Alaska Outdoors

A heron stands near Mendenhall Lake. (Courtesy Photo)
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November brings bright sights

A good snowfall in early November drew us out to enjoy the brightened landscape…

 

Alan Alda, center, was host of PBS’s “Scientific American Frontiers” when he visited Alaska in 2004. To his right is By Valentine, who worked in the glaciers lab at the Geophysical Institute with glaciologist Keith Echelmeyer (on Alda’s left). Echelmeyer died of brain cancer six years after Alda’s visit. (Courtesy Photo / Ned Rozell, enhanced 18 years later by JR Ancheta)

Alaska Science Forum: Alan Alda and the Alaska messengers

Climate change in the Arctic and Alaska is substantial; we can see signals it has arrived…”

 

The author isn't a big fan of atmospheric rivers, but the forest variety are very much appreciated. (Jeff Lund / For the Juneau Empire)

I Went to the Woods: Tireless thankfulness

One should never tire of writing columns about gratitude. I hope I never do.

The author isn't a big fan of atmospheric rivers, but the forest variety are very much appreciated. (Jeff Lund / For the Juneau Empire)
George Argus collects samples of willow shrubs on a slope near the town of McCarthy, Alaska in 1955. (Courtesy Photo / Neil Davis)

Alaska Science Forum: A man of the mountain, and its willows

When you are a young boy growing up in Brooklyn in the 1930s, sniffing warm pastries your father has placed in the window of his… Continue reading

George Argus collects samples of willow shrubs on a slope near the town of McCarthy, Alaska in 1955. (Courtesy Photo / Neil Davis)
Trail Mix Inc.’s executive director, Ryan O’Shaughnessy, right, walks with Mike McKrill off Lemon Creek Trail on June 4, 2022 after taking part in the organization’s annual National Trails Day event. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire File)

Trail Mix Inc. dinner & auction returns in-person

Tickets sold out but online bidding available

Trail Mix Inc.’s executive director, Ryan O’Shaughnessy, right, walks with Mike McKrill off Lemon Creek Trail on June 4, 2022 after taking part in the organization’s annual National Trails Day event. (Michael S. Lockett / Juneau Empire File)
This photo available under a Creative Commons license shows a lawn wolf spider in its funnel web in Laos. (Courtesy Photo / Basile Morin)

On the Trails: A wide world of webs

There are wonderfully diverse ways of using silk to detect and capture prey.

This photo available under a Creative Commons license shows a lawn wolf spider in its funnel web in Laos. (Courtesy Photo / Basile Morin)
Finding where bucks were isn't a problem this time of year. Finding where they are is the challenge. (Jeff Lund / For the Juneau Empire)

I Went to the Woods: Really skilled or really lucky

My success may come in spite of my method, not because of it.

Finding where bucks were isn't a problem this time of year. Finding where they are is the challenge. (Jeff Lund / For the Juneau Empire)
Bird researcher Jesse Conklin uses a radio antenna to relocate young bar-tailed godwits outside Nome on July 15, 2022. One of the birds Conklin and Dan Ruthrauff fitted with a satellite transmitter that day later flew from Alaska to Tasmania in a nonstop 11-day trip. (Courtesy Photo / Dan Ruthrauff)
Bird researcher Jesse Conklin uses a radio antenna to relocate young bar-tailed godwits outside Nome on July 15, 2022. One of the birds Conklin and Dan Ruthrauff fitted with a satellite transmitter that day later flew from Alaska to Tasmania in a nonstop 11-day trip. (Courtesy Photo / Dan Ruthrauff)
U.S. Forest Service fish biologist Eric Castro prepares to drop a minnow trap into East Ohmer Creek. The crew moved hundreds of young fish prior to doing work in back channels. (Mary Catharine Martin / SalmonState)

The Salmon State: Growing ‘giant pumpkins’ and fish habitat in Petersburg

A tree grows in Petersburg.

U.S. Forest Service fish biologist Eric Castro prepares to drop a minnow trap into East Ohmer Creek. The crew moved hundreds of young fish prior to doing work in back channels. (Mary Catharine Martin / SalmonState)
This carving by Jon Rowan has entered the realm of pricelessness thanks to the family memories and the carver himself. (Jeff Lund / For the Juneau Empire)

I Went to the Woods: Value appreciation

At some point, we start wrapping our heads around value, not just cost.

This carving by Jon Rowan has entered the realm of pricelessness thanks to the family memories and the carver himself. (Jeff Lund / For the Juneau Empire)
A platypus in the Sydney Aquarium chases fish and crayfish in this photo available under a Creative Commons license. (Alan Wolf / Flickr)

On the Trails: The eclectic marvels of electric ecology

What do a platypus, salamander and dolphin have in common?

A platypus in the Sydney Aquarium chases fish and crayfish in this photo available under a Creative Commons license. (Alan Wolf / Flickr)
UAA associate professor of public health Philippe Amstislavski collects samples of some of the fungi found in the forests around UAA which are similar to those his team has used to develop a lightweight packaging alternative to Styrofoam. (Courtesy Photo / James R. Evans, University of Alaska Anchorage)

Alaska Science Forum: Home insulation from wood and fungus

Alaska researchers are working to create insulation that removes carbon from the atmosphere.

UAA associate professor of public health Philippe Amstislavski collects samples of some of the fungi found in the forests around UAA which are similar to those his team has used to develop a lightweight packaging alternative to Styrofoam. (Courtesy Photo / James R. Evans, University of Alaska Anchorage)
A classical orb-web, strung between twigs; this one seems to have collected water drops, making it conspicuous. (Courtesy Photo / Scott Foster)

On the Trails: Spider webs and the ‘amazing stuff’ they’re made of

An abs-orb-ing read.

A classical orb-web, strung between twigs; this one seems to have collected water drops, making it conspicuous. (Courtesy Photo / Scott Foster)
A bull moose looks at a photographer near Whitehorse, Yukon, in summer 2022. (Courtesy Photo / Ned Rozell)

Alaska Science Forum: The man who knew moose like no other

Vic Van Ballenberghe had stood amid their knobby legs for many springs and falls in Interior Alaska.

A bull moose looks at a photographer near Whitehorse, Yukon, in summer 2022. (Courtesy Photo / Ned Rozell)
The author's wife navigates a steep section of the secret deer hunting spot that has been objectively underwhelming, but subjectively epic-in-the-making. Hopefully. (Jeff Lund / For the Juneau Empire)

I Went to the Woods: Subjective facts and truth

I find what I want to find and proclaim certainty. This is not helpful.

The author's wife navigates a steep section of the secret deer hunting spot that has been objectively underwhelming, but subjectively epic-in-the-making. Hopefully. (Jeff Lund / For the Juneau Empire)
An eagle has captured an egg-laden female coho in Steep Creek and is about to gulp down a cluster of eggs. (Courtesy Photo / Jos Bakker)

On the Trails: October observations of fall foraging

Where is everybody?

An eagle has captured an egg-laden female coho in Steep Creek and is about to gulp down a cluster of eggs. (Courtesy Photo / Jos Bakker)
Kelsey Aho holds a jar of clay she collected while fishing for hooligan on Turnagain Arm near Anchorage in 2021. (Courtesy Photo / Kelsey Aho)

Alaska Science Forum: Grains of Alaska made into art

“I can hand a piece of the Yukon River or Mendenhall Glacier to someone thousands of miles away…”

Kelsey Aho holds a jar of clay she collected while fishing for hooligan on Turnagain Arm near Anchorage in 2021. (Courtesy Photo / Kelsey Aho)
In this May 24, 2019, photo, teachers and students from Northwest Montessori School in Seattle examine the carcass of a gray whale after it washed up on the coast of Washington's Olympic Peninsula, just north of Kalaloch Campground in Olympic National Park. U.S. researchers say the number of gray whales off western North America has continued to fall over the last two years, a decline that resembles previous population swings over the past several decades. According to an assessment by NOAA Fisheries released Friday, Oct. 7, 2022, the most recent count put the population at 16,650 whales — down 38% from its peak in 2015-16. (AP Photo / Gene Johnson)

Gray whale population off western U.S. continues to decline

The most recent count put the population at 16,650 whales — down 38% from its peak in 2015-16.

In this May 24, 2019, photo, teachers and students from Northwest Montessori School in Seattle examine the carcass of a gray whale after it washed up on the coast of Washington's Olympic Peninsula, just north of Kalaloch Campground in Olympic National Park. U.S. researchers say the number of gray whales off western North America has continued to fall over the last two years, a decline that resembles previous population swings over the past several decades. According to an assessment by NOAA Fisheries released Friday, Oct. 7, 2022, the most recent count put the population at 16,650 whales — down 38% from its peak in 2015-16. (AP Photo / Gene Johnson)
Sockeye salmon return to Steep Creek to spawn. According to data provided by the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute in its latest update, the statewide preliminary harvest is estimated to be more than 153 million salmon — across all species — caught during the 14 weeks spanning mid-June to mid-September that the data was analyzed. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)
Sockeye salmon return to Steep Creek to spawn. According to data provided by the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute in its latest update, the statewide preliminary harvest is estimated to be more than 153 million salmon — across all species — caught during the 14 weeks spanning mid-June to mid-September that the data was analyzed. (Ben Hohenstatt / Juneau Empire)