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In her Alaska Dispatch News commentary published Dec. 2, " Ridding Alaska of honey buckets is a good but all too familiar goal ," Elise Patkotak paints a bleak picture of the sanitary conditions in rural Alaska, which is true, because many village residents still must haul water and use honey buckets. However, in other villages, sanitary systems have been installed and health conditions are improving. So is the glass half full of dirty water or clean water? A little more information will help the readers decide...

Jim Nordlund

I had the recent privilege to serve on Gov. Bill Walker and Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott’s transition team to provide dialog on the issue of subsistence in Alaska.

There were other members including the Outdoor Council (Fairbanks and Southeast), members from Native communities of the Kuskokwim, Copper River, Southeast, and Northwest Alaska. The experience was a very positive one because of the attitude and respect shown by each member’s input.

There was a unified consensus that the dual management system was not what most Alaskans want now, nor in the future. All agreed that a unified system must be developed to include the Native tribes as well as the federal and state systems...

Roswell Schaeffer Sr.
We don’t need a new board

Sen. Lesil McGuire should remember that Republicans are supposed to be about small government and businesslike efficiencies. Why hire a bunch of new employees (another board), at the additional cost of approximately $1.7 million dollars a year, when we already have experienced personnel regulating a controlled substance?...

Alaska Dispatch News

Congratulations, Alaska. You made history and elected a nonpartisan governor. The next four years are going to be difficult for this governor, possibly the most difficult any governor has ever faced. We will see a lot of changes, and we will watch how the new era of Alaska leadership takes shape.

However, the really interesting part of what happens next doesn’t come with the upcoming legislative session, nor the three after that -- what’s really interesting is what will happen in four years...

Mike Dingman

Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott has ensured himself a unique place in Alaska history as the first Alaska Native to win a statewide office. As such, he holds a very singular position from which to do good for all Alaskans. Given the limited duties of the Lite Gov, I’d like to make a suggestion on a really great use of both his time and his influence...

Elise Patkotak

Dear Alli,

My boyfriend and I want to become more adventurous outdoorspeople, and he has proposed attempting winter camping next month (snow or not!). Problem is, I have no idea where to start. I have minimal experience and he has minimal gear.

Do you have any suggestions for "winter camping lite"? I think we can borrow the basics of winter sleeping bags, cookstove, etc, but where should we go? I'm hoping for a place with a cabin or yurt at the end, but with enough of a hike in that we feel like we've worked off our hot toddies at the end of the night (i.e., more of a trek than Manitoba).

Any advice would be greatly appreciated!

- Gimme Shelter

Dear G.S.,...

Alli Harvey

Confession time. I bought a $16.95, Chinese-made LED headlamp back in October. Every night it's used, I feel a little guilty as an America-first kind of guy. But this light is hands down one of my best gear purchases in years.

In fact, I just returned home from a night out on snowshoes above treeline in the Chugach Mountains. It is near 1 a.m. Up high, the snow was close to knee deep in places, despite Anchorage's snow-sparse winter. It was dark. The wind was gusting to 30 mph or so at times. Some snow was moving around. In places, the old snowshoe track I was trying to find was drifted in...

Craig Medred

I caught my first coyote when I was 10. I was running a trapline just above the Rabbit Creek flats in Anchorage. There weren’t any houses there back then. At that time I had never seen a coyote in the wild, just photographs and the Road Runner cartoon. I was pretty psyched to catch such a big, unknown animal. After all, there weren’t many coyotes in the area in the 1960s.

Coyotes were first noted in Alaska about 100 years ago. The population peaked in the 1940s before being nearly eradicated by poisons used by the Alaska Game Commission, which referred to them as “obnoxious animals.”...

John Schandelmeier
Roundabouts do not improve traffic

Reading about the proposed DOT changes to South Anchorage roads, I was upset by the planners’ intentions of putting up more roundabouts. Roundabouts cause more traffic backups, confusion, hesitation and close-call scares than any other intersection type I’ve experienced. For some reason, the city just loves putting them up. Stop it already. Nobody I have ever spoken to about them says, “Wow, I just really love that roundabout.”...

Alaska Dispatch News

Dear Governor Walker:

You are at least our fourth governor to promise management of Alaska’s fish, wildlife and habitat resources based on the best available science.

The wisdom of that should be as obvious as assuring that if our kids need medical operations, key decisions will be made by top flight physicians, not by insurance adjusters. It's like assuring that when we fly in a plane, its maintenance and piloting will done by expert mechanics and pilots, not PR staff...

Stephen F. Stringham