Alaska Avalanche Information Center to host avalanche training courses March 1-5 in Sitka (CORRECTED)

If you love to ski, board, sled, hike, ride snowmachines, dog mush, fish, climb or otherwise get out to explore the beautiful state of Alaska, you owe it to yourself and your loved ones to be prepared if something goes wrong. This is why the Alaska Avalanche Information Center will be in town from Thursday, March 1, through Monday, March 5, to lead a variety of avalanche training classes

Alaska is a land of big adventures and wild, open spaces; a place where anyone with little skill can jump on a snowmachine or skis and be surrounded by wilderness within minutes. The very reason so many people come to this country.

But Alaska is also known for the greatest number of unintentional injuries and deaths per capita when it comes to outdoor incidents like avalanches, drowning and snowmachine crashes.

Every year the Alaska State Troopers, Alaska Mountain Rescue Group, and other professional agencies and organizations respond to dozens of search and rescue calls when people find themselves in situations they are ill prepared to handle.

Will you know what to do and be prepared with the supplies you need if you become trapped by weather, mechanical failure or other situations and suddenly find yourself forced to spend an unexpected night out? If you or someone in your group gets injured, will you have the knowledge, supplies and confidence to manage medical emergencies?

If you answered no to any of these questions, you owe it to yourself and your family to attend the Alaska Backcountry Preparedness – Live to Ride Another Day – program made possible with support from the Alaska Department of Public Safety, Division of Alaska State Troopers. This free training is designed to help you learn and practice the skills you need to prepare for your wilderness travels and adventures.

The Alaska State Troopers have developed a checklist of critical skills that they believe every backcountry traveler should know. This includes:

  • Avalanche Awareness
  • ATV/Snowmobile Safety (if appropriate)
  • Basics of Survival (food, water, shelter, heat…)
  • Communication
  • Companion Rescue Skills
  • Trip Planning
  • Water Crossing
  • Wilderness First Aid
  • Wildlife Awareness
  • What to do if you become the subject of a Search and Rescue mission

The Alaska Avalanche Information Center’s team of professional instructors has developed a captivating, interactive program to teach these critical skills and to help encourage outdoor recreation for healthy lifestyles.

This program is coming to Sitka on Thursday, March 1 through Monday, March 5. (NOTE: The following schedule has been updated from what was originally reported.) It will be available for school programs March 1 or 2, and it will host a free community backcountry skills workshop from 6-9 p.m. on Friday, March 2, at the Mean Queen (lower level).

The Alaska Avalanche Information Center also is offering a three-day Avalanche Level 1 course on Thursday, March 1, through Sunday, March 4). This is a 24-hour course and compliant with the American Avalanche Association training standards. The course opens from 6-10 p.m. on Thursday, March 1, at a location TBA, followed by a 6-10 p.m. session on Friday, March 2, at the Sitka Fire Hall, with field days from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday at locations TBA. The Avalanche Level 1 course costs $306.

Learn more and register for these programs at or call (907) 376-2898. Meredith Condon is the local coordinator for the event and she can be reached at (703) 201-6495 or

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Registration open for 2018 Sitka Sound Science Center summer camps

Registration is now open for summer camp at the Sitka Sound Science Center.

Summer camps are an important part of the Sitka Sound Science Center’s mission for increasing understanding and awareness of Sitka’s ecosystems. Throughout the year, its educational programs offer many opportunities for emerging scientists of all ages to join the scientific community. During the summer, the camps promise to be some of the most fun and adventurous experiences for being involved in science.

The Sitka Sound Science Center partners with organizations across the community — including Sitka Conservation SocietySitka Fine Arts CampNational Park Service (Sitka National Historical Park), U.S. Coast Guard (Air Station Sitka), U.S. Forest Service(Tongass National ForestSitka Ranger District), and the Sitka Tribe of Alaska — to take advantage of professional expertise in natural sciences, technology, engineering and culture.

The theme for this summer’s camps is “collections.” Whether it is a first-grader exploring metamorphic rocks or an eighth-grader looking at the engineering behind building trails, all the summer camps emphasize building strong science foundations in an engaging, active manner that celebrates exploration and tinkering. You can review the classes at or click the link below.

The Sitka Sound Science Center offers week-long camps during eight weeks of the summer months. While topics and ages range vary from week to week, all camps are age appropriate, richly experiential, outdoor and community exploratory, and project-based. Each camp session includes 3-5 scientists and educators with 10-20 campers.  Community partners ensure engaging field trips and activities. Camps end with a culminating presentation or activity open to the community.

Registration is available online at or in-person at the Science Center. For more information about summer camps, contact Kristina Tirman at or or 747-8878, Ext. 3, or visit our website.

• Sitka Sound Science Center 2018 Summer Camp descriptions for print

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Sitka Sound Science Center hosts youth Eco-Discovery event on Feb. 2

Join us to learn what’s in a wetland from 10 a.m. to noon on Friday, Feb. 2, at the Sitka Sound Science Center. Participate in games and activities that help you explore the soil, crawling critters and wildlife found in healthy wetlands. Those who take the journey earn their very own Eco-Discovery button upon completion.

There will be multiple stations with hands-on activities appropriate for children between kindergarten and sixth grade. The expected time it takes to solve the mystery is 30-45 minutes. Kids should be accompanied by an adult. There is an optional guided tour of Starrigavan State Park after the event, but you must provide your own transportation.

Eco-Discovery is coordinated by a partnership between the Sitka Sound Science Center, Sitka National Historical Park and USDA Forest Service. For more information about the event, contact Kristina Tirman of Sitka Sound Science Center at or Karen Weaver of Sitka National Historical Park at 747-0110.

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Banff Film Festival tickets on sale now at Hames Athletic Center, and on Jan. 26 at Old Harbor Books

The Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival will make a stop in Sitka as part of its annual world tour, and tickets are available now at the Hames Athletic and Wellness Center and will go on sale Friday, Jan. 26, at Old Harbor Books.

The Sitka screening takes place at 7 p.m. on Friday, Feb. 9, at the Sitka Performing Arts Center. Tickets are $15 for adults and $10 for students and seniors. There will be a variety of door prizes given away after the screening. This year’s films will raise money to benefit the Hames Wellness Fund, which support partnerships with Sitkans Against Family Violence (SAFV)Southeast Alaska Independent Living (SAIL)Sitka School DistrictSitka Counseling and Prevention Services, Sitka Tribe of Alaska, and more.

Each year, the Banff Mountain Film and Book Festival celebrates life in the outdoors with a nine-day festival (Oct. 28-Nov. 5, 2017) at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity in Banff, Alberta, Canada, featuring a series of short films, books and other media. Films may feature kayaking, mountain biking, hiking, wingsuit flying, rock climbing, mountaineering, skiing, surfing, fishing, and a variety of other outdoor activities.

With stops planned in about 550 communities and more than 40 countries across the globe, this year’s tour features a collection of the most inspiring action, environmental, and adventure films from the festival. From approximately 400 films entered into the annual festival, a variety award-winning films and audience favorites are among the films chosen to travel the globe.

During the world tour, a selection of the films is shown in each community, with a different set of films shown in each participating community. The world tour allows local communities to use the films as fundraisers, and the tour has made several stops in Sitka in the past.

Follow Sitka BANFF Film Festival 2018 to stay up-to-date with sneak peaks.


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Federal government shutdown impacts Sitka National Historical Park

With the federal government shutdown starting late Friday night (Jan. 19) in Alaska, there will be some changes at Sitka National Historical Park until the government reopens, whenever that happens.

For now, the trails remain open. But the visitor’s center, public bathrooms, trash collection and other amenities are all closed (and this includes at the Russian Bishop’s House). There will be a law enforcement officer patrolling the trails and making sure there is no vandalism to the property, and a maintenance person will be on call to prevent damage to the climate-controlled historic exhibits. More federal shutdown info is available from the park’s website.

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Sitka 4-H club offers adult archery coach training and youth archery expo on Jan. 27

Are you interested in learning how to be an archery coach, so you can teach young archers how to use a bow and arrows?

Join the Alaska Way of Life 4-H club from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 27, at the Sitka Sportsman’s Association RV Park (5211 Halibut Point Road). The fee for the day is $50, but we’re happy to waive it for anyone who can commit to 10 hours of volunteer service with our 4-H archery club.

“Grow your skills and become a certified archery instructor with 4-H,” said Claire Sanchez, Sitka Conservation Society Community Sustainability Organizer for 4-H and Community. “Juneau’s Kay Shoemaker will instruct the class. There is an archery expo the same day for youth, in which youth with learn archery skills and instructors will get to practice what they learned.”

You must be over 21 to be a solo archery coach for the club. High school age youth with leadership skills are still welcome to be a part of the training as a coach — you just can’t be a solo 4-H archery leader until you’re 21.

Participants will receive both the archery manual and camp archery activities guide as well as certification and hands-on training. Training is all day. The youth event will be 2-5 p.m. This is part of the hands-on training to practice setting up 3-D archery, field archery, and making leather arm guards.

Certification includes training as a 4-H volunteer. Prior to the class you must complete the online 4-H training modules, minors protection training, and a background check.

Register by Jan. 21 by emailing Claire Sanchez at or calling 747-7509. Checks can be made payable to Sitka Conservation Society.

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Sitka Sprouts program plants the seeds of science for a new generation

Plant the seeds of science in the next generation.

Sitka children ages 3-5 can gather at 10:30-11:30 a.m. on Tuesdays at the Sitka Sound Science Center for this free program. We read a story each week and do a craft and activity that relates to the topic of the story.

Join us for some hands-on adventuring that is sure to get your tot thinking like a scientist. No registration is necessary, just stop on by. This program runs from September through April.

For more information, contact Kristina Tirman at 747-8878, Ext. 3 or

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