by: Katie Writer – KTNA
Talkeetna Elementary School art teacher Bekah Mathiesen has been selected as a “Champion of Art” by the Alaska Art Educators Consortium. KTNA’s Katie writer spoke with Bekah about her efforts to bring art to Upper Valley kids.
Climbing season is well underway, and the first climbers have reached the summit of North America’s highest peak. Here’s KTNA’s Phillip Manning with this week’s Denali Report.
This is the Denali Report for Friday, May 20th, 2016. I’m Phillip Manning.
Currently, 940 climbers are registered to attempt Denali, and 321 are currently on the mountain. Thirty climbers have completed their treks, and nine have made it to Denali’s summit, making the current summit rate thirty percent. Eighteen climbers are registered to attempt Mount Foraker. Of those, eleven are currently on the mountain, and two climbs have been completed. There have been no summits of Mount Foraker so far this season.
On Wednesday’s Su-Valley Voice, host Phillip Manning spoke with Mollie Boyer, Executive Director of the Valley Community for Recycling Solutions and Dawn Adams, coordinator for Denali National Park and Preserve’s Zero-Landfill Project. They discussed recycling in the Valley and the park.
As I find myself just three months short of completing my third year in ‘The Last Frontier’ I cannot help but look back and marvel at all that has transpired across those thirty three months. Of course I knew there would be many trials and learnings when I set out from SE Michigan for Talkeetna but I also thought I’d pretty much planned for such challenges in the 18 months preceding the actual relocation. But, as is so often the case, I was surprised by the number and often the complexity of so many of the demands; in addition more than a few were totally unexpected.
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.
With all the rain and ice making for a pretty dismal winter in Willow, I wanted to go see how spring was progressing in Hatcher Pass. I drove up April second, but not having four-wheel drive- when I got into slushy snow about a mile past the winter gate, I parked and switched to skis. My dogs-Lyra and Darby- were thrilled, but I soon found that the ice bridges across the creek had all collapsed and I couldn’t get out where I wanted to go. I had to pick my way along on top of the snow machine trail beside the road. That wasn’t much fun, and after about a mile and a half, I turned back. I decided to make the trip again later in the month.
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.
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.