Category Archives: editorial

Fishing for cool learning — Aquatic Education Program puts kids in touch with salmon

Photo by Joseph Robertia, Redoubt Reporter. Lacey Mathes, from Soldotna Elementary School, concentrates on catching a fish during an ice-fishing event on Sport Lake, which took place Feb 17 and18 as part of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s Aquatic Education Program.

Photo by Joseph Robertia, Redoubt Reporter. Lacey Mathes, from Soldotna Elementary School, concentrates on catching a fish during an ice-fishing event on Sport Lake, which took place Feb 17 and18 as part of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s Aquatic Education Program.

By Joseph Robertia

Redoubt Reporter

The morning sun still hung low on the horizon, not yet giving off much warmth but casting an orange glow on the blue armor of ice still encasing the 70 acres of Sport Lake in Soldotna. In the 24-degree air, plumes of warm air swirled around the mass of excited kids, but their breath, visible as it was, didn’t hold their attention, even though, on occasion, excitement caused them to hold it entirely.

Clutched in their mitten-clad hands, tiny rods dropped lines beaded with ice into holes augured through the ice. In the water below, a small cocktail shrimp on a hook was bobbed just off the lake bottom. This stationary, repetitive, no-guarantees activity held the full attention of the students — all 750 of them from 19 schools and home-schooled programs.

The annual ice fishing event, held Feb. 17 and 18 this year, was part of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s Aquatic Education Program. It also serves as a seasonal bookend to the much broader Salmon in the Classroom program, which began in the fall when these same kids stood streamside at the Anchor River to learn how the life of some salmon ends and begins for others.

“They learned about the salmon life cycle, spawning and were exposed to how we do egg takes. They then took those eggs back to their classrooms to watch and study them as they develop and grow,” said Jenny Cope, a fisheries biologist from the Soldotna Fish and Game office.

For the last month and a half, Cope has been visiting participating schools and conducting salmon dissections to continue with the ichthyological education.

“This teaches them about the anatomy of fish and the different functions of their organs,” she said.

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Filed under ecology, editorial, schools, youth

Because, why not? Redoubt Reporter marks 1-year anniversary

RRlogo08(birthday)By Jenny Neyman

Redoubt Reporter
I have always been one to appreciate the wisdom and witticisms of others.

My refrigerator, desktop, computer monitor and other flat surfaces I spend time around tend to accumulate favorite sayings, poems and quotations. My message T-shirt collection is extensive. In college, my car was held together by bumper stickers. Perhaps that’s why I like being a reporter — it’s an excuse to find out what people think and have to say.

“You can’t depend on your judgment when your imagination is out of focus.”
— Mark Twain

Yet, a little over a year ago, I found myself launching into an endeavor that required me to ignore much of what I was told. I started a newspaper.

Common knowledge, conventional wisdom and the raised eyebrows and held tongues of friends and colleagues — some more successfully restrained than others — were rife with reasons why I shouldn’t do it. And that was even before the economy took a powder.

“If you can find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn’t lead anywhere.
— Frank A. Clark

The prevailing wisdom is that the newspaper industry has one foot in the grave, and the other has a nasty case of gangrene. Newspapers all over the country are downsizing, going belly up and shutting down. Why would anyone, anywhere want to start one? Much less in an area already served by print media?

Because.

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Editorial: Shedding light on HEA elections

These are electric times. The Homer Electric Association Board of Directors has always served an important function on the central and southern Kenai Peninsula, but one that hasn’t always garnered much attention from HEA members. Come annual election time, picking names and returning ballots for some voters is fueled more by a desire to qualify for energy credits than it is a concern over the politics and policies of the co-op.

It’s not that who gets elected doesn’t matter, it’s just that voters haven’t had much incentive to take time out of their busy lives to familiarize themselves with the issues facing the HEA board and the views of those seeking seats on it.

Until now. This past year’s dramatic increase in electricity rates has had one positive side effect: It gets people’s attention. Continue reading

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Filed under editorial, HEA, utilities

Editorial: Stumbling start to the right path

For someone as image-savvy as Gov. Sarah Palin, it was surprising to see her stuff her foot in her mouth as unnecessarily as she did over federal stimulus spending.

Her announcement March 18 that she would not request a third of the federal stimulus money Alaska was eligible for, about $288 million of $931 million, caused an immediate and vehement response from prospective recipients, most notably, schools and social services agencies.

The announcement created controversy where there ordinarily is none by the governor saying “no thanks” to money that would feed the poor and help educate special-needs and financially disadvantaged kids.

She might as well have kicked a puppy while she was at it. Continue reading

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Filed under editorial, Gov. Sarah Palin

Editorial: Peninsula scores passing marks for Redoubt round 1

OK, be honest now:

Who went to bed Sunday or woke up Monday thinking: “Gee, I really should have stocked up on water/air filters/flashlights/etc.” by now?

Consider this your warning.

Attention to Mount Redoubt wound down after months of activity without an eruption. Then, within a day, Redoubt decided to no longer be ignored.

The great news for the Kenai Peninsula is the ash plumes spurted out in the series of eruptions have missed us so far, and weather forecasts predict continued favorable wind patterns through Friday.

The good news is it appears as though, even if we had gotten some ash, the peninsula would have been more or less ready for it. Continue reading

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Filed under editorial, Mount Redoubt, volcanoes

Guest editorial: Pitching in to keep salmon moving

A single road crossing with a bad culvert can prevent fish from reaching miles of habitat.

Small tributaries provide a path to salmon nurseries, and juvenile salmon, particularly coho, migrate up streams.

Studies have shown that juvenile salmon that successfully migrate up and down small streams survive better in the ocean. It is important to keep these migration routes free of barriers.

Damaged, poorly designed or poorly maintained culverts all create a significant impasse to fish migration. Addressing the needs of fish passage is one of the primary focuses of the Kenai Watershed Forum’s efforts on the Kenai Peninsula. Continue reading

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Filed under editorial, Kenai Watershed Forum

Editorial: Belt tightening good, but don’t squeeze too tight

Kenai Peninsula Borough Mayor Dave Carey is right in taking a cautious approach to the borough budget this year. Financial storm clouds are on the horizon — with a drop in oil prices affecting state revenue sharing, a decrease in sales taxes from the exemption of nonprepared food and a question mark over how much the borough will feel the deepening national financial crisis. Whether the storm amounts to a drizzle or a hurricane, it’s good fiscal policy to put sandbags in place now, before the rains come.

Carey has asked all departments to submit budgets with no more than a 4 percent increase. He’s looking at service areas and grants for ways to save money and avoid costly obligations down the road. He’s also instituted a zero-based budgeting approach to the nonprofit organizations the borough has funded in the past, meaning the organizations will have to justify why and how much the borough should fund them.

These are all sound financial practices, and Carey’s desire to lower the mill rate to keep more money in taxpayers’ pockets is an idea that’s sure to be popular.

That desire can be carried too far. Government’s role is to provide essential services on behalf of the people funding it. But when “essential” is defined too narrowly, it does a disservice to residents, even if it means they have some extra cash after tax season. Continue reading

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Filed under budget, editorial, Kenai Peninsula Borough