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Jul 15 2015
Marine Debris Barge Arrives in Kodiak PDF Print E-mail
Wednesday, 15 July 2015
marine_debris_barge.jpgBarge in Kodiak, without bags. Photo by Candice Bressler

Kayla Desroches/KMXT

Today, a massive barge docked in Kodiak in its first stop to transport hundreds of tons of marine debris to the lower 48. Its arrival is part a bigger project covering coastlines in Alaska and British Columbia with a mission to remove marine debris and head to Seattle to recycle and process it. 

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A percentage of marine debris on Alaska shorelines is from the 2011 Japanese earthquake and tsunami.

Janna Stewart is the Tsunami Marine Debris Coordinator for Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation, one of the organizers of the event, and says it’s hard to determine how much of the debris is from that tsunami. However, they’ve seen things like fishing gear and dock fragments.

“…Foam that’s used in a lock of construction, tanks, household items. As time has gone on, some of the heavier debris been coming in that’s been moving in the currents rather than bouncing up, driven by the wind,” says Stewart. “So, they’ve seen a change in the nature of the debris that’s come in. For example, they weren’t seeing dimensional lumbar from Japan until a couple of years after the tsunami and now they’ve starting to see that.”

Stewart says nonprofits and other groups have been collecting marine debris for years and many of those collection sites are remote, like Gore Point and Montague. 

“At a lot of those sites, the debris can’t be removed even by smaller vessels because the shorelines are rocky, they’re high energy beaches with a lot of surges. So, the debris once it’s been collected and stored on the shoreline, for many of these locations, the only practical way and the safest way to get the debris of the shorelines is to get it airlifted onto the barge.”

The Japanese government is largely funding the project with $900,000 from the $2.5 million dollars it granted Alaska. Stewart says Japan donated a total of $5 million dollars to coastal states and says she’s met with other state recipients at conferences. She says not only did Alaska get hit harder than other states, but it also faces unique challenges.

“The story I always tell is, when they were doing the presentation on the pickup of this dock that came in, I think it was in Oregon, they talked about they had to drive a quarter of a mile on a logging road to get to the beach. And I said ‘You have a road?’”

It’s an issue that the Kodiak Archipelago can relate to.

Tom Pogson is Director of Education, Outreach, and Marine Programs of Island Trails Network, a nonprofit that has been working to remove marine debris from Kodiak shorelines since 2013. 

Pogson says ITN has accumulated 180,000 pounds of marine debris in its storage yard and volunteers spent the weekend preparing it for transport. He says ITN started to make plans with other organizations for the debris removal in February and those plans fell into place over the last couple of weeks. 

“We’ve been talking about this for a couple of years, but the specifics of getting the contracts finalized and getting a plan and finding appropriate vessels and getting all the mechanics of this particular large-scale removal from this large stretch of coastline set-up has been very complicated,” says Pogson.

And he says that’s the nature of the beast.

“It’s a bit like riding your bike in the dark on a road without any lights. You basically know you’re on the road, you can sorta get a feel for where you’re going, and you know there’s lots of other people that are going there with you. And you kinda just close your eyes and go.”

A Kick-Off Event will take place Thursday in Kodiak to celebrate the barge launch and the month-long debris removal along the coast. The public is invited to hear speakers including DEC Commissioner, NOAA Marine Debris Program Regional Coordinator, and the Director of Alaska Keeper, a major nonprofit involved in organizing the event. The Kick-off will be at 2pm at Koniag on Near Island.

Jul 14 2015
For Pinks, Opener a Good Sign, Not a Promise of a Plentiful Season PDF Print E-mail
Tuesday, 14 July 2015
Kayla Desroches/KMXT

Salmon counts are low across the state, and it’s too early in the pink salmon season to tell if it’ll turn around. That’s according to Fish and Game area management biologist, James Jackson, who says they had a great pink opener last week.

“We had really good catches, especially on the south end of the island,” he says. “On an average, odd year opener for those three days, we typically harvest somewhere between 100 to 250,000 pinks and, that three day opener, we caught about 700,000 pinks, so it was a really good showing.”

But a good start doesn’t mean a good finish.

“It’s way too early to make any inferences about how well the pink run is doing right now. We just started pink management last week,” says Jackson. “Every once in a while, you get a lot of traveling fish that pass through Kodiak. We’re an island in the middle of the gulf. Fish swim around us from all over the place. And so, just because we had really good catches last week doesn’t necessarily equate to a good run to Kodiak. It’s a good sign for right now.”

Jackson says the forecast for wild stock pink salmon is poor this year.

“I think we only have a harvest estimate around 7 million, which for the wild stock is not very good, so our early pink salmon weekly openings are set at 57 hours. Right now those early catches would indicate that that’s maybe a little off, but like I said, it’s too early to tell,” says Jackson.

Fish and Game announced an opener for yesterday and the next one is fast approaching.

“Usually by the third opener, so the third weekly opener, the third week of July, you can kinda look at the harvest and, if it’s above average, and if you fly some aerial surveys, and you have good buildup of pink salmon in the bays and good early escapement, then you can kind of gauge the run. You can tell ‘okay, this is a good run or this is not a good run,” says Jackson.

According to a Fish and Game announcement, the current 57-hour commercial salmon fishing period continues until Wednesday.

Jul 13 2015
Kids to Discover Kodiak History First Hand at Sum'Arts Camp PDF Print E-mail
Monday, 13 July 2015
Kayla Desroches/KMXT

What do throwing boards, butter-making, and ciitaq have in common? They’re all things Kodiak kids of the past experienced in their daily lives. And they’re all something modern day middle school students will get to learn about at the Baranov Museum’s Kodiak Arts and Culture Camp through the Kodiak Arts Council’s Sum’Arts series.

Instructor Jill Lipka is the museum’s curator of education and says the selection of activities will range from crafts to food, and incorporate activities from different cultures in local history.

“We’re hoping to bring back some traditions from early America, we’re hoping to cover Alutiiq culture at contact through the Russia era into the American era, so we’ll have activities that cover those eras,” she says.

For instance, campers will make butter.

“We will use a daisy butter churn,” says Lipka. “It’s just a glass jar with a two-prong paddle on the inside and you rotate it with a little handle that goes around and around. It rotates like a little propeller, and you churn and you churn. And this is a good group activity, because if you do it by yourself, you get tired, but we can just pass that butter churner around the room, and you actually make butter.”

They’ll also whip up some ciitaq.

“Which, if you’re Alutiiq, you know right off the bat, it’s berries and sugar,” says Lipka. “And some people like cream in it and some people don’t, so that’s something that we’ll be making.”

Another piece of Alutiiq culture Lipka says they’ll incorporate is throwing boards.

“People think of bow and arrows for hunting. This is a projection of an arrow towards a target for hunting. And so my thought is the kids will get to use the throwing board, they’ll improve during the improve during the week, and the culmination of the week long camp is a proznick or a celebration, and the kids will be able to show their stuff, and the parents will get to try it for the first time, and the kids will really be able to shine.”

She says the camp is a way to help kids connect to history.

“We don’t have an understanding of what life was. What was it like before contact? You If you were an Alutiiq person, you would see the world a lot differently than we do today. You know, materials and sources for things and how you make things and the seasonal round. They’re still with us, but we also rely on Walmart and Safeway more than we ever have before.”

Lipka says the classes will continue every afternoon from July 20 to 24 and children in grades six through eight can sign up through the Kodiak Arts Council. Call 486 5291 or click here for more information and to sign up.
Jul 10 2015
The Alaska Fisheries Report PDF Print E-mail
Friday, 10 July 2015

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Coming up this week, though it's too late for this season, a group has stepped up to get Alaska's largest salmon packers back under MSC certification; and biologists are starting to reduce forecasts for Bristol Bay on the weak returns, all that and more coming up on the Alaska Fisheries Report. We had help from KDLG's Molly Dischner in Dillingham, KCHU's Marcia Lynn in Valdez, and KBBI's Quinton Chandler in Homer. 

Jul 09 2015
City Repairing Mill Bay Road Near Island Lake and Bartel Intersections PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 09 July 2015

Kayla Desroches/KMXT

If you notice construction on Mill Bay road, city staff wants you to know that they’re trying their best to make sure that Kodiak gets both a road repair and an undisturbed drive to the grocery store. Mark Kozak is director of the City’s Public Works Department and says Brechan Construction is working on the pavement that goes from the Island Lake / Mill Bay Road intersection south to the Bartel / Mill Bay road intersection.

Kozak says they’re going to increase the slope to the pavement.

“The only change to the road is the increase from 2 percent to 3 percent crown and that’s to improve getting the water off of the surface as quick as we can,” he says. “The rest is basically just repairing the wear that the road shows as you drive on it. When it’s raining, you can see the wear ruts are extremely deep.”

He says Brechan will make the road surface smoother.

“We’re going to mill some of the asphalt off and then we’ll do some isolated spot patching where some of the ruts have wore through or cracked, and then they’ll do a leveling course to make sure we get a smooth surface to do an overlay over the top and the overlay will go from the gutter all the way across the whole road.”

Kozak says the money for the project’s budget comes from the city general fund.

“The work that was awarded to Brechan, I believe it was 1 million 150 thousand,” he says. “So, we have a little bit to deal with potential overruns and quantities and things which, because of the nature of the road, it’s very difficult to precisely calculate the tonnage of asphalt used just because some places the ruts are deeper than others.”

Louis Rocheleau is Brechan’s project manager and says Island Lake road to Benny Benson is the most heavily trafficked area on Mill Bay road, and they’ll try their best not to interrupt that activity.

“Most of our work that we’re going to be doing in that section is gonna to be concentrated at nighttime, which we’ll be closing down the road to be working in that section,” he says. “The other section will be from Benny Benson down to Bartel Street. Some of that work will be done during the day, but any paving work will be performed at night.”

He says the road will be closed from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m. and cars will be able to take alternative routes to their destinations. Rocheleau says the project will continue for the next two to three weeks.


You can view PDFs of the construction here and here.

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