Collecting stories along a changing coastline

When a boulder fell from a bluff on Homer resident Sherry Stead last July, it was seen as a freak accident of nature.
Stead was on the popular Bishop’s Beach, walking with friend Tracy Asselin when out of nowhere, a giant rock lost its perch and crushed her leg.
Recent human history shows an eroding coastline that’s threatened to toss a few Kachemak Bay Drive homes off the cliffs. A crucial chunk of highway at Mile 153 currently under rescue recently warned of hazards carrying grave human consequences.
Compared to species like polar bears poised on extinction and vanishing villages, the Kenai’s problems may seem insignificant, but not to those studying the state’s erosion hazards.

Cook Inlet advocate known for his passion of all things Alaskan

Friends and family were hard-pressed to simply summarize Frank Mullen, a man whose smile, character and passion were as big as the state he loved.
One thing they agree on, however, is that Mullen — who passed away last week after a battle with cancer — made good use of his 65 years on the planet.
His early years were spent on his family’s Soldotna homestead, and he began commercial fishing at the age of 14. He fished for the next 50 summers straight, an experience that made him an advocate for the ocean and the wealth it provided those around him. Mullen was also politically active from a very young age, working in Juneau as a legislative aide in his early 20s.

Peonies bloom a month early

If you want to talk to a peony grower in Homer whose field is in production this year, the only way is to join them.
On the hills above Homer, Beth VanSandt of Scenic Place Peonies is in constant motion, wading through thousands of waist-high plants cutting buds before they “blow” into the outrageous explosion of fragrance and frilly beauty that has made the peony one of the most sought flowers for weddings and other special occasions.

Hatchery faces opposition to net pens in Tutka Bay

After years of struggling with brutally low pink salmon prices, the Tutka Bay Lagoon Hatchery finally got back into production in 2011 after closing for seven years. But the hatchery now faces another challenge, and this time, it is not a price issue. It is all about location.
The Cook Inlet Aquaculture Association, a nonprofit, took over operation of the hatchery in the 1980s, said Gary Fandrei, executive director of the association, and has run the hatchery in an effort to improve the pink salmon fishery to the point where it is an economically sustainable industry for both fishermen and processors.

Homer’s centenarian Clara Anderson turns 110

Clara Anderson celebrated her 110th birthday with family and friends Thursday, one of Alaska’s oldest and still active citizens who continues to play the piano at lunchtime for residents and visitors at the South Peninsula Long Term Care unit.
A multi-volume life story travels through Clara’s century-plus, one that’s garnered her national notice a few times over. Most recently, photographer Paul Mobley, working on “American Wisdom,” a book depicting centenarians, came to Homer this month to take her picture. Based in Los Angeles and New York City, Mobley is presently traveling the U.S. to photograph selected people to represent all 50 states. Clara was chosen for Alaska.

Big bear up for Boone & Crocket trophy

Bear-baiting season finished last week on the Kenai Peninsula with the taking of 16 brown bears; one considered a contender for a Boone and Crocket trophy.
A 10-foot brown bear, shot by Duane Smith at Kenny Bingaman’s bear baiting station at Clam Gulch, is being considered for a possible record. It measured over 10 feet tall, with an unofficial skull measurement just under 30 inches, Bingaman said. He’s awaiting Boone & Crocket verification, a process which takes over 60 days by a certified scorer for the record book, Ted Spraker, the official for the Kenai Peninsula.

Navy urged to change practice time, place

The Homer City Council joined Kodiak, Cordova and other Alaska communities this week when it passed a resolution urging the U.S. Navy to change training exercises currently held in the Gulf of Alaska after dozens testified that the training could impact marine mammals and fish in the region.
The resolution, postponed at a previous meeting, asked the Navy to hold its training exercises in the fall, not in the summer during the main migration period for the region’s fish and marine mammals. It also requested that the Navy move the training to an area further offshore, out of the prime fishing grounds in the Gulf of Alaska.

Gate may go up at Bishop’s Beach

Few things say Homer like a walk along Bishop’s Beach at low tide, but not if you walk past drug deals going down, step in dog poo, on a rusty nail or glass from a party campfire, or get chased by an aggressive dog or sprayed with sand by “spinning brodies.”
Those were just some of the issues a dedicated group tried to solve as it tackled how to guide the future use of Homer’s beaches. While some rules already exist about where to drive and not drive, as well as keeping dogs under control and cleaning up after yourself, those rules aren’t enforced and by-and-large aren’t complied with, group members and citizens reported. In lieu of a small army of police to enforce rules 24 hours a day, the only solution may be to restrict access to Bishop’s Beach and other areas with boulders and a gate, the advisory commission recommended.

Fourth of July celebrates history, fish, family fun

Memories of Homer’s homesteaders and pioneers grace a few street names and buildings around town, yet a large number of them quietly helped shape life on Kachemak Bay in ways that may not be recorded. The theme of the Fourth of July parade aims to honor them, “Pioneer Times: A Salute to Our Heritage.”
The theme attracted a lot of attention and sent volunteers to work contacting as many pioneers as they could think of, said Homer Chamber of Commerce Visitor Center/Events Coordinator Jan Knutson.

Fireworks, flares illegal, dangerous despite rain

Homer fire officials are warning that while fireworks and flares are always illegal and dangerous, celebrating with sparks this Fourth of July is a particularly bad idea because of the high fire danger on the Kenai Peninsula.
While recent days have been cloudy and a little precipitation has fallen, it is not enough yet for fire officials to relax. While vegetation is wetter, areas under the forest canopy are still very dry and fire danger remains high.

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