Coastal Observation and Seabird Survey Team (COASST) offers two trainings May 9-10

MD Sitka 2015 poster

BB Sitka 2015 posterThe Coastal Observation and Seabird Survey Team (COASST) will hold two training sessions May 9-10 at the Sitka Sound Science Center.

“COASST is a great way to learn more about what’s washing in to Sitka beaches, while collecting scientific data and enjoying a nice beach walk,” COASST volunteer coordinator Erika Frost said. “Anyone can participate — you don’t need to be a biologist or an expert, just someone willing to walk a local beach once a month.”

  • COASST Marine Debris Training, Saturday, May 9, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. — Help make a difference for the environment by collecting data for the Coastal Observation and Seabird Survey Team (COASST) Marine Debris Program. COASST Marine Debris participants survey local beaches and collect data on the characteristics and location of debris — data that will ultimately be used to map the source and transport pathways of debris, as well as the potential harm to people, wildlife, and local coastal ecosystems. There is no charge to attend and training activities will take place indoors. Please pack a bag lunch.
  • COASST Beached Birds Training, Sunday, May 10, 1:30-6:30 p.m. — Help make a difference for the environment by collecting data for the Coastal Observation and Seabird Survey Team (COASST) Beached Birds Program. COASST is a citizen science project with 80 beaches throughout Alaska, including several villages (Shishmaref, St Paul, Yakutat and others).  Participants look for beach-cast seabird carcasses to establish the baseline of bird mortality on local beaches. Anyone can participate —  they don’t need to be a biologist or a bird expert, just someone willing to walk a local beach (~.75 mile) once/month. There is no charge to attend a training, but plan to provide a $20 refundable deposit if you would like to take home a COASST volunteer kit complete with a COASST Beached Birds field guide. Training activities take place indoors.

To reserve your spot at a training session, please contact or 206-221-6893. If you can’t attend this event, please check our website at or call 206-221-6893 for additional information on upcoming events and trainings.

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Sitka Trail Works releases weekend guided hike schedule for the 2015 summer


SitkaTrailWorksLogoSitka Trail Works will kick off its 2015 summer series of weekend hikes on Saturday, May 9, with a a lesson on geocaching taught by new board members Gio Villanueva and Jeff Cranson. After a short tutorial at 8:30 a.m. at the Sitka High School entrance to the Cross Trail, participants will go discover some local geocaches (bring a smartphone or GPS device, if you have one).

The series of weekend hikes are led by various members of Sitka Trail Works, and there also are occasional bike rides and kayak trips on the schedule. Most of the hikes near town are free, but some of the hikes require a boat trip and those have fees. The schedule runs through the end of August.

The City and Borough of Sitka and Sitka Trail Works recently announced the completion of one section of reconstruction of the Sitka Cross Trail, and a new section now is under reconstruction. The Cross Trail will be open during the work, which is expected to be finished by November 2015, but hikers should use caution in that area. In addition, Sitka Trail Works recently received a grant to help repair extensive trail damage caused last fall by a Sept. 18 landslide on the Herring Cove Trail.

On National Trails Day (Saturday, June 6), Sitka Trail Works and other groups will work on several Sitka state parks, which had their support zeroed out in this year’s state budget. Volunteers are needed for this work party at the Mosquito Cove Trail on National Trails Day. People also are encouraged to write letters to Gov. Bill Walker about the funding cut, which should be dropped off at the Alaska Department of Parks office on Halibut Point Road near the Halibut Point Recreation Area.

Don’t forget to check the Sitka Trail Works website for current trail condition reports.

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Next Discovery Days program at Sitka Sound Science Center to be about the underwater life of streams


The Discovery Days program will focus on the underwater world of streams when it meets from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday, May 2, at the Sitka Sound Science Center. The free program is for annual pass holders and takes place on various Saturdays. This will be the last Discovery Days program of the school year.

“We’ll explore the swift underwater world of our local streams and rivers.  We’ll discover how scientists study the health of streams, look at stream critters, and how healthy salmon depend on them,” Sitka Sound Science Center Education Manager Ashley Bolwerk said. 

Participants also will have the opportunity to check out a new miniature living stream exhibit built by kids in the Stream Keepers program this spring.

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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Girls On The Run closes out school year with One in a Million 5K run on May 2

5K Poster

The Sitka Girls On The Run program will host celebrate the end of the season with the 2015 One in a Million five-kilometer run from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday, May 2, with the start-finish line at the Sitka Sea Walk basketball courts. The fun run and ceremony will honor the program’s reaching one million participants.

Volunteer signThis is a family friendly event, and tutus and bright colors are encouraged, but not required. Volunteers and cheerleaders also are needed so they can make the event extra special for our participants. Here are a few ways you can help:

  • Volunteer — there are quite a few volunteer positions available, some of which also allow volunteers to run in the event (all allow volunteers to be cheerleaders). Volunteer time requirements vary by assignment. Please register at Please contact Elena Gustafson at or 747-3370 with any questions.
  • Cheerleader — position yourself along the course between 3:30 and 4:30 to cheer the girls on as they run. The run starts at the Sitka Sea Walk basketball courts, runs along the Sitka Sea Walk and through the Sitka National Historical Park’s Totem Trails and back, so there are plenty of places to cheer people on. Bring a sign and bright colors and a positive attitude.

Girls On The Run is a life-changing empowerment program for girls in third through fifth grade. We teach life skills through dynamic, interactive lessons and running games. The program culminates with the girls being physically and emotionally prepared to complete a celebratory five-kilometer (3.1-mile) running event. The goal of the program is to unleash confidence through accomplishment while establishing a lifetime appreciation of health and fitness.

The 12-week program is one of several in the region. GOTR of Southeast Alaska operates Girls On The Run programs in Sitka, Juneau, Ketchikan, Petersburg, and Yakutat. Check out what the program is all about. Sitkans Against Family Violence (SAFV) hosts the GOTR program in Sitka.

Please help spread the word and encourage family members and friends to make the 2015 One in a Million 5K Fun Run a success.

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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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