Daily Archives: June 10, 2009

Waiting to be kinged — Low Cook Inlet river returns have biologists wondering whether kings are late or lacking

Photo by Patrice Kohl, Redoubt Reporter. Fly fishermen wait for a bite at the Ninilchik River on Sunday. Anglers had a slow day Sunday as king salmon returns have lagged in Cook Inlet rivers.

Photo by Patrice Kohl, Redoubt Reporter. Fly fishermen wait for a bite at the Ninilchik River on Sunday. Anglers had a slow day Sunday as king salmon returns have lagged in Cook Inlet rivers.

By Patrice Kohl
Redoubt Reporter

As high tide swelled the lower Ninilchik River on Sunday afternoon, hopeful fishermen crowded the riverbed below Ninilchik village, patiently executing one fly rod cast after another. By the time the tide peaked, many fishermen had been casting for more than an hour. But during what should have been a prime fishing hour, no one hooked a fish. And as the tide began to turn, the fishermen’s morale began to sink along with the water level.

Not everyone fishing the Ninilchik on Sunday afternoon returned empty-handed, but everyone seemed to agree that so far this year the area’s king returns had been bleak. John O’Brien, of Nikiski, caught a Ninilchik king salmon after high tide Sunday, but said that for the amount of time fishermen were putting in on the lower rivers, they were catching considerably fewer kings than in the past.

Photo courtesy of John O’Brien. John O’Brien, of Nikiski, displays the 30-pound king salmon he caught on the Ninilchik River on Sunday.

Photo courtesy of John O’Brien. John O’Brien, of Nikiski, displays the 30-pound king salmon he caught on the Ninilchik River on Sunday.

Among lower-peninsula rivers, fishermen have witnessed a particularly sharp drop in king salmon returning to the Anchor River. The Anchor has fostered a popular spring king fishery after strong runs in recent years, but the fishery came to an abrupt halt this year after the river was closed to fishing Saturday to protect an unexpectedly small king return. As of Friday, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game had counted just 376 kings at its Anchor River weir, compared to 1,708 by the same date in 2008 and 4,417 in 2007.
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Fishing for beluga data — Borough plans how to spend research money

By Jenny Neyman
Redoubt Reporter
beluga Web
Seven hundred thousand dollars. It’s not a lot of money when it comes to figuring out why Cook Inlet belugas are disappearing, but it would be a lot of money to waste.

That’s the situation the Kenai Peninsula Borough finds itself in with $699,300 approved in the fiscal year 2010 federal budget. The borough is in the early stages of deciding how to put the money to use within the guidelines required, after being surprised to hear about the grant in the first place.

“I really feel this is a trust that’s been provided to us, and we’re going to do our best to uphold it,” said borough Mayor Dave Carey.

Carey said belugas have been a priority for his administration since day one — literally, since the whales were formally listed under the Endangered Species Act on Oct. 21, 2008, a day after he took office on Oct. 20.

Through an agreement with the Tri-Borough Commission — Carey and the mayors of Anchorage and the Matanuska-Susitna Borough — it was decided the Kenai borough would take the lead on the issue. While the state pursued a lawsuit to fight the endangered listing, “instead, we would be promoting the science to provide the information to go forward to mitigate the problems,” Carey said.
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Sea otters wash up dead on Homer beach — Death rate not alarming when considering large otter population in Kachemak Bay

By Naomi Klouda
Homer Tribune

Two dead sea otters reportedly washed ashore in Homer this weekend, one a female pup and the other not located before the tide carried it away.

Photo by Sean Pearson, Homer Tribune. Kristin Worman, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service unusual mortality event responder, determines the young otter’s location via GPS and prepares to bag the animal for future necropsy.

Photo by Sean Pearson, Homer Tribune. Kristin Worman, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service unusual mortality event responder, determines the young otter’s location via GPS and prepares to bag the animal for future necropsy.

Kristin Worman, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife’s unusual mortality event responder, said the baby otter had suffered no apparent injuries. Worman said the female pup was found below the Glacier Burger on the Homer Spit beach, measuring about 18 inches and was under 10 weeks old, she said. The people who located the otter called Homer police on Sunday night. The police reported the matter to the Alaska Sea Life Center in Seward and the marine rescue group there notified Worman on Monday morning of the otter carcasses spotted on the beach.

“The other one was gone by this morning, but I’ll try looking for it tomorrow morning,” Worman said. Low tide is around 10:30 a.m., and chances are good that it will wash ashore again.

Last summer, Worman picked up 55 dead sea otters from Kachemak Bay beaches, which may sound like a lot, but not when factored into the significantly large population of otters, she said.
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Taking solid aim on dream — Massive logs hoist Brown Bear Gun Shop and Museum to reality

Photo by Clark Fair, Redoubt Reporter.David Thornton poses behind the counter of his Brown Bear Gun Shop and Museum in Kenai.

Photo by Clark Fair, Redoubt Reporter.David Thornton poses behind the counter of his Brown Bear Gun Shop and Museum in Kenai.

By Clark Fair
Redoubt Reporter

There’s nothing quite like the Brown Bear Gun Shop and Museum, but it might have turned out even more unusual if the daughter of owner David Thornton hadn’t told her father about her alarming dream.

Thornton’s own dream for his sturdy gun shop — tucked among the other buildings facing Tinker Lane across from the soccer fields at Kenai Middle School — included a sod roof, which he had seen and admired on several old buildings in Alaska.

In order to realize this sod-roof vision, Thornton built the walls and rafters and ridgepole to support 6 inches of earth and a foot of ice.

“I calculated 166,000 pounds of weight would be on this roof,” he said. “I thought it was neat, and I made the roof flat enough to where hopefully the water would run off some.”

But then the telephone rang. It was a call from his youngest daughter.

“She said, ‘Dad, I had a horrible dream about you last night.’ And I said, ‘Well, honey, what’d you dream about?’ She said, ‘Well, I want to ask you if you put that sod roof on the roof of your building yet?’ And I said, ‘No.’ She said, ‘Well, I heard you talk about you’re gonna put grass up there, and you was gonna put some strawberry plants up there on the roof, and I knew the next thing you’d be doing, you’d be taking your crane and set your riding lawn mower up there, and mow the grass, and I dreamed you drove your mower over the side of the building, and it fell on you and killed you. I don’t want you to put a sod roof on that building because I know what you’ll do.’
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Morel of the story: Wildfires spark good mushroom growth

By Dr. David Wartinbee, for the Redoubt Reporter
morel 4 inch May 31 2009 Web
For the past couple weeks I have been discussing how forest fires can negatively impact stream ecosystems. There are, however, a number of positive things that we can look forward to after a major fire. Given enough time, the original plant community will return, along with the various species of animals the habitat supported previous to the fire.

As the various plants become re-established and start growing, young trees are just the right height for hungry moose. Think about the limited number of birch, willow, aspen and cottonwood limbs that moose can reach in a mature stand of trees. But if all the trees are only a few feet tall, the moose are well-fed. Several years after a fire, there tends to be an increase in the number of moose the forest can support. This increased moose population may be maintained for 20 years as the forest recovers.

Another of those positive things humans can look forward to after a forest fire is an increase in the abundance of prized morel mushrooms in the burned areas. For some reason, morels seem to flourish in areas for a couple years after a fire.
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Common Ground: A lake by any other name is hard to find

By Christine Cunningham, for the Redoubt Reporter
Cunningham Web
Directions to secret fishing holes given by a local as compared with those found in the regulation or guidebooks can make for a comedy of the go-a-mile-past-the-Johnson-farm-and-turn-right-at-where-the-old-tractor-used-to-be variety.

I only know as much about local lakes as I’ve found from tagging along with those more experienced than myself. This is probably because if I followed their directions to some of the best lake-fishing spots on the peninsula, I’d never find the remote places you can have to yourself. The reclusive calmness of lake fishing requires that there should never be more people on a given lake than there are pairs of loons.

Given the fact that a majority of peninsula lakes themselves are unnamed, renamed or not mentioned in the “Highway Angler,” finding them and, more importantly, knowing there are fish in them, takes more than glancing at a map, searching Google Earth, operating a GPS or following “simple” directions.
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Making the motion — Dance company moved to add to numbers

By Jenny NeymanPAM group raise hands Web
Redoubt Reporter

Business owners, homeschool teachers, an accountant, students, an interior designer, retail workers, an oilfield worker and a handful of stay-at-home moms. From high school-aged to middle-aged, from originally hailing from the Kenai area to coming from areas near and far beyond.

One thing they have in common is dance, although there’s variety in even that, with some trained in classical ballet, others in jazz, some liking hip-hop and others doing yoga as movement. All find a home with Peninsula Artists in Motion.

The central peninsula women’s dance company is looking for more members to add to its disparate, yet cohesive, family.

“It’s everybody. People are either at different stages in their life or have come from a different studio or upbringing as far as dance goes, so we do have a lot of diversity as far as choreography, and we all strive to expand our choreography as far as dance, and try to take classes elsewhere and learn as much as we can, as well. We all have other jobs and families and all that kind of thing, so we don’t just get to dance all day. It’s definitely a commitment, but it’s well worth it,” said Katrina Carpenter, the co-artistic and costume director for PAM.
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