Erin Kirkland,Loren Holmes

Alaska Forest School

One by one, Lia Keller’s students hopped down from their parents’ mini-vans or SUVs and scooted across the parking lot of North Bivouac Trailhead off Campbell Airstrip Road. Clad in snowsuits, boots, and mittens, the kids, ranging in age from almost 3 to 6, drew pictures on the ground with sticks, caught snowflakes on tongues, and chattered to each other about the weather, dogs, and the quality of snacks in their pint-sized backpacks.Keller, founder of The Alaska Forest School and its chief administrator, instructor, and trailside cheerleader, gathered her charges in a huddle and asked for some guidance on finding a landmark from the previous week.Read more: Using nature to nurture: Alaska forest schools move the classroom outdoors
Alaska Dispatch News

Earthquake home explosion in Kenai

Four homes burned on the Kenai Peninsula Sunday after a magnitude-7.1 earthquake jolted Southcentral Alaska awake in the early morning hours.One of the people who lost everything after the earthquake is Vinnie Calderon.Calderon and his family gathered at the armory with others who had lost their homes or who were evacuated along or near Lilac Lane.Calderon, his fiancee and two children had just moved into a home on Lilac Lane in Kenai two weeks ago, after previously spending time homeless and couchsurfing.Working as a tattoo artist, Calderon finally saved up $5,000 to put a payment down on the house.Sunday morning, a gas leak after the earthquake caused that house to explode not once, but twice, he said.Immediately after the quake, Calderon said he smelled gas but that the odor went away. Everyone was getting ready to go back to sleep when "the house came a foot up off the ground" he said. READ MORE: Magnitude-7.1 quake rocks Alaska, damaging roads and displacing residents
Alaska Dispatch News

Earthquake clean up at Anchorage True Value

Anchorage True Value Hardware was hit hard by Sunday morning's magnitude-7.1 earthquake, with shelves knocked over and tools, nuts and bolts strewn across the floor. The destruction was captured on security video.More earthquake coverage:Quake felt in Anchorage gets whole town talking
Scott Jensen

Anchorage is 'fat bike' heaven

You've seen them all around town. It's clear that fat biking is here to stay. This growing trend in Anchorage's bicycling community is now a mainstream way for even the casual rider to take advantage of Anchorage's easily accessible trail system, and Alaska's outdoor lifestyle, all year long.On the morning of Jan. 15, a small group of avid fat-tire bikers met Alaska Dispatch News in Anchorage's Far North Bicentennial Park for a explanation and demonstration of fat-tire bike basics. Clinton Hodges, Laura Fox, Ryan Greeff and Nick Blades have all been riding fat-tire bikes for several years. Watch this video to learn more about fat-tire biking and see this group of friends in action.Want more fat-tire biking? Click below to see raw video of the ride.FRONT VIEWREAR VIEWTIRE VIEW
Loren Holmes,Beth Bragg

With lack of snow in Anchorage, mushers head north

The Montana Creek Dog Mushers Association is holding its club championships this weekend, an event that should mark the end of the racing season on the Willow sled dog trails.But it won’t. Next weekend, Montana Creek will host the Norma Rasmussen Memorial Race, a one-day, limited class race usually held at Anchorage’s Tozier Track.And Montana Creek’s season could be extended even beyond next weekend, for one simple reason: “We’re the only game in town,” club president Jerry Raychel said.Read more: With scant snow in Anchorage, sprint mushers head to Willow
Scott Jensen

Alaska Native students learn how to reduce heating costs

A group of middle school students from Western Alaska visited Anchorage this week to get a glimpse of college existence and learn the fundamentals of science, technology, engineering and math, also known as STEM.STEM is a worldwide movement that encourages students at an early age to excel in the four core subjects. The 12-day Middle School Academy is put on by the Alaska Native Science & Engineering Program at University of Alaska Anchorage.Friday's lessons included a section on energy conservation through home insulation."The reason why we’re doing this experiment is because the heating bill is almost a thousand bucks per month,” said Cooper Moen, a student in the Lower Yukon School District.Throughout the academy, the students have built computers and bridges, learned about earthquake engineering and experimented with renewable energy.
Tara Young,Suzanna Caldwell

Blues Central speakeasy in downtown Anchorage, AK

Longtime Anchorage residents will remember Blues Central, the midtown bar and restaurant that closed in 2013. It’s been resurrected at Williwaw (both in name and in a liquor license transfer) but with a far different look.Forget the well-worn booths and neon lighting. Blues Central has gone back to the Prohibition era, with a modern twist. Pictures of rock 'n' roll icons line the bar, lit by vintage-style Edison light bulbs. The cocktails include pop culture-inspired mixes alongside Prohibition-era favorites. Even getting in to the bar is an event -- requiring a phone booth, password and an unmarked door.“We wanted to take care with the Blues Central name,” Snyder said. “We wanted to take that name and elevate it.”Read more: Williwaw finds its place in downtown Anchorage with little bit of everything
Tara Young,Mike Dunham

Tango opera Maria de Beunos Aires makes its Alaska premiere

"She was born on the day God was drunk.”That description is one of the first things we learn about the title character of the opera “Maria de Buenos Aires,” which has its Alaska premiere this week. A bit unfocused, perhaps, but Astor Piazzolla’s “tango opera” is a hard piece to nail down.“Piazzolla has had an odd rap,” said Douglas Kinney Frost, who conducts the Anchorage Opera production that runs through Jan. 24. His music fused elements of classical, jazz and Latin pop, but he never fit neatly into any of the categories. Rather, his unique voice transcended all of them. He was his own musical category.Read more: Surreal, genre-bending opera 'Maria de Buenos Aires' debuts in Anchorage Review: Tango opera's strength is in its music
Alaska Dispatch News

Alaska Dispatch News Live Stream

At 7 p.m. Thursday, Gov. Bill Walker will deliver the annual State of the State Address from the Alaska Capitol in Juneau. With challenges like a multibillion-dollar deficit and environmental impacts from climate change bearing down, the speech is expected to give Alaskans a sense of where the state stands -- and where it's heading. 
Marc Lester

Volunteer spirit in full swing at Food Bank of Alaska

About 50 volunteers pitched in for the Food Bank of Alaska’s monthly “box build,” held this month on Martin Luther King Day, January 18, 2016. The food will be given to poor elderly people around Alaska. Twenty tons of food are packed into 1,500 thirty-pound boxes by the volunteers. David Cornwall, Food Bank’s logistics manager, said the boxes are distributed by trucks, planes and barges around the state. He said he sees many of the same people pitch in month after month, looking for an opportunity to make a difference. “I like to see all the people coming in to volunteer, and there’s nothing better than handing this box or any food out to somebody that really needs it,” he said.See more of how Alaskans spent the Martin Luther King holiday here.
Alaska Dispatch News
Two Austrian climbers reached a previously unclimbed and unnamed peak in the Neacola Range, which the duo dubbed Mt. Reaper. Hansjörg Auer and Much Mayr made the May 17, 2015, summit only after overcoming three days over whiteout conditions that kept the climbers camp-bound. “Living on the glacier, 100 of kilometers away from civilization, demands a strong belief, and a great friendship to keep high spirits and good vibes,” write Auer on his website. To make matters worse, the temperatures were much higher than expected. “After a day of checking out the approach we decided to give it a go. I knew that we need to be super light and that we have to try the climb in less than ideal weather, to avoid higher temperatures on the face,” according to Auer.The team made a twelve-hour push from their camp to the summit and back. With extremely thin ice and patches of blank granite, the decent was a daring endeavor. “It really couldn’t have been any thinner, otherwise our alpine-style attempt would have ground to a halt,” says Auer.
Alaska Dispatch News
In December, Finnmark photographer Jan Helmer Olsen took to the skies to capture this incredible aerial footage of the migration of reindeer from Magerøya, Stiikonjárga and Ravdol to Karasjok, Norway, where the reindeer are herded into fenced areas and earmarked for identification. The epic scene is punctuated by the sublime beauty of the landscape.Olsen stresses the importance of safety when shooting with a drone, and said that he received permission from Norway's National Security Authority and the Norwegian Civil Aviation Authority.To submit your video to Alaska Dispatch News contact the multimedia team at