Daily Archives: October 3, 2012

Bully into record books — Giant moose bound to go down in history

By Joseph Robertia

Photos courtesy of Bob Condon. Bob Condon, of Soldotna, poses with the 1,500-pound bull moose he shot in the Brooks Range in September.

Redoubt Reporter

Hunters who take to the woods in pursuit of moose harbor some sort of hope for success — whether it’s a modest desire to fill a freezer with meat or daydreams of a record-setting specimen. The moose Bob Condon, of Soldotna, bagged last month exceeded even his wildest wildlife daydreams.

Weighing more than 1,500 pounds with an antler spread of more than 73 inches, beams measuring roughly 10 inches in circumference at the base, and palms large enough to hammock a grown man, Condon’s bull was nothing short of a behemoth. In fact, it may end up being the second largest ever taken down.

“I knew he was a real shooter, but I didn’t know the true caliber of animal he was until I got up on him. I’ve hunted and guided nearly all my life and never gotten one over 950 (pounds), so getting one weighing 1,500 was a real treat, and it’ll be in the all-time books for sure,” Condon said.

The moose is surely awe-inspiring, though Condon himself is worthy of some amazement, as well.

At 73, an age when many might retire from the difficulty and discomfort of a hunt, Condon keeps doing what he

Bob Condon puts his moose’s antler spread — more than 73 inches — in perspective.

loves doing, even in spite of health setbacks. He’s had five bypass surgeries in the last few years and just had a heart attack in March.

“My doctors told me not to hunt, so this was a real blessing,” he said.

While pursuing moose, Condon has also been at the receiving end of bull’s antlers. Two years ago after he dropped a bull with a 56-inch antler spread, he made a mistake of setting his rifle down a little too far away when he went in to ensure the beast was dead. It was not.

“It was a stupid mistake, and I paid for it,” he said. “He picked me up by the antlers and flung me around three or four times, gored me, tore my boots.”

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K-Beach Road reopens to traffic — Peninsula mops up after rain-laden storms

By Jenny Neyman

Photo courtesy of Scott Bremer. Floodwaters swelled this stream to overflow its culvert and erode away the road at Mile 11 of Kalifornsky Beach Road on Sept. 19. As of Monday, a detour route reopened to traffic.

Redoubt Reporter

As a reason for being late to work, having a variable schedule and forgetting that it’s your show-up-an-hour-earlier-than-normal day may not be the best excuse. But finding a giant, gaping chasm in the road ahead of you is understandable.

That’s the situation Sue Evanson found herself in Sept. 19 as she was headed to work on Kalifornsky Beach Road. She works at Kenai Peninsula College and usually gets to work at 9 a.m., except on days when she trades off with a co-worker and needs to be there at 8 a.m. That was the belatedly realized case Sept. 19, so she already didn’t have time to lose as she started her commute. But as she and her northbound neighbors along the Kasilof end of K-Beach Road discovered, the road was closed by the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities, owing to a massive washout of the road at Mile 11.

“And that was what was doubly bad because I forgot about that the first day the road went out and I got down there and went, ‘Oh, shoot, I’m going to be late for work.’ And then I though, ‘Oh, shoot, I’m really late because I was supposed to be in at 8 this morning and now it’s 9 and now I have to backtrack,’” Evanson said.

A stream runs through a culvert under the road at Mile 11, about two miles south of the Albatross and right past the

Photo by Jenny Neyman, Redoubt Reporter. An Alaska Department of Transportation crew works on a detour route around a washout of Kalifornsky Beach Road on Monday. The route opened to traffic Monday and will remain in use until repairs to K-Beach are finished, expected to be done by Nov. 15.

entrance to the Marathon gas facility. With a major storm dumping record-setting rain on the central Kenai Peninsula that week, the stream had swollen beyond the capacity of the culvert. Where there’s water pressure, there — eventually, and often destructively — must be a way. In this case, built-up floodwater ate away at the already rain-soaked soil surrounding the culvert until the whole thing gave way, with the roadbed caving into the chasm below.

It was brand-new pavement, too, getting flushed into Cook Inlet, as renovations to K-Beach were just completed last year. The engineers, in redoing the road, just hadn’t expected that much water, said Rick Feller, spokesman for ADOT’s central region.

“With every storm event, depending upon where the rain’s coming down and where drainage is concentrated, you can have these things pop up on you. And that’s what we had happen there. For a typical storm event we would have been in great shape there. For this one, though, in this area, there was just an inordinate amount of rain that obviously wasn’t anticipated with the design, and, so, once that water becomes concentrated, despite our efforts to save the road, sometimes you just can’t hold those floodwaters back from eroding around the culvert, which is what happened here,” Feller said.

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School district talks resume — Associations, KPBSD begin arbitration over contract dispute

By Jenny Neyman

Redoubt Reporter

By the dictionary, fiscally conservative is a simple term — the economic philosophy of prudence in spending and debt.

As applied to the Kenai Peninsula Borough School District budget, as it’s being hashed out in contract negotiations between the district and the Kenai Peninsula Education and Support associations, however, the term becomes more complicated, as both sides lay claim to the concept.

For the district, being fiscally conservative means hedging against rainy-day scenarios of rising costs and/or decreasing funding, and avoiding as much budgetary uncertainly as possible. For the associations, which want to ensure parity in compensation and no surprises in health insurance contributions, fiscally conservative means not bloating a budget by squirreling money away in various funds and savings accounts when it could be put to immediate use.

“So you compare all three years here, we’re pretty much spot on,” said Matt Fischer, a teacher at Soldotna Middle School and a member of the KPEA bargaining team, comparing the associations’ and district’s latest proposals on salary and health insurance conditions. “The difference is kind of the theory of how we get the money to the employees.”

Bargaining teams for the district and associations have been meeting since last year to set three-year employee contracts that were supposed to begin with this school year. Even after a round of mediation, talks deadlocked at the end of June, when the old contract expired, snagged on the high-dollar areas of salaries and health insurance. Arbitration began Monday, continued Tuesday and is scheduled for Oct. 5. On Sept. 21 the associations invited the district back to the table, and the teams met Sept. 26 as a last-ditch effort to settle contracts before arbitration.

At the end of the session, the two main sticking points remained stuck.

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Posting results — Volunteers say newly completed fence already successful in protecting river

By Joseph Robertia

Photos by Joseph Robertia, Redoubt Reporter. Volunteers work to finish installing a guardrail fence protecting sensitive beach dunes along the mouth of the Kasilof River this weekend.

Redoubt Reporter

This year’s fishing season on the Kasilof River has waned, but work being done to protect the river’s habitat for fish — as well as migratory birds and other creatures — continued last weekend.

“It feels great to be winding up this project,” said Brent Johnson, of the Kasilof Regional Historical Association, who has done the lion’s share of the organization, as well as much of the work, on a dune-fencing project at the mouth of the Kasilof River.

Several fishermen — commercial, sport and personal-use — as well as others simply concerned with mitigating damage to their local area, joined forces to work on the project beginning last summer for the betterment of an ecologically sensitive area that is vitally important as an estuary for young fish, migratory birds and other species of wildlife.

The fence project, taking place on the south side of the river mouth, came into existence after the Alaska Legislature approved a $60,000 grant last year, submitted by the Kasilof Regional Historical Association.

After a public comment period and a lengthy land-use permitting process by the state Department of Natural Resources Division of Mining, Land and Water — which has management authority over this area of land — the project got a green light and the construction of the fence began last summer.

Several hundred yards of posts and guardrail were erected before the construction materials, procured from the Alaska Department of Transportation, ran out. While three quarters of the fence, which is slightly more than a mile long, was completed, there was still an unfinished section at the end that ne’er-do-wells could drive around. However, Johnson found a source for more materials.

“Early last winter Horizon Lines brought the posts over from the DOT in Kodiak. I tried to offer Horizon Lines a

A volunteer crew representing diverse user groups completed installation of this portion of the fence, stretching upstream of the Kasilof river mouth.

tax credit for their work, but they just did the job free of charge and their only reward was our thanks. The rails came from DOT in Soldotna,” Johnson said, adding that DOT District Superintendent Carl High and Salty Bock, Soldotna guardrail foreman, have been very supportive of the project from day one.

One of the more unique aspects of the project is that it brought together many different, and often conflicting, fishing user groups. Nearly all said they were willing to put their differing viewpoints aside to work for the betterment of an area that is culturally, recreationally, socially, economically and biologically important.

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Almanac: Take refuge — 1st Kenai Moose Range manager has wild work cut out for him

By Clark Fair

Photos courtesy of U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. David Spencer, first manager of what is now the Kenai National Wildlife Refuge, stands next to the Grumman Widgeon he so often flew in the 1950s with his great-grandmother.

Redoubt Reporter

David Spencer, manager for the Kenai National Moose Range, was flying in his amphibious Widgeon with biologist David Klein over Cooper Lake in 1952 when they spotted a mountain goat swimming far below them.
In the market for mountain goats, they acknowledged their good fortune and quickly effected a water landing near the animal.

They lassoed the goat with a tie-down rope and, without the benefit of a tranquilizer to calm the animal, they hauled it aboard and secured it in the back of the plane. They then flew on to Kenai, where they refueled, used pieces of old garden hose to sheath the goat’s horns as a safety precaution, and flew on to Kodiak.

Spencer, who by this time had been named Alaska Refuge supervisor but was still stationed in Kenai, was

Spencer in 1975 on Buldir, an island in the Aleutians, helping with an effort to band/measure/I.D. migratory birds. He is holding a Canada gosling.

completing a two-year effort to introduce mountain goats to the Kodiak Refuge, and had thus far helped to live-trap 18 of them from the mainland and transport them to a Hidden Basin release site on the island. The Cooper Lake goat became No. 19 in the effort.

All in a day’s work in the early days of refuge administration.
And perhaps it was the knowledge that Spencer was a man who seized opportunity when he saw it that had prompted U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials to station Spencer in Kenai in the first place.

In the mid-1940s, according to Clark Salyer, then chief of the federal branch of Wildlife Refuges, the moose of the sprawling Kenai National Moose Range were being poached at a “startling” rate. However — mainly due to the influence of World War II — there was in place no local administration to regulate game harvest in the 7-year-old refuge, so in 1948 Salyer took a step toward tackling the problem by hiring Spencer as the first-ever moose range manager.

Spencer had most recently been using a Navy surplus plane to fly aerial waterfowl-population surveys from Canada to Mexico. According to a USFWS-generated tribute, Salyer called Spencer to his office and informed him of his promotion with words to this effect: “I want you, Spencer, as the first refuge manager, to take possession of this place and get this poaching problem under control. And by the way, take the airplane you’ve been flying around in with you.”

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Drinking on the Last Frontier: Drink in the craft brew boost — Breweries a historic source of US economic diversity

By Bill Howell, for the Redoubt Reporter

These days, the economy seems to be the No. 1 topic of conversation, at least among the chattering classes. You can’t turn on the television without being assaulted by one presidential candidate or the other (or one of their surrogates) arguing about just how bad the economy is and whose fault is that. However, I hope to keep this column a bit more interesting than the latest election-year folderol, so let’s talk about the economy and beer.

Historically, alcoholic beverages have been mainstays of the American economy, and one of the critical sources of revenue for the federal government, dating all the way back to 1791. During George Washington’s first term as president, Congress passed the very first excise tax on a domestic product, a tax on distilled spirits. The failure of the ensuing Whiskey Rebellion, which President Washington put down at the head of 15,000 troops, established the principle of federal domestic taxation, something we still live with today.

Another rebellion also led to the first real beer tax in the United States. From the time of independence, American beer taxes were largely indirect, typically in the form of licensing fees and duties on malt and hops. That changed during the Civil War (or, more accurately, the War Between the States). On July 1, 1862, Congress authorized a tax of $1 per barrel of beer.

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Breaking down is easy to do — Getting back up and running much more challenging

Hunting, Fishing and Other Grounds for Support, by Jacki Michels, for the Redoubt Reporter

It happens every couple of years. Like rabbits, our “stuff” goes through a hearty life cycle and dies. For the past year, we’ve experienced a dramatic decline in the population of electronic, mechanical and otherwise indispensable gadgets of humane living.

It started with the coffee pot. The carafe, not wanting to balance politely between the sinks, jumped right off the counter and plunged to a messy demise. That makes four pots in five years.

Of course, I couldn’t replace it without buying a whole new coffee maker, so I dug out the old camping percolator. No moving parts, no glass parts and no filters required. Nothing much short of a Mack truck would ruin it, we reasoned.

As soon as the snow flew our snowmachine decided to stage a dramatic death at the bottom of a large hill. Due to the graphic nature of my husband’s verbal tirade, the dialogue of this gruesome scene cannot be shared in the paper.

The newer old cassette player-era truck and the slightly hipper CD-capable car staged a mutinous coup and became acutely ill, both running up healthy repair bills and causing a major disruption. The older than eight-track cassette-set truck (while being driven when vehicle one and two were in intensive care) suffered a major valve malfunction and tragically died on the spot.

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