Daily Archives: July 22, 2009

Hot dogs, Jesus on the side — Dipnetters get free food, Bibles from Baptist missionaries

Photos by Patrice Kohl, Redoubt Reporter. Alan Ratzlaff, of Anchorage, returns to his dipnet site on Kenai’s north beach Saturday after retrieving a free hot dog and bottle of water from Baptist volunteers.

Photos by Patrice Kohl, Redoubt Reporter. Alan Ratzlaff, of Anchorage, returns to his dipnet site on Kenai’s north beach Saturday after retrieving a free hot dog and bottle of water from Baptist volunteers.

Patrice Kohl
Redoubt Reporter

Vladimir Netsvetayev, of Wasilla, arrived at the mouth of the Kenai River on Friday morning determined to dipnet enough sockeye salmon to feed his big family with plenty of fish for the year. But dipnetting made him hungry, and when a tent of Baptist mission volunteers arrived to hand out free food and drink, he was only too happy to devour three hot dogs and gulp down a glass of lemonade.

Netsvetayev said he didn’t mind that the volunteers handing out the hot dogs and refreshments had brought a religious presence to the beach. He said he is himself religious, and that although he saw a table of Bibles sitting out next to the hot dog table, no one approached him to engage in a conversation about God or Jesus.

Bruce Hazeltine, of Anchorage, said he is not religious, but appreciated the work the Baptist volunteers were doing. In addition to handing out hot dogs and refreshments, the Baptist volunteers also offered child care, trash pickup and help directing traffic.

“I don’t have a problem with it,” Hazeltine said. “Especially if they’re cleaning up. My God, who could be against that?”
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Sickeningly familiar — Mother relives pain of daughter lost to cancer as youngest child falls ill from brain condition

Photo courtesy of www.caringbridge.com. Emily Grace Jacobs, 2, poses in front of the elephants at Children’s Hospital in Seattle in May, where she was diagnosed with Chiari malformation of the brain.

Photo courtesy of http://www.caringbridge.com. Emily Grace Jacobs, 2, poses in front of the elephants at Children’s Hospital in Seattle in May, where she was diagnosed with Chiari malformation of the brain.

By Jenny Neyman
Redoubt Reporter

In a faint twinkle of light, Marcia Jacobs felt the full magnitude of motherhood, in all its unfathomable depth and intricacy, just five weeks into her pregnancy with Emily.

That’s how soon her doctor could detect a fetal heartbeat, which shows up as a blinking light on a screen.

“He checked and he’s like, ‘It’s a viable pregnancy.’ I just totally sopped his shirt. I cried so hard, there was a big wet spot on his shirt, and I was grabbing tissues, blotting his shirt, I was so embarrassed,” she said.

Motherhood is like that — too vast in concept and consequence to comprehend in its entirety, so it manifests itself in millions of little moments; brief snippets that can alternately flood the heart with joy, or break it with pain and worry. A smile. A cry. The curl of a wisp of hair. The first blip on an ultrasound. The look on a doctor’s face when he says a child is very, very sick.

Jacobs had already experienced the unfathomable love and profound pain of motherhood with her first child, Anjuli, who died of brain cancer in 2001 when she was 4 years old. Her death left Jacobs shattered. She became dedicated to the fight against childhood cancer, but otherwise she was adrift, emotionally and financially drained, having to find work and searching for purpose in life again.

She found it six years later, in the moment that twinkle, which became the light of the life, Emily Grace Jacobs, appeared on the screen. But in another moment this spring, she again relived the pain and fear of being the mother of a sick child, when Emily was diagnosed with a serious neurological condition.
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Kenai River users get a say — Study seeks information about activities, problems on the Kenai

Patrice Kohl
Redoubt Reporter

Come summer, the Kenai River becomes a recreational circus. King salmon fishermen clog the river with drift boats, motorboats and guided boats, sockeye salmon fishermen crowd the river’s banks and dipnetters flock to the river’s mouth. This frenzy of activity can bring fishing groups, landowners, nonfishing user groups and bears into conflict, and degrade the health of the river.

Managing recreational activities is a tricky balancing act, and regulation changes can erupt in enormous debate. In an effort to better understand the issues it is trying to manage, Alaska State Parks has launched a study surveying recreational users.

The first part of Kenai River Recreation Study began in May, with surveyors roaming Kenai River recreational areas and asking recreational users to fill out a short survey. The survey asks recreational users about their activities and to evaluate the impacts of various recreational uses and management actions that might be used to address problems.

“It’s a lot about what people think of those things, it’s not a lot about measuring, like, how much litter is out there,” said Doug Whittaker, a researcher with Confluence Research Consulting, a research firm contracted to conduct the study. “There aren’t a bunch of techs out studying bank erosion issues. But we do have questions that ask the public, ‘Is there too much bank erosion? Would you like something done about it? Do we need more closures? Do we need more boardwalks?’”
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Highly rated — Summit Trail a worthwhile alternative when hiking Resurrection

Photos by Patrice Kohl, Redoubt Reporter. Rolling alpine displays vibrant colors in a wide Summit Creek Trail valley.

Photos by Patrice Kohl, Redoubt Reporter. Rolling alpine displays vibrant colors in a wide Summit Creek Trail valley.

Patrice Kohl
Redoubt Reporter

The Resurrection Trail is like a book from the “Choose Your Own Adventure” series. As it travels 38 miles through the Kenai Mountains, the trail connects to two additional trails, giving  hikers several options in determining the course of their outdoor adventure. Together, the Resurrection, Devil’s Pass and Summit trails offer hikers four possible ways to begin an adventure and three possible ways to conclude.

Most hikers either begin or end their adventures at one of Resurrection’s two trailheads, in Hope and Cooper Landing, or the Devil’s Pass trailhead, and often overlook the Summit Creek Trail. This less-traveled route, however, has a great deal to offer, with stunning views of alpine valleys filled with snowmelt streams and lakes, and opportunities to see sheep, marmots and ptarmigan.

Where it connects to the Resurrection Trail, the Summit Creek Trail is less established than other parts of the trail system and sometimes easy to miss. But if you know where to look, finding the trailhead won’t take long. If you’re hiking Resurrection south from Hope, you will see the Summit Creek Trail branch off to the left side of the Resurrection Trail almost immediately after you pass a small wooden sign marking Resurrection Pass.
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Bears sniffing out trouble at Russian River — No problems yet, but pileup of salmon carcasses in stream creates dangerous situation

Photo by Patrice Kohl, Redoubt Reporter. A brown bear scavenges for salmon carcasses along the banks of the Kenai River below the Russian River Ferry earlier this month. A large number of carcasses accumulated below the Russian River Ferry this year during the early run due to a strong run and strong catch rate among fishermen.

Photo by Patrice Kohl, Redoubt Reporter. A brown bear scavenges for salmon carcasses along the banks of the Kenai River below the Russian River Ferry earlier this month. A large number of carcasses accumulated below the Russian River Ferry this year during the early run due to a strong run and strong catch rate among fishermen.

Patrice Kohl
Redoubt Reporter

If a merchant suspected a bear might be responsible for shoplifting missing goods from their store, they might go to the Russian River to find the culprit. Bears in the Russian River area and the river’s confluence with the Kenai River have turned into skilled thieves as they have become habituated to humans.

On a recent Thursday, Doug Whittaker, a Confluence Research and Consulting researcher, said he watched with amazement when a black bear walked unnoticed to within a few feet of a fisherman and stole one of his fish. Whittaker said the fact that the bear was trying to steal the fish while avoiding confrontation was only somewhat comforting.

“That was not particularly dangerous for the people because the bear was still trying to be stealthy, but you never know what the human is going to do,” he said. “There’s a dynamic there. (Most of the bears) at the moment are behaving quite well around humans. Most of them are getting carcasses, and not getting into trouble. But that’s a slippery slope.”
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Science of the Seasons: Kenai River springs from many sources

Photos courtesy of David Wartinbee. Skilak Glacier, at the head of Skilak Lake, is one of the many water sources that feed the Kenai River.

Photos courtesy of David Wartinbee. Skilak Glacier, at the head of Skilak Lake, is one of the many water sources that feed the Kenai River.

By David Wartinbee, for the Redoubt Reporter

The weather is a common topic of casual conversation, and many of us have commented that this summer has already been warmer than anything we saw last year. Not only have we been experiencing warmer temperatures, but we have also received a lot less rain than last summer.

Even though many of us are forced to water our gardens frequently because the soil is so dry, that doesn’t mean the Kenai River is drying out, too. Even with the lack of rainfall, the river level is still fairly high, about where we usually see it in July.

The reason the Kenai River is able to maintain its discharge levels is probably due to the fact that the Kenai has about as many different sources of water as any river can have.

A primary water source for just about all rivers is surface runoff. This water arrives as rain or snow and constitutes water the ground cannot absorb. If there is a large rainfall and soils can no longer absorb more water, we get sudden bursts of runoff and possible flash flooding. In desert rivers with very little runoff, we tend to see dry creek beds and rarely do we actually see water flowing.
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Filed under ecology, Kenai River, outdoors, science, science of the seasons

Hooked on Alaska: Hunt for moose grounds before season opens

By Steve Meyer, for the Redoubt Reporter

Perhaps you have looked around and identified some spots that look promising and will leave you a reasonable distance for packing the largest deer on the planet.

Now what?

For the first-time moose hunter, knowing what you are up against may spur more effort. Outside of fenced animals, there are roughly 170,000 moose in Alaska, according to the most reliable information based on numerous factors. Annual harvest runs between 6,000 and 8,000 animals. So the odds are not greatly in favor of even the hardest-working hunters in populated areas.

Determining the presence of moose in a given area can best be accomplished by getting into the area and searching for sign. Sign comes in the form of tracks, droppings, browse lines and rubs. Moose droppings are readily identified by practically everyone. The uniform, oblong shapes that are essentially digested wood particles can be seen in most any stretch of wooded area that you might walk. But during summer months, when moose diet consists of new leaves, grasses, sedges and aquatic vegetation, moose droppings take a different form. They appear more like what you would find in a cattle yard.

Browse lines are another sign to look for — areas of new-growth birch or willow that appear to have been snipped off about chest high by pruning shears. You may have one in your yard where a moose has carefully trimmed your favorite trees during the winter. Browse lines indicate moose presence but are created in the fall, winter and early spring. A moose may remain in that area throughout the year, but generally this is not the case.
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