The country could face a second round of automatic budget cuts if Congress can’t agree on a spending plan by year’s end.
U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski said at hearing on Wednesday that the sequestration cuts already imposed on the Pentagon are throwing the military off its geostrategic goals.
“Mr. Chairman, I’m so concerned that in an effort to chase the dollars, in an effort to drive down the costs we’re putting our country, we are putting our national defense in jeopardy because decisions are being driven by sequestration and we’re not keeping our eye on the bigger picture,” Murkowski said.
The Alaska Republican said the Air Force’s recently shelved plan to move F-16s fighter jets out Eielson Air Force Base was an example of putting cost-cutting above defense strategy.
Among the unmet needs, Murkowski said, is new rescue helicopters for the Alaska Air National Guard.
Military service chiefs said last week that sequestration is forcing them to cut programs that will ultimately leave the country less prepared to counter global adversaries.
It’s unclear how many thousands of people lost their lives in the typhoon that hit the Philippines. But Bethel’s small Filipino population has been desperately trying to reach family back home to make sure they’re okay.
The Philippines has over 7,000 tropical islands, a far cry from the arctic tundra of Bethel. But Bethel is where about 30 Filipinos, including Guada Thatcher, call home. She moved to Bethel 13 years ago, and now, the petite woman with long black hair sits clutching a tissue as she talks about her father who died in the storm.
“My brother messaged me on Facebook and said that I need to call him right away,” Thatcher says. “And then I called him and find out that he was dead. I was like maybe they got the wrong person, maybe it wasn’t him.”
Her uncle confirmed it was her father. He lived on Bantayun Island where his house collapsed on him. The low-lying island is known for its white-sand beaches, clear water and abundant fish but likely hundreds have perished there. Nearly all of the island’s homes were destroyed.
Thatcher has wanted to make funeral arrangements for her father but there’s no infrastructure. She’s left with this thought:
“He died a hero though,” Thatcher says. “He saved his wife, my step-mom’s life.”
Thatcher’s other family lives in Cebu Province and survived the storm with only damages to their property.
“It’s hard, it’s hard to call them, especially the signal over there,” Thatcher says. “So it’s very hard to keep in touch with your family back home.”
Poor communication had Carmie Lautenschlager on pins and needles throughout the storm.
“I keep on trying to call like every minute for two days I keep on trying to call and then…I didn’t talk to anybody that’s why I keep on crying, what happened to them, you know,” Lautenschlager says.
She has been in Bethel less than a year. Her family lives in Leyte, neighboring Tacloban which was hit with 200 mile per hour winds. Her family’s home lost its roof but Lautenschlager counts herself lucky.
“It’s fine,” Lautenschlager says. “The house can be fixed.”
Her real worry is that her parents might not be able to survive without power.
“They said the electricity there is going to be back in six months,” Lautenschlager says. “So I don’t know how… I told my parents if they can’t, if they can’t survive, I’m going to send them to Manila, I think.”
Manila is a large city further from the devastation.
A few hundreds miles south, in Cebu Province, Glenda Swope’s family survived the high winds. Swope has lived in Bethel for nine years. Although she was able to keep in contact with her family by telephone during the storm she had trouble sleeping at night.
“I was terrified,” Swope says. “I was so terrified and I was crying too.”
She knew the storm was bad. She could hear it for herself.
“Because my sister put the phone out, she put it outside,” Swope says. “It sounded like a jet. Like a jet that is going to, you know, explode.”
Swope is counting her blessings. She says the worst of the storm hit during the day and at low tide. Her parents planned ahead covering their windows with plywood and their roof with sand bags.
But not everyone could afford to be so lucky.
There is a lot of poverty in the Philippines with people living under grass roofs and some just out on the street, says Swope. And there’s over crowding, like in Lapu-Lapu City, her hometown.
“The size is comparable to Bethel,” Swope says. “The population is almost 300,000.”
Bethel has just over 6,000 residents.
Swope and others in the tight-knit Bethel community continue to worry about the victims getting the food and water they need. They’re not sure that the emergency goods are being distributed fairly. But they plan to do what little they can right now. They intend to hold a fund raising garage sale this weekend with profits going to the victims.
Here’s the flyer for the fundraiser.
Fire crews responded to a fire today at the Bethel ME school, which houses pre-school through second grade.
Crews went out at about 12:20 with 3 firefighters, a water truck, an ambulance, and 2 additional city water trucks. Bill Howell is a captain for the Bethel fire department. Upon arrival, he says they found that a detached second grade classroom, Portable #4 was showing smoke.
“We found the building to be charged with heat. We had a heavy fire in one of the restrooms and firefighters at the scene were able to extinguish it before it caught the rest of the building on fire,” said Howell.
Early reports indicated that that it was possible that not all were accounted for, but school leaders and fire crews soon had everyone counted. One person was sent to the hospital to be checked out for smoke inhalation.
The students were evacuated from all of the detached classrooms. ME School Principal Joshua Gill says a quick response by the teacher proved critical.
“Mrs. Hoffman could not have done a more perfect job. This was a very hot fire, a very quick fire. I credit Mrs Hoffman. She saved those kids’ lives. She got them out of the building.she kept them calm, she did a great job,” said Gill.
Gill says the building is likely a loss and they are working to find another classroom for Thursday’s class. No flames escaped the bathroom, but Captain Howell says the heat and smoke were enough to cause damage in the classroom.
“Everything inside the building was damaged with smoke, much of the inside was damaged by heat, a lot of the expense of the fixtures and furnishings were damaged, things like smartboards, projectors,” said Howell.
The exact cause of the fire is still under investigation. The fire department could not say whether or not it was started by a person. The students were all ok, but several of their coats were too smoky to wear home. Gill says they did finish off the school day.
“We did a lot of games to keep the spirit up and keep the worries down. Staff did a great job of collaborating together,” said Gill.
The fire department is continuing its investigation into the cause of the fire.
Gov. Sean Parnell has named Joe Balash as his Natural Resources commissioner.
Balash has served as acting commissioner since September, and he was previously a deputy in the department. He was one of the governor’s point people on the recent overhaul of the state’s oil tax system.
Balash replaces Dan Sullivan, who left his commissioner position to run for U.S. Senate.
Two weeks after the Arctic Hunter ran aground outside Unalaska, state officials are estimating that the boat has released up to 6,000 gallons of diesel fuel into the water.
The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation is basing the estimate on reports from the crew of the crab boat. The crew reported that were carrying five loaded fuel tanks. Salvagers have inspected four of them. Some tanks only contained water, or traces of fuel.
Jade Gamble, with the ADEC, says some were empty, like one that should have contained 3,500 gallons of diesel.
“There’s a hole in the tank, and water – and they could hear water surging in with the waves,” Gamble said.
Gamble says any lost fuel probably spilled in the first few hours after the accident – and once it was released, the diesel dissipated quickly in rough seas.
“It is harder to see than like a crude oil or engine oil or something like that,” Gamble said. “It doesn’t make as thick a layer. And when it’s real silty and real windy and you have waves crashing, it is really hard to identify what’s a sheen and what might just be the surface of the water.”
While it is a pollutant, the diesel couldn’t form a slick like the kind that can coat and harm wildlife.
Gamble says the ADEC may never know exactly how much fuel was lost. But some was recovered: Resolve-Magone Marine Services separated 5,000 gallons of diesel out of a fuel-water mix they pumped out of the crab boat in the days after the accident.
Salvage crews will be looking for fuel in the remaining tank when they return to the wreck late this week. They’ll start trying to get the vessel off the rocks once fuel recovery is complete.
Several organizations around the state have recently asked Governor Parnell to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, including the Anchorage NAACP, the Anchorage Chamber of Commerce and the Alaska Chamber.
The Sitka assembly didn’t go so far as endorsing Medicaid expansion. But at its meeting this week, the assembly passed a resolution asking Parnell and the state legislature to “fully consider” the benefits to Alaskan communities of expanding Medicaid to cover a larger share of the state’s poorest residents.
The US Supreme Court’s ruling on the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act — also known as Obamacare — in the summer of 2012 left open the possibility for states to opt out of the law’s Medicaid provision.
Alaska was one of the states to bring that lawsuit, and Gov. Parnell remains vocal in his opposition to the law, but he hasn’t officially said “no” to the Medicaid option — not yet. He’s mostly worried about having to pick up the bill.
Here’s what he told me when he visited Sitka back in October.
“I can’t trust the federal government to keep its word. I think I can trust the Obama administration that they’re going to fund the next two or three years. I don’t have a problem with that. It’s what happens after that.”
Parnell’s got until December 15 to decide whether to accept the federal government’s offer to increase the number of residents eligible for Medicaid. That’s when he submits his budget to the legislature.
The Sitka assembly did not share the governor’s concern. They mainly wanted to send a message that the bottom line was about getting health coverage for Alaskans too poor to buy it on their own. That — and the actual bottom line.
This is deputy mayor Matt Hunter.
“A lot of the people who would benefit by this would still seek care in Sitka, and receive care in Sitka — for free, because no one pays their bills. Except the rest of us who pay our bills, which are marked up to cover their bills. So, we’re all paying for it, and this would be a huge economic boost. We look at $1-million a year in charity care at Sitka Community Hospital alone — just one of our two hospitals. That’s a lot of money that would be coming into town that isn’t otherwise.”
But the assembly also recognized that the Affordable Care Act was at the heart of an ongoing partisan struggle in Washington DC — a struggle where few have been willing to give up ground, even if it directly benefits low-income citizens or the disabled. According to former Commissioner of Health and Human Services Myra Munson, 41,500 Alaskans will be covered if the state participates in the Medicaid expansion.
Assembly member Pete Esquiro asked city administrator Mark Gorman for his opinion on the issue. Gorman, who’s had a 30-year career in Public Health, said there was no doubt that the expansion would benefit Sitkans and local hospitals, but…
“Where there is reluctance to go in this direction, state houses are run by Republican governors. I think it goes back to the issue that it’s largely a partisan debate.”
Assembly member Ben Miyasato said that there has been no time in the last 40 years that health care has not been a partisan debate. He supported the grassroots nature of the resolution.
“What it will do, if enough communities pass this and get it out there, I think this is more ammunition for the governor to rethink his decision.”
Mike Reif was more trusting than the governor of the Obama administration’s funding plan. He called it “a pretty good deal for states.”
Pete Esquiro hesitated, but eventually cast a “yes” vote. The resolution passed 6-0. Mayor Mim McConnell, who sponsored the resolution with Phyllis Hackett, was out on a family emergency.
According to data supplied in the assembly packet, 18 states have adopted the Medicaid expansion, five are leaning “yes,” five are leaning “no,” 10 are firm “no’s,” and 12 — including Alaska — are undecided.
Some 60 tribal entities from across the country, including more than a dozen from Alaska, have written to ask President Obama to pay them long overdue contract shortfalls.
The Olympic flame traveled by dogsled through the capital of Chukotka in Russia earlier this week. The torch was carried by Russian musher Mikhail Telpin.
The Anchorage Assembly has been crafting an ordinance that will overhaul the permitting process for taxicabs, limousines as well as chauffeurs and dispatch services and other vehicles for hire.
Dozens from the industry testified on the issue at Tuesday’s regular meeting and virtually nobody liked it.
Title 11 is the law that regulates taxicabs and some other pay for service transport in Anchorage as well as the businesses that dispatch them. The Assembly has been taking testimony on a rewrite of the law and at their last meeting residents expressed a wide range of concerns.
Silvia Villamides with Anchorage Cabaret Restaurant Hotel Restaurant and Retailers Association, or CHARR, said the rewrite does not do enough to address safety issues downtown. She also singled out poor service to Eagle River.
“There’s a lot of people downtown and all over our city that we need to service. Eagle River is a major area and we have a lot of members there. And they have no way to get from their house to a restaurant or from the restaurant back home or from a bar or a club or the bowling alley because there’s absolutely no service. And we would appreciate your support in this public safety issue,” Villamides said.
This cab driver said he did not like the rewrite’s restrictions on transferring permits.
“My name is … and I am owner of cab 169 … I have my kids, I have my children. If something happen with me, if accident happen with me I can get a ticket and I can lose my chauffeur license and my permit can be taken away. This is not right. So please I request to consider it and make all permit transferable.”
Rafael Barbosa who also drives a taxi said he did not like stricter rules about the number of criminal convictions that a permit user could have. He also is opposed to new requirements about banning rear wheel drive vehicles.
“For the last three years rear wheel drive worked great. Why just like that all of the sudden overnight they’re no good? Law enforcement use them. We have been using them. I myself work on these particular cars the whole time. They are great cars,” Barbosa said.
Heidi Frost testified that the accessibility section of the ordinance was too vague and did not do enough to protect people with disabilities from discrimination.
“The proposed ordinance has no teeth. Many people will say, ‘why should I worry about this if there aren’t any fines or discipline. We’ve had enough of empty promises. We propose that the enforcement be a large part of this ordinance. Putting fines into the ordinance. Putting some sort of discipline into the ordinance,” Frost said.
Others said taxi stands would improve safety and efficiency for taxi service downtown and expressed concerns that repeated requests for them were being ignored.
The rewrite of the law is around 70 pages long.
The taxi cab ordinance is scheduled to go before the body for action at their next regular meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 19.
A Washington State man who fishes out of Kodiak was sentenced Friday in federal court for four felony violations of the Lacey Act.
Steven Carr of Anacortes was sentenced to five years probation by Judge Sharon Gleason for misreporting where he caught $146,000 in rockfish, primarily Pacific Ocean Perch.
Carr, fishing from the vessel Sea Mac, was participating in the Rockfish Pilot Program in 2008 when he took the rockfish in closed waters near Kodiak. The areas were open only when small Kodiak processors participating in the program were accepting fish.
During four of Carr’s trips in July 2008, the processors in question were not accepting rockfish, according to Assistant U.S. Attorney Bryan Schroder, but Carr fished in the closed areas anyway, and reported the catch came from an open area farther from Kodiak. The U.S. Attorney’s office said Carr also made three similar trips in July 2007, catching about $125,000 in fish.
Bethel Search and Rescue has ended its participation in the search for Nick Cooke and Jim Lee Napoka due to deteriorating weather conditions and the coming freeze up.
Bethel Search and Rescue reports more ice floating past upriver villages. Ice chunks have also seen in Bethel. With freeze up close on the horizon, Bethel Search and Rescue made the call to bring back crews before ice conditions make travel dangerous.
The search is winding down very fast, but there were new assets in use this weekend: The specially trained search dogs Maro and Ruger, plus their handlers from Alaska Search and Rescue Dogs went out Sunday. Earl Samuelson is a pilot for troopers who flew with the team to the mouth of the Kialik river. He says the dogs picked up on a couple scents during a break in the weather.
“There were some possible areas they could focus on in the water. They picked up a couple areas of interest that they could go in and drag the area. Not to say that they’re there or not, they were just of interest,” said Samuelson.
Crews from Tuntuliak will be checking out the areas of interest, but the Bethel based crews have returned to town. Bethel Search and Rescue Chief Mike Riley says there were more than 70 people on site at one point doing water and land searches, on top of extensive air surveys with two airplanes.
“They gave all their efforts in trying to find to two boys down in the Tuntutuliak area,” said Riley. “I want to extend all my thanks to ALL searchers from throughout the area: Kwethluk, Akiachak, Napakiak, Napaskiak, Tuntutuliak, Tuluksak, Eek, Kasigluk. and I’d like to say a big thank you for all efforts.”
Crews camped on site for at least 9 days and went into Tuntutuliak during the bad weather. Samuelson says completing such a thorough search requires great coordination among all parties.
“My hat goes off to all the searchers out there, people who went out on land and water and helped with the air searches. When something of this magnitude happens, it brought a lot of people together and it worked out well. We were hoping for better circumstances, but it’s the way it works out sometimes and we have no control over that,” said Samuelson.
Nick Cooke and Jim Lee Napoka were last heard from three weeks ago on October 22nd. They were headed to Tuntutuliak for a funeral and never made it.
The Alaska State Troopers were involved in two search and rescue operations in the Mat-Su Borough on Sunday.
Two hikers were rescued by the Alaska State Troopers in Hatcher Pass on Sunday night. The hikers, identified by the Anchorage Daily News as Kari Mauldin of Wasilla and Hanna Ramage of Las Vegas, were reported overdue Sunday evening.
According to the State Troopers, they had left on Saturday to spend the night in a cabin 9 miles back from the Gold Mint trail head. They intended to return on Sunday, but more than four feet of fresh snow left them stuck.
The Troopers dispatched HELO-2, which was able to locate the hikers. Troopers walked from the landing site to the hikers, and brought them back to the helicopter. Trooper spokeswoman Megan Peters says that the hikers had lost most of their gear in the deep snow, and had injuries consistent with exposure to the cold. She says it was very fortunate that the HELO-2 crew was able to locate them. Both hikers are listed in stable condition at Mat-Su Regional.
Also on Sunday evening, Troopers from the Talkeetna post were contacted by an Anchorage man who said that he and three others were stuck on a four-wheeler trail near Willow. The man reported that the party were cold and wet, and did not have gear to survive the night.
One State Trooper and one Wildlife Trooper reached the party, which was eight miles down the Sheep Creek Trail, but were unable to transport them out, due to poor conditions.
They contacted the Rescue Coordination Center, and a helicopter was dispatched to retrieve the stranded group and fly them to Providence Hospital in Anchorage.
The Municipality of Anchorage has a preliminary agreement with the union which negotiates for the largest number of its employees.
Mayor Dan Sullivan’s office issued a statement Tuesday saying his administration had come to an agreement with the Anchorage Municipal Employee Association on wages, health benefits, incentive programs and the term of the contract.
The Anchorage Municipal Employees Association (AMEA) is a group of more than 500 employees working for the Municipality of Anchorage. The union represents a wide variety of city jobs, including appraisers, nurses and accountants.
“Both parties are continuing to negotiate, as we speak, right now to reach a mutually acceptable agreement,” AMEA President Mark McKee said.
A statement from the Mayor’s office details what’s been agreed upon so far: wages for AMEA members will increase 1.5 percent in January 2014 and again in January 2015. The contract will last for two years.
Mayor Sullivan says his team has been negotiating under the terms of the controversial labor ordinance, also known as AO-37, which limits municipal employees pay, benefits and their right to strike among other things.
“Despite all the gloom and doom and I think overdramatized negativity about AO-37, in fact it does give us the very clear guidelines so that we can have contracts in the future that are not only good for the taxpayers but good for the employees and, again, much easier to implement, manage and to understand in the future,” Sullivan said. “And that was the intent in the first place and, so far, I think we’re achieving that goal.”
Under public pressure, the Anchorage Assembly voted to repeal the law proposed by the Sullivan administration in October, but the Mayor used his veto power to override their decision.
The Supreme Court of Alaska is set to expedite a decision on whether a referendum to repeal the law can go forward. A decision is expected by February.
The Municipality and the AMEA started negotiating in September. They’re hoping to have a new agreement by the New Year.
Gov. Sean Parnell’s cabinet continues to experience turnover.
Becky Hultberg is resigning from her post as commissioner of the Department of Administration. In a letter sent to the governor on Monday, Hultberg said she is stepping down in December to take a job with the private sector. She is expected to provide more details about the new position later this week.
Hultberg has worked under Parnell for three years. The governor’s office is now searching for a replacement.
She is the fourth commissioner in as many months to leave the Parnell administration.
The bi-partisan Indian Law and Order Commission issued a report on Tuesday saying Alaska is on the wrong track to help Alaska Natives fight crime, but the state Attorney General says the Parnell Administration is doing a good job at tackling a mammoth problem.
Bartlett Regional Hospital’s interim CEO Jeff Egbert wants to create a culture of open communication with hospital staff and stability, something the hospital hasn’t had for a while.
Jeff Egbert is the latest chief executive officer at Bartlett Regional Hospital. He’s serving in an interim capacity to get the hospital back on track.
“Moving the organization from what seems to be a loss of momentum to forward progression is what I’m focusing on,” Egbert says.
Egbert attributes the loss of momentum to the turnover within hospital leadership.
Complaints surfaced earlier this year about a hostile work environment created by the senior leadership team. At the time, the team included CEO Chris Harff and human resources director Norma Adams. The city hired a private investigator in June and launched a personnel investigation. Shortly after the investigation ended, both Harff and Adams resigned.
Sue Gardner was one of many hospital employees interviewed during the investigation.
Gardner moved to Juneau four years ago to become the director of materials management. Prior to working at Bartlett, Gardner had more than 30 years of experience in the hospital business. Gardner’s spouse, Ron Gardner, says his wife experienced bullying and intimidation by some hospital officials.
“When she moved up here, she loved it. She loved the community. She loved going to work every day. She loved her job. She loved what she does,” Gardner says. “But she got to where she couldn’t stand going to work. She’d come home crying. She was so depressed. It was hard on her health.”
Chief of nursing Billy Gardner – who is no relation to Sue or Ron Gardner – recognizes the tension at the hospital.
“I’m a part of the leadership team and sometimes these are high stress positions,” Gardner says.
He hopes Egbert’s arrival will bring more stability. Gardner says Egbert is already making strides with forward progress and building a culture of open communication. “First and foremost, he’s visible,” he says. “He’s walking around to each unit. He’s introducing himself to folks that he meets. And his communication techniques are really strong, and so you feel relaxed. You’re able to talk to him and he listens to your ideas.”
Interim CEO Egbert says that’s how he learns about the organization.
“When you’re meeting people, you visit with them. You’re able to find out what are the challenges in their department, the barriers to good workflow and patient care, and we can start working on improving those things. It’s old management adage – management by walking around,” says Egbert.
To improve communication, Egbert may reinstate an employee newsletter. He also plans to eventually hold employee meetings.
“I’ve only been here two weeks, so there’s not a lot I can tell these people,” he says. “Mostly it’s me learning from them and when I do know enough and we’re moving forward, then I’ll have employee forums, then I can share meaningful information with them.”
Despite being temporary, Egbert still wants to foster a sense of stability among the medical staff and employees. He says being visible and accessible will help accomplish that.
“Culture doesn’t happen overnight. Trust is built over time with consistency and good communication,” Egbert explains. “It’ll take a while.”
Aside from Egbert, Bartlett’s current senior leadership team includes chief financial officer Ken Brough, human resources director Mila Cosgrove, and CNO Billy Gardner.
Egbert anticipates being the hospital’s interim CEO for six to nine months.
Rosemarie Alexander helped in reporting.
Two environmental groups want the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to decide whether a strain of gray wolves on Prince of Wales Island should be considered for an endangered species listing, a decision that could affect future logging.
The Center for Biological Diversity and Greenpeace petitioned to list Alexander Archipelago wolves in August 2011 and on Tuesday sent federal officials a letter urging a decision.
Center spokeswoman Rebecca Noblin says endangered species law calls for a federal decision within 90 days about whether additional protections may be necessary. She says no finding has been made in two years.
Service spokeswoman Andrea Madeiros says the agency is preparing a response.
The U.S. Forest Service is reconsidering a timber sale on the island to determine if it would threaten the wolves.
Southeast Alaska and the state as a whole has seen an apparent upswing in sea otter hunting in recent years. That’s according to numbers compiled by the US Fish and Wildlife Service which says this year will yield the biggest reported harvest on record for the marine mammals, which can only be hunted by Alaska Natives from coastal communities.
We recently told you the story of an ancient, charcoal tree found beneath a pile of ash near Sitka. Scientists hoped tests would help them better understand the area’s rich volcanic history.
Young Blake LaPerriere found this tree during a family outing near a beach on Kruzof Island, west of Sitka.
The trunk and branches were charred as they were buried in hot volcanic ash and debris thousands of years ago. But they remained upright and became visible as ocean waves washed away some of the surrounding material.
Forest Service Geologist Jim Baichtal took samples and sent them off to a lab. The results came up with an approximate date: 13,180 years ago.
Baichtal says that generally corresponds to earlier tests on other ancient items found in the ash area. But those results were in question. These aren’t.
“This has low probability of any kind of contamination and it’s definitely contained in the flow. And you can see from the deposit that there were a couple different surges of that eruption. So you know this tree was living on the landscape and got encased in this very, very hot pumice ash at the time of the eruption,” he says.
The tree age provides a firm date for the explosion from Crater Ridge, a cone near Mount Edgecumbe, the region’s most visible volcano.
“There was a relatively large eruption that blanketed a good portion of Southeast Alaska with volcanic ash,” he says.
Baichtal says about 2 ½ inches covered much of Baranof Island, parts of Glacier Bay and as far east as Juneau.
So anytime it’s found, it dates what’s above or below. (Read a CoastAlaska report on more Southeast volcanos and lava flows.)
The same ash layer has also been found in Sitka Sound, a large ocean bay next to the volcanic area. That’s no surprise. But it was in layers of fresh-water sediments.
“We know that Sitka Sound itself was elevated above its present location and (was) a non-marine environment. It had a fresh-water lake in it,” Baichtal says.
In fact, it was almost 200 feet higher than it is today. Baichtal says that’s due to weight and pressure from advancing and retreating ice-age glaciers.
Tests also established the tree as a Sitka Spruce, which of course, grow in groups.
Does that mean there are more charcoal trees under the ash?
“Without a doubt. There was a forest growing there that just was rapidly buried.”
Baichtal says tests on the tree revealed nothing earth-shattering. But, like so much in science, it added information that will help the experts shape a better picture of Alaska’s past.
Jumping into the icy waters off the coast of Antarctica isn’t for everyone. But it is for open water swimmer, Lynne Cox. Cox was in Fairbanks recently to talk about her career.