Wednesday, August 31, 2016

49 Historic Sites in the 49th State

This year America celebrates the 50th Anniversary of the National Historic Preservation Act. Alaska was still celebrating its first decade of statehood when the Preservation Act was passed by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1966. Since then, the act has empowered the U.S. Forest Service to identify and preserve the state’s rich cultural history, including heritage sites that date back to time immemorial.

In honor of the 50th Anniversary, the 49 Sites in the 49th State website was developed by the Alaska Region and partners such as the State of Alaska, Native corporations and tribes, the National Park Service, and the Bureau of Land Management, and others to help state residents and out-of-state visitors explore. The site features many historical sites and treasures such as the Iditarod National Historic Trail, Lost Whaling Ships in the Bering Strait, and M/V Chugach ranger boat, the last of 10 Forest Service ranger boats that once plied the waters of the Tongass and Chugach national forests.

A historic photo of the M/V Chugach ranger boat considered the best handling as well as the most seaworthy oceangoing vessel in the entire ranger boat fleet. Photo credit: Forest Service

In addition, the Forest Service will also host a series of celebratory events over the next year. A new historic property sign was unveiled at the Three Lakes Shelter on Mitkof Island. The Petersburg Ranger District led interpretive hikes in the surrounding forest for kids and adults following the ceremony. The shelter was originally built in 1938 by the Civilian Conservation Corps, a program created in 1933 as part of President Roosevelt’s New Deal. It is one of 39 Adirondack-style shelters built on the Tongass National Forest between the mid-1930s and the early 1940s.
The historic Cordova, Alaska courthouse and post office

This fall, there will be an open house and plaque unveiling for the Cordova Post Office and Court House, which was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1977. At that time, it was reported to be the oldest post office buildings in Alaska still in use as a post office. Currently, the building functions as the office for the Chugach National Forest’s Cordova Ranger District.

(this article was written by Teresa Haugh-public affairs specialist for the Alaska Region)

Friday, April 15, 2016

Bear Week is Coming...

Please join in celebrating bears and sharing information on living and recreating bear-friendly in our Girdwood Community. All activities are FREE!! Visit

Bear Theatre

April 15th 6:30pm @ Girdwood School
Come see our youth in a playful twist on the classic tale of the Three Little Pigs, who learn how to clean up their bear-attracting pigsty.

Bear Basics

April 16th 2-4pm @ Girdwood Community Room
Adult oriented bear aware basics - What to do if you see a bear? What do you do to avoid bear encounters? Learn how to use bear spray.

Bear Movie

April 16th 5-7pm @ Girdwood Community Room
Come see mini videos produced by local youth about bears, followed by a fea-ture length Disney Bears. Pick bumper sticker from last year’s winning art.

Bears Alive

April 17th 2-5pm @ Alaska Wildlife Cons Center
Come see a 2pm black bears presentation with root bear floats, 3pm bear feed, 4pm electric fence demo, 4:15 bear walk. Mention Bear Weekend for free entry.

Attend events and complete bear checklist to earn tickets to enter a drawing for bear friendly prizes.

Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Calling all 3rd, 4th, 5th and 6th graders! We want to hear your story! Entries due by May 31!

Share your bear story in this bear story contest for a chance to have your story read at an International Conference!

Save up all of your bear related questions because the winner of the contest will be having dinner with bear experts from around the world and will have her or his story read at the International Bear Association Conference in Anchorage on June 16, 2016.

The winning story and runner up stories will be shared and read at bear events to help increase the awareness of bears and conservation of bears in Alaska.

We are especially interested in stories where you have learned something. Think of some of the main bear safety messages:
  • If you see a bear, Don’t Run! (you could make them think you are prey)
  • Don’t Feed the bears (trash, garbage, bird seed, or food)
  • Avoid being near bear foods (bears follow their stomachs)
  • Make Noise (so bears can hear you and stay away from you)
  • Travel in a group (safety in numbers)
  • Carry a bear deterrent (and learn how to use it)
To enter – write your essay in the window below. Remember, no more than 400 words.  Be sure to include your name, grade level and how to contact you.

Don't forget to enter by May 31.

Thank you for sharing your bear story with us. We look forward to reading it. Please note that by sharing your story, you agree that your story may be included in future Bear Aware publications and messages for educational purposes in our Alaska communities without further consent.

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Tis the Season… to be in the Snow

by Alicia F. King
Chugach National Forest Service Public Affairs & Partnership Staff Officer

Photo credit: Alicia F King USFS

This past weekend, Wendy Wagner (Director of the Chugach National Forest Avalanche Information Center), her crew (Graham and Aleph) along with Avalanche Center volunteer Sean Sullivan and the Girdwood Fire Department conducted an Avalanche Rescue workshop focused on the basics of avalanche rescue – not the kind of workshops for professionals who do the rescuing, but for everyday snowmachiners, hikers, skiers, and anyone else out there in this winter weather enjoying the snow.

Have you ever operated an avalanche beacon before? Do you carry one with you along with a probe and shovel? Open to everyone and anyone, novices and experts, this workshop offered an opportunity to practice – practice makes perfect and while you never want to have to use these rescue skills, having them will increase the likelihood of survival in the event that the skills are needed!

Everyone in your group must have an avalanche beacon (transceiver) – a transceiver will not help locate a victim who is not also wearing one! Honing in on a buried individual involves first, locating the signal, then following the beacon’s display to where the searcher is within two to three yards of the signal.

Photo credit: Alicia F King USFS
After this, a fine search is performed to pinpoint the exact spot where the searcher’s beacon reads the smallest possible distance from the snow surface to the buried person’s beacon. Beginning at this closest spot on the snow surface, a probe is used to identify exactly where the person is buried. Once the probe strikes the individual, the rescuer(s) start digging quickly in a strategic fashion just downhill from the probe strike. Hopefully the searches are able to expose the person in time to pull them out from under the snow alive.
Having and being able to use (yes, that means practicing!) this equipment may mean the difference between life and death for someone buried in an avalanche. Most survivors are dug out within 15 to 30 minutes and for victims buried longer than 30 minutes, survival chances decrease drastically. The length of time it takes to locate them and dig them out can be the critical factor. Time is of the essence.


The top tips for safety in avalanche areas are:

  1. Always check the Chugach National Forest Avalanche Information Center for the most up-to-date avalanche forecast and report.
  2. Get your gear – beacon, probe, and shovel – and practice with it!
  3. Get the big picture of the area - a sure sign there is avalanche danger is evidence of recent avalanches, an indication that conditions might be right for more. Other ‘Red Flags’ Indicating nature’s warning signs are cracks in the snow surface that shoot from your skis, snowmachine, or snowboard and collapses. Listen for the snow making a "whumph" sound beneath you. These are signs that the snow is stressed and might not bear your weight.
  4. Get out of harms way! Know the terrain you are traveling in and whether it is capable of producing an avalanche. Slopes more than 30 degrees in steepness, including below these slopes, is considered avalanche terrain. Limit exposure time to avalanche terrain and always group up (eating lunch, etc.) in save zones.

And the 5th tip (yes, there is a homework! fifth) – attend an Avalanche Safety course – the next free rescue workshop being offered by the Chugach National Forest Avalanche Information Center will be January 9 at Turnagain Pass (Motorized parking lot) – look for the blue Chugach National Forest Avalanche Information Center trailer.

Consider joining the avalanche forecasters for a Fireside Chat about snow pack and weather on January 7th at 6:30 p.m. - both of these events are free (you can even say they are priceless) to the public and more information (looking on the Website is free, too!) can be found at the CNFAIC website.

Being prepared is your best defense against accidents. Know before you go and the next time you head out to enjoy the snow put visiting the Chugach National Forest Avalanche Information Center Website (or phoning the hot line at (907) 754-2369) on the top of your list of things to do.