Lake Trail, winter route. May 16, 2018. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
The author looks across Eklutna Lake on Monday, Dec. 28, 2020 near Eagle River, Alaska. (Photo by Tim Rockey)

Out of the Office: Good riddance

When I first saw my turn in the rotating schedule for writing this column would fall on New Year’s Eve, my mind jumped to a… Continue reading

The author looks across Eklutna Lake on Monday, Dec. 28, 2020 near Eagle River, Alaska. (Photo by Tim Rockey)
A tractor with the Anchor Point Tractor Launch pulls a fishing boat out of the water on Saturday, June 20, 2020, at the beach in Anchor Point, Alaska. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)

State seeks proposals for local campground management

State Parks extends deadline for bids to provide boat launch service at Deep Creek, Anchor River

A tractor with the Anchor Point Tractor Launch pulls a fishing boat out of the water on Saturday, June 20, 2020, at the beach in Anchor Point, Alaska. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)
A Northern Hawk Owl clutching a red-backed vole near Watson Lake on Nov. 30, 2020. (Photo by Colin Canterbury/USFWS)

Northern Hawk Owls frequent Swan Lake Fire burn

In a gliding dive it swooped down from atop an aspen and disappeared, plunging into the fresh snow behind a stand of willows. I hunkered… Continue reading

A Northern Hawk Owl clutching a red-backed vole near Watson Lake on Nov. 30, 2020. (Photo by Colin Canterbury/USFWS)
Bottenintnin Lake, Nov. 24, 2020. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Out of the Office: More questions than answers

The only place life makes sense anymore is the outdoors. How do we balance the needs of students and parents with the safety of school… Continue reading

Bottenintnin Lake, Nov. 24, 2020. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Wyatt, at age 4, helping dad harvest crawfish at White River NWR in Arkansas. (Photo by Matt Conner/USFWS)

Refuge Notebook: Crawfish to Christmas trees

My rubber knee boots provided little traction as I slowly slid down the mucky side of the bank toward the muddied water. The soft mud… Continue reading

Wyatt, at age 4, helping dad harvest crawfish at White River NWR in Arkansas. (Photo by Matt Conner/USFWS)
Silver salmon swim in Sucker Creek on Sept. 18, 2020. Surface streams on the Kenai Peninsula and fish in them have far less arsenic in them than in some well water in the area. (Photo by Matt Bowser/Kenai National Wildlife Refuge)

Refuge Notebook: Arsenic in murder and nature

Arsenic, though often difficult to detect, is hard to ignore. As the 20th most common element in the Earth’s crust, arsenic occurs naturally in volcanic… Continue reading

Silver salmon swim in Sucker Creek on Sept. 18, 2020. Surface streams on the Kenai Peninsula and fish in them have far less arsenic in them than in some well water in the area. (Photo by Matt Bowser/Kenai National Wildlife Refuge)
Visitors enjoy bear viewing in the saltmarsh at Chinitna Bay, Lake Clark National Park. (Photo by J. Pfeiffenberger/NPS)

Refuge Notebook: Visitors to Katmai and Lake Clark National Parks rely on Kenai Peninsula services

Two national park and preserve areas, Lake Clark and Katmai, located just across Cook Inlet from the Kenai Peninsula, offer some of Alaska’s most spectacular… Continue reading

Visitors enjoy bear viewing in the saltmarsh at Chinitna Bay, Lake Clark National Park. (Photo by J. Pfeiffenberger/NPS)
The author is seen here trying to get in touch with her dad, who is isolating and celebrating Thanksgiving in Florida this year, and repeatedly ignoring her calls. (Photo by Kat Sorensen)

Tangled Up in Blue: Tangled up in turkey

More prevalent than pumpkin pie this holiday season is the refrain, “Are you upset you can’t travel to see your family this year?” And I… Continue reading

The author is seen here trying to get in touch with her dad, who is isolating and celebrating Thanksgiving in Florida this year, and repeatedly ignoring her calls. (Photo by Kat Sorensen)
A snowshoe hare in its white winter coat. (Photo by Colin Canterbury/Kenai National Wildlife Refuge)

Refuge Notebook: The verge of winter

As the daylight hours seem to slip away, the temperatures are slowly getting lower and the silky flowing waters of rivers, lakes and streams begin… Continue reading

A snowshoe hare in its white winter coat. (Photo by Colin Canterbury/Kenai National Wildlife Refuge)
Moose are seen eating on the shoulder of Kenai Spur Highway on Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2020, outside of Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Moose are seen eating on the shoulder of Kenai Spur Highway on Wednesday, Oct. 21, 2020, outside of Soldotna, Alaska. (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Basic Incident Command System organization chart. The ICS system has been used for many different types of incidents since its inception. (Chart from Federal Emergency Management Agency)

Refuge Notebook: Incident Command System adapts to record-setting wildfires

The August Complex Fire of 2020 on the Mendocino National Forest in northern California is officially the state’s largest wildfire in history. At over 1,000,000… Continue reading

Basic Incident Command System organization chart. The ICS system has been used for many different types of incidents since its inception. (Chart from Federal Emergency Management Agency)
The author is seen here skiing a little easier at Trail Lake near Seward. (Photo provided by Kat Sorensen)

Tangled Up in Blue: Grooming the trail

During my first winter spent cross-country skiing in Soldotna, I often found myself struggling to glide along the trails at Tsalteshi. I was learning, fumbling… Continue reading

The author is seen here skiing a little easier at Trail Lake near Seward. (Photo provided by Kat Sorensen)
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Out of the Office: Two weeks

I’ve been thinking a lot about the 1986 film “The Money Pit” lately. If you’re around my age, I’ve probably lost you already. But if… Continue reading

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The view looking north toward the pass from just above Juneau Lake. (Photo by Jack Carroll/Kenai National Wildlife Refuge)

Refuge Notebook: Finding refuge in the forest

As a park ranger for the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, I get to spend a lot of time on the refuge’s trails and in the… Continue reading

The view looking north toward the pass from just above Juneau Lake. (Photo by Jack Carroll/Kenai National Wildlife Refuge)
Eivin Kilcher with his children and their flotsam treasures on Ushagat Island in August 2020. (Photo by Eve Kilcher)

Refuge Notebook: Flotsam ‘treasure’ harbors wealth of wildlife knowledge

This August, Eivin Kilcher was beachcombing on Ushagat Island when he saw something unusual. “I was thinking, whoa, that looks like a massive-something-important.” He and… Continue reading

Eivin Kilcher with his children and their flotsam treasures on Ushagat Island in August 2020. (Photo by Eve Kilcher)
The author and her voting sticker. (Photo by Kat Sorensen)

Tangled Up in Blue: I voted

I feel like I’ve been talking about voting for weeks, months … maybe more like 1,451 days, but I can’t stop talking about voting. I… Continue reading

The author and her voting sticker. (Photo by Kat Sorensen)