Rick Sinnott

I wouldn’t want to be Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan’s dog.

Sullivan recently vetoed a common-sense amendment to Anchorage’s municipal code that would have prohibited new metal palisade fences, the spear-tipped fences associated with horror movie mansions. Several moose are impaled on the fences annually. His reasons for vetoing the ordinance were consistent with his conservative values.

Nevertheless, there is something fundamentally wrong with ignoring the gut-wrenching pain and unnecessary deaths caused by these fences...

Rick Sinnott

Another hunt, another lesson in auto mechanics.

Outdoor recreation in Alaska often leads us to remote places. Even along the state’s limited road system, the nearest garage might be a hundred miles away. Adventurers must be capable of fixing almost anything that breaks. This means packing tools and spare parts. In other words, being prepared. Taking this logic one step farther, I’ve learned to hunt with my own auto mechanic...

Rick Sinnott

A little more than a decade after a coalition of municipal, state and federal agencies clamped down on waterfowl feeding in Anchorage, the feeders have returned in force.

The concerted effort to stop waterfowl feeding was aimed at reducing urban duck and goose numbers in the wake of a disastrous mid-air collision. Twenty-four people died in September 1995 when an Air Force E-3 Sentry crashed after flying into a flock of Canada geese shortly after takeoff from Elmendorf Air Force Base...

Rick Sinnott

DENALI NATIONAL PARK -- Many Alaska tales feature the exploits of trappers, hunters, prospectors or explorers. On a recent trip to Denali National Park, I wondered, why not bus drivers?

I spent the summer of 1974 in Denali helping a graduate student study wolves. I like to revisit the park occasionally, but it’s never often enough. My last visit was almost exactly 20 years ago.

Some things have changed in the past 40 years. The overgrown strip of hotels, gift shops and restaurants that cater to Denali tourists has earned the name Glitter Gulch.

Glitter Gulch looks like a classy version of Wasilla, without the big-box stores, auto dealerships and churches...

Rick Sinnott

Despite growing public awareness and resistance to the idea, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game is revising its management plans and regulations for the state’s 32 wildlife refuges, sanctuaries and critical habitat areas. The revisions will facilitate development, including potentially incompatible uses.

Existing plans and regulations protect critical habitats, comprising less than 1 percent of Alaska, set aside by the Alaska Legislature for the purpose of maintaining fish and wildlife populations. Unlike parks, a wide range of human uses, including oil and gas development, are allowed in special areas as long as the use is compatible with protecting fish, wildlife and their habitats...

Rick Sinnott

The thousands of miles of highways and streets in Anchorage are designed to make travel more efficient and convenient. For humans. But every mile of road is making it damned inconvenient to be a moose.

The proposed connection of Bragaw Street and Elmore Road through the University-Medical (U-Med) District is a case in point. Only seven-tenths of a mile long, the road will include three overpasses to accommodate pedestrians, cyclists and skiers.

But any moose attempting to perambulate through the district after the road is built will encounter another gauntlet of urban traffic. Its pedestrian overpasses aren’t designed to accommodate moose...

Rick Sinnott

Ah, the sounds of fish camp. Waves slapping the shore. Deb’s 4:30 a.m. wakeup holler, “Let’s go fishin’!” The sputter of an outboard motor. The rattle and thump of gillnet floats going over the bow. The rhythm and rhymes of a good poem.

The Kasilof River personal-use setnet fishery will never be the same.

The folks I fish with are typical Alaskans. Four couples joined forces at the mouth of the Kasilof River this year. All of us are readers, although I suspect I’m the only one who reads poetry as a matter of course. I’m a writer. It’s an occupational hazard...

Rick Sinnott

A kettle lake surrounded by homes in west Anchorage, Sand Lake has become a battleground in the war on invasive species. Opposing forces concur that elodea, an aquatic plant commonly used in aquariums, is present in the lake. However, both sides are far from agreement on whether elodea is a non-native, invasive weed in Alaska.

A recently released plan drafted by the Anchorage Soil and Water Conservation District concludes that elodea is native to Alaska, or at least that evidence to the contrary isn't persuasive. The document, entitled "Sand Lake Aquatic Vegetation Management & Lake Restoration Plan," recommends controlling, not eradicating, the plant and offers several management options.

Weapons of mass destruction...

Rick Sinnott

A kettle lake surrounded by homes in west Anchorage, Sand Lake has become a battleground in the war on invasive species. Opposing forces concur that Elodea, an aquatic plant commonly used in aquariums, is present in the lake. However, both sides are far from agreement on whether Elodea is a non-native, invasive weed in Alaska...

Rick Sinnott

Another mysterious incident -- Alaska’s version of cattle mutilation -- has prompted a resolution from a municipal advisory commission. Instead of cattle, the victims are moose. Instead of surgical incisions and organ removal, the moose are impaled on metal palisade fences.

The mystery is not how the moose die. No need to invoke unidentified flying objects or alien abductions. The mystery is why most owners of these fences aren’t doing anything to fix the problem...

Rick Sinnott