Sitka National Historical Park reminds Sitkans to walk bikes through park, keep dogs leashed

Sitka National Historical Park has recently experienced an increase of individuals riding bicycles on park trails and dogs off-leash within park boundaries, which are violations of park regulations. These situations cause safety hazards for other park users hiking on the same trail system, as well as for wildlife within the park.

The National Park Service reminds the public that it is prohibited to ride bicycles anywhere in the park, and dogs must be on-leash at all times in the park, including on the tidelands.

The majority of these violations appear to be occurring in the morning and evening hours as individuals commute to and from work or school, or recreate outside of their work hours. Rangers will be increasing their patrols for violators and will be taking the appropriate law enforcement action, which may include the issuance of a United States Violation Notice in the amount of $75 (plus $35 processing fee) for riding bikes, $50 (plus $35 processing fee) for dogs off-leash, and $300 (plus $35 processing fee) for harassment of wildlife.

Questions or concerns regarding park regulations can be directed to Chief Law Enforcement Ranger Sean Brennan at 907-747-0127 or sean_brennan@nps.gov.​

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New Indian River pedestrian bridge in Sitka National Historical Park opens for use

OPENED BRIDGESitka National Historical Park Superintendent David Elkowitz and contractor Jeremy Twaddle of Island Enterprises Inc. cut a ceremonial ribbon to officially open the Indian River foot bridge Friday morning, July 28, 2017. The new bridge, which is two feet wider than the old one, was completed on schedule, just ahead of pink salmon spawning. Pictured on the bridge are, from left, Ryan Carpenter, Elkowitz, Brinnen Carter, Twaddle and Mike Trainor. (Daily Sitka Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

Sitka National Historical Park to open new Indian River pedestrian bridge on Friday, July 28

The new cross-park pedestrian bridge over Indian River in Sitka National Historical Park will officially open for park visitors at 10 a.m. on Friday, July 28.

An informal ribbon-cutting ceremony hosted by park superintendent David Elkowitz will dedicate the new bridge. “We heartily invite all of our park users, including the Park Prescriptions participants and daily walkers, to join us in crossing the river for the first time using this latest park infrastructure improvement,” Elkowitz said.

The removal and replacement of an almost half-century-old bridge was necessary to ensure park visitors have safe passage through the park. The new bridge is wider to allow for enhanced salmon and other wildlife viewing for decades to come. As before, bicyclists are reminded to walk their bikes through park trails, including over the bridge.

Speaking about the project, which began in early May, Sitka National Historical Park Chief of Maintenance Mike Trainor said, “Our goal was to have this project completed by mid-July to protect the late summer salmon run, which is one of the park’s most important natural resource missions. I’m happy to report the first pink salmon are just beginning to show up at the mouth of the river. We also wanted to ensure a minimum inconvenience to park visitors and especially those who use the cross-park trail to get to and from downtown Sitka. We thank everyone for their patience.”

The cross-trail linking the Park’s east and west sections across the footbridge has been a traditional pedestrian commuter route, and park visitor walk, for decades.

The new bridge was designed after considerable public input, and retains the character of the old bridge. For more information about this work, please contact Angie Richman at 747-0132 or Mike Trainor at 747-0150.

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.

Girls on the Run to close out season with beach-themed 5K community fun run on May 13

 
The Sitka Girls On The Run program will host celebrate the end of its ninth season with a beach/Hawaiian themed five-kilometer run from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday, May 13, with the start-finish line at the Crescent Harbor covered shelter. The fun run and ceremony will honor the girls, who have been training all spring at Keet Gooshi Heen Elementary School.

This is a family friendly event, and tutus and bright colors are encouraged, but not required. Volunteers and cheerleaders also are needed so they can make the event extra special for our participants. Here are a few ways you can help:

  • Volunteer — There are quite a few volunteer positions available, some of which also allow volunteers to run in the event (all allow volunteers to be cheerleaders). Volunteer time requirements vary by assignment. Please register at http://tinyurl.com/GOTR5K2017. Please contact Lauren Havens at lhavens@safv.org or 747-3489 with any questions.
  • Cheerleader — Position yourself along the course between 9:45 a.m. to 11 a.m. to cheer the girls on as they run. The run starts at the Crescent Harbor covered shelter, runs along the Sitka Sea Walk and through the Sitka National Historical Park’s Totem Trails and back, so there are plenty of places to cheer people on. Bring a sign and bright colors and a positive attitude.

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 Greater Alaska operates Girls On The Run programs in Sitka, Juneau, Ketchikan, Petersburg, and Yakutat, along with similar programs in other Alaska communities. Check out what the program is all about. Sitkans Against Family Violence (SAFV) hosts the GOTR program in Sitka.

Please help spread the word and encourage family members and friends to make the 2017 5K Community Fun Run a success.

Indian River pedestrian bridge to close on May 8 through mid-August for construction project

Construction to replace the Indian River pedestrian bridge in Sitka National Historical Park will begin Monday, May 8. Cross-park foot traffic will be closed through mid-August. Signs and maps will direct pedestrians around the park during construction. The detour will be through the Sitka Fine Arts Campus to Sawmill Creek Road. Detour maps are available at the park’s visitor’s center or the Russian Bishop’s House information desks.

The existing foot bridge is now 50 years old and is beginning to show signs of deterioration. It is National Park Service policy to repair or replace infrastructure prior to the occurrence of any safety issues. The new bridge will assure that park visitors can safely cross Indian River for decades to come.

Site preparation begins on Monday, May 8. The actual removal and reconstruction of bridge components will start May 15 and continue until Aug. 15.

“The in-river work will be completed by July 15th to protect the mid-summer salmon run,” said Brinnen Carter, chief of resources. “Hopefully, all the work will be completed by then, but it is likely that the contractor will have above-water work to complete between July 15th and August 15th. We know that the bridge is a critical component of the community’s walking trails and we want it back in operation as soon as possible.”

The trail linking the park’s east and west sections across the river is heavily-used. Pedestrian traffic will be re-directed with signs and maps through the Sitka Fine Arts Campus and down Sawmill Creek Road until the new, wider bridge is in place.

The new bridge, designed with considerable public input, will retain the character of the existing bridge but be wider to provide easier passage and better wildlife viewing.

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

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.