By Johanna Eurich, Freelance Journalist – Anchorage
The number of dead Common Murres showing up on Alaska’s beaches keeps growing. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has now gathered more than the 22,000 collected when the Exxon Valdez went aground in Prince William Sound. Heather Renner with USFWS says it is already one of the largest die-offs in history and, unlike when the tanker went aground, no one has gone out to remote beaches to look for dead seabirds.
“The exactly same number is purely a coincidence,” said Renner. “Our number is changing every day as people call in more reports. But certainly there was a lot of effort put into searching beaches then. Now people are just calling in and telling us about them. And we haven’t gotten a chance to look at much of the remote coastline.”
Renner told the Alaska Marine Science Symposium that dead Murres started showing up on beaches last summer but since those numbers were spread out over a large area they weren’t noticed until the thousands started showing up on beaches in January. Read More »
After a contentious meeting last week, the Trapper Creek Community Council will hold a new election for its board of directors. While the original election was conducted incorrectly, the results of the new election are likely to be identical. KTNA’s Phillip Manning has more.
Last Thursday, the Trapper Creek Community Council board of directors meeting focused heavily on questions regarding the most recent board election. At the meeting, Trapper Creek resident Kristie Parsons questioned whether the election followed the rules set out in the council’s governing document.
“The question is to review the process used for this particular election and how it followed the Trapper Creek council’s constitution and bylaws, which specifically define the process. And that process is not identified in any of the previous minutes.” Read More »
While most Upper Valley residents were at home for the magnitude 7.1 earthquake early on Sunday, musher Karin Hendrickson was mid-race on the Yentna River. Hendrickson spoke with KTNA’s Katie Writer about the experience.
Talkeetna water system customers will soon receive a notice about slightly elevated arsenic levels in the water in December and January.
The Environmental Protection Agency requires that arsenic levels are no higher than ten micrograms per liter. In December, the water tested at just below fifteen micrograms, and in January it tested around thirteen.
Mat-Su Borough Public Works Director Terry Dolan says that a malfunctioning pump that was not feeding a chemical into the water that removes arsenic caused the problem. He says the pump was rebuilt on Thursday and is now functioning normally. An initial test showed that the treated water was well below the limit for arsenic, and further tests will be conducted to ensure the issue is solved.
Terry Dolan says consumption of the water for a short period of time at the arsenic levels found is not harmful, and that customers would have been immediately notified if the arsenic content reached dangerous levels. He says residents do not need to boil their water and can continue using it normally.
Earlier this week, KTNA reported on a loan request for the Talkeetna sewer and water system from the Mat-Su Borough’s revolving loan fund. KTNA’s Phillip Manning spoke with Public Works Director Terry Dolan about the work that is planned and the fiscal state of the system.
The Mat-Su Borough Public Works Department is asking the Borough Assembly for $214,000 to make upgrades to the Talkeetna sewer lagoon. If approved by the assembly, the funds would come from the borough’s revolving loan fund. Read More »
Next week, the Mat-Su Borough Assembly is scheduled to vote on the Talkeetna sewer and water system borrowing over $200,000 from the borough’s revolving loan fund.
The borough’s public works department made the request to borrow funds in order to pay for measures to bring the Talkeetna sewer lagoon into compliance with its state permit.
Late last year, the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation notified the borough that it intended to begin enforcement actions for repeated violations in required monthly tests of water flowing from the lagoon to the Talkeetna River.
The resolution says that planned repairs and upgrades include an aeration system, electrical upgrades, wetland repair, and wastewater collection repair.
The borough is also seeking grant funding from the United States Department of Agriculture to develop reports necessary for further grant applications for the projects.
If approved by the assembly, $214,000 will be transferred to the Talkeetna sewer and water system for a thirty year term with an interest rate that must also be approved by the assembly.
Since the legislation is in the form of a resolution, there is no dedicated public hearing. The vote is scheduled to take place at the January 26th borough assembly meeting.
Su Writer’s Voice, KTNA
Murre Invasion-Part Two-Robin Song
I left off my last story- which was ‘part one’ of the “Murre Invasion”- heading back to my temporary residence in Willow after having spent December 30th in Talkeetna. Billy Fitzgerald and Tod Marder had taken some rescued Murres by snowmachine to an open lead of water in the Su, about a mile north of the Talkeetna river confluence. Originally I had been asked to take Murres to the Alaska Wild Bird Treatment Center in Houston, but because the birds were healthy and open water had been located, it was decided to release them back to the wild. Being pelagic diving birds with legs set well back on their bodies, they need water in order to take flight, although, in just the right conditions, they have been observed taking off from land, but it’s extremely difficult for them.
Read More »
On January 2nd, local birders held the annual Audubon Christmas Bird Count in the Talkeetna and Trapper Creek area. Over a twenty-four hour period, birds were counted at feeders and in the field by three-dozen observers.
The counters saw a total of nineteen species of bird. Black-capped Chickadees were by far the most prevalent, with nearly 500 sightings, mostly at feeders. Other familiar local birds were also sighted, including Pine Grosbeaks, magpies, Gray Jays, woodpeckers, and ravens.
No redpolls were observed in this year’s count. Compiler Rick Ernst says this is only the second time in twenty-four years that the species has not made an appearance on the day of the count. The other oddity in this year’s count was three Common Murres. The murres are seabirds that showed up as far north as Healy around New Year’s Day.
116th Audubon Christmas Bird Count
Anja Radano and hear team out for a run. Photo: Katie Writer – KTNA
by: Katie Writer – KTNA
Calling any musher “casual” is a misnomer, but there are plenty of people in the Susitna Valley who use their dog teams more for recreation or practical travel than hardcore racing. KTNA’s Katie Writer recently spoke to two of them.
Anja and her team
Full interview with Anja Radano:
Full interview with Heather Zimmerman: