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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Earth Week activities include the Parade of the Species, a youth eco-challenge, gardening class, free bus rides, and more

Earth Day is on Friday, April 22, and Earth Week this year is April 16-22. Sitka will host a variety of activities for Earth Week, including a couple of spring clean-up events, a gardening class, free bus rides, a bear aware canvassing campaign, a nature journaling community hike, a youth eco-challenge, and the 16th annual Earth Day Parade of the Species.

The Sitka Spruce Tips/Alaska Way of Life 4H Club will go Bear Aware canvassing from 3:30-5 p.m. on Monday, April 17, in neighborhoods along Indian River. The 4Hers will distribute bear aware literature to homes in that area to raise awareness about bear safety and garbage control. Contact Julia Tawney of the Sitka Conservation Society at 747-7509 or julia@sitkawild.org for more details.

The Sitka Spruce Tips 4H Club also will host a nature journaling community hike starting at 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 18, at the Indian River Trailhead. This event will involve nature journaling and experiencing nature using all five senses. An RSVP is required to participate in this event, so please contact Julia at 747-7509 or julia@sitkawild.org to register.

There is a community-wide spring clean-up event from April 15-23, when people can bring in a variety of large items and hazardous materials to the transfer station and the Sawmill Cove Scrap Yard (hazardous materials are only April 22-23). This event is hosted by the City and Borough of Sitka Public Works Department.

The RIDE public transit in Sitka will offer free bus rides again this year during Earth Week (April 17-21). This has been a yearly offering from the RIDE, which is operated by a partnership between Sitka Tribe of Alaska and the nonprofit Center for Community.

 

The Sitka Local Foods Network will host a free gardening class during Earth Week. Kerry MacLane will teach “Extending Your Garden Season,” which takes place from 6:30-8 p.m. on Thursday, April 20, at the Sitka Unitarian Universalist Fellowship Hall (408 Marine Street, parking off Spruce Street). Contact Jennifer Carter at 747-0520 or check the Sitka Local Foods Network website for more details.

The 16th annual Parade of Species, hosted by the Sitka Conservation Society, is on Friday, April 21. 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 the Sitka Sound Science Center 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. after the parade. Prizes will be awarded for Best Use of Recycled Material, Most Realistic, Best Local Plant/Animal, and Best Group Costume. For more information, contact Julia Tawney at julia@sitkawild.org or call 747-7509. Click this link for a slideshow of scenes from the 2016 Parade of the Species.

The Rotary Club of Sitka will host a community spring clean-up from 10 a.m. to noon on Saturday, April 22, at Totem Square Park. This event is supported by Sitka Community Hospital, the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities, and the City and Borough of Sitka. For more information, contact John Stein at 747-7811.

 

Sitka author Pauline Duncan will share her Sitka Herring and Baby Raven books at a Babies & Books Earth Day Event at 10:30 a.m. on Saturday, April 22, at the Sitka Public Library. Babies, toddlers and siblings are welcome. For more information, contact the library at 747-8708.

The fourth annual youth eco-challenge is free and takes place from 9:30 a.m. to noon on Saturday, April 22, at the Sitka National Historical Park. School-aged youth teams (ages 5-12) will test their outdoor skills and teamwork while they make their way through the Sitka National Historical Park. Sign up in teams of four, or as individuals to be put on a team. Teams of multiple ages are recommended. It’s a race. Limited spots available, so register early. The registration deadline is 5 p.m. on Wednesday, April 19. Contact Julia Tawney to register, 747-7509 or julia@sitkawild.org.

The Sitka Gymnastics Academy‘s Earth Day Showcase takes place from 4-6 p.m. on Saturday, April 22, at the Sitka Cirque (207 Smith Street). The Sitka Gymnastics program is donating half of the money raised by this event to the Sitka Conservation Society. Tickets are $10 for adults and $3-$5 for youth.

• Sitka Earth Week Events Schedule for 2017

• Parade of the Species 2017 flier

• Eco-Challenge 2017 flier

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Teens can spend a week paddling a kayak in Glacier Bay Park and Preserve this summer

Are you a high-school-age teen from Southeast Alaska who wants to go kayaking in Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve this summer? The National Park Service, will offer a kayak trip on June 2-9, in partnership with Alaska Geographic and Sitkans Against Family Violence (SAFV), using SAFV’s REBOUND curriculum.

A maximum of eight students will be selected to participate in the trip.  Due to the contributions of partner groups, the trip is being offered free of charge. This trip is open to students from Sitka, Kake, Angoon, Hoonah, and Gustavus.

Participants on this trip will spend four days kayaking during the week-long trip, where they will learn about leadership, wilderness and community. The goal of the program is to provide opportunities for youth to connect to their national parks and public lands through immersive experiences in wilderness areas. In addition, they will:

  • Learn backcountry camping and travel techniques from wilderness experts.
  • Explore the cultural heritage and natural resources of the land.
  • Develop skills for positive group dynamics, healthy relationships, and respect for the environment.

Students will need to complete the application posted below and obtain one letter of recommendation from a non-family member and submit them to Ryan Carpenter of Sitka National Historical Park by Friday, April 7 (NOTE: The application deadline has been extended to Friday, April 21). Applications can be picked up between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. at Sitka National Historical Park, or you can access them at the links below or on the Sitka National Historical Park and SAFV websites.

For more details, contact Ryan at 747-0121 or ryan_p_carpenter@nps.gov, or contact Molly at mschouweiler@alaskageographic.org.

• 2017 Glacier Bay Student Application

• 2017 Glacier Bay Letter of Support

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Sitka Public Library to host a community presentation on being more bear aware

Learn how to be more aware of bears in Sitka by attending a free community presentation from 5:30-6:30 p.m. on Wednesday, March 22, at the Sitka Public Library.

Stephen Bethune, a biologist with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game, will give a community presentation on bear awareness, safety and garbage control. Come learn how to be safe around bears in Sitka.

For more information, contact Julia Tawney with the Sitka Conservation Society at 747-7509 or julia@sitkawild.org.

 

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The Lucky Herring is Eco-Discovery Day topic March 17 at Sitka Sound Science Center

Join us for an epic herring journey from 10 a.m. to noon on Friday, March 17, at the Sitka Sound Science Center. Participate in games and activities to learn what it takes for a herring to go from egg to adult. 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.

Eco-Discovery is coordinated by a partnership between the Sitka Sound Science Center, Sitka National Historical Park and Sitka Conservation Society. For more information about the event, contact Kristina at ktirman@sitkascience.org.

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Sitka Spruce Tips 4-H Club to host Spring Wonders Camp and Nature Journaling programs

The Sitka Spruce Tips 4-H Club will host the Spring Wonders Camp on Monday through Wednesday, March 13-15, at a variety of locations in Sitka. In addition, the club will host a Nature Journaling Series for five weeks starting on Monday, March 20.

The Spring Wonders Camp has two sessions, with ages 5-8 meeting from 9:30-11 a.m. and ages 9-older meeting from 2:30-4 p.m. Some of the activities include baking bread in a bag at the Sitka Kitch, hiking, and nature-inspired movement at Yoga Union. These activities are subject to change.

There is a $10 supply fee for the camp, and scholarships are available. Participants must be 4-H members to register, and the registration deadline for the camp is at 5 p.m. on Friday, March 10.

The Nature Journaling Series meets from 3:30-5 p.m. on Mondays starting March 20 for ages 9-older and from 3:30-5 p.m. on Tuesdays starting March 21 for ages 5-8. The series lasts for five sessions, and there will be no sessions on April 3-4.

There is a $5 fee for the journaling series, and scholarships are available. The registration deadline for this series is at 5 p.m. on Friday, March 17.

For more information on both programs, contact Julia Tawney of the Sitka Conservation Society at 747-7509 or julia@sitkawild.org.

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