Trusty Strawberries: How to Grow Them

These strawberries are being grown as a matted row in Fairbanks. Photo by Heidi Rader

These strawberries are being grown as a matted row in Fairbanks. Photo by Heidi Rader

Nothing is more agonizing than patiently waiting for sweet strawberries and only to be rewarded with luscious green leaves. That’s what happened to me when, on a whim, I bought what sounded like a perfect strawberry for Alaska called “Sparkle.” In spite of promises for “vigorous, productive plants” and that it was “a favorite of northern growers,” it only produced a handful of berries. I guess the plants did vigorously produce leaves and they must consider Washington northern.

What went wrong?

This year, I am growing Seascape. It is a day neutral variety and grows well in containers like this one. Photo by Heidi Rader

This year, I am growing Seascape. It is a day neutral variety and grows well in containers like this one. Photo by Heidi Rader

Based on response to day length, strawberries are categorized as: June bearers, everbearers or day neutrals.

Sparkle is a June bearer.

June bearers flower and fruit in response to short days (or more precisely, nights that are at least 10 hours long) and do so once a season. But in Fairbanks, our long days encourage the growth of runners. Our days are only short enough when we also have freezing temperatures and snow.

Everbearers are less dependent on day length for timing the all-important act of flowering and fruiting. They usually do so twice per summer.

Day neutrals, as the name implies, flower and fruit regardless of day length and do so throughout the summer. I like this. Otherwise, we’d need to turn into a jam factory or gorge on berries for a couple of weeks. On second thought, that might not be so bad.

Dr. Meriam Karlsson, a horticulture professor at UAF, suggests day neutral varieties Tristar, Tribute, Seascape and Albion (the newest variety) as well as the everbearer, Fern. Another everbearer, Quinalt, has proven productive in Interior Alaska since the ’80s. But its berries are a bit squishy.

Various strawberry varieties were tested at the UAF Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station. Plastic soil mulch, row covers (hoops) and high tunnels are being used to extend the season and increase temperatures. Photo by Heidi Rader

Various strawberry varieties were tested at the UAF Agricultural and Forestry Experiment Station. Plastic soil mulch, row covers (hoops) and high tunnels are being used to extend the season and increase temperatures. Photo by Heidi Rader

As a side note, seed catalogues do not necessarily use the terms June bearers, everbearers or day neutrals. They may refer to June bearers as summer bearers, early season, late midseason or any other term that depicts a particular season. Or they may not say which type of strawberry it is at all. This guide offers descriptions of various strawberry cultivars and is organized by type: http://bit.ly/1GkKG93.

In addition to choosing the right variety, you also must know how to grow them. Typically, June bearers produce berries in the second year after they are planted and predominantly produce runners in the first year, and so they should be grown in matted rows, as a perennial. This is another reason June bearers can be problematic for Fairbanks. In addition to their penchant for short days, they must also be cold hardy enough to survive our winters. Curtis Dearborn, a former horticulturist at the Matanuska Experiment Farm, found that only 15 percent of 80 June bearing tested in the Matanuska Valley survived the winter.

On the other hand, everbearers and day neutrals will produce a crop the same year you plant them. They devote much less energy to growing runners, which thankfully goes into making berries. By using plastic mulch and hoops, you can bump up production even further. Here’s how: http://bit.ly/1BKB3JG.

There are strawberries native to Alaska that of course thrive as perennials — the Mountain Strawberry (Fragaria virginiana) and the Beach Strawberry (Fragaria chiloensis). These species make a nice strawberry patch, and even spread beyond your patch if you’re not careful, but their berries are teensy. Toklat and Alaska Pioneer will also do well as perennials and, due to hybridization, offer a larger berry than the native strawberries while retaining the ability to survive cold winters.

Even though our long days and cold winters limit which strawberry varieties you should attempt to grow in Fairbanks, luckily, there are still plenty to choose from.
For further information on how to grow strawberries, see this helpful guide: http://bit.ly/1EU2PDu.

Heidi Rader is a tribes Extension educator for the University of Alaska Fairbanks Cooperative Extension Service and the Tanana Chiefs Conference. She can be reached at hbrader@alaska.edu. For answers to gardening questions, contact the Tanana District Extension office at 474-1530.

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Aggie Creek Fire Update July 2

Date of Detection: June 22, 2015 at 2:54 PM
Current Size: 15,601 acres (size decreased with more accurate mapping)
Location: 30 miles North West of Fairbanks along the Elliot Highway
Legal Description: 65° 12’ 0” x 148° 19’ 0”
Containment:  50%
Incident Cost:  $2,479,856.00
Resources on Fire:  There are currently 455 personnel on this incident, as well as the following resources:

Remarks:
This fire is being managed by the Great Basin Incident Command Team 3, Mark Rosenthal, Incident Commander (IC).

Fire behavior is minimal with smoldering, creeping in surface fuels and occasional torching in black spruce.  Extensive areas along the fire perimeter and within the interior contain heat.  Cloudy conditions and dense smoke contributed to temperatures around 60° and relative humidity in the 70-75% range.

Heavy smoke can reduce visibility for motorists traveling along the Elliot Highway.  High speed vehicle traffic along the Elliot Highway, a National Scenic Byway, poses a significant safety concern to firefighters.   Please slow down and watch out for fire personnel.

The Hayes Creek fire is in aerial patrol status.

New start 3 miles north of Globe Creek Camp; the  Globe Creek Fire, has been contained at 0.75 acres using retardant and smoke jumpers. Fire is in aerial patrol status.

Minimal fire spread is expected; cloud cover, smoke from area fires, cool temperatures, higher RH and lingering effects of rain showers, along with additional shower potential moderate surface burning and limit perimeter spread.  Fire spread is expected to be low, with the potential to spread slowly increasing depending on cloud cover, smoke, forecasted warmer temperatures and rate of recovery from past rainfall.

Fire Hazards:
The Alyeska Trans-Alaska Pipeline, fiber optic cable and the Elliot Highway between mile markers 33 and 34, where the fire has crossed the highway.
Threatened Structures:   28 single residences, 24 other minor structures – No evacuations at this time.
Damaged or Destroyed Structures:   None, at this time.
Closures:   There is a Temporary Closure Order for the Western Portion of the White Mountains National Recreation Area.

Dorothy Harvey
IT Specialist
Battle Mountain District Office

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Photo of the day July 2

This little guy stops by to hunt voles at edge of my yard.
Photo Courtesy Kris Alfonsi

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What Bothers Me

Did you know that Alaska blueberries produce more antioxidants than blueberries grown elsewhere? Did you know that our barley and wheat grains are plumper than those grown elsewhere? Surely you know that we can grow huge cabbages and pumpkins? Did you know that many of our flowers have bigger blooms than elsewhere?

All of these things I know about, but I do not know why they happen. I can hypothesize that it all has to do with our long summer days and the assumption that plants must do something with all those sugars they are making while the sun it out. Alaska grown carrots and potatoes are sweeter and cook up faster. Anyone who has eaten or cooked with locally grown food knows this. But what makes this occur?

Plant physiology is a field of science that studies the processes that occur in plants. These processes are typically grouped into three areas: nutrition, growth and response to environment. The first two areas are very well studied and, if you are interested, there is quite a bit of information about how nutrients are taken up, moved around the plant and transformed. There is also a very good understanding about the processes concerned with plant growth, such as cell division, reproduction and cell development.

The third area, plant response to the environment, is actively being studied in crops around the world. However, in Alaska, we do not have a plant physiologist to conduct the studies needed to understand why our crops are different (more antioxidants, bigger seeds, bigger blooms, etc.). Our crops do develop differently in very economically important ways, and we should be able to take advantage of this by developing a global export economy.

Certainly high-end restaurants would be willing to pay top dollar for the sweet carrots and potatoes we produce here. Our Alaska grown peonies are superior in so many ways to other peonies and they do get top dollar, thanks to the hard work of the Alaska Peony Growers Association. And what about our plumper grains? Is there a market for them?

At present, our farmers mostly sell all they produce here in Alaska. What happens if New York City wants all the carrots we grow? I think if there is a demand, there will be farmers who will fill the production gap.

I am somewhat bothered that I do not understand the plant physiology that makes the crops grown here different from those same crops grown elsewhere. I am even more bothered that we are not taking advantage of those differences. But I am most bothered that I do not know how to do the marketing to make our crops a desired product around the world. The peony growers are making important inroads, and it helps that our peonies have a timing advantage so that we have blooms when no one else does and that our peonies are larger in size and more brilliant in color.

The Alaska Division of Agriculture, with its tiny staff and budget, has accomplished many things with its Alaska Grown campaign, Farm to School efforts and so many other valuable projects. But where do we go from here? How do we make the world know we have better produce and they can have some if they are willing to pay? And how do we increase the number of farms needed to produce the quantities the world will demand once they taste our produce?

All of this will need some investment. Agriculture could be an amazing economic resource for Alaska — and it is an economic resource that is renewable. In this time of economic uncertainty, why not invest in industries that will build Alaska’s economy? Bottom line: I am bothered that people do not understand the importance and potential of agriculture in Alaska. So, how do I educate the public and our government representatives so that they understand the potential? It looks like I have a lot more work to do.

Steven Seefeldt is the Tanana District agriculture and horticulture agent for the Cooperative Extension Service, a part of the University of Alaska Fairbanks, working in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. He can be reached at 907-474-2423 or ssseefeldt@alaska.edu.

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Aggie Creek Fire Update July 1

Date of Detection: June 22, 2015 at 2:54 PM
Current Size: 15,601 acres (size decreased with more accurate mapping)
Location: 30 miles North West of Fairbanks along the Elliot Highway
Legal Description: 65° 12’ 0” x 148° 19’ 0”
Containment:  15%
Incident Cost:  $1,710,434.00

Hot Shot Crews 2
Type II Hand  Crews 7
IA Crews 2
CRC 3
Type I Helicopter 1
Type 3 Helicopter 1
Engines 1
Dozer 2
Masticator 1

Remarks:
This fire is being managed by the Great Basin Incident Command Team 3, Mark Rosenthal, Incident Commander (IC).

There is low fire behavior with smoldering, creeping in surface fuels and occasional torching in black spruce.  Extensive areas along the fire perimeter and within the interior contain heat with limited active burning.  Mostly cloudy conditions, reduced area smoke contributed to temperatures around 70° and relative humidity in the 40% range.

Heavy smoke can reduce visibility for motorists traveling along the Elliot Highway.  High speed vehicle traffic along the Elliot Highway, A National Scenic Byway, poses a significant safety concern to firefighters.   Please slow down and watch out for fire personnel.

The Hayes Creek fire is in aerial monitor status.

While there was no moisture on the fire overnight the forecast is for morning rain being with it cooler temperatures and higher humidity.  The long range weather forecast calls for a warming trend with less precipitation.  As the temperature’s rise, so does fire activity.

Fire Hazards:
The Alyeska Trans-Alaska Pipeline, fiber optic cable and the Elliot Highway between mile markers 33 and 34, where the fire has crossed the highway.

Threatened Structures:   28 single residences, 24 other minor structures – No evacuations at this time.

Damaged or Destroyed Structures:   None, at this time.

Closures:   There is a Temporary Closure Order for the Western Portion of the White Mountains National Recreation Area (see separate Closure Notice).

Dorothy Harvey
IT Specialist
Battle Mountain District Office

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ADOT&PF to Operate Race-Neutral DBE Program

(JUNEAU, Alaska) – The Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities (ADOT&PF) has received approval from the Federal Highway Administration to operate a race-neutral Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) program to be achieved without affirmative actions. Specifically, prime contractors are no longer required to use DBE’s as a condition of award.

ADOT&PF was granted the change because Alaska’s contractors know the value of using smaller businesses as subcontractors and support the establishment and growth of minority owned and operated business.

ADOT&PF Civil Rights Office staff has worked to educate small businesses to the advantages of being a certified DBE. The department developed a web based self-registration process where prime contractors can quickly and easily identify DBEs interested and available for work on a project. These tools and education opportunities will continue to be developed in order to keep the department’s race neutral status with FHWA.

Persons seeking information regarding the race-neutral DBE Program plan may contact Dennis Good, Civil Rights Office Manager, at 907-269-0848 or dennis.good@alaska.gov.

More information about ADOT&PF’s DBE program may be found at http://dotcivilrights.alaska.gov.

The Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities oversees 249 airports, 11 ferries serving 35 communities, 5,619 miles of highway and 720 public facilities throughout the state of Alaska. The mission of the department is to Keep Alaska Moving through service and infrastructure.

Jeremy Woodrow
907-465-8994
Jeremy.Woodrow@alaska.gov

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Photo of the July 1

Photo taken on the Clearwater River. The wildflower is a “willow herb”
Dwight Phillips

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Slow Down The Aging Process

A Few Years Later . . .

Aging is inevitable, but are you aging faster than you really need to? Apparently, there are foods and lifestyles that can cause you to look and feel older.

As I investigated this topic, I found some interesting ideas like “sleeping on your side or belly and smooshing your face into the pillow can cause wrinkles.” The advice for that habit was to get a satin pillowcase. Okay that’s an easy fix. We are told that getting seven to eight hours of sleep a night does wonders for your looks and your attitude.

Several studies show that chronic stress triggers the release of free radicals, the unstable molecules that damage cells and are responsible for aging.

“People think multitasking is good, but you don’t actually get anything done — you just create more stress,” says Dr. Raymond Casciari, chief medical officer of St. Joseph Hospital in Orange, Calif. Instead of trying to do it all, Casciari suggests concentrating on one task at a time and only moving on once you finish it. Okay, I’ll put that on the list of things to work on.

There is a process in your body called glycation that happens when you eat more sugar than your body can process at one time or over time. “This process can rob you of your youthful glow — creating dark circles under the eyes, loss of tone, puffiness, an increase in fine lines and wrinkles and a loss of facial contours and increased pore size,” according to Dr. Susan Stuart, a San Diego, Calif., board-certified dermatologist. So eating less sugar can help maintain a more youthful appearance. Okay what else?

Sitting. Long periods of sitting. Dr. Casciari suggests that when you sit more than 30 minutes your body starts depositing more sugar in your cells, which can cause weight problems. He suggests getting up and moving around every 30 minutes or so. Is that why I feel sluggish when I sit at my computer for long periods of time? Interesting.

A study from the British Journal of Sports Medicine states, “The dangers of a sedentary lifestyle are well-documented: People who spend most of their days parked in a chair are at increased risk for kidney disease, cardiovascular disease and cancer. So exercising regularly helps to prevent these health issues and keeps you living longer.” Study participants who exercised 150 minutes or more a week lived 10 to 13 years longer than the inactive bunch.

Living in a low humidity environment takes its toll. About 40 to 60 percent humidity is optimal for glowing skin. Relative humidity in Fairbanks ranges from 44 percent in May to 76 percent in January. Not bad, you say … that is outside relative humidity. The humidity inside our homes when we heat them up goes down. You can combat that with a pot of water on the woodstove or a humidifier in winter, being careful about frost on the windows that can melt and create mold on the sills. Drink lots of water.

Slouching can affect a healthy, vigorous appearance and as we age our slouch can become a spinal deformity. Hours spent hunched over a keyboard, an electronic device or a book and slouching in front of the TV — all of that can add up to back problems or a spine that loses its natural curve of support. Check in with your posture throughout the day. Pull your ears up as you let your shoulders drape over your hips, your hips over your knees, knees over ankles. Stand or sit with ease and elegance, in alignment, to keep your spine healthy as you age.

Another tip I read over and over was to eat plenty of dark-colored vegetables. The antioxidants help deal with free radicals that can damage healthy cells in the body. So eat well, play or exercise frequently, drink lots of water, interrupt long periods of sitting with movement, stop slouching and focus on what you are doing. Sounds like the same list my mother had for me many decades ago. What’s on your list?

Marsha Munsell is a health, home and family development program assistant for the Cooperative Extension Service, a part of the University of Alaska Fairbanks, working in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Contact her at 907-474-5414 or mkmunsell@alaska.edu.

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Photo of the day June 30

Sunday morning and no smoke. Breathing clean air once again.
Photo by Carol Dufendach

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Attention Women: BCDC Will Be in Delta Junction July 8 & 9

bcdcMammograms can be scheduled now through the Breast Cancer Detection Center (BCDC) of Alaska.  BCDC will be in Delta Junction July 8 and 9, 2015.

Call 1 800-464-4577 to make an appointment.

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Leslie Wheeless, Nurse Practitioner at Interior Alaska Medical Clinic

intclinicLeslie Wheeless, Nurse Practitioner is covering at the Interior Alaska Medical Clinic through July 2.

Leslie’s specialty is women’s health services

Call to make an appointment with her! (907) 895-6233

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If A Natural Disaster Strikes – How to Survive

The recent flooding in Texas, Oklahoma and Arkansas has been on my mind as we have seen the destruction left behind. It has also started me thinking about what each of us can do to make sure that if a flood or any other natural disaster comes we will survive with minimal expense and disruption to our lives. Whether it’s a flood, a wildfire or an earthquake, make sure you are ready to evacuate if necessary.

If you have to evacuate, remember the five Ps of evacuation – people, prescriptions, papers, personal needs and priceless items.

People are the most important factor to consider. Make a family disaster plan so everyone will know where to check in when a disaster occurs. Experts say to have a distant place or phone that everyone can call in case of an emergency. When an emergency occurs, local phone traffic may be limited and it may be easier to reach someone far away. Make sure that everyone in the family knows whom to call, and remember that even when the signal isn’t strong enough for a cell phone call to go through, it may be possible to text. Make sure everyone knows whom to contact and what that number is.

Prescriptions are also important. Make sure you don’t forget your medicine when you evacuate. Leaving your medicine behind may place your health at risk at a time you can least afford it, and you might have difficulties getting medicines replaced. Prescriptions should be organized and easy to grab in case of an evacuation.

Important legal papers will be needed, so make sure yours are handy. Birth certificates, car registrations, health insurance cards, proof of insurance and social security cards can all be replaced, but it takes time. Make sure yours are in an easy-to-reach file that you can grab as you evacuate. Some people keep their important papers in a portable file box. If you keep yours in a file cabinet or certain drawer in the desk, make sure they are in the same file so you don’t have to rifle through lots of paperwork as you head out the door. Phone numbers and policies of insurance companies will be extremely important in case you have to file a claim after the emergency.

Personal needs items make you comfortable. Clean clothes or a toothbrush can make you feel at home even if you are in a shelter. Take a child’s favorite toy or your favorite pillow if it brings you comfort.

What is it that you would miss most if it were no longer there? Daddy’s guns or momma’s watch may not mean much for your ultimate survival, but heritage is important to many of us. I’m not saying you should risk life and limb to load grandmother’s furniture, but easily carried keepsakes can be put in the car as you evacuate. Think about those priceless items that would be impossible to replace and take them with you.

For many of us the 6th P in this list should be our pets. With the number of wildfires that are going on in Alaska right now, it is important that we also plan to evacuate with our pets.  Next week check us for information on how to ensure the health and safety of your pets as you evacuate.

The bottom line is to evacuate when you are told to go. Don’t risk your life or your family’s by figuring you can tough it out. As soon as you are alerted to the possibility of evacuation, start gathering important items and get them ready to go. When the order comes, you will be ready to move out. The order to evacuate is not given lightly, so follow the instructions of emergency personnel. Your survival may depend on it.

roxie
Roxie Rodgers Dinstel is associate director of Cooperative Extension Service, a part of the University of Alaska Fairbanks, working in cooperation with the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Questions or column requests can be e-mailed to her at rrdinstel@alaska.edu or by calling 907-474-7201.

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Vacation Bible School at Delta Presbyterian – Faith Lutheran Church

vbs_dpflcChildren ages 5 through 8 are invited to register for a fun-filled Vacation Bible School at Delta Presbyterian – Faith Lutheran Church.

VBS will be Monday through Friday, July 6-10, meeting daily from 6 to 8 pm; a potluck picnic on Saturday, July 11, noon to 4 pm will conclude the program.

Please register by calling 895-4322 and leave a message with name(s) and age(s).

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USARTRAK System Update on July 20, 2015

newpermitAll current recreational access permit holders will need to re-register and obtain a new access pass on or after July 20.

Why the Up-Date?
Faster and more reliable access to online and telephonic users.
Provide more areas accessible to recreation in Donnelly Training Area West
Communicate training area road closures in real time both online and telephonically.
Will allow for training area check-in online, telephonically or by smart phone.

For more information:
On-line: http://usartrak.isportsman.net to get a permit or check into USARTRAK
By phone: 353-3181 within Fairbanks area; 873-3181 in Delta Junction or toll free at 877-250-9781

usarak

Shawn Osborn
Fort Wainwright Natural Resources
Forester/Outdoor Recreation Specialist
Fuels Crew Coordinator

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Photo of the day June 29

Rainbow Mountain seen from McCallum site. Photo by Scott Skaleski

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Aggie Creek Fire Update June 29, 2015

Date of Detection: June 22, 2015 at 2:54 PM
Current Size: 14,448 acres (size decreased with more accurate mapping)
Location: 30 miles North West of Fairbanks along the Elliot Highway
Legal Description: 65° 12’ 0” x 148° 19’ 0”
Containment: 5%
Incident Cost:  $951,189.00

Resources on Fire:  There are currently 294 personnel on this incident, including the following resources:

Hot Shot Crews 2
Type II hand Crews 7
IA Crews 2
CRC 3
Water Tenders 1
Type 1 Helicopter 1
Type 3 Helicopter 1
Dozer 2
Masticator 1

Remarks:
This fire is being managed by the Great Basin Incident Command Team 3, Mark Rosenthal, Incident Commander (IC).  Resources have started to come in and are being deployed.

There was moderate fire behavior today with smoldering and surface burning.  Fire fighters were able to hit portions of the fire directly today and were able to put a containment line around about 5% of the fire along the Northwest edge.  Light showers occurred in the early morning with afternoon temperatures in the low 60’s and relative humidity in the 70% range.

Excessive traffic speed through the fire area along the Elliot Highway poses a real threat to motorists as well as firefighters.  Please slow down and watch out for fire personnel.

The Hayes fire is in aerial monitor status.

The weather forecast calls for a warming trend with less precipitation.  As the temperature’s rise, so does fire activity.

Fire Hazards:
The Alyeska Trans-Alaska Pipeline, fiber optic cable and the Elliot Highway between mile markers 33 and 34, where the fire has crossed the highway.

Threatened Structures:   28 single residences, 24 other minor structures – No evacuations at this time.

Damaged or Destroyed Structures:   None, at this time.

Closures:   There is a Temporary Closure Order for the Western Portion of the White Mountains National Recreation Area (see separate Closure Notice).

Dorothy Harvey
IT Specialist
Battle Mountain District Office

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Mystery Photo Winner for June 22 – 29

The winner of last week’s mystery photo is Daniel Klein

The mystery photo is the Arctic Monkey Garage located in the center of town.

We had 13 correct entries this week.

Daniel will receive a gift certificate from the Buffalo Center Drive-In, courtesy of John and Linda Sloan

Thank you for each one that submitted their guess.

Thank you John and Linda Sloan.

 

 


Website

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Western Portion of White Mountains National Recreation Area Temporarily Closed Due to Fire Activity

FAIRBANKS, AK — The Bureau of Land Management’s Eastern Interior Field Office has temporarily closed public access to the western portion of the White Mountains National Recreation Area due to ongoing wildland fire activity associated with the Aggie Creek Fire.

The closure includes the Wickersham Dome Trailhead (Mile 28 Elliott Highway), which will be used as a base camp for firefighters.  Also closed are portions of the Wickersham Creek and Trail Creek trails, the Moose Creek Trail, Summit Trail, Lee’s Cabin, Eleazar’s Cabin, the Summit Trail Shelter, and the Wickersham Creek Trail Shelter.

Contact:  Craig McCaa, cmccaa@blm.gov
907-474-2231

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Aggie Creek Fire Update June 28, 2015

aggiefireContact Fire Information: 907-347-2637 – Hours: 9 a.m. – 10 p.m.
http://inciweb.nwcg.gov/

Date of Detection: June 22, 2015 at 2:54 PM
Current Size: 15,354 acres (size may increase or decrease with more accurate mapping)
Location: 30 miles North West of Fairbanks along the Elliot Highway
Legal Description: 65° 12’ 0” x 148° 19’ 0”
Containment: 0%
Incident Cost:  $658,322

Resources on Fire:  There are currently 294 personnel on this incident, including the following resources:

Hot Shot Crews 2
Type II hand Crews 7
IA Crews 1
CRC 2
Water Tenders 1
Type 1 Helicopter 1
Type 3 Helicopter 1

Remarks:
This fire is being managed by the Great Basin Incident Command Team 3, Mark Rosenthal, Incident Commander (IC).  Resources have started to come in and are being deployed.

There was moderate fire behavior today with smoldering, surface burning and occasional torching in black spruce.  Extensive areas along the fire perimeter and within the interior contain heat but did not produce active burning.  Light showers occurred most of the day with afternoon temperatures in the 50’s and relative humidity in the 80 to 100% range.

Excessive traffic speed through the fire area along the Elliot Highway poses a real threat to motorists as well as firefighters.  Please slow down and watch out for fire personnel.

The Hayes fire has been added to the team’s suppression responsibilities and one crew hit it hard in an attempt to put it in monitor status.   They are very close to accomplishing that.

The weather forecast calls for a warming trend with less precipitation.  As the temperature’s rise so does the fire activity.

Fire Hazards:
The Alyeska Trans-Alaska Pipeline, fiber optic cable and the Elliot Highway between mile markers 33 and 34.

Threatened Structures:   28 single residences, 24 other minor structures – No evacuations at this time.

Damaged or Destroyed Structures:   None, at this time.

Closures:   There is a Temporary Closure Order for the Western Portion of the White Mountains National Recreation Area (see separate Closure Notice).

Dorothy Harvey
IT Specialist
Battle Mountain District Office

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Photo of the day June 26

This cow with her newborn calf was thinking to herself, “I’ll bet we can stand here in the rain and mosquitoes longer than that photographer can.” But I showed them and just let those mosquitoes suck on me as much as they wanted. Photo by Steve DuBois

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Department of Motor Vehicles Closed July 14 – 18

Delta Department of Motor Vehicles will be closed July 14th thru July 18th for family medical leave.

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Photo of the day June 25

Lower Suzy Q Creek
This alpine creek flows underneath the old wooden, steel and concrete bridge for the Richardson Highway.
Sebastian Saarloos

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White Mountains Nome Creek Area Temporarily Closed Due to Fire Activity

FAIRBANKS, AK — The Bureau of Land Management’s Eastern Interior Field Office has temporarily closed public access to the Nome Creek area in the White Mountains National Recreation Area due to ongoing wildland fire activity near US Creek.

The closure includes the Ophir Creek Campground, Mt. Prindle Campground, Table Top Mountain Trail, Quartz Creek Trail, and Nome Creek Road.

The Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities yesterday closed the US Creek Road, which provides the only road access to Nome Creek from the Steese Highway.

Thomas Jennings
Bureau of Land Management

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Don’t Get Burned by Summer Home Remodels

Anchorage, Alaska — June 22, 2015 — Summer may be the ideal time for a home makeover, but Better Business Bureau warns of impostor contractors who not only end up doing shoddy work, but costing consumers thousands of dollars.

Last month, more than 43,000 consumers turned to BBB serving Alaska, Oregon and Western Washington for information on contractors and remodeling services. According to the United States Census Bureau, homeowners spend more than $3,000 a year on home improvement projects.

Sadly many of these projects end up turning into a costly disaster. BBB receives thousands of complaints on contractors and home remodeling companies each year.

While most contractors follow the rules, BBB advises homeowners to first nail down a plan before choosing a contractor for pricey jobs.

  • Research companies. Collect as much information as possible about a business including permanent addresses, telephone numbers, tax ID numbers and business licenses. Use bbb.org to find quality local contractors.
  • Check insurance coverage. Ask to see copies of liability coverage and workers’ compensation certificates. If contractors aren’t properly insured, homeowners may be liable for accidents that happen on their properties; ensure that coverage runs through job completions.
  • Examine licensing and bonding. Make sure business are properly licensed and bonded. If overlooked, homeowners may be stuck with a lien on their home if subcontracts don’t get paid.
  • Request references. Ask contractors for lists of completed projects and double-check with previous customers. Real customer reviews on local businesses are available at bbb.org.
  • Get a written contract. Get the entire project description in writing. Understand warranties and any provisions that may void them. Have the contract include details on workmanship, payment schedule and finish date.
  • Avoid large upfront payments. The initial payment should not exceed $1,000 or 10 percent of the total contract, and only pay for work that has been satisfactorily completed. Never sign a blank or partially-filled agreement, and always retain copies.

Finding the right company for the right job takes a little work, but it will be worth it in the end. Alaskans can visit the Alaska Department of Commerce’s website for more tips on hiring a contractor. To find reputable local contractors, visit BBB’s Accredited Business online directory.

Michelle Tabler, Alaska Regional Manager: 907-644-5208 | michelle.tabler@thebbb.org
David Quinlan, Vice President of Marketing: 206-676-4119

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Interior Department Supported $358 Billion in Economic Activity, 2 Million Jobs in 2014

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Secretary of the Interior Sally Jewell today released a report showing that the various activities of the Department of the Interior contributed $358 billion to the U.S. economy in 2014, supporting more than two million jobs across the country.

“This report demonstrates once again that the Department of the Interior is a powerful economic engine,” Jewell said. “Our parks and public lands support outdoor recreation, promote renewable energy and allow us to harness other domestic energy resources, create jobs and promote economic development in communities across all 50 states.”

The U.S. Department of the Interior’s Economic Report for Fiscal Year 2014 found that national parks, national wildlife refuges, national monuments and other public lands managed by Interior hosted an estimated 423 million recreational visits in 2014 – up from 407 million in 2013 – and that these visits alone supported $42 billion in economic output and about 375,000 jobs nationwide. This year’s report is paired with a web-based data visualization tool that lets the user customize the contribution analysis by bureau, activity or state.

Jewell has stressed the importance of continuing the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF), which is set to expire on September 30, 2015, unless Congress acts to reauthorize the fund. The LWCF provides money for federal, state and local government purchases of land, water and wetlands, from federal oil and gas leases on the Outer Continental Shelf. President Obama has called for fully funding the LWCF at $900 million beginning in 2016.

Some highlights from the report include:

Recreation: National parks, national wildlife refuges and other lands managed by the Department hosted an estimated 423 million visits, supporting $42 billion in economic output and about 375,000 jobs.

Renewable Energy: Interior lands and facilities produced 38 million megawatt hours (MWh) of hydropower, enough to power about 3.5 million homes. In 2014 the Bureau of Land Management and the Bureau of Indian Affairs approved the installation of 768 MW in new solar energy projects on public and tribal lands. Renewable energy activities supported an estimated $3 billion in economic output, resulting in about 13,000 jobs.

Fossil Fuel Energy: Fossil fuel energy produced from Interior lands in 2014 included 706 million barrels of crude oil, 3.8 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, and 421 million tons of coal, supporting $230 billion in economic output and over one million jobs.

Non-fuel (Hardrock) Minerals: Hardrock mining on Interior lands produced a wide variety of minerals, including an estimated 2.5 million troy ounces of gold, and supported about $12 billion in economic output and over 42,000 jobs.

Forage and Grazing: Interior lands produced more than 10 million animal unit months of forage in 2014. Forage and grazing activities supported $1.4 billion in economic output and about 17,000 jobs.

Timber: Over half a billion board feet of timber harvested on BLM and tribal lands supported $0.8 billion in economic output and about 3,800 jobs.

Water: The Bureau of Reclamation and the BIA store and deliver water for agricultural, municipal and industrial users, supporting $51 billion in economic output and 379,000 jobs in 2014.

Grants and Payments: Grant and payment programs administered by Interior support activities such as reclamation of abandoned mine lands, historic preservation, habitat conservation, and tribal governance. These activities supported $10 billion in economic output and 99,000 jobs in 2014.

Prepared by the Department’s Office of Policy Analysis, the report is the sixth in a series of annual economic reports published since 2009. The estimated $358 billion in economic output is related to a variety of Interior’s activities including: tourism and outdoor recreation at parks, monuments and refuges, water management, energy and mineral development on public lands, wildlife conservation, hunting and fishing, support for American Indian tribal communities and U.S. island territories , as well as scientific research and innovation endeavors.

Jewell noted that many of Interior’s activities—such as scientific research and conservation of parks, wetlands and wildlife habitat—have economic values that are not easily calculated, and are not included in the report’s totals.

“While this report quantifies some of the economic benefits of public lands, the full value of our lands and historic sites cannot be expressed in dollars,” said Jewell. “Many of these are simply priceless treasures that belong to all Americans and define our cultural, historic and natural heritage for present and future generations. They provide us with clean water, clean air and habitat for a rich diversity of plant and animal species that depend on healthy public lands and waters, in addition to breathing space for our growing population.”

Thomas Jennings
Bureau of Land Management

 

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Opera Fairbanks Free Summer Concert Friday, June 26

operafaiFairbanks, Alaska (AK) – Opera Fairbanks announces its 2015 Free Summer Community Concert.  For the past several years, Opera Fairbanks has provided a free concert to Interior residents featuring the Opera Fairbanks orchestra, and integral part of each Opera Fairbanks production.

Opera Fairbanks Artistic Director Gregory Buchalter of the Metropolitan Opera noted “I am always excited each summer to work with the wonderfully talented instrumentalists in Fairbanks who play for us.  The annual free concert is both a previous of the opera and also a chance for us to do our own thing on stage as opposed to being unseen in the orchestra pit for the production.  Because the orchestration is rich and colorful in Hansel and Gretel and because the composer, Engelbert Humperdinck studied with Wagner and was greatly influenced by him, I felt it necessary to include Wagner in the concert.  We will be playing the majesty Overture to his Die Meistersinger.  The featured work on the program will be another beautifully textured work, Dvorák’s very famous New World Symphony.”

This year’s concert is sponsored in part by Holland America Line, Inc. and  will take place on Friday, June 26 at 7:00 p.m. in Davis Concert Hall at the University of Alaska Fairbanks campus.  Musical selections will also include excerpts from the upcoming production of Hansel and Gretel, sung by principal vocalists Jamie-Rose Guarrine, Maya Lahyani, and David Cangelosi.

About Opera Fairbanks:  Located in Interior Alaska, Opera Fairbanks is the farthest-north professional opera production company in the United States.  Founded in December 2005 by Cassandra Tilly, Theresa Reed, James Holm, and Morgan Reed, it is the only professional company in  Interior Alaska solely devoted to opera production and education.

Cassandra Tilly
Executive Director
Opera Fairbanks
907.479.7372
Info@operafairbanks.org

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Photo of the day June 24

On June 2nd I drove to Fairbanks from Delta Junction (about 100 miles). In-route, I stopped to snap a couple photos from a popular vantage point. When I’d left Delta it was quite foggy and the fog was clearing as I reached this point. It was a beautiful beginning to a day I’ll never forget. This image was taken around 5 AM. Dwight Phillips

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Crowley Introduces Career Opportunities to Alaska Native Middle School Students in Valdez

(VALDEZ, Alaska; June 23, 2015) ­– Crowley Maritime Corp. recently sponsored a week of cultural, team building and learning activities for Yakutat and Gilson Middle School students in Valdez, as a part of a larger effort to expose Alaska Natives to the many diverse career opportunities that exist within the state’s maritime industry.

middleschoolThe group of 16 students – 10 of whom were Native Alaskans – first toured Crowley’s Valdez office and spent time at Alyeska Pipeline Service Company’s Ship Escort/Response Vessel System (SERVS), where Mike Day, SERVS operations manager, provided an overview of daily operations in Valdez and explained SERVS’ partnership with Crowley. The students then had the opportunity to meet with several Alaska Natives who sail aboard Crowley’s vessels, and toured Allison Point, Solomon Gulch, the Old Valdez Town Site, Maxine & Jesse Whitney Museum, Prince William Sound Community College and the Valdez Senior Center. At the Valdez Senior Center, the group connected with the elders by performing songs and introducing themselves in their native language, as a way to “breathe life” back into their shared traditional upbringings and Tlingit heritage.

Finally, the students enjoyed an educational tour of the Valdez Museum and participated in the Valdez High School career fair, which gave them the opportunity to meet business leaders from across the state. An evening barbecue at Dock Point Pavilion introduced the students to Crowley office personnel and Betty McIntyre, an Alaskan Native advocate in Valdez.

“It was a pleasure to be a part of their success for the week,” said Crowley’s Tom Hancock, assistant port captain, who guided the students through the week’s activities. “I look forward to providing the same type of eye opening, cultural and community outreach program to another group of Alaska Native Middle School Students in the future.”

In addition to offering shoreside and vessel employment opportunities to Alaska residents, Crowley also provides state-wide scholarships and support within the communities in which the company does business. To learn more about the opportunities Crowley offers Natives, please read the recent article – Crowley Alaska: Dedicated to Creating Lifelong Opportunities for Natives in the last edition of Crowley Connections magazine.

For more than 60 years, Crowley has been a leader in the Alaska fuel industry, providing transportation, distribution and sales of petroleum products to more than 280 communities across Alaska. Crowley supports the energy industry on the North Slope with summer sealifts of large production modules and various marine transportation services. At the southern terminus of the trans-Alaska oil pipeline, Crowley provides tanker escort and docking services in Valdez Harbor and Prince William Sound for Alyeska Pipeline Service Company’s Ship Escort/Response Vessel System, utilizing some of the most technologically advanced and powerful tugboats in the world. To learn more about Crowley in Alaska, visit: www.crowleyalaska.com.

To learn more about Crowley Maritime Corporation, the 123-year-old, privately held company providing marine solutions, energy and logistics services around the world, please visit: www.crowley.com.

crowley

Amelia Smith/Manager
Corporate Communications
Crowley Maritime Corp

 

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Photo of the day June 23

“Summit Fisherman”
Fishing in Alaska can be a beautiful experience! Here I am at Summit Lake, along the Richardson Highway on this particular Saturday morning.
Sebastian Saarloos

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Celebrate Bob Webb’s 90th Birthday ~ July 11

ussgunstonhallJoin us in celebrating Bob Webb’s 90th birthday and all of his Navy Accomplishments where food will be served and stories will be told.

Local Veterans, Friends, Sing Alonger’s, and Family are welcome!

 

bobwebb
When: July 11th at 4:00 PM
Where: Pioneer Pavilion here in Delta
RSVP: Please RSVP by July 4th by calling 907-895-4835 or emailing mimists@hotmail.com

bobwebb2

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Friday Dinner Menu Rika’s Roadhouse Cafe & Gifts ~ June 26

italy

Dinner Menu:
Veggie & Meat Lasagna
Shrimp Scampi
Chicken Alfredo
Spaghetti with Meatballs

Fresh Green Garden Salad

 

Price:
Adults $20
Kids $12.50
Under 5 FREE

Please join us for a taste of Italy. We also have PIE and ice cream!

rikasBig Delta State Park
Richardson Hwy
Delta Junction, Alaska

Friday, June 26
5:30 – 7:30pm

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Delta-Clearwater Seniors are sponsoring an AARP driver’s refresher course ~ June 30

The class will be held at the Delta-Clearwater Senior Lounge in the Community Center at 10:00 AM and will include about 4 hours of instruction.

If you are a current AARP member, the cost is $15.00.  Non-members will be charged $20.00.

Some insurance companies offer a discount on insurance premium for successful completion of the course.

Please contact Doris Fales at 895-4502 for further information and/or to register.  Please register as soon as possible!

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Fort Wainwright updates recreational access system

FORT WAINWRIGHT, Alaska – Fort Wainwright will launch an updated version of its automated recreational access system, USARTRAK, July 20.  The update will require all current recreational access permit holders to re-register and obtain a new, free access pass for all recreation activities.  After July 20, previously obtained access permits will no longer be valid.

The upgraded system found at http://usartrak.isportsman.net will have the following benefits for registered users:

• Faster and more reliable access to online and telephonic users in determining which military lands are accessible to all forms of recreation;

• Provide more areas accessible to recreation in Donnelly Training Area West;

• Communicate training area road closures in real time both online and telephonically;

• Will allow for training area check-in online, telephonically or by smart phone.

The USARTRAK update will better inform moose hunters of available land during general moose season Aug. 28 and run through Sept. 30.  Information about available and restricted lands will be published through the USARTRAK iSportsman online site.

All sportsmen 16 and older may register for a free access permit at the above website or at one of three kiosk locations:  Fort Wainwright Visitors Center, Fort Greely visitors Center, and the Fort Wainwright Natural Resource Office.

Fort Wainwright and U.S. Army Alaska (USARAK) will publish a list of the available Interior Alaska military lands available for moose hunting four weeks ahead of the normal timetable this year. The early announcement will be made no later than July 17 to allow hunters to better schedule and resource their hunts.

To ensure the safety of both sportsmen and Army personnel, Fort Wainwright Law Enforcement in partnership with Alaska Wildlife Troopers, will significantly increase active patrolling and enforcement of hunting regulations on military lands. Sportsmen will need to be extra vigilant to ensure they are accessing only those lands available to public recreation.

The Army reserves the right to adjust the available lands for hunting in order to facilitate unscheduled critical training in support of worldwide deployments. Maintaining military readiness to respond to worldwide contingencies is our No. 1 priority.

For more information, contact the Fort Wainwright Natural Resource Office at (907) 361-9686 during normal business hours from 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. If no one is available to take your call please leave a message and they will return your call.

John Pennell
Public Affairs Office

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Photo of the day June 22

O Lord! How majestic is Your name in all the earth!  Beautiful mountains on my way out of Delta for the Aglow Transformation Village Mission team. Photo by Fran Hallgren

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Mystery Photo Winner for June 15 – 21

The winner of last week’s mystery photo is Cheryl Cooper

The mystery photo is the Come Again sign at the Delta Junction Visitor Center.

We had 7 correct entries this week.

Cheryl will receive a gift certificate from the Buffalo Center Drive-In, courtesy of John and Linda Sloan
Thank you for each one that submitted their guess.

Thank you John and Linda Sloan.


Website

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Photo of the day June 20

Violet-green Swallows are small and sleek, iridescent violet-green above and white below. The sides of their heads are white, with the white extending above the eye. Their tails are moderately forked. The white of the undersides extends up the sides of the rump forming two white patches. Photo by Dwight Phillips

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Photo of the day June 19

Healy Lake fire from my living room June 17 2015, amazingly at 11PM
Photo by Kris Alfonsi

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Wells Fargo donates $5,000 for American Red Cross of Alaska wildfire relief efforts, ATMs to accept donations

wellsfargoANCHORAGE – June 18, 2015 – Wells Fargo & Company (NYSE: WFC) will donate $5,000 for relief efforts to support those impacted by the Card Street and Sockeye wildfires. Additionally, from June 19 through July 1, Wells Fargo customers can donate to the American Red Cross of Alaska at any of Wells Fargo’s 116 ATMs across the state. Customers will not be charged a fee for using this service and 100 percent of the donations will be sent to the American Red Cross of Alaska.

“Wells Fargo is committed to doing our part to help our Alaskan friends and neighbors affected by the wildfires,” said Joe Everhart, Wells Fargo Alaska regional president. “Our hearts and prayers go out to those who have lost their homes and personal treasures, and those still in the path of the blazes. We greatly appreciate everything the firefighters, first responders, volunteers, and Red Cross are doing to help protect and support those impacted by the wildfires.”

Customers impacted by the wildfires may discuss their financial options by contacting Wells Fargo 24 hours a day, seven days a week at 1-800-TO-WELLS (1-800-869-3557). Customers can also visit their nearest Wells Fargo store.

David Kennedy
Wells Fargo, Alaska Regional Communications Officer

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Photo of the day June 18

Summit Lake and Gulkana Glacier. 80 miles south of Delta.
Photo by Scott Skaleski

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Friday Dinner At Rika’s Roadhouse Café and Gifts

kabobs
Dinner Menu for Friday, June 19
Beef or Chicken Kabobs
Saffron Rice
Fresh Green Garden Salad

Adults $20
Kids $12.50

 

Please join us on a Mediterranean taste adventure!  We will be grilling up delicious beef and chicken kabobs with all the fixins!

rikas

Big Delta State park
Richardson Highway
Delta Junction, Alaska

Friday, June 19
5:30 – 7:30pm

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