Alaska Outdoors

A Compton tortoiseshell butterfly pauses between flights in Two Rivers resident Rod Boyce’s garage in January 2023. Photo by Rod Boyce.
A Compton tortoiseshell butterfly pauses between flights in Two Rivers resident Rod Boyce’s garage in January 2023. Photo by Rod Boyce.
Alpine meals are great, but it's tough to beat the satisfaction of a hot meal on the shore after fishing through a run for steelhead. (Jeff Lund / For the Juneau Empire)

I Went to the Woods: Either or, probably not both

It’s really difficult to double-major both in college and in life.

Alpine meals are great, but it's tough to beat the satisfaction of a hot meal on the shore after fishing through a run for steelhead. (Jeff Lund / For the Juneau Empire)
Bog laurel plants are toxic to mammals; pollinating bees that feed on the pollen make toxic honey. (Courtesy Photo / Bob Armstrong)

On the Trails: A green world

Five decades ago, some well-known ecologists looked around and noted that their terrestrial world was very green. Why didn’t herbivores demolish the greenery? The observers… Continue reading

Bog laurel plants are toxic to mammals; pollinating bees that feed on the pollen make toxic honey. (Courtesy Photo / Bob Armstrong)
An Alaska blackfish that once lived in a tank at the Fairbanks office of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. (Courtesy Photo / Ned Rozell)
An Alaska blackfish that once lived in a tank at the Fairbanks office of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. (Courtesy Photo / Ned Rozell)
Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire
Residents wear matching T-shirts advocating for the proposed off-road vehicle riding park at 35 Mile which was up for permit consideration and later approved at the Tuesday evening planning commission meeting.

City OK’s permit for new off-road vehicle riding park

The planning commission approved a conditional use permit for the project at 35 Mile

Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire
Residents wear matching T-shirts advocating for the proposed off-road vehicle riding park at 35 Mile which was up for permit consideration and later approved at the Tuesday evening planning commission meeting.
A deer eats alder leaves (Courtesy Photo / Bob Armstrong)

On the Trails: Nitrogen — an essential element

It’s involved with almost all aspects of life.

A deer eats alder leaves (Courtesy Photo / Bob Armstrong)
Courtesy Photos / Dan Joling
Dan Joling of Anchorage captured these images of the full moon over Alaska’s largest city on Jan. 6, 2023.

Alaska Science Forum: Magnetic declination and finding the moon

Dan Joling of Anchorage was set to photograph the full moon rising over the Port of Anchorage on Jan. 6, 2023. His research told him… Continue reading

Courtesy Photos / Dan Joling
Dan Joling of Anchorage captured these images of the full moon over Alaska’s largest city on Jan. 6, 2023.
Growth is good but the strain on resources makes for tough decisions going forward. The author peers through the brush at anglers on the Russian River and sees the byproduct of economic growth. (Jeff Lund / For the Juneau Empire)

I Went to the Woods: Growth mindset

Growth is good but within certain context.

Growth is good but the strain on resources makes for tough decisions going forward. The author peers through the brush at anglers on the Russian River and sees the byproduct of economic growth. (Jeff Lund / For the Juneau Empire)
A dipper searches for insects in a log jam, underwater. (Courtesy Photo / Bob Armstrong)
Video

On the Trails: The afterlife of trees

Dead wood is an important basis for many new uses.

A dipper searches for insects in a log jam, underwater. (Courtesy Photo / Bob Armstrong)
Video
Visitors take images of Mendenhall Glacier near Juneau in summer 2022 from inside the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center. (Courtesy Photo / Ned Rozell)

Alaska Science Forum: Alaska’s small glaciers are on the way out

Even optimistic projections show half of glaciers gone by end of century.

Visitors take images of Mendenhall Glacier near Juneau in summer 2022 from inside the Mendenhall Glacier Visitor Center. (Courtesy Photo / Ned Rozell)
A trail cam photo shows a beaver emerging from its snowy lodge and went foraging for branches in December (Courtesy Photo / Jos Bakker)
Video

Mild temperatures and busy beavers

I noticed two uncommon things that this beaver did…

A trail cam photo shows a beaver emerging from its snowy lodge and went foraging for branches in December (Courtesy Photo / Jos Bakker)
Video
A wood frog pauses in the forest just off the Yukon River near the mouth of the Nation River. (Courtesy Photo / Ned Rozell)
A wood frog pauses in the forest just off the Yukon River near the mouth of the Nation River. (Courtesy Photo / Ned Rozell)
The new year holds promise like new stretches of the same river.  (Jeff Lund / For the Juneau Empire)

I Went to the Woods: New year, new water

Attacking the new water with a solid program allows better transitions to the next phase.

The new year holds promise like new stretches of the same river.  (Jeff Lund / For the Juneau Empire)
This photo shows a so-called "mummy berry." "The best-studied type of Monilinia attacks a blueberry species that is native to eastern North America but is also widely cultivated (e.g., in Pacific Northwest and British Colubmia)." writes Mary F. Willson. "When Monilinia vaccinii-corymbosi infests Vaccinium corymbosum, the vegetative parts are blighted and the fruits become hard, wizened 'mummy berries.'" (Courtesy Photo / Matt Goff, sitkanature.org/photojournal)

On the Trails: Climate warming and disease spread

The effects of climate change are being felt far and wide.

This photo shows a so-called "mummy berry." "The best-studied type of Monilinia attacks a blueberry species that is native to eastern North America but is also widely cultivated (e.g., in Pacific Northwest and British Colubmia)." writes Mary F. Willson. "When Monilinia vaccinii-corymbosi infests Vaccinium corymbosum, the vegetative parts are blighted and the fruits become hard, wizened 'mummy berries.'" (Courtesy Photo / Matt Goff, sitkanature.org/photojournal)
William Dall’s sketch of the mouth of what is now called the Melozitna River, which enters the Yukon River near the village of Ruby, from “Alaska and its Resources.”

Alaska Science Forum: A scientist’s view of Alaska, 150 years ago

One year before Alaska became part of America, 21-year old William Dall ascended the Yukon River on a sled, pulled by dogs. The man who… Continue reading

William Dall’s sketch of the mouth of what is now called the Melozitna River, which enters the Yukon River near the village of Ruby, from “Alaska and its Resources.”
A black-capped chickadee pecks at a frozen turkey carcass in Fairbanks. (Courtesy Photo / Ned Rozell)

Finding a midwinter night’s roost

During the darkest days of Alaska’s winter, black-capped chickadees stuff themselves with enough seeds and frozen insects to survive 18-hour nights. Where chickadees spent those… Continue reading

A black-capped chickadee pecks at a frozen turkey carcass in Fairbanks. (Courtesy Photo / Ned Rozell)
This photo available under a Creative Commons license shows a great bustard. These birds, especially the males, selectively eat blister beetles that contain toxic cantharidin, but because the toxin is lethal to the birds except at very low doses, only one or two at a time. This toxin is known, from in vitro experiments in the lab, to kill fungi, round worms, and bacteria. (Francesco Veronesi / Flickr)

On the Trails: Self-medication by many animals

Examples come from many kinds of critters.

This photo available under a Creative Commons license shows a great bustard. These birds, especially the males, selectively eat blister beetles that contain toxic cantharidin, but because the toxin is lethal to the birds except at very low doses, only one or two at a time. This toxin is known, from in vitro experiments in the lab, to kill fungi, round worms, and bacteria. (Francesco Veronesi / Flickr)
Wilson's warblers are sometimes seen in early winter (Courtesy Photo / Gus van Vliet photo)

On the Trails: Surviving winter is no small feat

Here’s how some diminutive vertebrates do it.

Wilson's warblers are sometimes seen in early winter (Courtesy Photo / Gus van Vliet photo)
he Alaska Range sits beneath a December sunrise as seen from the UAF campus. (Courtesy Photo / Ned Rozell)

Alaska Science Forum: The dark season turns on winter solstice

One winter day not long ago, a reporter from the Sacramento Bee called. She had read a story I wrote about life at 40 below… Continue reading

he Alaska Range sits beneath a December sunrise as seen from the UAF campus. (Courtesy Photo / Ned Rozell)
Rain drizzles on a sign Wednesday morning at a trailhead leading into the Montana Creek Wetlands area. A public meeting was held Wednesday evening presenting a revised Montana Creek draft master plan. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)

Residents get a new view of the Montana Creek draft master plan

It proposes projects like new public use cabins, trails and maintenance.

Rain drizzles on a sign Wednesday morning at a trailhead leading into the Montana Creek Wetlands area. A public meeting was held Wednesday evening presenting a revised Montana Creek draft master plan. (Clarise Larson / Juneau Empire)