KTNA Studio – Dave Totten, artist

Photo by Deb Wessler

Photo by Dora Miller

KTNA Studio

KTNA On Air Studio, Jan 2013

Photo by Deb Wessler

Photo by James Trump

Winter Black-capped Chickadee

winter chickadee

Photo by Robin Song

Fish Lake morning

Fish Lake morning

photo: Robin Song


Posts from the 'Local News' category

Talkeetna-Trapper Creek birders find 78 species

Tuesday, May 10, 2016


Birdathon group by KWriter-IMG_1658

2016 Birdathoners, by Katie Writer


Many area birders were enthusiastically surprised at the number of different bird species which “turned out” for this year’s 24 hour Talkeetna-Trapper Creek Birdathon, held over the weekend. The group tallied up 78 species, which is the highest total since 2005, a year that also had an early spring.

Former resident Robert Ambrose had the highest individual total, with 60 species of birds. His biking partner Bill FitzGerald counted just two less. They biked over sixty miles to win the Birdathon crowns, once again demonstrating that “green” birding is no disadvantage, at least for them!

Local guide Wade Hopkins also birded without a motorized vehicle. He hiked and thrashed his way up to Papa Bear Lake, using his pack raft to cross rivers and creeks, spent the night in a bivvy sack, and floated to Talkeetna, fishing and birding all day. He found a Hooded Merganser, which hadn’t been recorded in eight years, saw the only flock of Tundra Swans, and discovered a group of about 40 male Horned Grebes.  Wade also saw a couple adult black bears and two cubs-of-the-year.


Permaculture at Bare Hands Farm

Friday, May 6, 2016
Graham, Mindy, and a fluffy friend at Bare Hands Farm

Graham, Mindy, and a fluffy friend at Bare Hands Farm

by:  Katie Writer – KTNA

When Talkeetna residents think of what goes on at the Grove, they often think of live music, community gatherings, and micro-greens. This past year, owners Mindy and Graham Knapp have added to the Bare Hands Farm.

KTNA’s Katie Writer took a walk around the property with Graham and Mindy.


Graham and Mindy’s long-term vision of creating a permaculture environment is taking shape in Talkeetna. Permaculture is the attempt to assimilate or utilize the patterns and features of nature in agriculture.



Graham and Mindy are using the land in a manner that best suits the lay of the land as well and the natural resources available.



There are a lot of steps to building upon visions and ideas. Yet, with each effort put forth, there is a lot of satisfaction in planting and digging in the earth. Graham has dug trenches and filled them with dead trees that will in the long run hold water as well as add nutrients to the soil.


At Bare Hands Farm, the animals require considerable time and care. In return, they offer milk, eggs, and meat. One of the greatest commodities from raising pigs, chickens, ducks, goats, and rabbits is often overlooked: Fertilizer…the ripe but necessary ingredient to farming.


In addition, Graham is excited about other benefits from the grazing and ground compaction from their pigs and goats.


“So, we had our pigs down in this little depression on our property. We had learned of a technique where you can put pigs or ducks in an area, and they will [compact it].”


Pigs seem to have the most personality and Gretel, who was just a wee little piglet is now nurturing her nine piglets. When she was a single pig, she made her way into the chicken pen.


“All the animals get along pretty well. The chickens and the ducks live together…Gretel was by herself for a lot of the winter, and she would nose her way into the chickens, through the chicken wire. The chickens would come and hang out with Gretel, and I thought ‘Oh my gosh, the pig is going to eat the chickens,’ but I think she just wanted the company.”


The other main product on Bare Hands Farm is micro-greens. They offer CSA Farm Shares with their greens.


“It’s really nice being here in the middle of the winter, and there’s things growing, but I’m really actually anxious to turn the lights of and put them in the sun to get some of that free energy…I started a CSA microgreens program this winter, and it’s gone really well. I have just enough customers, and I’ll be able to take on a lot more since I have more room outside, of course.”


When we stepped into the micro-green growing room, two things stuck out in my mind. There was a peacefulness in viewing vibrant plants in comparison to the rowdy farm yard. The plants, unlike the pigs, don’t knock over their water. Also, the greens are an easy meal in comparison to milking a goat.


Firefighters Respond to Wildfire in Meadow Lakes Area

Wednesday, May 4, 2016
Map of the Sunrise Fire location provided by the Mat-Su Borough

Map of the Sunrise Fire location provided by the Mat-Su Borough

Update: The fire, officially called the Sunrise Fire, has grown to between twelve and fifteen acres.  Winds are reported as “erratic.”


Mat-Su Borough and Alaska Division of Forestry firefighters are currently fighting a wildfire in the Meadow Lakes area. On Wednesday afternoon, a grassfire between seven and ten acres in size spread into an area wooded with black spruce, according to borough spokeswoman Patty Sullivan.

The Division of Forestry has taken command of the firefighting effort, and air and ground resources have been deployed, including a tanker plane.

As of Wednesday evening, no evacuations or road closures have been reported, although a temporary flight restriction is in place, and authorities ask that general aviation aircraft avoid the area. A map of the fire’s location is available at KTNA.org.

Talkeetna Recycling Receives MEA Grant for Cardboard Program

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Cardboard recycling in the Upper Valley is one step closer to becoming a reality. At Monday night’s meeting of the Talkeetna Community Council, Inc. board of directors, recycling committee chair Katie Writer announced that the program has received a grant of $10,000 from Matanuska Electric Association’s Operation Roundup program. Each year, MEA gives members an option to round their bills up to the nearest dollar. Then, MEA distributes that money to individuals and organizations through a grant process.


Katie Writer says the grant is enough to put a deposit on a cardboard baler. Additional funds are needed for construction of a shelter for the baler and the cardboard to protect them from the elements. Once fundraising is completed, Moore’s Hardware has agreed to donate labor, house the baler and the cardboard, and transport the cardboard bales.


Talkeetna’s current recycling program through the Mat-Su Borough’s transfer site, is aimed at saving the borough money in the long run by reducing what goes into the landfill. The cardboard recycling project would do the same thing, but it is also possible to sell bales of cardboard to recyclers. Katie Writer hopes that money would be enough to pay someone to oversee the baler and maintain the program into the future.


Also at the meeting, Writer announced that locations have been selected for three of the four bear-proof recycling containers that will go Downtown. The containers were donated by the National Park Service. One container will reside at the Walter Harper Talkeetna Ranger Station, one at the Village Park, and the third at the campground on Main Street. Sassan Mosannen, general manager of Denali Brewing Company, expressed interest in housing the fourth container, but no final determination has been made.

With residency records updated, Geri McCann intends to run for Talkeetna Council board again

Friday, April 29, 2016

The former Talkeetna Community Council, Inc. board member whose seat was vacated says she has her residency documents sorted out.


At its April meeting, the board members present voted three-to-two to seat Geri McCann on the TCCI board. After the meeting, questions arose as to whether McCann is a current resident of Talkeetna.


Geri McCann says she lived in Talkeetna for twenty years before moving to Palmer, and that she moved back to Talkeetna in 2014. While other residents have vouched for her residency, some official records still showed her as living in Palmer as of the April 4th meeting.


Reading program brings students, volunteers, and books together

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

An after-school program at the Talkeetna library is bringing together young students and adult community members to promote literacy skills and a lifelong love of reading. KTNA’s Phillip Manning visited the program earlier this week, and has this report.


Learning to read is one of the most important things children do in their first few years of school. Literacy is an indicator not only of how well a student will do during Kindergarten through 12th Grade, but also into their adult lives. In Talkeetna, a new program is helping to give some Upper Valley students an extra boost into reading proficiency.

Talkeetna Elementary art teacher and Title I Reading Specialist Bekah Mathiessen came up with the idea for the program.

“Right after school, the kids get bused here. It’s a new stop on the bus route, which is pretty awesome. And people from the community come to read with about sixteen Kindergarten to 2nd Grade kids.”


Trapper Creek Revenue Sharing Voting Open Through May 14th

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Revenue sharing voting has begun in Trapper Creek. Revenue sharing funds come from the state to the Mat-Su Borough, which then allows community councils to distribute them. Four items are on this year’s ballot, including the Upper Susitna Food Pantry, operating expenses for the Trapper Creek Park and Cemetery, Winter Trail Grooming, and Youth Conservation Corps. Trapper Creek voters will be able to rank the projects by priority. Full funding will be awarded based on projects that receive the highest priority from voters.


Trapper Creek residents may vote at the Trapper Creek Library during regular business hours through May 14th.


Borough plans work before discharging from Talkeetna sewer lagoon

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

The Talkeetna sewer lagoon will undergo additional maintenance before discharging treated water into the Talkeetna River.


According to Mat-Su Borough Public Works Director Terry Dolan, the borough has begun mechanical aeration of the lagoon, and replanting work is planned on the artificial wetlands before treated sewage is released.


For the last two summers, the Talkeetna lagoon has violated it’s state permit multiple times for a lack of dissolved oxygen in the water and high levels of fecal coliform bacteria. The system is designed to use natural processes, including ultraviolet light, artificial wetlands, and biological breakdown to treat sewage to safe levels. A combination of factors, including a bypass on sewage coming into the system, grease on the surface of the lagoon, and damage to the wetlands following a flood in 2006 have contributed to the treatment system’s problems.


Late last year, the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation contacted the borough regarding the violations. Multiple meetings have been held, but a final agreement between the borough and the state has not been reached.


Last month, the Mat-Su Borough Assembly approved a loan of $214,000 for the lagoon. Additionally, he says the money could be used as matching funds for a grant from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. On Tuesday afternoon, Dolan learned that the USDA has approved a grant for the lagoon, and he says an offer letter should be coming soon. Whether the grant is accepted and whether the loan funds are used is contingent on whether the lagoon can be brought back into compliance through current maintenance plans. At that point, Dolan says options include artificial ultraviolet light.

Artist Stacie Smiley opens show in Talkeetna

Friday, April 15, 2016



by: Katie Writer – KTNA

Some artists struggle to have the time and focus to create art, others benefit from creative talent being stored away for many years.

Stacie Smiley is one of the latter.

“I wanted to immerse myself in it, spend a long period of time doing the one thing, painting, instead of picking it up and putting it down to go do other things.”

Stacie has found the time in her adult life to be able to focus on creation from beginning to end. Perhaps having an art opening at The Flying Squirrel Bakery Cafe was one motivational factor to complete a series of paintings.  In addition, her husband, Troy built custom frames that add another level of professionalism to her art.

After some research, Stacie decided that her old style of painting was out of date, at least to her taste. She researched paints and various mediums and spent some money on new supplies.  (more…)