Sitka to host its local Christmas Bird Count event on Jan. 4

bird count

This year is the National Audubon Society‘s 115th annual Christmas Bird Count, and Sitka will be one of several Alaska communities to host a local event, with Sitka’s event set for Sunday, Jan. 4.

During this event, local teams will hike around various sections of Sitka in an attempt to count as many different birds they can find. There will be a planning meeting at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Jan. 1, at the Alaska Raptor Center.

After the event, there will be a slide show to review the various birds seen in Sitka. There is a post-birding party at 4 p.m. Sunday at the Alaska Raptor Center, and snacks will be sponsored by Pet’s Choice Veterinary Hospital.

YardBirdsOfWinterSitka birders who want to practice for the Christmas Bird Count can participate in a free bird walk from 10-11:30 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 27, at Sitka National Historical Park. There also will be a Yard Birds of Winter presentation by Sitka naturalist Matt Goff at 4 p.m. on Sunday, Dec. 28, at the Kettleson Memorial Library’s temporary home (the old Sheldon Jackson College Stratton Library building).

The Christmas Bird Count, which started nationally in 1900 with Alaska’s first event in 1941, involves thousands of bird-watchers, hikers, nature lovers and more each year. The count is for a 24-hour period and local events can take place from Dec. 14 to Jan. 5 this winter to still count. Last year the Alaska Audubon Society reported Alaska counters saw 139 species and 124,854 total birds, which was lower than usual.

For more information, contact Jen Cedarleaf at 738-0181 or Victoria Vosburg, DVM, at 738-8661.

Girls On The Run program seeks adult coaches for the 2015 spring season

GOTR coach poster 2015

Sitkans Against Family Violence (SAFV) is recruiting adult coaches and volunteers for the Spring 2015 season of Girls on the Run.

Girls On The Run is a life-changing empowerment program for girls in third through fifth grade. We teach life skills through dynamic, interactive lessons and running games. The program culminates with the girls being physically and emotionally prepared to complete a celebratory five-kilometer (3.1-mile) running event. The goal of the program is to unleash confidence through accomplishment while establishing a lifetime appreciation of health and fitness.

The 12-week program is one of several in the region. GOTR of Southeast Alaska operates Girls On The Run programs in Sitka, Juneau, Ketchikan, Petersburg, and Yakutat. Check out what the program is all about. The Girls on the Run program was honored at the 2014 Sitka Health Summit in October.

The Girls On The Run program in Sitka will meet twice-weekly, from 2:15-4 p.m. on either Mondays and Wednesdays or Tuesdays and Thursdays, from Feb. 2 through May 2 at Keet Gooshi Heen Elementary School. The season-ending 5K run will be on Saturday, May 9.

The deadline to apply to be a GOTR coach in Sitka is Saturday, Dec. 20, and there will be new coach training on Saturday, Jan. 24. Interested individuals should go to this link to apply, or contact SAFV at PO Box 6136 or, or contact Elena at 747-3370.

Free winter bird walks offered at Sitka National Historical Park

Winter Bird Walks Final

Are you interested in viewing, identifying and learning about Sitka’s winter bird residents, or do you need a refresher before participating in the Christmas Bird Count in January? If so, you are in luck!

People of all ages and levels of bird-watching experience are invited to participate in free winter bird walks from 10-11:30 a.m. on Saturdays, Dec. 13 and Dec. 27, at Sitka National Historical Park. Participants will meet at the visitor center and then explore the park viewing birds throughout the park’s various ecosystems. At the conclusion of the walk, enjoy a warm cup of hot chocolate inside the visitor center and discuss the bird species you saw that morning.

Interested parties should dress warmly and be prepared to spend an hour and a half outside in variable weather conditions. Participants who have binoculars are encouraged to bring them. A limited number of binoculars and field guides will be available for participants to borrow during the event. For more information, please contact Ryan Carpenter at (907) 747-0121 or at

About the National Park Service. More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America’s 401 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. Learn more about Sitka National Historical Park at or visit the Facebook page at

SAIL Senior Hiking Club sets next hike for the morning of Thursday, Dec. 18

Senior Hiking Dec 2014

The Sitka office of Southeast Alaska Independent Living Inc. (SAIL) has announced its next Senior Hiking Club hike will be from 9:15-11:30 a.m. on Thursday, Dec. 18. Seniors should meet at the Swan Lake Senior Center for transportation to the trailhead.

Normally, the group usually picks the trail on the day of the hike, but occasionally a trail is picked before the event. SAIL makes trekking poles available for hikers to use (trekking poles are great on ice or uneven terrain, and they help seniors keep their balance), and hikers are encouraged to bring ice cleats such as YakTrax during the icy months of winter.

SAIL offers Senior Hiking Club events for those age 60 or older once a month, usually on the second or third Thursday. There is a $5 fee, but nobody will be turned away because of finances. The hikes are open to people of all abilities and fitness levels. To learn more about the Senior Hiking Club, check out our January 2013 post introducing the club.

To learn more about the Senior Hiking Club, senior and adaptive kayaking trips, senior cycling events, and and a variety of other outdoors skills and survival classes, contact SAIL ORCA (Outdoor Recreation and Community Access) program coordinator Bridget Kratz at 747-6859 or email her at The calendar below includes hiking, orienteering, kayaking, and other events for seniors, youth, and the disabled.

• December 2014 calendar of Sitka SAIL ORCA events

SEARHC Injury Prevention offers ice cleats coupon for older adults


The SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) Injury Prevention department is offering coupons for $7 ice cleats to local elders.

t’s that time of year when ice and snow can make walkways slippery, especially when visibility is limited or you’re walking in poorly lit or drained areas. SEARHC’s Injury Prevention team wants to let everyone know ice cleats are a simple preventive measure that can be taken so you can safely walk all winter.

In partnership with the Sitka Fire Department, SEARHC is providing ice cleat coupons to help with foot traction for those ages 60 and older. Ice cleats priced at $30.00 or less now can be purchased with the coupon from participating stores (Orion Sporting Goods, Russell’s, Work & Rugged Gear Store or Yellow Jersey Cycle Shop) for just $7.00.

You may pick up a coupon at the Sitka Fire Department at 209 Lake Street, or you can visit the SEARHC S’áxt’ Hít Mt. Edgecumbe Hospital Social Services, Security or Physical Therapy departments at 222 Tongass Drive. The offer is available through Dec. 24 and limited to stock on hand.

SEARHC Injury Prevention hopes you have a safe and joyful holiday season. For additional information, please contact Lesa Way at SEARHC Injury Prevention at 966-8804 or email