The Alaska Highway on July 15, 2020. (Photo by Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)

Out of the Office: Up the Alcan

Five days and nearly 2,500 miles: That’s how long I traveled to get to Alaska. I grew up in rural Idaho, 5,000 feet up in… Continue reading

The Alaska Highway on July 15, 2020. (Photo by Camille Botello/Peninsula Clarion)
The docile Pacific brant migrates thousands of miles between eelgrass beds in Alaska and Mexico. (Photo by Jeff Wasley/USGS)

Refuge Notebook: Meet our amazing Pacific brant

This is the first of a two-part series describing a charismatic but lesser known goose species, its past, present and future in the Pacific flyway,… Continue reading

The docile Pacific brant migrates thousands of miles between eelgrass beds in Alaska and Mexico. (Photo by Jeff Wasley/USGS)
Andrew Marley, the 2021 Homer Winter King Salmon Tournament winner, at left, holds his prize winning 25.62-pound white king salmon on Saturday, April 17, 2021, on the Homer Spit in Homer, Alaska. Helping him are his father, Jay Marley, center, and older brother Weston Marley, right. The family team included Erica Marley, not shown, all fishing on the Fly Dough. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)

10-year-old takes home $87,000 for top fish in Homer tourney

‘Quite a bit of that is going to go to college tuition,’ dad says of son’s earnings

Andrew Marley, the 2021 Homer Winter King Salmon Tournament winner, at left, holds his prize winning 25.62-pound white king salmon on Saturday, April 17, 2021, on the Homer Spit in Homer, Alaska. Helping him are his father, Jay Marley, center, and older brother Weston Marley, right. The family team included Erica Marley, not shown, all fishing on the Fly Dough. (Photo by Michael Armstrong/Homer News)
StoryWalk along the Keen-Eye Trail. (Photo by Michelle Ostrowski/USFWS)

Refuge Notebook: Read a book, spend time in nature with StoryWalk

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” — Dr. Seuss, “I… Continue reading

StoryWalk along the Keen-Eye Trail. (Photo by Michelle Ostrowski/USFWS)
Bleached, dying elodea in Sandpiper Lake on Aug. 28, 2020. (Photo by Mark Laker/USFWS)

Refuge Notebook: Update on non-native species in refuge

While some planned projects at the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge were put on hold in summer 2020 due the pandemic, we in the refuge’s biology… Continue reading

Bleached, dying elodea in Sandpiper Lake on Aug. 28, 2020. (Photo by Mark Laker/USFWS)
Michael Armstrong is properly outfitted for an Arctic summer hiking trip in this photo taken in 1989 along the Wulik River in northeastern Alaska. (Photo by Charles Barnwell.)

Out of the Office: Living in Alaska is a lifetime in learning

From boots to parkas, there’s lots to figure out about surviving in the Last Frontier

Michael Armstrong is properly outfitted for an Arctic summer hiking trip in this photo taken in 1989 along the Wulik River in northeastern Alaska. (Photo by Charles Barnwell.)
Morel species collected from the Kenai Peninsula. Clockwise from upper left: Norwegian morel, beautiful morel, excellent morel, sixth black morel, exuberant morel and gray morel. (Photos by Matt Bowser and Colin Canterbury/USFWS)

Refuge Notebook: A new perspective on Kenai morels

Years ago, a co-worker shared with me a place where morels appeared at the bases of cottonwood trees. I have found them at that same… Continue reading

Morel species collected from the Kenai Peninsula. Clockwise from upper left: Norwegian morel, beautiful morel, excellent morel, sixth black morel, exuberant morel and gray morel. (Photos by Matt Bowser and Colin Canterbury/USFWS)
Hannah Lafleur skis through Resurrection Pass on the Kenai Peninsula in Alaska on March 29, 2021. (Photo by Kat Sorensen)

Tangled Up in Blue: Passing through

I started writing this column 17 miles into a three-day, 38-mile ski. We had just reached the pass part of the Resurrection Pass trail, where… Continue reading

Hannah Lafleur skis through Resurrection Pass on the Kenai Peninsula in Alaska on March 29, 2021. (Photo by Kat Sorensen)
The author gets caught off guard while working at the Peninsula Clarion in 2016 in Kenai, Alaska. (Photo by Ben Boettger)

Out of the Office: For good, for now

“Five hundred twenty-five thousand six hundred minutes.” If that figure immediately transports you to the famous number from the musical “Rent,” you’ve caught my drift.… Continue reading

The author gets caught off guard while working at the Peninsula Clarion in 2016 in Kenai, Alaska. (Photo by Ben Boettger)
Melting ice patch in Lake Clark National Park and Preserve. (Photo provided by National Park Service)

Refuge Notebook: Ice patch archaeology

Alaska’s mountains and glaciers are beautiful to observe, and many of us enjoy summertime hikes and backpacking among the peaks. Some hardy individuals even undertake… Continue reading

Melting ice patch in Lake Clark National Park and Preserve. (Photo provided by National Park Service)
Till Lauer

Tangled Up in Blue: Marathon Training

I want to brag for a second, although my self-deprecating side would argue this whole column is just a biweekly boast. After ignoring incessant calls… Continue reading

Till Lauer
A snowmachine at rest in front of the Snag Lake public use cabin. (Photo provided by USFWS)

Preparedness is key to staying safe in the backcountry

If you spend any time in the backcountry it’s bound to happen: an ankle sprain halfway into a day hike, the afternoon blowup that unexpectedly… Continue reading

A snowmachine at rest in front of the Snag Lake public use cabin. (Photo provided by USFWS)
The author gets warm with a mask at Alaska’s Matanuska Glacier on Sunday, March 7, 20201. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)

Out of the Office: Warming up to masks

A March 3 lead paragraph in a news story in The New York Times asked, “When can I throw away my mask?” For me, the… Continue reading

The author gets warm with a mask at Alaska’s Matanuska Glacier on Sunday, March 7, 20201. (Photo by Jeff Helminiak/Peninsula Clarion)
Kenai National Wildlife Refuge staff groom Marsh Lake Trail for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. (Photo provided by USFWS)

Refuge Notebook: When life gives you lemons, make a trail

The cross-country ski trails adjacent to the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge Headquarters and Visitor Center at the top of Ski Hill Road in Soldotna are… Continue reading

Kenai National Wildlife Refuge staff groom Marsh Lake Trail for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. (Photo provided by USFWS)
Patrick Lewis and Kenzie Barnwell ski the trails in Anchorage, Alaska, on Feb. 7, 2021. (Photo by Kat Sorensen)

Tangled Up in Blue: Ski season

Nordic skiing has been a great equalizer for me this winter. I often spend my days doing laps around Bear Lake in Seward or training… Continue reading

Patrick Lewis and Kenzie Barnwell ski the trails in Anchorage, Alaska, on Feb. 7, 2021. (Photo by Kat Sorensen)
Blood stars (top left) and leather stars (top right) were less impacted by the disease and are more likely to be seen today. Sunflower sea stars (bottom left), mottled sea stars (lower center, this one showing symptoms of disease) and ochre sea stars (lower right) used to be common, but were most affected by the disease and have become more rare. (Photos courtesy of Mandy Lindeberg, NOAA, and Brenda Konar, University of Alaska Fairbanks)

Refuge Notebook: The fall of sea stars

Sea stars are a keystone species. As a top predator, they can restructure intertidal communities. For example, by feeding on mussels, they open up limited… Continue reading

Blood stars (top left) and leather stars (top right) were less impacted by the disease and are more likely to be seen today. Sunflower sea stars (bottom left), mottled sea stars (lower center, this one showing symptoms of disease) and ochre sea stars (lower right) used to be common, but were most affected by the disease and have become more rare. (Photos courtesy of Mandy Lindeberg, NOAA, and Brenda Konar, University of Alaska Fairbanks)
A young beaver enjoys a willow branch snack on a pond in the Skilak Wildlife Recreation Area. (Photo by Colin Canterbury, Kenai National Wildlife Refuge)

Refuge Notebook: Leave it to beavers

I was skiing along a lake in the canoe system on a clear, cold winter day, enjoying the crisp fresh air and the shushing sound… Continue reading

A young beaver enjoys a willow branch snack on a pond in the Skilak Wildlife Recreation Area. (Photo by Colin Canterbury, Kenai National Wildlife Refuge)
Howard Mamou shovels snow at the Glennwood in Hutto, Texas, Tuesday, Feb 16, 2021. The worst U.S. power outages were in Texas, affecting more than 2 million homes and businesses. (Ricardo B. Brazziell/Austin American-Statesman via AP)
Howard Mamou shovels snow at the Glennwood in Hutto, Texas, Tuesday, Feb 16, 2021. The worst U.S. power outages were in Texas, affecting more than 2 million homes and businesses. (Ricardo B. Brazziell/Austin American-Statesman via AP)

Tangled Up in Blue: A lot of snow

There’s a lot of snow out there. After asking somebody about their weekend, he proceeded to tell me about chain-sawing blocks of snow on his… Continue reading

Howard Mamou shovels snow at the Glennwood in Hutto, Texas, Tuesday, Feb 16, 2021. The worst U.S. power outages were in Texas, affecting more than 2 million homes and businesses. (Ricardo B. Brazziell/Austin American-Statesman via AP)
Howard Mamou shovels snow at the Glennwood in Hutto, Texas, Tuesday, Feb 16, 2021. The worst U.S. power outages were in Texas, affecting more than 2 million homes and businesses. (Ricardo B. Brazziell/Austin American-Statesman via AP)
A day on Kachemak Bay (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)

Out of the Office: Water taxi talking

Reporters spend a lot of time talking to people: people they don’t know, people they do know, people who really don’t want to talk to… Continue reading

A day on Kachemak Bay (Ashlyn O’Hara/Peninsula Clarion)
Salt marshes are important food sources for brown bears. As we see an earlier start to the growing season or increased plant growth, bears will likely benefit from them even more. (Photo by Michael Hannam/NPS)

Refuge Notebook: Could bears benefit from changing coastal marshes?

Flying over the Cook Inlet coast, you can look down and see expansive salt marshes where mountain rivers meet the sea in lush green meadows.… Continue reading

Salt marshes are important food sources for brown bears. As we see an earlier start to the growing season or increased plant growth, bears will likely benefit from them even more. (Photo by Michael Hannam/NPS)