City and Borough of Sitka and Sitka Trail Works upgrade section of Cross Trail, start on a new section

Cross Phases 4&5 4-15

trail complete4-15The City and Borough of Sitka, in cooperation with Sitka Trail Works, has been working on improvements to and reconstruction of the Sitka Cross Trail since last spring.

Using grants the city received from the Alaska Department of Transportation and the Federal Lands Access Program (FLAP), a Rasmuson Foundation grant and Sitka Trail Works donations, 1.25 miles of new trail is now complete. The old Cross Trail has been upgraded to an eight-foot-wide multimodal pathway standard, from Sitka High School to Yaw Drive and a separated path was constructed along Yaw Drive to the Indian River Trailhead parking lot. If walkers park in the Indian River/Cross Trail Trailhead parking lot off Indian River Road, the separated path now starts across the road at Peter Simpson Drive and runs along Yaw Drive to the main Cross Trail.

Sitka Trail Works has begun construction of Phase 5 of the Cross Trail Multimodal Pathway. Approximately one mile of multimodal trail will be constructed to replace the lower portion of Gavan Hill Trail. The new section of the Cross Trail will share a trailhead with the Gavan Hill Trail at the end of Baranof Street. The Phase 5 pathway will provide access to the Cross Trail and Gavan Hill Trail from downtown and surrounding neighborhoods. The lower part of Gavan Hill Trail will be abandoned.

During construction heavy equipment will be using neighborhood streets. Trail construction materials will be staged at the end of Pherson Street and adjacent to the city cemetery. Residents are asked to “excuse our mess,” truck traffic and noise during construction, and avoid the staging areas. Construction will be complete in the fall.

For further information, please contact Lynne Brandon of the Sitka Department of Parks and Recreation at 747-1852, or Deborah Lyons of Sitka Trail Works at 747-7244.

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Sitka Bike Rodeo, National Bike to School Day, classroom events put spotlight on kids’ cycling and safety


As the temperatures warm up, two events this week will highlight kids’ cycling and safety in Sitka — the Sitka Bike Rodeo on Saturday, May 2, and the second annual National Bike to School Day on Wednesday, May 6. These two events and others will help kick off National Bike Month (May) in Sitka.

The Sitka Bike Rodeo is an annual event sponsored by the Sitka Rotary Club and U.S. Coast Guard-Air Station Sitka. This year’s bike rodeo takes place from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday, May 2, at the Coast Guard hangar. The target audience for this event is children age 12 and younger. Kids need to bring their bike, a helmet and a parent to this event, which will happen rain or shine.

“It’s a good chance for kids to make sure they and their bikes are ready to hit the roads and sidewalks for the busy spring and summer biking months,” event organizer Shannon Haugland said. “They can get their tires and brakes checked, make sure their helmets fit properly, put some fresh reflective gear on their bikes and clothing, and even get a new helmet. The favorite event is the obstacle course, where kids learn the rules of the road while testing their bike control skills.”

Other event sponsors include Sitka Community Hospital, the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC), Girls Scouts of Alaska Troop 4140, and the Sitka Police Department. For more info about the Sitka Bike Rodeo, call Shannon Haugland at 738-0602.

A Sitka student clips the strap on his bike helmet after riding his bike to school during the International Walk (and Bike) to School event in October 2008. Now there is a new and separate National Bike to School Day, this year on Wednesday, May 6. (Daily Sitka Sentinel photo by James Poulson).

A Sitka student clips the strap on his bike helmet after riding his bike to school during the International Walk (and Bike) to School event in October 2008. Now there is a new and separate National Bike to School Day, this year on Wednesday, May 6. (Daily Sitka Sentinel photo by James Poulson).

On Wednesday, May 6, schools all over the country will encourage students to hope on their bikes for the third annual National Bike to School Day. Some schools will offer special events and prizes during the day. Schools in Sitka have signed up to host events, and many other Alaska communities are hosting bike rides to school. It’s not too late to organize one for your school To encourage safety, parents are encouraged to ride their own bikes with their kids as they head to school.

There also will be classroom presentations of bike safety information, quizzes and other contests on Wednesday-Thursday, May 6-7, at Keet Gooshi Heen Elementary School and Blatchley Middle School by the Sitka Community Hospital Injury Prevention Program and the Sitka School District‘s Live-Well Program. Those students who complete the quiz will be entered into a drawing for a bike, courtesy of Yellow Jersey Cycle Shop and the Live-Well Program (in addition, during the classroom presentations kids will be given a special password for a 20-percent discount during May at Yellow Jersey Cycle Shop).

Since it’s spring, here are a few bike safety rules for the kids:

  • Wear a properly fitting bike helmet (click here to learn how to fit a helmet). Not only is it a good way to protect yourself from head injuries, Sitka has a youth helmet ordinance that requires all children age 18 or younger to wear helmets when they ride bikes, trikes, skateboards, scooters and similar vehicles.
  • Right on the right side of the road, with traffic not against it. Older kids (age 11 and older) and adults should avoid riding their bikes on the sidewalks, especially downtown where there are lots of walkers (a bike can seriously injure elders who doesn’t hear the bike rider coming up behind them).
  • Wear bright clothes and make sure you have a working solid white headlight and flashing red taillight on your bike, especially if you ride when it’s dark. Wear a reflective vest or arm bands/leg bands, and put reflective tape on your clothes and/or bike frame so it’s easier for drivers to see you on the bike.
  • Know the rules of the road, and follow them. Stop at all stop signs and stop lights. Ride in a safe, predictable manner so cars know where you’re going. Use hand signals for all turns. Yield to traffic when appropriate.
  • Check your bike before riding it, especially the ABCs — Air (tires have the right amount of air), Brakes (the brakes work and will stop your tire so it skids on the pavement) and Chain (make sure the chain is the right tension and there are no damaged links, oil if necessary).
  • For more bike safety rules for kids, click here.
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Sitka Sound Science Center offers free admission on Thursday, April 23, as part of Earth Week


KIMG0128The Sitka Sound Science Center will have free admission on Thursday, April 23, in celebration of Earth Week.

Thursday will also be the grand opening of our new living stream exhibit, which was designed and built by local middle school students as part of the recent Stream Keepers program. Stop by the Science Center from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. to check out our miniature version of a healthy salmon stream.

During the Stream Keepers program, the center built a living stream exhibit and incorporated local kids into the design and construction process.  The students learned about the living and non-living factors of a healthy stream.

The students got to work with Andy Case, designer of exhibits found at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, to design and build a miniature stream.  Students not only learned the science, but also applied their knowledge by learning to teach visitors, through an interactive exhibit.




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Sitka National Historical Park spill preparedness exercise to include federal, state, and local agencies



SitkaNationalHistoricalParkSignOn Thursday, April 23, a multi-agency oil spill response field exercise will be carried out from about 8 a.m. until 4 p.m. at the mouth of the Indian River in Sitka National Historical Park.

The effort is part of an ongoing commitment by federal, state, and local governments, along with the oil industry to improve and enhance oil spill prevention and response capabilities and protect sensitive coastal resources. Participating agencies include the National Park Service, United States Coast Guard, and Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation in partnership with the Southeast Alaska Petroleum Response Organization (SeaPro). The exercise will also include participation from local government and private industry.

The Indian River is a valued habitat for plants, fish including salmon, trout and herring, wildlife including waterfowl and shorebirds, and is a location of historical and recreational significance. The Indian River was one of two sites in Sitka, along with Pirate Cove, to be selected for this exercise to test the effectiveness of a Geographic Response Strategy. Geographic Response Strategies are site-specific response plans tailored to protect environmentally sensitive areas that have the potential to be impacted by an oil spill.

Thursday’s exercise is part of a weeklong training and planning effort in Sitka that begins Monday, April 20, at Harrigan Centennial Hall, and is part of an even larger emergency planning effort that has been years in the making.

About the National Park Service. More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America’s 407 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. Learn more about the Sitka National Historical Park at or visit the Facebook page at

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Next Discovery Days program at Sitka Sound Science Center to be about maritime skills


The Discovery Days program will focus on maritime skills when it meets from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday, April 18, at the Sitka Sound Science Center. The free program is for annual pass holders and takes place on various Saturdays.

“Stop by to tie knots, build boats, and explore our water ways,” Sitka Sound Science Center Education Manager Ashley Bolwerk said. 

Swing on by the Sitka Sound Science Center, 834 Lincoln St., with the whole family for a variety of examples to explore and hands-on activities. It’s sure to be great time. This is a family event and open to learners of all ages. The Discovery Days program launched in November 2013 and previous programs have been about kitchen chemistry, electricity, fossils, birds, ice, animal tracks, plants, herring, plankton, amphibians, everyday scientists, and hearts, plus there was an overnight aquarium sleepover for kids and parents. The group also hosted a booth at Family Science Day at Keet Gooshi Heen Elementary School.

Sprouts_flyerfinal_2015Annual passes are available at the door, $50 for families and $30 for individuals. Passes are available on Saturday. Keep your eyes open for upcoming Discovery Days activities.

In addition, don’t forget the Sitka Sound Science Center also runs a program called, “Sitka Sprouts: Planting the Seeds of Science in the Next Generation,” for kids ages 3-5. Sitka Sprouts takes place at 10:30 a.m. on Tuesdays at the Sitka Sound Science Center. The program features stories, activities and crafts, and the kids are encouraged to dress for the weather.

For more information, contact education manager Ashley Bolwerk or 747-8878, ext. 22 or


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Winter Film Series to highlight bowhead and killer whales in April

April Film_whales

The Arctic Ocean is home to numerous species of whales that rely on its nutrient rich waters for sustenance. Bowhead and killer whales will be the focus of two documentary films during the April installment of the Winter Film Series, helping illuminate the Arctic’s complex web of life and how it is changing. Join us at 7 p.m. on Friday, April 17, and at 2 p.m. on Saturday April, 18, at the Sitka National Historical Park theater to attend the free film series.

Arctic Currents: A Year in the Life of a Bowhead Whale is a 25-minute animated film that dives into the lives of these arctic giants by exploring their role in the Arctic’s ecosystem and the cultural significance of these whales for the Iñupiaq people. Invasion of the Killer Whales is a 50-minute PBS film that documents the increasing number of killer whales in the arctic and how their presence is impacting their environment.

Be sure to leave room for snacks, as free popcorn will be provided during both screenings. Attendees to the film series will also be eligible to win door prizes provided by park partners.

The Winter Film Series, held monthly from December through April at Sitka National Historical Park’s visitor center, is jointly presented by Sitka National Historical Park, Sitka Conservation Society, and the Sitka Sound Science Center.

About the National Park Service. More than 20,000 National Park Service employees care for America’s 401 national parks and work with communities across the nation to help preserve local history and create close-to-home recreational opportunities. Learn more about Sitka National Historical Park at or visit the park’s Facebook page at

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Earth Week activities include the Parade of the Species, a youth eco-challenge, a garden work party, and more


Earth month 2015FlyerEarth Day is on Wednesday, April 22, and Earth Week is April 19-25. Sitka will host a variety of activities for Earth Week, including two volunteer days at the Sitka Fine Arts Camp, a recycled costume-making class, a garden work party, a discussion about electric vehicles in Sitka, a presentation on the effects of climate change on penguins, a youth eco-challenge, a discussion about how to peacefully live in bear country, free bus rides all week, spring clean-up events, and the 14th annual Earth Day Parade of the Species.

The Sitka Fine Arts Camp will host two volunteer days events this month, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, April 11, and Saturday, April 25, at Whitmore Hall on the Sheldon Jackson Campus. Stop by and help get the campus ready for the summer. Lunch is provided. For info, contact Jacob at 747-3805.

The Alaska Way of Life 4H Club will host a recycled costume-making class from 3:30-5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 14. This is a good time for kids to make their costumes for the Parade of the Species. Contact Sarah at 747-7509 for more details.

SpringCleanup2015There also is a community-wide spring clean-up event from April 18-26, when people can bring in a variety of large items and hazardous materials to the transfer station and the Sawmill Cove Scrap Yard. This event is hosted by the City and Borough of Sitka Public Works Department.

Sitka’s “the RIDE” bus service will provide free bus rides during the week of April 20-24 in its annual recognition of Earth Day. In addition to the free bus rides during Earth Week, the RIDE’s monthly bus passes will be discounted (adult pass is $40 instead of $50, and the child/disabled/senior pass is $20 instead of $25).

Are you interested in what it takes to operate an electric car in Sitka? All members of the public are invited to a facilitated discussion about expanding the use of clean, locally powered, all-electric vehicles. Meet from 7-8 p.m. on Monday, April 20, at Kettleson Memorial Library. For more information, call Doug Osborne at 747-3752.

Will “Happy Feet” stand the heat? Gemma Carroll, a PhD student from Sydney, Australia, will discuss the investigation of the effects of climate change on the world’s smallest penguin. By studying how the penguins’ movements relate to their ocean environment, we hope to predict what might happen as our ocean systems change. This event is at 8 p.m. on Wednesday, April 22, at the Alaska Raptor Center.

“Avoiding Human and Bear Conflicts” by Alaska Department of Fish and Game biologist Phil Mooney of Sitka is the topic of the University of Alaska Southeast Natural History Seminar. This event is at 7 p.m. on Thursday, April 23, at UAS-Sitka Campus Room 229.

StPetersSignWithToDoListSignSpring is a good time to get down and dirty in the garden, and the Sitka Local Foods Network will host a garden work party from 2-4 p.m. on Saturday, April 25, at St. Peter’s Fellowship Farm. Participants will help put starts in the ground, weed, and prepare the garden for planting. For info, call Laura Schmidt at 738-7009, or go to the Sitka Local Foods Network website, The garden work parties are kid-friendly, so feel free to bring the munchkins to help.

The second annual youth eco-challenge is from 9:45 a.m. to noon on Saturday, April 25, at Sitka National Historical Park. School-aged youth teams will test their skills of compass navigation, bear safety, and fire building while they make their way through the Sitka National Historical Park. Sign up in teams of four, or as individuals and be put on a team. Teams of multiple ages are recommended. It’s a race. Contact Mary Wood to register, 747-7509.

Finally, the 14th annual Parade of Species, hosted by the Sitka Conservation Society, is on Friday, April 24. Parade participants are invited to dress as their favorite animal or plant and gallop, slither, swim, or fly with us. We will meet in Totem Square at 2:45 p.m. and parade down Lincoln Street to Harrigan Centennial Hall at 3:15 p.m. There will be a number of community organizations with hands-on Earth Day inspired activities for the whole family from 3:30-5:30 p.m. Prizes will be awarded for Best Use of Recycled Material, Most Realistic, and Best Local Plant/Animal. For more information contact or call 747-7509. Click here for photos of 2013 Parade of Species costumes.

• Sitka Earth Week Events Schedule for 2015

• Parade of species flier 2015

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