Scott Jensen

US Fish & Wildlife Service names Katie John a Conservation Hero

The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service posthumously named Ahtna elder and Alaska Native advocate Katie John a Conservation Hero on Tuesday, October 13, 2015 during the Elders and Youth Conference at the Dena'ina Civic and Convention Center in downtown Anchorage. John passed away on May 31, 2013."Katie John belongs to you now -- all of us," her son Fred John Jr. said, motioning to the crowd of approximately 1,000. "She belongs to Alaska."According to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife website, this honor commemorates pioneers who helped save the environment. Plaques honoring them are placed around the National Conservation Training Center Campus near Washington, D.C.See more: Coverage of the 2015 Alaska Federation of Natives convention and related events
Scott Jensen

Alaska Native dance depicting a seal hunt

This dance conveys the emotions of a hunter who believes he has captured a bearded seal but instead, much to his delight, hauls in a walrus. It was performed Monday at the First Alaskans Institute Elders and Youth Conference in Anchorage by Walter Gregg and the Qikiktagruk Northern Lights Dancers from Kotzebue. The conference continues through Wednesday.Read more: Elders and Youth Conference brings celebration, conversation
Scott Jensen

Elders and Youth 2-foot high kick demonstration

Tlingit and Athabascan youth Kyle Demientieff-Worl performs the two-foot high kick for a crowd gathered at the Elders and Youth Conference in Anchorage on Oct. 12, 2015.
Suzanna Caldwell,Tara Young

Bear roams around Target parking lot in Anchorage, Alaska

Shoppers at an East Anchorage Target on Sunday got a surprise when they came across a black bear trying to enter the store.Elizabeth Shea and her friend were shopping with their two little girls at the Tikahtnu Commons shopping center along Muldoon Road when they heard people screaming."I think there’s a bear over there," said Shea’s friend.Shea turned and saw the bear, which seemed close enough that the women grabbed their daughters and stood in the store's entrance. The bear had wandered by the Target, but then headed in the direction of Sports Authority next door.When the bear couldn't enter the store, it moved toward Shea and the others but then quickly turned away and ran toward a nearby IHOP restaurant."We all felt really bad for him, he didn't seem menacing or threatening at all," Shea said. "In fact, the little girls said he just seemed really scared and lost."Sports Authority manager Steven Spicer realized something was going on when “a bunch of people” suddenly ran into the store. Spicer went to the front door and noticed the bear headed toward door of the sporting goods store.Spicer asked everyone to stay inside and shut off the power to the automatic doors to keep the bear out. He said the group that rushed in stood nearby, taking pictures of the bear near the door.Spicer, who has worked at the East Anchorage location for four years, said it was the first time he had ever seen a bear wander through.“That’s a rare occurrence,” he said.Alaska Department of Fish and Game Anchorage area biologist Dave Battle said he’s received several reports of a bear in the Tikahtnu Commons area, but has not yet responded since reports are always made a day or two after the bears are in the area.He said bears searching for garbage around the shopping center are not uncommon. Some businesses had taken steps to reduce bear encounters by having locking garbage cans, he said.Battle hadn’t seen the video Monday and could not confirm whether the Target bear was related to a group of bears that's been spotted near Bartlett High School, or a group near Centennial Park that saw a cub speared by a resident of a homeless camp earlier this month.“There are plenty of bears around (Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson) and Muldoon (Road),” he said. “It’s hard to say whether it’s the same ones.”To submit your video to Alaska Dispatch News contact the multimedia team at
Scott Jensen

Mayor Berkowitz proclaims "Indigenous Peoples' Day" in Anchorage

Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz proclaims today, October 12, 2015, "Indigenous Peoples Day" for the municipality of Anchorage at the 2015 Elders and Youth Conference in downtown.Berkowitz made the surprise announcement Monday morning during opening remarks at the three-day conference in downtown Anchorage.Read more: AFN Elders and Youth Conference opens to renaming of Columbus Day in city, state
Scott Jensen

Looking for a solution to Alaska's road rut problem

Outside of the Consortium Library on the University of Alaska Anchorage campus is a concrete slab 8 feet wide and 20 feet long.It looks like your average sidewalk, but it could potentially hold the key to solving a perennial Alaska transportation problem: road ruts.For the past 15 years -- and the past eight in Alaska -- UAA professor of civil engineering Osama Abaza has been developing a road surface that can stand up to Alaska’s road-rut problem. The concrete slab at UAA is the first practical test of the solution. Abaza plans to work with the Alaska Department of Transportation to install a 180-foot lane of the concrete on Abbott Road next summer.“I’m not going to say we have the magic solution, but we’re trying,” Abaza said in a September interview.READ MORE: UAA professor floats 'concrete' solution to Alaska's road rut problem
Olivia Lowenberg

Whales Swimming Under The Northern Light // Hval jakter under nordlyset

In a spectacular scene – and a visible sign of environmental progress – a group of humpback whales was filmed off the coast of Norway, leaping and playing under a dazzling display of northern lights.The video was captured by Harald Albrigtsen, a photographer employed by the Norwegian Public Broadcasting (NRK), while he was testing some equipment, including a special camera capable of capturing footage in the dark without losing its image definition.The video is emotionally stirring; it shows a group of about five or six humpbacks all playing together off the coast near the Norwegian city of Tromsø. The dazzling northern lights can be seen dancing overhead.In an interview with Norwegian newspaper NRK, Albrigsten said that the experience of shooting the video was anything but ordinary.“Catching (the) whales' adventure and (the) northern lights adventure simultaneously is a dream for many,” he said.Apart from the beauty of the moment, it chronicles the return of humpbacks to Norwegian waters, which only started three or four years ago. Most humpbacks swim directly from the Barents Sea to the Caribbean, a reason why humpbacks are so rarely observed in Norwegian waters.  “It’s a new phenomenon for them to be coming here to Tromsø. This is occurring to an extent which no living person has ever witnessed. It gives us a unique opportunity to chart the otherwise little known north-eastern stock of North Atlantic humpback whales,” Fredrik Broms, a conservationist, explained to the scientific magazine ScienceNordic.The Marine Mammal Center reports that "there seem to be three distinct populations of humpbacks that do not interact with one another: one in the North Pacific, one in the North Atlantic, and another in the Southern Hemisphere (south of the equator)."Humpbacks were, until very recently, vulnerable to extinction. While they have not rebounded to their pre-whaling population of 125,000, the worldwide population currently stands at approximately 80,000, prompting the International Union for Conservation of Nature to move them in 2008 from "vulnerable" to "less threatened" with extinction.As with other large whale species like the blue whale, run-ins with large fishing vessels remain one of the humpback’s primary threats. Killer whales are among humpbacks’ only natural predators, but the Norwegian Polar Institute, a conservation agency, reports that fatal attacks are primarily limited to juvenile humpbacks.Conservation efforts to help the Norwegian whale population rebound are chiefly focused on tagging and tracking, in order to better understand their migration populations and record which whales are returning to the same part of the ocean each year. Fredrik Broms told ScienceNordic that as a result of his fledgling image-tracking system that records migrating Norwegian whales, he has recorded some 453 individual whales.“I recognize steadily more of these individuals from one year to the next, thanks to (the) identifying markings on their flukes,” he said. “But we still don’t know much about the route taken by the humpbacks at the beginning of the year.”
Loren Holmes

Student carvers learn craft of making Alaska Native musical instruments

On Wednesday at the Anchorage Museum's Smithsonian Arctic Studies Center, three students spent the day turning cedar planks into musical instruments.Under the supervision of Tsimshian master carver John Hudson, Tlingit master carver Norman Jackson, and Haida master carver Donald Varnell, students from UAA learned how to use handmade tools to hollow out the cedar and make a whistle.“Traditionally, with my Inupiaq heritage, we would work with driftwood, usually cottonwood,” said Inupiaq / Athabascan student Brian Walker II. “I like working with cedar. I like the smell, I like the way it works.”The Smithsonian’s artist residency program is focused on “material traditions,” with cedar being this particular program’s focus. Not only do master craftsmen get to pass on their skills, but museum conservators use the knowledge to better enable them to care for the artifacts in their custody.Click here for photos of the process.Watch this video on YouTube, and be sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel for more videos. View a slideshow of the carvers working on their pieces.
Alaska Dispatch News

Alaska Bore Tide Madness with DJI Phantom

Amateur filmmaker Blaine Hagedorn captured one of the biggest bore tides of the season on Sept. 30, 2015, with stunning results. Hagedorn set out to Turnagain Arm with his drone last week to document the high tide expected at Beluga Point. His video captures the paddleboarders and surfers riding the tide, along with the vibrant fall colors along the Arm. To submit your video to Alaska Dispatch News, contact the multimedia team at photo(at) 
Scott Jensen

Gov. Walker talks fiscal plan, politics and his recent trip to DC

Alaska Gov. Bill Walker sat down for a one-on-one interview with Alaska Dispatch News reporter Nat Herz on Oct. 8, 2015. Among other topics, they discussed the governor's upcoming plan to deal with Alaska's fiscal crisis. About 60% of next year's $5.1 billion state budget will be paid for with savings. Many revenue options are available for state lawmakers to consider in the future. Among the ideas on the table -- increasing oil taxes, implementing state sales or income taxes and cutting spending -- this conversation focused on Walker's overall plan and his efforts to lobby the White House to open up federal land for increased oil production.Read more: Gov. Walker pens sharp retort to House speaker's criticism of special session
Alaska Public Media

Cleaning Marine Debris from Alaska's Beaches | INDIE ALASKA

For 11 years, Gulf of Alaska Keeper has cleaned marine debris from remote Alaska coastlines. In summer 2015, GoAK organized a large-scale project to collect debris from across the Gulf of Alaska by barge and helicopter. Approximately 440 tons of debris was taken to Seattle, where it will be sorted and discarded or recycled.----------Indie Alaska  is an original video series produced by Alaska Public Media in partnership with PBS Digital Studios. The weekly series captures the diverse and colorful lifestyles of everyday Alaskans at work and at play. Together, these videos present a fresh and authentic look at living in Alaska.
Scott Jensen

Interview with former U.S. senator and Alaska governor Frank Murkowski

You don't spend decades in the U.S. Senate and four years as Alaska governor and not form strong opinions.Frank Murkowski was a U.S. senator representing Alaska for more than 20 years, and the state's governor from 2002 to 2006. He lost the Republican primary to Sarah Palin in August 2006. After his term ended, he left public life.But Murkowski says he's still connected to Alaska's policymakers and business leaders. He wants to continue contributing ideas. He thinks he can help.Murkowski and his wife, Nancy Murkowski, visited Alaska Dispatch News Oct. 1, 2015, to chat with reporters and others. Murkowski told the group he met with Gov. Bill Walker that morning to discuss, among other things, the state budget crisis, what to do with the Permanent Fund, and Shell's decision to stop exploring for oil in the Chukchi Sea.The conversation has been edited for brevity.