Sitka’s renewal application for a 2017 Walk Friendly Communities designation has been submitted

Walk Sitka has submitted its renewal application for a 2017 Walk Friendly Communities award designation. The application period closed on Thursday, June 15, and results will be announced in a few months. In 2013, Sitka earned a Bronze Level WFC designation, and we’re hoping to move up to Silver or Gold this year.

Applying for a Walk Friendly Communities designation was one of three community wellness projects chosen at the 2012 Sitka Health Summit. By going through this national award application process we hoped to gain a better handle on the status of walking in Sitka and what we can do to improve it. We feel there have been many improvements to walking in Sitka just in the past year, with the launch of many walking programs (Park Prescriptions, Sitka Trail Works weekend hikes, Senior Hiking Club, etc.), the construction on the Sitka Sea Walk and upcoming expansions, continued construction on the Cross Trail and other Sitka Trail Works projects, and more.

The 72-page community assessment tool, which helps communities fill out the application, has nine sections — Community Profile, Status of Walking, Planning, Education and Encouragement, Engineering, Enforcement, Evaluation and Additional Questions. Once submitted, the actual application printed out at 40 pages.

A copy of our 2013 and 2017 applications are posted below, along with our 2013 report card from the WFC program. Feel free to review it and let us know ways we can make Sitka more walk friendly. So far, Sitka is the only community in Alaska to earn a Bronze Level or higher Walk Friendly Communities designation (Juneau received an honorable mention in 2010). Don’t forget to like our Facebook page and watch this site for updates.

• 2017 Walk Friendly Communities application for Sitka, Alaska

• 2013 Walk Friendly Communities application for Sitka, Alaska

• Sitka, Alaska, 2013 Walk Friendly Communities Report Card and Feedback

Sitka National Historical Park hosts a variety of educational ranger-led walks each day during the summer

The Sitka National Historical Park offers a variety of daily guided walking tours that teach Sitka residents and visitors about the park’s natural and cultural resources. The guided walks program launches in May and runs through October. Some days may only have one or two walks scheduled, instead of all of them, so check the park’s website for each week’s schedule.

SNHPsign81109-008-small-500x375The Battle Walk returns to the battleground and former fort site of the Tlingít-Russian Battle of 1804, which was pivotal in determining the history of the Alaska region. Offered most days, this guided walk is approximately three-quarters of a mile, and lasts about 45 minutes to one hour.

The Totem Walk tells the stories and legends of the totem poles on the Totem Loop Trail, focusing on the common totem figures, the origins of the 1903 John Brady collection, carving methods, and the native culture of Southeast Alaska. Offered most days, this guided walk is approximately one mile, and lasts about 45 minutes to one hour.

The Sea Otter Discovery Talk teaches visitors about the ecological, cultural, and historical importance of sea otters and how they are uniquely adapted to their ocean environment. The talk lasts about 15 minutes.

The Russian-American History Downtown Walking Tour visits sites related to Sitka’s Russian American Heritage, including the Russian Bishop’s House, St Michael’s Cathedral, Building 29, the Blockhouse, and Castle Hill. This guided walk is approximately half a mile, and lasts about one hour.

The schedule may vary from day to day due to which cruise ships are in town and all walks aren’t offered each day. Each week’s schedule is posted at this link. Please check the link regularly, because new walking tours may be added throughout the summer.

All ranger-led tours meet at the Sitka National Historical Park visitor center, except for the Russian-American History Downtown Walking Tour, which meets at the Russian Bishop’s House.

For more information about the ranger-guided tours at Sitka National Historical Park, call the visitor center at 747-0110. Also, don’t forget to get a Park Prescriptions card to log your walks in the park, so you can have a chance to win quarterly prizes for each completed card.

Sitka National Historical Park to host free spring migration bird walks on May 6 and May 13

Observe and learn about the migrant and resident bird species of Sitka National Historical Park during the park’s spring migration bird walks. These programs will be held from 8-10 a.m. on Saturday, May 6, and Saturday, May 13.

Spring migration bird walks are open to beginner and experienced bird watchers and will offer participants the chance to identify by sight and sound the abundant bird species that depend on the park’s coastal and rainforest ecosystems.

Participants are encouraged to dress warmly and to be prepared to spend the duration of the program outside in variable weather conditions. Those who have binoculars are encouraged to bring them to the program. There will be a limited number of binoculars available for participants to use during the program and field guides will be provided.

The program will begin and conclude at the park’s visitor center. For more information about the park’s spring migration bird walks, please contact Ryan Carpenter at 747-0121 or at ryan_p_carpenter@nps.gov.

Walk Sitka to meet on Jan. 17 to begin work on Walk Friendly Communities renewal application

NewDowntownBanners

WFC_LogoWant to help make Sitka a better place for walkers? Walk Sitka will meet from 6-7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Jan. 17, at the Sitka Public Library (Gus Adams meeting room) to begin work on our Walk Friendly Communities program renewal application.

In October 2013, Sitka became the first (and currently only) city in Alaska to earn a Bronze level or higher Walk Friendly Communities designation. We earned a Bronze level in 2013, so let’s see if we can improve to the Silver or Gold level in 2017.

Over the past few years, Sitka has seen the completion of the Sitka Sea Walk, an expansion to the Cross Trail, a new multi-use pathway at the end of Sawmill Creek Road, and several other infrastructure improvements. Over the last few months, Sitka has received funding awards to build the second phase of the Sitka Sea Walk and the sixth phase of the Cross Trail, and the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities is getting ready to redo a section of Sawmill Creek Road from the roundabout to Jeff Davis Street to make it friendlier for walkers and bikers (good bye power poles in the middle of the sidewalk). We also have had more education about being visible while walking and a cellphone ban while driving to promote safety, and launched the Park Prescriptions program at Sitka National Historical Park and other hiking/walking clubs to encourage people to walk.

During this meeting, we will start to list our improvements since our last application, and we will look for areas where we can improve our community to make it easier for people to walk.

To learn more about the application process, contact Charles Bingham at 623-7660 or charleswbingham3@gmail.com.

Tenth annual Sitka Health Summit to take place Friday, Oct. 21, at UAS Sitka Campus

Sitka Health Summit Poster FINAL

newsitkahealthsummitlogoDo you have any good community wellness ideas for Sitka? It’s time 10th annual Sitka Health Summit planning day, which takes place from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 21, in Room 229 at the University of Alaska Southeast Sitka Campus.

The Sitka Health Summit got its start in 2007 when then-Sitka Community Hospital CEO Moe Chaudry and then-SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) Vice President of Hospital Services Frank Sutton decided they needed to bridge the gaps between Sitka’s largest two health services. They launched the Sitka Health Summit, with the help of other supporters in Sitka, as a way to improve community wellness, honor local wellness champions, and more.

One of the highlights of the Sitka Health Summit has been the annual community wellness planning day. During planning day, Sitka residents get together to discuss the health needs of the community and create community wellness projects to address these needs.

Over the years there have been a variety of Sitka Health Summit projects — create a local market for local fish and produce, build a Sitka community greenhouse, become a Bicycle Friendly Community, become a Walk Friendly Community, encourage more kids and families to get outdoors for recreation, support a community health and wellness center (Hames), plant fruit trees around town, get more local fish into school lunches, build a Choose Respect mural, Revitalize Sitka, the Sick-a-Waste compost project, the Sitka Community Food AssessmentPark PrescriptionsTogether for a Meth-Free Sitka, the Sitka Kitch (a project to create a community rental kitchen and improve Sitka’s emergency food storage capacity), Celebrate Katlian Street: A Vibrant Community, and the Southeast Youth Resource Guide.

The 2015 Sitka Health Summit projects were to develop an American Disabilities Act-compliant Sitka Community Playground near Crescent Harbor, build a community garden plot behind the Island Institute (this started off as a project to build a community greenhouse on top of the Sitka cold storage plant, but it morphed into a different project), and to create a way to honor and support the well-being of elders in Sitka.

This year, Sitka residents are invited to submit community wellness project ideas before the Sitka Health Summit. They can do this by going to the Sitka Health Summit website, http://www.sitkahealthsummit.org/, and clicking on the Submit Ideas link at the top of the gateway page (link opens a short SurveyMonkey survey). You also can submit ideas to Doug Osborne at 747-0373 or dosborne@sitkahospital.org. The top two projects this year will receive $2,000 in seed money to get the projects started.

To register for the Sitka Heath Summit planning day, call Zachary Desmond at 747-4600 or email him at zachary@braveheartvolunteers.org. In your email, please include your name, email address, phone number, organization (you can list self if you’re not representing an organization), and any food restrictions. A free lunch with locally sourced seafood (in honor of the Fish To Schools project from 2010) will be provided.

St. Peter’s By The Sea Episcopal Church to host summer Scripture Walks in the Park at Sitka National Historical Park

Rev. Julie Platson, the new priest in charge at St. Peter's By The Sea Episcopal Church, sprinkles holy water during a recent blessing service at St. Peter's Fellowship Farm. She and her church will lead a series of scripture walks this summer at Sitka National Historical Park.

Rev. Julie Platson, the rector in charge at St. Peter’s By The Sea Episcopal Church, sprinkles holy water during a Spring 2015 blessing service at St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm. Julie and members of her church will lead a series of scripture walks this summer at Sitka National Historical Park.

2016 full flyer scripture walks in the parkSt Peter’s By The Sea Episcopal Church invites the community to join it on Monday evenings for its second summer of Scripture Walks in the Park. The group will meet at 5:30 p.m. on Mondays, from June 13 through Aug. 15, at the Sitka National Historical Park Visitor’s Center.

“It was just an idea I came up with for a  summer offering. I thought it made sense to combine a casual walk with the beauty of God’s creation here in Sitka,” said Rev. Julie Platson, the rector in charge at St. Peter’s. Two of the walks, on July 11 and Aug. 15, will end with Holy Communion.

Also, don’t forget to get a Park Prescriptions card at the park’s visitor center to log your walks in the park, so you can have a chance to win quarterly prizes for each completed card.

For more info, please call the church at 747-3977 or email stpetersbytheseak@gmail.com.

Walking and winning in the Park Prescriptions program at Sitka National Historical Park

Sitka National Historical Park Ranger Ryan Carpenter, left, congratulates Andy Bone after Andy won a $25 prize in the Active April Park Prescriptions drawing on June 4 at the park. (Photo by Sharon McIndoo)

Sitka National Historical Park Ranger Ryan Carpenter, left, congratulates Andy Bone after Andy won a $25 prize in the Active April Park Prescriptions drawing on June 4 at the park. (Photo by Sharon McIndoo)

ParkPrescriptionsPad_Page_1When Andy Bone’s friends ask him what he wants to do, often times he response is “let’s go for a walk in the park.” Earlier this summer, Andy’s passion for walking and love for the park paid off as with a $25 prize in the Active April Park Prescriptions drawing on National Trails Day, June 4, at Sitka National Historical Park.

Andy and five other members of the community won a variety of prizes for walking, running and recreating within the park. Prizes included $100, $50 and $25 dollars provided by the Sitka Community Hospital Foundation. The Sitka Community Hospital Foundation also distributed gift certificates donated by Russell’s and Work and Rugged Gear.

ParkPrescriptionsPad_Page_2Clara Rear, who won $100, said she finds the Park Prescriptions program a “fun opportunity to go walking with kids.”

For Diane Larsen, who won $50, “It’s fun to walk with ladies from church. And I appreciate the opportunity to get out and walk.”

Vienna Vaden won a gift certificate from Work and Rugged Gear. She said, “What I love about the Park Prescriptions program is that I can walk with my mom one day, walk with a church friend one day and walk with my daughter the next day. The park staff allows flexibility in the times we walk so I don’t have to commit to 6 am or 8 at night. … My mother played in the park as a child. I played in the park as a child, and now I play and walk with my children.”

“Just get out and walk. It’s worth it,” said Sandy Griffith, who won a gift certificate from Russell’s.

To participate in the program and to be eligible to win during the next quarterly drawing, stop by Sitka National Historical Park’s visitor center to pick up a Park Prescriptions card. Then get the card stamped by a park employee whenever you walk the park’s trails.

For more information about the program, contact Ryan Carpenter at 747-0121 or ryan_p_carpenter@nps.gov.