KCAW-Raven Radio to host Only Fools Run At Midnight on Saturday, June 24

Mark your calendars! Sitka’s wildest running event, the 14th annual Only Fools Run at Midnight, is coming up at 11:59 p.m. on Saturday, June 24, with a brand new course. The race starts and finishes at Harrigan Centennial Hall and follows the Sitka Sea Walk (so no roads to cross, making it safer at night). KCAW-Raven Radio is delighted to bring you this costume-clad evening full of family fun and prizes.

Registration info and race details are available at kcaw.org, and the entry fee is $20 ($25 the night of the race). Prizes will be awarded for fastest finishers, best costumes, and wackiest centipede (five or more people attached in some form or fashion). Creativity is encouraged.

There are t-shirts for the first 200 to register, and lots of entertainment and fun to keep folks wide awake for the midnight run. Funky pre-race entertainment will be provided by the Sitka Fine Arts Camp staff.

For questions and more information, visit www.kcaw.org or contact Ken or Rachel Fate at 747-5877 or send email to foolsrun@kcaw.org.

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National Get Outdoors Day celebrates its 10th anniversary on Saturday, June 10

Young boys skipping stones at Sitka National Historical Park

Participants from federal agencies, nonprofit organizations and the recreation industry are again teaming up to host the 10th annual National Get Outdoors Day (GO Day) to encourage healthy, active outdoor fun at sites across the nation. On Saturday, June 10, these diverse partners will offer opportunities for American families to experience traditional and non-traditional types of outdoor activities. Prime goals of the day are reaching currently underserved populations and first-time visitors to public lands, and reconnecting our youth to the great outdoors.

Each GO Day event will offer a mix of information centers and “active fun” areas – places where guests, and especially kids, can use a fishing pole, go geocaching, help pitch a tent and more. The sites will provide photo opportunities with characters like Smokey Bear, Woodsy Owl and other interesting creatures. Many sites also feature areas that focus on other aspects of healthy living, including sustainability and good nutrition. In addition to the GO Day events, participants will be invited to nearby follow-up activities called EchO events occurring throughout the summer, which include introductions to mountain biking and fly-fishing, hikes with rangers to see wildlife, kayaking and rafting and much more.

Ethan White goes hiking on Herring Cove Trail

Ethan White goes hiking on Herring Cove Trail in 2011

The pilot effort of National Get Outdoors Day was launched on June 14, 2008. Building on the success of More Kids in the Woods and other important efforts to connect Americans – and especially children – with nature and active lifestyles, the USDA Forest Service (FS) and the American Recreation Coalition (ARC) agreed to lead an inclusive, nationwide effort focusing on a single day when people would be inspired and motivated to get outdoors. GO Day partnered with federal, state and local agencies, key enthusiast organizations and recreation businesses to create a healthy, fun day of outdoor adventure aimed at reaching first-time visitors to public lands and reconnecting children to the outdoors.

Last year, 138 official GO Day sites across the nation welcomed thousands of new faces to the joy and benefits of the great outdoors. So far this year, there are 220 official GO Day sites nationally, but only one in Alaska (in Girdwood). But kids can still get outdoors in Sitka. In fact, the Kids Fishing Day at Swan Lake is this Saturday, and young anglers can win prizes. Kids also can stop by the Sitka National Historical Park to take a hike around the totem trails or do some Junior Ranger activities.

GO Day is an outgrowth of the Get Outdoors USA! campaign, which encourages Americans, especially our youth, to seek out healthy, active outdoor lives and embrace our parks, forests, refuges and other public lands and waters. Working with the Forest Service, Get Outdoors USA! hosted six recreation forums in early 2007 and learned that public lands were missing the right triggers to capture the attention of today’s youth. The GO Day concept was first tested at the Outdoor Recreation Village at Super Bowl XLII in Glendale, Arizona, which drew over 100,000 visitors. For more information on the Outdoor Recreation Village, click here.

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Kids Fishing Day set for Saturday, June 10, at Swan Lake in Sitka

Kids, get your lucky fishing hats and join the party. The annual Kids Fishing Day is set for Saturday, June 10, at Swan Lake here in Sitka.

The lake recently was stocked with wild rainbow trout, and with fish measuring from 6-12 inches long. These fish are mixing in with the normal cutthroat trout and Dolly Varden that normally live in Swan Lake.

Kids Fishing Day has prizes for kids ages 2-12, who can fish from shore or a boat. Registration opens at 8 a.m., and fishing starts at 9 a.m. Prizes will be awarded about 12:30-1 p.m. (must be present to win a prize). In recent years there usually have been about 100 young anglers participating, and as many as 50 boats have been counted out on the lake. There will be hot dogs and chips for the kids, as well as a booth where the kids can make fish prints.

No fishing license is needed for kids age 16-younger (those ages 13-16 aren’t eligible to compete). Kids may fish from shore or on a boat, but all participants must wear a personal flotation device. Kids needing PFDs can borrow them from one of the Kids Don’t Float lockers at any of Sitka’s harbors.

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game has liberalized the fishing regulations for the Saturday of the fishing derby, which means kids can use bait, and catch up to two trout of any size (normally, only trout between 11-22 inches can be caught). Click this link for more info about the Kids Fishing Day relaxed regulations for Saturday (note, press release is from 2014).

This event is sponsored by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, the USDA Forest Service-Sitka Ranger Station, and the Sitka Rotary Club. For more information, contact Joe Serio of the U.S. Forest Service at 747-6671.

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Jerry Dzugan to give outdoors safety presentation May 11 at Sitka Public Library

Outdoor safety educator and author Jerry Dzugan will give a free presentation, “Enjoying Alaska’s Outdoors: Why Smart People Take Dumb Risks,” at 6 p.m. on Thursday, May 11, at the Sitka Public Library. Everyone is welcome.

Jerry Dzugan has been an educator for 45 years. He holds a graduate degree from World Maritime University in Malmo, Sweden. He has been serving as the Director of the Alaska Marine Safety Education Association (AMSEA) – which is headquartered in Sitka — since 1987.

Over the years, Jerry trained a national network of 1,300 marine safety instructors in the U.S. and other nations. He’s written numerous curricula, video scripts, books and articles on marine safety, survival, and risk assessment. He’s also given numerous presentations and trainings at conferences and schools in the U.S. and other countries. In addition, he’s worked in the halibut and salmon troll and seine fisheries, and lived off the grid for 16 years on an island in Sitka Sound.

He authored and co-authored several books, including “Spawn, Spat, and Sprains: A Manual for Aquaculture Safety in Alaska,” with Dan Falvey; and “Water Wise: Safety For the Recreational Boater,” and “Beating the Odds: A Guide to Commercial Fishing Safety,” with Susan Clark Jensen.

For more information about this event, please call the library at 747-8708.

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Sitka National Historical Park switches to summer hours on Sunday, April 30

Beginning Sunday, April 30, Sitka National Historical Park will transition to its summer hours of operation. The park’s visitor center will be open daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Ranger-led interpretive programs will be held daily, with topics focusing on the stories and legends of the totem poles, the Battle of 1804, sea otter ecology and other aspects of the park’s natural and cultural history.

The Russian Bishop’s House will be open daily from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Ranger-led programs of the upstairs residence will be offered every thirty minutes on the hour and half hour, with the first program beginning at 9 a.m. and the last tour beginning at 4:30 p.m. The first floor hosts a self-guided museum and video that are available anytime during open hours. The Russian Bishop’s House is now fee-free.

Park trails are now open from 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Cyclists are reminded that bicycles must be walked on park trails. A bicycle rack is provided at the visitor center for those wishing to explore the rest of the park on foot. Visitors also are welcome to walk dogs on park trails, but must keep their pets on a leash at all times and dispose of pet waste properly. We appreciate your cooperation with these important park policies.

For additional information, visit the park’s webpage at www.nps.gov/sitk or call the park’s visitor center at 747-0110.

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Scenes from the 16th annual Parade of the Species through downtown Sitka

There were lions, bears, and jellyfish galore during the 16th annual Parade of the Species, held Friday, April 21, through downtown Sitka as part of Earth Day and Earth Week activities hosted by the Sitka Conservation Society. This event also served as Sitka’s March for Science.

This year’s parade started from Totem Square and finished at the Sitka Sound Science Center, where there were a variety of activities for the kids such as making masks or drinking fresh smoothies.

A slideshow of photos from the parade is posted below.

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Sitka National Historical Park is now fee-free throughout the park

The National Park Service has approved Sitka National Historical Park’s request that it be a fully fee-free park. The change is effective immediately.

For many years the park has charged a $4 per-person fee for Ranger-led tours of the second floor of the Russian Bishop’s House, the private residence of Orthodox bishops since the first occupant, Bishop (now Saint) Innocent in the early 1840s.

“What we found is that the administration of the fee program was creating inefficiencies that hardly justified the fee collection, which also created an addition burden for our many visitors,” said Superintendent David Elkowitz. “We strive to keep this national park well maintained and available, so that a resource that belongs to the people can be fully accessed by the people.”

Sitka National Historical Park eliminated fees for the Visitor Center and totem loop trail in 2011. The Park is also embarking in 2017 on a new and significant project for which visitors will see results by 2020 – the renovation of the first floor museum exhibits at the Russian Bishops House.

“This will be the first major renewal of the space and displays since the renovated Russian Bishop’s House was opened to the public in 1986,” said Angie Richman, Chief of Interpretation and project manager. “The project will include significant public scoping and consultation with the Sitka Tribe of Alaska. The project will start with a roundtable hosted by the Park and is planned to include Clan Elders and Russian America subject matter experts, scheduled for this fall.”

The first floor of the Russian Bishop’s House, one of just four buildings left standing from the Russian American era in North America, has a storied history as a residence for Orthodox clergy, a school for Alaska Natives and an orphanage, as well as the current museum.

For more information, please contact Angie Richman at 747-0132.

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