SEARHC Health Promotion to launch walking program on National Get Fit Don’t Sit Day

The SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) Health Promotion Program will host a short one-mile walk at noon on Wednesday, May 3, at the SEARHC Short-term Housing Parking Lot in Sitka to launch its May Walking Group on National Get Fit Don’t Sit Day.

National Get Fit Don’t Sit Day is sponsored by the American Diabetes Association as a way to remind people about the unhealthy implications of sitting too long and the need for healthy physical activity.

For more information, contact SEARHC Health Educator Heleena Van Veen at 966-8914 or heleenav@searhc.org.

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Scenes from the 16th annual Parade of the Species through downtown Sitka

There were lions, bears, and jellyfish galore during the 16th annual Parade of the Species, held Friday, April 21, through downtown Sitka as part of Earth Day and Earth Week activities hosted by the Sitka Conservation Society. This event also served as Sitka’s March for Science.

This year’s parade started from Totem Square and finished at the Sitka Sound Science Center, where there were a variety of activities for the kids such as making masks or drinking fresh smoothies.

A slideshow of photos from the parade is posted below.

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Sitka to host People’s Climate March on Saturday, April 29

Sitka will host a sister march to the People’s Climate March taking place on Saturday, April 29, in Washington, D.C. The Sitka march will be at 2 p.m. on April 29, and marchers should meet at the Crescent Harbor Shelter.

According to the People’s Climate March website, this is why people are marching:

“On the 100th Day of the Trump Administration, we will be in the streets of Washington D.C. to show the world and our leaders that we will resist attacks on our people, our communities and our planet. We will come together from across the United States to strengthen our movement. We will demonstrate our power and resistance at the gates of the White House. We will bring our solutions to the climate crisis, the problems that affect our communities and the threats to peace to our leaders in Congress to demand action.”

Sitka Trail Works releases weekend guided hike schedule for the 2017 summer

Sitka Trail Works will kick off its 2017 summer series of weekend hikes on Saturday, May 13, with a easy to moderate three-mile hike on the Starrigavan Loop. Meet at the Old Sitka Boat Launch Parking Lot at 9 a.m. That will be followed on Saturday, May 20, by a lesson on geocaching taught by volunteers. After a short tutorial at 8:30 a.m. at the Sitka High School entrance to the Cross Trail, participants will go discover some local geocaches (bring a smartphone or GPS device, if you have one).

The series of weekend hikes are led by various members of Sitka Trail Works, and there also are occasional bike rides and kayak trips on the schedule. Most of the hikes near town are free (donations are accepted), but some of the hikes require a boat trip and those have fees. The schedule runs through the end of August.

(Click image to enlarge)

In other news, Sitka Trail Works recently received funding for Phase 6 of the Cross Trail, and construction is expected to start in FY 2019, after the next reauthorization of the federal transportation bill in 2018. Sitka Trail Works also received funding for Phase II of the Mosquito Cove Trail Repairs Project, which repairs trail damage done by August 2015 and January 2017 storms.

On National Trails Day (Saturday, June 3), Sitka Trail Works and other groups will do repair work to trails TBA. Tools will be available, but you should bring gloves, pruners and toppers, if you have them.

Don’t forget to check the Sitka Trail Works website for current trail condition reports.

Alaska Region of the U.S. Forest Service invites public to help identify priority trail maintenance work

JUNEAU, Alaska – The Alaska Region is inviting the public to help identify trails that will be part of a U.S. Forest Service effort with partners and volunteers to increase the pace of trail maintenance.

Nationwide, the Forest Service will select nine to 15 priority areas among its nine regions where a backlog in trail maintenance contributed to reduced access, potential harm to natural resources or trail users and/or has the potential for increased future deferred maintenance costs.

“We look forward to receiving public comments identifying trails in need of maintenance that partners and volunteers are ready to support on the Chugach and Tongass National Forests,” said Becky Nourse, Acting Regional Forester of the Alaska Region. “Trail users and other members of the public can provide important feedback that will help us prioritize our trail maintenance efforts.”

The Alaska Region has until April 20 to submit at least three regional proposals to National Headquarters. Those proposals will be weighed against proposals submitted by other Forest Service regions.

The trail maintenance effort is outlined in the National Forest System Trails Stewardship Act of 2016 and aims to increase trail maintenance by volunteers and partners by 100% by the end of 2021.

The selected sites will be part of the initial focus that will include a mosaic of areas with known trail maintenance needs that include areas near urban and remote areas, such as wilderness, are of varying sizes and trail lengths, are motorized and non-motorized, and those that incorporate a varied combination of partner and volunteer approaches and solutions.

The Forest Service manages more than 158,000 miles of trail – the largest trail system in the nation – providing motorized and non-motorized trail access across 154 national forests and grasslands. These Forest Service trails are well-loved and highly used with more than 84 million trail visits annually, helping to support mostly rural economies.

The Forest Service receives widespread support from tens of thousands of volunteers and partners each year who, in 2015, contributed nearly 1.4 million hours – a value of about $31.6 million – in maintenance and repair of nearly 30,000 miles of trails.

However, limited funding compounded by the rising cost of wildfire operations, has reduced the Forest Service’s ability to meet all of the agency’s standards for safety, quality recreation and economic and environmental sustainability.

To provide ideas and suggestions on potential priority areas and approaches for incorporating increased trail maintenance assistance from partners and volunteers, contact your local Forest Service office or Regional Trail Program Manager Sharon Seim by 5 p.m. on Monday, April 17. You are encouraged to provide feedback by phone at: 907-586-8804, or by email at: AKTrailsStewardship@fs.fed.us.

The mission of the U.S. Forest Service, an agency of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, is to sustain the health, diversity and productivity of the nation’s forests and grasslands to meet the needs of present and future generations. The agency manages 193 million acres of public land, provides assistance to state and private landowners and maintains the largest forestry research organization in the world. Public lands the Forest Service manages contribute more than $13 billion to the economy each year through visitor spending alone. Those same lands provide 20 percent of the nation’s clean water supply, a value estimated at $7.2 billion per year. The agency also has either a direct or indirect role in stewardship of about 80 percent of the 850 million forested acres within the U.S., of which 100 million acres are urban forests where most Americans live.

The Alaska Region of the U.S. Forest Service manages almost 22 million acres of land within the Chugach and Tongass National Forests to meet society’s needs for a variety of goods, services, and amenities while enhancing the Forests’ health and productivity, and to foster similar outcomes for State and private forestland across Alaska. See our website at http://www.fs.usda.gov/main/r10/home for more information.

Earth Week activities include the Parade of the Species, a youth eco-challenge, gardening class, free bus rides, and more

Earth Day is on Friday, April 22, and Earth Week this year is April 16-22. Sitka will host a variety of activities for Earth Week, including a couple of spring clean-up events, a gardening class, free bus rides, a bear aware canvassing campaign, a nature journaling community hike, a youth eco-challenge, and the 16th annual Earth Day Parade of the Species.

The Sitka Spruce Tips/Alaska Way of Life 4H Club will go Bear Aware canvassing from 3:30-5 p.m. on Monday, April 17, in neighborhoods along Indian River. The 4Hers will distribute bear aware literature to homes in that area to raise awareness about bear safety and garbage control. Contact Julia Tawney of the Sitka Conservation Society at 747-7509 or julia@sitkawild.org for more details.

The Sitka Spruce Tips 4H Club also will host a nature journaling community hike starting at 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 18, at the Indian River Trailhead. This event will involve nature journaling and experiencing nature using all five senses. An RSVP is required to participate in this event, so please contact Julia at 747-7509 or julia@sitkawild.org to register.

There is a community-wide spring clean-up event from April 15-23, when people can bring in a variety of large items and hazardous materials to the transfer station and the Sawmill Cove Scrap Yard (hazardous materials are only April 22-23). This event is hosted by the City and Borough of Sitka Public Works Department.

The RIDE public transit in Sitka will offer free bus rides again this year during Earth Week (April 17-21). This has been a yearly offering from the RIDE, which is operated by a partnership between Sitka Tribe of Alaska and the nonprofit Center for Community.

 

The Sitka Local Foods Network will host a free gardening class during Earth Week. Kerry MacLane will teach “Extending Your Garden Season,” which takes place from 6:30-8 p.m. on Thursday, April 20, at the Sitka Unitarian Universalist Fellowship Hall (408 Marine Street, parking off Spruce Street). Contact Jennifer Carter at 747-0520 or check the Sitka Local Foods Network website for more details.

The 16th annual Parade of Species, hosted by the Sitka Conservation Society, is on Friday, April 21. Parade participants are invited to dress as their favorite animal or plant and gallop, slither, swim, or fly with us. We will meet in Totem Square at 2:45 p.m. and parade down Lincoln Street to the Sitka Sound Science Center at 3:15 p.m. There will be a number of community organizations with hands-on Earth Day inspired activities for the whole family from 3:30-5:30 p.m. after the parade. Prizes will be awarded for Best Use of Recycled Material, Most Realistic, Best Local Plant/Animal, and Best Group Costume. For more information, contact Julia Tawney at julia@sitkawild.org or call 747-7509. Click this link for a slideshow of scenes from the 2016 Parade of the Species.

The Rotary Club of Sitka will host a community spring clean-up from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday, April 22, at Totem Square Park. This event is supported by Sitka Community Hospital, the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities, and the City and Borough of Sitka. For more information, contact John Stein at 747-7811.

 

Sitka author Pauline Duncan will share her Sitka Herring and Baby Raven books at a Babies & Books Earth Day Event at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, April 22, at the Sitka Public Library. Babies, toddlers and siblings are welcome. For more information, contact the library at 747-8708.

The fourth annual youth eco-challenge is free and takes place from 9:30 a.m. to noon on Saturday, April 22, at the Sitka National Historical Park. School-aged youth teams (ages 5-12) will test their outdoor skills and teamwork while they make their way through the Sitka National Historical Park. Sign up in teams of four, or as individuals to be put on a team. Teams of multiple ages are recommended. It’s a race. Limited spots available, so register early. The registration deadline is 5 p.m. on Wednesday, April 19. Contact Julia Tawney to register, 747-7509 or julia@sitkawild.org.

The Sitka Gymnastics Academy‘s Earth Day Showcase takes place from 4-6 p.m. on Saturday, April 22, at the Sitka Cirque (207 Smith Street). The Sitka Gymnastics program is donating half of the money raised by this event to the Sitka Conservation Society. Tickets are $10 for adults and $3-$5 for youth.

• Sitka Earth Week Events Schedule for 2017

• Parade of the Species 2017 flier

• Eco-Challenge 2017 flier

Sitka National Historical Park starts Indian River Pedestrian Bridge and other projects for the season

Foot traffic on the trail linking the Sitka National Historical Park’s east and west sections across the Indian River pedestrian bridge will be restricted over the summer months as crews begin work to replace the almost 50-year-old foot bridge.

Access will be limited for periods of time from Wednesday, April 12, through Friday, April 14, as crews begin the project by clearing trees and brush in the construction zone near the bridge. This tree removal is being done by Saturday, April 15, before migratory birds may nest in the trees. A visual inspection of the trees to be removed has revealed no nests. Pedestrians should use caution during this as this work will be completed using heavy equipment

On May 8, the removal of the old bridge will begin, closing the cross-park trail completely at least until Aug. 15. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game has issued a permit to allow in-water work to take place during this time. The bridge replacement project was delayed last summer when it was discovered the bridge would need new footings.

“We hope the work will result in minimum inconvenience for our many park visitors,” said Mike Trainor, Sitka National Historical Park Chief of Maintenance. “But all structures have a lifetime. For the long-term convenience and safety of cross-park traffic, the installation of a new bridge is necessary. And of course we are also mindful of the importance of Indian River as a salmon-bearing stream, so we will do everything possible for this work to pose a minimum disruption to that natural cycle of life.”

The new bridge will be similar in design and slightly wider to accommodate a larger number of visitors viewing the salmon runs while still allowing pedestrians and people walking their bikes to safely pass.

Park crews also will be engaged over the next several months in clearing selected understory and small trees over a half-acre between the park’s fort site and the shoreline. The goal is to help restore views from the fort site to the ocean to approximate the topography that existed during the Battle of 1804, the event that gave rise to the naming of park land as a national monument in 1910.

For more information about this work, please contact Angie Richman at 747-0132 or Mike Trainor at 747-0150.