Monthly Archives: October 2010

Fish or cut bait? Aquaculture association casting for new directions

By Jenny Neyman

Photo courtesy of Cathy Cline, CIAA field assistant. Returning sockeye salmon to Bear Lake Weir are prepared for an egg take by Cook Inlet Aquaculture Association workers.

Redoubt Reporter

When the Cook Inlet Aquaculture Association was established in 1976, the purpose, potential and parity of funding for the organization was a simple, straight line to follow: Commercial fishermen would voluntarily contribute 2 percent of the value of their catch to support the organization, which would work to perpetuate, rehabilitate and enhance fish populations through research, habitat protection and stocking programs, creating stronger and more consistent fish runs that fishermen could harvest.

In the intervening 30 years, that line has gotten tangled into a snarled web of complexity and challenges, leaving some fishermen today to wonder whether CIAA is producing enough benefit to warrant continued financial support — through the salmon-enhancement tax as well as public money in the form of state loans and state and federal grants — or whether enough is simply enough.

“It’s not uncommon for me to talk to people I fish near and around and with who express concern that the moneys that are being paid don’t necessarily realize a measurable benefit. And the benefit doesn’t necessarily have to mean, ‘Because I’m paying 2 percent I’m getting more fish,’” said Jim Butler, who fishes a set-net site north of the Kenai River and has been a Central District drift-net fisherman. He also is a former member of the CIAA board of directors. “I think the benefit I hear from a lot of folks is, overall, is it creating a broader opportunity for anybody to catch fish, whether they be sport or commercial? And it’s not clear that that’s the case, that that’s happening.” Continue reading

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Filed under commercial fishing, Cook Inlet Aquaculture Association, fishing, salmon

Parody in person — Surprise guest gives dose of reality to election satire

By Jenny Neyman

Photo courtesy of Carla Jenness. Mim McKay, who spoofs U.S. Senatorial candidate Lisa Murkowski in an election-season comedy, poses with the real Murkowski, who visited the show Saturday at Triumvirate Theatre.

Redoubt Reporter

Part of the humor in a good satire piece is being able to emulate those you’re skewering. For Triumvirate Theatre’s election-season campaign spoof, “Lame Ducks and Dark Horses,” that meant Chris Jenness growing a Joe Milleresque beard, Carla Jenness donning the red power suit and up-do hairstyle of Sarah Palin, Josh Ball channeling the amped-up, arm-swinging animation of Glenn Beck, and Randy Daly adopting the mouth-full-of-marbles drawl of Joe Biden.

For Mim McKay’s spoof of Lisa Murkowski, which recurs in song and sketch throughout the show, she brushed her hair into a bob and donned a trim business suit embellished with an ivory swan pin of the sort the senator often wears.

How well the spoofers do in pulling off their renditions of the targeted spoofees typically is measured through audience’s reactions. For McKay, one member of the audience at Saturday night’s show was particularly qualified to judge the accuracy of her imitation.

Turns out, the pin sealed the deal.

“What was a little bit disconcerting was to see Mim come out,” said Sen. Murkowski, who made a surprise appearance at the theater with a handful of campaign staff and local supporters to catch the last 15 minutes of the show. “She was me, but I actually have that exact same ivory swan pin she was wearing on her lapel. And Rachel, who works with me, was like, ‘She’s wearing your pin.’ I thought it was planned, but Mim didn’t know (I have that pin), so they did nail it.” Continue reading

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Filed under comedy, entertainment, politics, theater

Gotta get your goat — Hunter goes to great heights, lengths for a shot at successful stalk

By Joseph Robertia

Photo courtesy of Gary Todd. Gary Todd, of Kasilof, poses with a 1 1/2-year-old goat he shot in the mountains near Seward.

Redoubt Reporter

A moose hunt is challenging, especially if success comes far from transportation and the meat must be carried out.

Bagging a bear has difficulties, as well, particularly when the quarry takes to hillsides and brushy terrain.

But for hunters who want an experience that’s a grand adventure and a bit like dabbling into masochism at the same time, only a goat hunt will suffice.

“It’s definitely a bit of both,” said Gary Todd, of Kasilof, who recently returned from a successful hunt in Seward, after being “lucky” enough to draw a permit to pursue goats up the steep cliffs they call home.

Todd first attempted to take advantage of his permit about three weeks ago, but as is often the case near Seward, wet weather thwarted his hunting attempts. He spent six hours hiking through devil’s club and thick alders and climbing over deadfall along Fourth of July Creek. Near Mount Alice he got to a high point above the brush line where he could spot game from a bench ridge.

“We saw 10 goats on the other side, including a couple of billies, and we saw some other goats on our side, but they were way, way up,” he said. “With all the rain, we were already soaked and couldn’t get across the creek. It was too flooded. And the goats on this side, it would have taken another six hours just to get near them.” Continue reading

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Naturally bookish — Author pens text for Natural Geographic book on Alaska

By Clark Fair

Photos courtesy of Dave Atcheson. A new book on Alaska and Bristol Bay is set to be released in February.

Redoubt Reporter

Local writer Dave Atcheson already has a solid résumé of authorship — his own book, “Fishing Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula,” and freelance contributions to Alaska Magazine, Outdoor Life and Boys Life¸ among others — but early next year Atcheson’s list of writing accomplishments will take on a little more cachet with the publication of the National Geographic book “Hidden Alaska: Bristol Bay and Beyond.”

Atcheson, who works for Kenai Peninsula College and is a consultant to the Renewable Resources Foundation, has teamed with veteran National Geographic Society photographer Michael Melford for this 160-page photo book that examines the vast and endangered Bristol Bay region.

The book will appear only about two months after National Geographic magazine publishes a 26-page article on the controversy concerning Bristol Bay and the proposed Pebble Mine. The photography of Melford, who has been working with National Geographic Books since 1993 and whose work has appeared widely in National Geographic periodicals, will also be featured in that article.

“Hidden Alaska” began as the brainchild of Melford, who Atcheson said shot about 20,000 photographs in Bristol Bay while on assignment there and then became interested in using his images for another product.

“He came to us (the Renewable Resources Coalition) and said, ‘I want to do a book on this — on Bristol Bay, and on Pebble, and on the threat to it,’” Atcheson said. Continue reading

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Filed under books, ecology

Common Ground: Going to the dogs — 4-legged companion makes hunting that much better

By Christine Cunningham, for the Redoubt Reporter

I was staring at about a thousand ducks sitting on the water when my hunting partner suggested we get closer to the lake. We’d been sitting behind the only cover for an hour and a half without moving. I watched as another flock of a hundred ducks took flight. They were just out of range and flying away from us.

I had prepared a speech of disappointment that included the question of why it was that his father, who did not advocate for hiking the only mile between two roads, kneeling in the cattails for hours or crawling through bean stubble in the rain, managed to shoot more ducks than either of us in the past five days. I heard shots from the road, further rattling my nervous system.

My buddy’s father stayed next to a small pond near the road, and I imagined he shot the only bird of the day as it flew over the pond by chance. His good fortune made all the stories of miserable waterfowl hunting look like masochism. I had crawled and stalked every piece of private property with a pond in Ransom County, N.D. At the end of the day, my buddy, who would crawl just a little farther and wait just a little longer than I did, would bring back a few ducks. His father, who preferred easy access, consistently did just a little better.

He had something else we didn’t have — a black Lab named Lady. Getting a hunting dog was an option I’d considered briefly. The only time I’d wished either of us had a dog was when my buddy shot a pair of mallards over a slough at high tide. No tactic we could think of would get us across to the muddy bank where the mallards fell. Finally, without a fishing pole or way around, we gave up. My buddy came back the next day at low tide and found only one of his two mallards, mentioning for the first time that it would be nice to have a hunting dog. Continue reading


Filed under birds, hunting, outdoors, pets

Night Lights: High standards — November a good time to look up

By Andy Veh, for the Redoubt Reporter

Compared to October, astro-nomical objects visible in the night sky have shifted somewhat toward the east in November, with Hercules on the northern horizon. Prominent constellations and stars are the Big Dipper (part of Ursa Major) high in the northeast, the Little Dipper high in the north, and Cygnus with Deneb, Lyra with Vega, and Aquila with Altair low in the northwest. These three stars form the summer triangle. It’s perhaps comforting that, in Alaska, we can see this summer triangle all winter long, albeit on the horizon.

Cassiopeia appears overhead, in the zenith, and Pegasus’ square/diamond is right above the very bright Jupiter in the southwest. In the east, Gemini with Castor and Pollux, Cancer with the Beehive cluster and Leo have risen, following Orion with red Betelgeuse and blue Rigel, which are now quite high in the south. Auriga with Capella and Taurus with Aldebaran and the Pleiades star cluster appear now high in the southeast. Continue reading

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Almanac: Soldotna’s big screen — Town’s 1st movie house takes on new character

Editor’s note: This is the final installment of a three-part story told in reverse  —  the unusual history of the metamorphosis of the Soldotna structure known today as Beemun’s. Part one covered the history from the current time back through the fire of 1990 to the mid-1980s when the building was a bakery and was not yet square. Last week, part two started in the mid-1980s and worked back to the late 1960s. This week examines the building’s origins.

By Clark Fair

Photo courtesy of Beemun’s. In the early 1970s, as business boomed, Soldotna Drug owner, Earl Mundell, had a Quonsetlike addition attached to the main structure.

Redoubt Reporter

Rich King’s very first job upon coming to Alaska in 1973 was working for Earl and Alice Mundell, adding a perpendicular Quonset-style wing to the grey tin Quonset hut known as Soldotna Drug. Joining the two structures correctly was tricky, King said, but his on-site boss was able to work out the details on a lunch table.

To supervise the project, Mundell had hired Wiley Graham, whom King said was “sort of a jack-of-all-trades” — a Cat-skinner, an electrician, a welder, a pilot, a carpenter. “Wiley was the only person who was smart enough to figure out how to do that back then. He engineered the whole thing on a napkin over at Glady’s (Café). It was Wiley Graham and Earl Mundell scratching their heads together. We’d go to Glady’s for lunch, and those two would hash out what was going to happen.”

The aspect of the architecture that generated the most difficulty was the 8-foot, concrete-block retaining wall that framed the first story of the addition, and upon which the Quonsetlike second story rested. Graham devised a means of joining the straight walls and arched roof of the addition to the curved northern wall of the original building.

At the same time, the original Quonset’s freshwater well was capped, and Soldotna Drug hooked up to the city’s water main in order to power its new fire-suppression sprinkler system.

With the extra retail space, business at the drugstore continued to boom, so two years later Mundell began construction on a larger separate building on the adjoining property, and in 1976 Soldotna Drug was moved across the parking lot. Continue reading


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