Category Archives: Alaska

Goodbye, Blue Monday

Goodbye, Blue Monday!

Thanks as always to The Other McCain, Pirate’s Cove, The Daley Gator, Flappr, and Bacon Time for the Rule Five links!

Now then: Right here in the Great Land, specifically up at Denali National Park, a transplant from Portland, Oregon has started some shit.

The crew working on a 475-foot-long bridge in Alaska’s Denali National Park was recently told that they could no longer fly the American flag from their trucks or heavy equipment, which are being used in the $207 million Federal Highway Administration project.

The bridge is being built by Granite Construction, after a 2021 rockslide took out a portion of the popular Denali Park Road that is used by visitors and tour buses to access more remote areas of the national park.

Here’s the onion:

According to the contractor, Denali National Park Superintendent Brooke Merrell contacted the man overseeing the federal highways project, claiming there had been complaints about the U.S. flags, and notifying him that bridge workers must stop flying the stars and strips from their vehicles because it detracts from the “park experience.”

And then this happened:

“Here I am in a national park, and we’re being told we can’t fly the American flag,” the contractor continued. “I understand there are rules for contractors working in the national parks, but you wouldn’t think flying the American flag would be part of those rules.”

He blamed Superintendent Merrell, who took control of the park in 2022. At the time, she was celebrated as the first-ever female to serve as superintendent in 105-year-old park.

Merrell moved to Alaska in 2009 as a transportation planner and environmental coordinator. A Pennsylvania native, she received a master’s degree in urban planning. Prior to moving to Alaska, she worked for the City of Portland and the Gulf Islands National Seashore, along with left-leaning environmentalist and social justice groups such as DNA People’s Legal Services and Columbia Riverkeeper.

“When these liberals get in charge of these parks, that’s how it is,” the crewman said.

Portland.  What is it with fucking Portland, that it seems to breed these assholes?  Granted I’m not at my most detached on this topic, but this, honestly, should be grounds for disciplinary action, if not outright dismissal.  Who the hell thinks it’s appropriate to order the cessation of displaying the American flag – in a United States National Park?

However, Alaskans, in their own way, are dealing with it.

Despite a decision by Denali National Park officials to bar construction workers in the park from displaying American flags from their trucks, Old Glory will be on full display on May 26.

In the wake of park officials’ decision to ban U.S. flags from construction vehicles, Alaskans are planning a patriotic convoy to the park’s main entrance.

One convoy is set for a two-hour drive from the Fairbanks Walmart to the park.

This is the way.  Show them how it’s done, Alaska, and to the National Park Service, you’d better either discipline this horse’s ass, and if this isn’t grounds for dismissal, then you had damn well better transfer her to some locality where her stupid ideas won’t enrage a good portion of the population.  Hell, send her back to Portland.  They wouldn’t know a patriot down there if one punched them in the head.

 

Animal’s Daily JBERBear News

Before I get into this tidbit, check out the latest chapter of Barrett’s Privateers – Unrepentant Sinner over at Glibertarians.

Now then: Check out this fence-scaling critter, who (as Must Read Alaska’s Suzanne Downing puts it) puts the “bear” in “JBER.”

A black bear scaling the fence at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Anchorage was caught in the act by a passerby with a video camera, who posted the evidence on social media of the trespassing bear scaling the fence and then tightrope walking on the barbed wire.

It’s a Derpbook video so I can’t embed it here, as I don’t do the Book of Face, but even without a Derpbook account, you should be able to view the video at the link.

Black bears are amazing animals. They are adaptable, can eat almost anything, and do very well near human habitations. Along this stretch of the highway near JBER it’s not at all uncommon to see blacks waiting to cross the highway or just feeding on grass and forbs along the road.  We have them here in our Susitna Valley homestead as well, although they usually just pass through spring and fall, going between their winter dens in the hills and the rivers and streams where they feed in summer.

It’s not clear what this bear was looking for. But it’s a safe bet it was after food – and for bears, everything’s on the menu.  Including, sometimes, us.

Animal’s Daily Ice Breakup News

Before I get into my gloating over spring in the Great Land, check out the latest chapter of Barrett’s Privateers – Unrepentant Sinner over at Glibertarians!

Now then: This is a bit of local news, but it’s significant in that it has to do with when the fishing starts, so here we are, discussing why the ice break-up here in some parts of Alaska may be a little late this year.

After a brief period of warm, springy weather, many Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta communities plunged back into negative temperatures the second week of April.

“Even though it might not feel like spring is coming, it’s coming,” said Johnse Ostman, a hydrologist with the Alaska-Pacific River Forecast Center and the National Weather Service in Anchorage.

And with spring, and warming weather, comes river breakup.

“Breakup is complicated and changes every year, absolutely,” Ostman said. “And (when predicting breakup) we take into several different, measurable data points.”

One factor is snowpack – how it compares to previous years, and the “snow water equivalent,” or how wet the snow is.

Ostman said he and his colleagues primarily get that data from National Resources Conservation Service snow telemetry sites and monthly reports.

I can’t speak for the Yukon-Kuskokwim area; Alaska is a damn big place and that’s a damn long way away from here. But hereabouts the ice is leaving the streams pretty well now; Willow Creek looks to be mostly open and a tad farther north the Kashwitna is losing ice.  I haven’t looked at the Susitna itself or Sheep Creek yet, but it won’t be long now.

One of our main reasons for coming to Alaska was the fishing – and it won’t be long now!

Rule Five Mining Road Friday

I am fond of using three words to describe Alaska: Vast, wild, and free.  Another big thing Alaska is, overwhelmingly, is roadless.  There are vast portions of the state that are accessible only by air, boat, or (in winter) dogsled.  There are also a lot of small “bush” communities out there – and a lot of resources, including not only gas and oil but also metals like copper and zinc.

Some of those metals are found in an area south of the Brooks Range, and now the Biden administration is stomping the brakes on a project to build a road into an area in a work known as the Ambler Road project, which will allow not only mining for those strategic resources but also recreational access.

The 211-mile-long Ambler Road was initially approved under the previous administration, which issued a 50-year right-of-way permit to build the road just days before President Donald Trump left office.

But the project has faced strong opposition from tribes in interior Alaska as well as hunting and angling groups who argue it will hurt subsistence resources, including caribou migration patterns and some of Alaska’s most important salmon and sheefish spawning streams. The industrial access road would cross hundreds of rivers and streams, 26 miles of Gates of the Arctic National Park and Preserve, and the tribal lands of several Alaska Native communities — allowing for approximately 168 truck trips a day.

The area south of the Brooks Range—a patchwork of wetlands and densely forested wilderness—is one of the largest roadless areas in North America.

The many native communities in the area initially opposed the road, but now several of them have changed course – almost certainly because of the good-paying jobs that the mining development will bring to this remote Alaska plain.

The Tanana Chiefs Conference, which represents 42 villages in interior Alaska, many of which are near the road, sued the Interior Department in 2020 over its handling of the environmental analysis, arguing that it did not adequately address impacts to their way of life. Since the lawsuit was filed, though, three of the villages have switched sides and now say they support the road because of its purported economic benefits.

There’s a fair amount to deal with here.

First, I’m inclined to give the native communities a lot of slack here.  While they seem anxious for the jobs, and justifiably so, they are also concerned for their traditional lifestyles and, yes, the Ambler Road will bring not only mining development to the area but other kinds of development as well, including tourism and recreational users.

Granted there’s a lot of money in tourism, too; the small town of Talkeetna, not too far from where I sit as I write this, is heavily dependent on tourism; it is supposedly the town on which the fictional Cicely, Alaska of the television program Northern Exposure was based, and the main street is lined with eating places and gift shops specializing in native arts and crafts, along with the usual t-shirts and so on.

Even so: The natives live there. It’s their home. Just as I would expect to have some say in any major development project in our little corner of the Susitna Valley, I expect them to have some say in any development in what has been and still is their tribal land.

Bear in mind that tribal lands in Alaska aren’t like the reservations in the lower 48.  Most are managed by tribal corporations, they seem to be much more integrated into the mainstream of Alaskan life than the reservation residents in the 48.

But none of that excuses the Biden administration’s heavy-handedness here.  If there are problems with the permitting process, address them.  If the native communities have more to say about this, listen to them.  Slamming the door on a project that could be worth a great deal to these folks, in a decision that is almost certainly influenced by urban elite “environmentalists” who will never come within a thousand miles of the affected area, is just too much.