The Alaska Gulf may not be known for its large tracts of ranch land, but it is nonetheless home to a handful of island-bound cattle herds — non-native populations introduced in the 19th century.
Two of those island territories may soon be free of their bovine occupants, however, as the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge begins the process of returning the refuge land back to its natural habitat.
That was the subject of a public meeting last week at Homer’s Islands and Ocean Visitor Center. The issue has drawn comment from conservationists, hunters, concerned citizens and livestock producers, to name a few.
Alaska’s seafood industry worked hard again in 2013 to ramp up its message to policy makers, most of whom still tend to overlook the industry’s economic significance to the state and beyond. What is that message?
That “the industry” is made up of thousands of small businesses – the fishing boats that each supports one or several families.
That the seafood companies in coastal towns provide one of the state’s biggest tax bases. And together, fishing and processing provide more jobs in Alaska than oil/gas, mining, tourism and timber combined. Seafood also is Alaska’s top export, far exceeding all other natural resources.
Here are fishing notables from 2013, in no particular order, followed by my annual ‘fish picks and pans’:
As local kids enjoy their time away from school this holiday season, they can add one more thing to that very important to do list: head for Beluga Lake and strap on some skates.
Several local snowplow contractors have volunteered to keep a space on the northwest side of the lake clear for skaters this winter.
For the Lowe family, this is good news indeed.
“I would love to have an outdoor space for skating,” said Vicki Lowe, a member of the Homer women’s hockey team. “While the rink provides great opportunities to skate, Beluga Lake provides the added benefits of fresh air and sun.”
The younger Lowe skaters second that.
Charter skippers say adopting a limit of one fish of any size and one fish 30 inches or less is the only way to maintain a two-fish limit in the state’s largest and most popular sport fishery.
Sports in short
Growing up in the land-locked state of Illinois, I first saw the ocean when I was 16. I would have been surprised to find that, a decade later, I’d be pursuing a degree in biological oceanography.
Despite the adventurous and intrepid title, author Michael McBride insists his newly released book, “The Last Wilderness: Alaska’s Rugged Coast,” is a love story. It tells the story of love between a man, a woman and their children, their love for the rugged and remote land that surrounds and sustains them, and an optimistic love for the possibilities of the future.
I asked a fellow gardener how his garden was going yesterday, and got the eye-roll. “I have no idea,” he said. “The tomatoes are all hanging dead. I haven’t been watering.” The between-the-lines sentiment is pretty prevalent right now: gardener burnout.
All summer long Grace Ridge’s peaks and ridgelines have been teasing my friend Heather and me. By the end of August, we’re ravenous for its long, challenging hike.
My friend recently put in a new garden; a huge, 2,000-square foot expanse of fresh soil in the way only Alaska soil can be fresh — chickweed and nettles springing up between root wads. You can almost hear it screaming for lime as you walk over it.