Friday, December 11, 2009

Composted Soil for Your Garden? Kodiak Biosolids!

Biosolid Composting: Experiment in Kodiak

Lab tests released this week by Soil Control Lab show the experiment was a success. What was once toilet paper and human waste is now soil. Tests confirm the soil is sufficiently low in heavy metals and other potential toxins. It can now be used to grow flowers and vegetables.

The material used to make the soil would usually end up at the Kodiak Borough Landfill.

But the current load of soil is only an experiment to see if biosolids — the technical term for the main solid byproduct of sewage treatment — can be turned into dirt. The load of soil, composed of a week’s worth of biosolids, will probably produce only a couple of dump truck loads of soil in the coming spring when workers will screen out the woodchips used in the composting process.

After some number crunching and evaluation of public opinion the city will make decisions regarding the expansion of the project.

“We now want to find out if this is something the community wants,” plant supervisor Hap Heiberg said. “When I see people at Safeway they’ve been very supportive, and want to know how they can get compost.”

Heiberg said options for disposal of biosolids from the treatment plant include continuing to take them to the borough landfill, burning them, hauling them off island or composting. The city must now weigh the options.

He said Kodiak is now ahead of most Alaska communities in its water treatment because it invested in a secondary water treatment system. Most Alaska communities, including Anchorage, only send wastewater through a primary system.

To be placed on a list of people interested in receiving compost from the wastewater plant, e-mail Heiberg at or call 486-8076.

Mirror writer Sam Friedman can be reached via e-mail at

See the full article here:

Friday, November 20, 2009

Alaska Climate Change Compact

For your consideration: Should Kodiak join this statement?

Alaska Coastal Communities Global Climate Change Compact

Alaska has more miles of coastline than all the rest of the United States. The vast majority of our state’s residents call our coastal communities home. These communities generate billions in economic activity. From Metlakatla to Kaktovik, people have lived along Alaska’s vast coast for thousands of years and depended on rich biological ocean resources for survival. Today, the cultural identity and survival of Alaska’s coastal communities still depend on the ocean resources that support commercial fishing, tourism, recreation and subsistence.

We, the undersigned Alaskan local and regional governments and elected officials, express our deep concern about human-induced global climate change and ocean acidification and issue a call to policymakers to take strong and immediate action to prevent catastrophic impacts from greenhouse gas emissions. We recognize the validity of the following statements:

1. Global climate change represents one of the greatest threats of our time. The Intergovernental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the world’s leading scientific body on this subject, has presented compelling evidence of climate change’s dangerous effects and has recommended steps to avoid them. The IPCC has called on nations to collectively curtail greenhouse gas emissions to ensure that atmospheric concentrations peak no later than 2015 and decline 80 percent by 2050, compared to 2000. The IPCC has concluded with 90 percent confidence that today’s climate changes are attributable to human activity, primarily from the burning of fossil fuels.

2. Ocean acidification is caused by increased carbon dioxide concentrations from the burning of fossil fuels and is accelerating. The daily uptake of over 22 million tons of carbon dioxide into the ocean is causing ocean acidification and threatens many forms of marine life by decreasing the ability of certain organisms to build their shells and skeletal structures. Ocean acidification has the potential, within decades, to severely affect marine organisms, food webs, biodiversity and fisheries.

3. Global climate change and ocean acidification threaten communities in Alaska. Because high latitude regions of the earth are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of global climate change, Alaska has been described as “ground zero” for climate change. Coastal erosion, thawing permafrost, and spruce bark beetle infestations are evidence of climate change in Alaska. In addition, ocean acidification threatens the fisheries that provide food, jobs, and cultural identity to many Alaskans, particularly in coastal communities.

4. Alaskan coastal communities are important to the nation, and Alaska can play a role in addressing climate change and ocean acidification. Alaska produces more than half of the seafood caught in the United States. Alaska also has potential to mitigate climate change and ocean acidification, through development and export of renewable energy technologies that can be used throughout the developing world.

5. There are compelling economic arguments to act now. Positive economic development and diversification of Alaska’s economy will be associated with addressing climate change in the state. Furthermore, the economic costs of inaction will be far greater than the costs associated with immediate action to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in line with IPCC recommendations.

6. The United States has an obligation to take a leadership role in addressing global climate change. With only 5 percent of the world’s population, the United States produces approximately 25 percent of the world’s annual greenhouse gas emissions.

7. For the well-being of current and future generations, immediate action must be taken at all levels of government and throughout society to address global climate change and ocean acidification. Given the seriousness of these problems, policies and programs to reduce greenhouse gas emissions must constitute a priority when allocating government resources.

We hereby express support for the following policies, actions and initiatives:

1. At the national level, immediately enact climate legislation that will reduce greenhouse gas emissions to meet or exceed the goals recommended by the IPCC; e.g., 80 percent reduction from 2000 levels by 2050.
2. Reengage at the national level in the international process of dealing effectively with global climate change.
3. At the national and state levels, enact legislation and fund initiatives that will dramatically increase energy efficiency and the production of renewable energy.
4. Utilize a significant portion of the proceeds from national cap-and-trade legislation, carbon tax, or other sources to fund initiatives in Alaska that will:

- develop renewable energy resources, improve energy efficiency in buildings, transportation, etc., in all sectors of the economy
- increase public knowledge of issues related to greenhouse gas emissions,
- create a skilled workforce for a new clean-energy economy
- help vulnerable communities adapt to unavoidable climate-related impacts
- protect or rebuild infrastructure that is threatened by climate impacts
- enhance research in the area of ocean acidification
- enhance research in the areas of energy efficiency and renewable energy.

We further express our commitment to:
1. network with other Alaskan coastal communities on the issues of climate change and ocean acidification;
2. encourage actions within our own communities to mitigate climate change and ocean acidification and adapt to unavoidable changes;
3. make wise and effective use of resources provided by the state and federal governments for such actions; and
4. support community efforts to educate the public on these issues.

City and Borough of Sitka
City of Homer
City of Petersburg
City of Dillingham
City of Gustavus
Kenai Peninsula Borough

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Celebrating International Climate Change Action Day: 'A Sea Change'

On Thursday, October 15, at 6pm at the refuge visitor center downtown AMCC will sponsor a showing of the movie

“A Sea Change” by John Pierre Gattuso. Kodiak scientist Bob Foy is a leader in Ocean Acidification Research and will be present to answer questions after the showing. Don’t miss this!! Bring the family.

Here is a review excerpt from Southern Fried Movies:
Stop whatever you are doing and immediately make plans to go see “A Sea Change”. Why are you still reading this review? Ok, if you need convincing, read on, but it will be time you could have spent seeing one of the best environmental documentaries of all time.

“A Sea Change” is about ocean acidification, which could well be the worst problem you’ve never heard of. This was one of the first major screenings- another was earlier this week at the U.N.

The movie follows a retired history teacher named Sven Huseby as he travels the world learning about this problem. This style is unique and works very well- he isn’t a scientist, he’s a regular guy who is concerned and is trying to learn from the experts.

Thank you,


To learn more about the International Day of Action on Climate Change go to

Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Alaska Bioneer's Conference October 16-18

2009 Bioneer Workshop Session Schedule
( Subject to change )
Saturday October 17th

(Donna Jones will be representing Sustainable Kodiak as an invited speaker at the Saturday Community Sustainability Workshop.)

Session A: 9:00-10:30

1. Read Your Body; Heal Your Body
Dr. Tatiana Riabokin
2. Ask, Don’t Tell (Mother Nature)
Ellen Vande Visse
3. Ionia: Community As The Root Cause of Eco-Crisis/Eco Healing
Ted Eller & Bill Johnson
4. Energy Retrofit
Scott Waterman
5. Urbanic Gardening
Kate Nilsson & Corey Brause

Session B: 10:45-12:15

1. Health Impacts of Oil Development on Rural Alaska
Rosemary Ahtuangaruak
2. The Medicine Wheel: Co-Creation is a Way of Life
Liz Holmgren
3. Community Sustainability
Bill Hall & Rich Seifert
4. Neighbor to Neighbor
Linda Tannehill
5. Part I Energy Efficiency – Reduce your use.
Andy Baker,PE, Philip St. John, MD, & Lee Bolling

Sunday October 18th

Session C: 9:00-10:30

1. Family Relations: It’s all alive, it’s all intelligent, it’s all relatives… and how is it that we communicate?
Nancy Lee-Evans
2. Permaculture in Alaska
Saskia Eslinger & Sharon Ferguson
3. Growing Communities through Community Gardens
Julie Riley
4. Interactive Theatre for Activists, Educators & Other Concerned Citizens
Gabrielle Barnett
5. Hanging by a Thread; A Case for Energy Conservation
Nils Andreasson, Carol Heyman, & Nick Szymoniak
6. Part 2 Renewable Energy - Produce your own
Philip St. John, MD & Andy Baker, PE

Monday, September 28, 2009

Plastic Bags and Bottled Water

Here are two news clippings of interest to Kodiak residents. We can we do something similar in Kodiak. Anyone interested in starting a grassroots effort?

The Fairbanks North Star Borough Assembly has approved a 5-cent tax on plastic bags to reduce litter. Money from the tax will go directly into a fund reserved for recycling programs as they develop. The ordinance is intended to cut waste and create an economic incentive toward reusable bags. The bag tax automatically applies to a few dozen major retailers across town.
Source: The Associated Press (Sept. 2009)

Seattle joins a growing list of cities that either discourage or ban the use of city funds to buy bottled water. The City of Seattle will no longer buy bottled water in order to cut down on waste, says Seattle Mayor Greg Nickels. In doing so, the city could save up to $58,000 a year. The mayor's spokesman added that Seattle has one of the best municipal; water supplies in the country, and that in terms of financial and environmental costs, "It's a pretty clear choice that using city water is a much better choice."
Source: The Seattle Times (March 2008)

Thanks to Marion Owen!

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Eco-tourism in Kodiak

Local tour operators Harry and Brigid Dodge have qualified! They will be reporting briefly at the Sept. 25 Sustainable Kodiak meeting (6:30 pm at Kodiak College) on eco-tourism certification and encouraging anyone who does charters, tours, and trips to certify their own businesses.

Here are some excerpts: Adventure Green Alaska: Tourism Certification Program
Your guide to sustainable tourism in Alaska!

"Are you thinking about a trip to Alaska but want to use tourism businesses that care for the environment, are sensitive to Alaska's Native cultures and rural way of life, and are good community citizens? Are you confused by the multitude of companies that describe their business as "green" or "ecotourism"? We created Adventure Green Alaska (AGA) for people like you."

Business Spotlight

Kodiak Treks, owned and operated by Brigid and Harry Dodge

The key to Kodiak Treks success has been maintaining a focus on the health of the environment and wildlife species that attract our guests. Balance is critical since we aim to share the beauty of Kodiak Island with nature enthusiasts from around the world while minimizing impact on bears, other animal species, and the entire ecosystem that supports them. We strive to instruct guests how to behave respectfully in bear country as opposed to trying to train bears to accept human presence for our own economic gain.

By offering a small-group experience (6-guest maximum) we are able to closely manage each group and spend time with our guests in a personal setting. The small group design also allows us to run the lodge on solar power and minimize fossil fuel consumption.

Kodiak Treks Sustainability Principles:

* Minimizing impact on wildlife
* Small group and staff size
* Education-based program
* Investment in local community
* Relationships with land managers

Congratulations and thanks to the Dodges for leading the way to a new area of sustainable business and life in Kodiak!

Saturday, September 12, 2009

September 25 Meeting Announcement

Don’t miss our first fall meeting, Friday September 25 at 6:30 pm, Kodiak College room 130.
Please send in any announcements or agenda items to

Sustainable Kodiak Presents:
Alaska renewable energy in action-
Chena Hot Springs:
Geothermal Power Plant
Various energy projects, a fabulous greenhouse, and more!
Film and first fall meeting
Friday, September 25, 6:30 pm ~ Kodiak College, room 130
Please come join us!

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Kodiak Turns out to Testify to AK Senate Energy Committee

Many thanks to the Kodiak Daily Mirror and writer Bradley Zink for good coverage!

By 5:30 p.m., the senators were back in town at the Borough Chambers to hear testimony from locals about problems and possible solutions to Alaska’s energy woes. The session lasted slightly more than an hour.

Borough Mayor Jerome Selby spoke first, speaking in favor of retrofitting public facilities with updated equipment. He specifically mentioned Kodiak High School and said better equipment in public facilities would be more energy efficient and fuel-efficient.

“(Retrofitting) public buildings is a little bit daunting, in terms of costs,” Selby said. “But we would think that our view is that would be kind of another piece of improving energy use and efficiency in the state of Alaska.

“It’s not only the (energy) generation side, but how we get more efficient equipment and maybe bring down the costs and the amount that we use. More generation from renewables brings down how much we have to use – the combination of that, I think somewhere in there, lies the best formula for Alaska.”

Laine Welch, syndicated columnist on fisheries issues, urged the senators to reconsider developing the Chuitna coal mine, approximately 45 miles west of Anchorage in the Upper Cook Inlet. She said taking coal from the area would hamper traditional setnet sites with eminent domain and negatively affect fish habitats.

“Every bit of this coal, which is the largest source of greenhouse gases, every bit of it is going to Asia,” Welch said. “It’ll be burned in Asia and come back in the form of carbon dioxide, which will be dumped into the Pacific Ocean.

“The chemistry doesn’t lie: The cold waters of the Bering Sea and the Pacific, and our waters, are already showing the signs of ocean acidification. We would be getting back this tradeoff in the Upper Cook Inlet for this strip coal mine in methyl mercury in our waters.”

When told the coal at Chuitna is low-sulfur and would replace higher-sulfur coal, she said that still would make no difference in her opinion.

Welch also commented on algae biofuels, which promise energy efficiency and produce lower emissions. She also mentioned the “right to dry” movement that advocates the use of clotheslines instead of electric or gas dryers. She said in some places in the U.S. clotheslines are banned, so people have no choice but to use a dryer. If this were remedied the country could lower by a few percentage points the output of carbon dioxide that is contributing to global warming.

“Since the 1970s, clotheslines have been banned by development restrictions in most of the United States … I know sometimes (using clotheslines) it’s not possible or practical,” Welch said. “Just keep in mind that with today’s kids, we have two generations of kids that don’t even know the smell of line-dried laundry.”

Donna Jones, of Sustainable Kodiak, mentioned University of Alaska Fairbanks’ Rich Seifert, who presented earlier this summer at a local meeting the idea of investing some Permanent Fund Dividend money toward making permanent statewide infrastructure changes for sustainable energy.

Jones also said the Legislature should expand the energy efficiency rebate program for homes, possibly extending it for nonprofits, public buildings, businesses and apartment buildings. She suggested a smaller state rebate option for those who can’t do their whole house, because retrofitting everything is difficult and expensive.

“If you have just a small (rebate), people would get started,” Jones said. “And once people get started, it’s like eating cookies — you don’t want to stop. They start to see that they’re saving money. I suggest a small cookie rebate.”

Jones also said, “Super insulation is a really good choice, especially for some of those remote villages where they’re having to fly in (heating) oil. That’s crazy, and it’s also expensive and a hardship on those people. It would pay off many times by permanently reducing these oil costs.”

Jones commented on protecting Alaska’s already limited amounts of farm and ranch land.

“Alaska is at the end of the supply chain for the United States,” Jones said. “We’re really far away. We need to keep some of this food-growing farmland available.”

Rod and Laurie Murdock testified, urging the use of more energy-efficient “gadgets” for offices, which has saved them money, and more recycling, bicycle and mass transit usage, and driving less — all to reduce the amount of fossil fuels and carbon dioxide emissions.

They said they were concerned about Kodiak’s current lack of a public mass-transit bus system.

Realtor and former Kodiak Mayor Bob Brodie also suggested expanding the energy-rebate program to apartment buildings, making the option available to lower-income residents who typically rent and do not own homes.

Kodiak Island Borough Assemblywoman Judy Fulp stressed the importance of energy-saving ideas in Alaska.

“I think besides oil development, fishing and tourism, this is the most important thing we can do in the state,” Fulp said.

Switgard Duesterloh, a fisheries biologist in Kodiak also involved with expanding science education in Kodiak schools, testified on ocean acidification caused by increased amounts of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. She said America is using higher rates of fossil fuels compared to other industrialized nations and urged more small energy-efficient costsaving measures to solve problems, even one streetlight using solar energy.

“We need to stop using fossil fuels that haven’t been used yet,” Duesterloh said. “What I mean by that is the whole problem of the increased (carbon dioxide) in the atmosphere comes from us digging up fossil fuels that have been deposited for a long, long time by nature and were not meant to be in the cycle. We disrupted the cycle of life by bringing up these fossil fuels.”

Duesterloh suggested using bio-fuels, calling them a better long-term solution by not increasing carbon dioxide. She mentioned a project that turns plastics into diesel fuels.

Stosh Anderson, a commercial fisherman and KEA board member, urged the use of electric vehicles.

“I foresee that with the battery technology going to improve that we’re going to have ongoing electric vehicles in this state,” Anderson said. “What that means is the utilities for both space heating and electric vehicles are going to have an increased demand, and that demand means we’re going to have a capital investment.”

Pat Holmes testified on the need not to disregard Alaska’s numerous small and remote villages, primarily with Alaska Natives. He said legislators should see their difficult conditions first-hand in the winter.

“In your respect, you’re coming here in September. That’s a nice thing to do, but it’s a whole lot different out in Perryville or Atka or Quinhagak in January,” Holmes said. “I’d like you to reflect in your statewide approach to not forget the Bush because it’s a very integral part of our state and our nation as far as resource production. And, the folks that live there are darn special.”

He said the home energy audits needed to receive the energy rebates should be available to residents of villages, too.

“How do you get somebody to do an energy audit if you live in Karluk or Akhiok or Perryville? Pretty darn hard,” Holmes said.
* * * * * *

Thanks to all who attended and to all who spoke!

Friday, August 28, 2009

Please join us at this public hearing- very important!

The Alaska Senate Resources and Energy Committees will be visiting Kodiak on Tuesday, September 1.

They will hold a public hearing at the Kodiak Island Borough Assembly Chambers from 5:30 to 7:00 pm to hear comments from the public about what should Alaska’s Energy policy be? How can we lower energy costs for the long-term and achieve greater Energy independence?

For more information please contact the Kodiak Legislative Information Office at 486-8116.


Kodiak Legislative Information Office

305 Center Ave., Suite 1

office (907) 486-8116

fax (907) 486-5264

(Please pass the word or post in your business)

Thanks to Don Roberts for passing this along!

Thursday, August 27, 2009

Homer Event : Voices for the Ocean Sept. 6

“Voices for the Ocean”

Alaska Fishermen Send Urgent Aerial Message made of Boats & Buoys:
Protect oceans and fisheries from acid impact of fossil fuel exhaust.

Interviews, photos & video available, contact:
Celia Alario, Voices for the Ocean Event Media, 310.721.6517,
Alan Parks, AMCC Homer Outreach Coordinator, 907.399.3096,
Brad Warren, Sustainable Fisheries Partnership, 206.579.2407,

The “Voices for the Ocean” event will bring together commercial fishermen and other mariners in Homer, Alaska, on Sunday, September 6, 2009 to celebrate the ocean’s bounty and defend it from harmful fossil fuel emissions.

International Aerial Artist John Quigley ( will create the aerial image in collaboration with the AMCC, SFP and representatives from Alaskan coastal fishing communities.
Boats & buoys will form the message on the water. They will be photographed & videotaped from the air and the resulting images will circulate worldwide through media and allied organizations.

Afterward, participants and community members will gather in Homer for a community seafood feast. Speakers and participants will call on state, national, and international leaders to protect the ocean from the acidifying, oxygen-depleting, and climate-altering impacts of uncontrolled fossil fuel emissions.

The after-party will include expert speakers on ocean acidification, climate change, and practical steps that fishermen, seafood lovers, and other citizens can take to protect the oceans that supply food for 3 billion people. The seafood industry is Alaska’s largest private-sector employer, generating more than 56,000 jobs (not counting “indirect” jobs in related sectors).

“Fishermen and others who depend on Alaska’s rich marine resources are coming together as one voice in support of reducing fossil fuel consumption and moving to a renewable energy future. This is the only real solution to ocean acidification and the time to act is right now,” said Alan Parks.

Fishermen and ocean advocates have a limited time to press for deep emissions-reduction targets. The U.S. Senate is expected to enact climate legislation during late 2009, aiming to have a law passed in time for a United Nations treaty conference in December. At that conference nations will gather to approve the next-generation climate treaty to strictly limit global CO2 emissions in order to avoid catastrophic climate and ocean impacts. Scientists have warned repeatedly that failure to agree on dramatic emissions reductions at this time will likely push Earth’s climate and oceans past “tipping points” that may commit human civilization to irreversible harm.

The initiative brings together fishing and conservation groups that are often at odds on other issues.
“Many of us have different views about how to govern fisheries,” said Brad Warren, former editor of the trade journal Pacific Fishing, who now runs a program on ocean health for the Sustainable Partnership. “But everybody can agree we need an ocean can continue to produce abundant harvests. That’s why we’re involved.”

Participants in the Homer event are urging Alaska’s political leaders to take a strong stand against acidification, which some scientists have dubbed the “evil twin” of global climate change.

Acidification is caused by billions of tons of carbon dioxide that rise from smokestacks and tailpipes every year and mix into the sea. In seawater, the gas forms an acid that attacks the foundation of marine food webs. Thus the same pollution that drives climate change also undercuts fisheries around the world, especially in the vulnerable North Pacific off Alaska and the Pacific Northwest, which produce more than two thirds of the U.S. seafood harvest. The North Pacific is a global repository for carbon dioxide in the oceans.

Quigley said, “This ‘Message from the Sea’ is a call for people around the world to join in a visual declaration to urge leaders to immediately adopt a treaty that reduces greenhouse gas emissions, stabilizes the climate, and protects the ocean.”

"Alaska's senators know that ocean acidification is a looming danger to our fisheries,” said Parks. “This message from fishermen is intended to support our leaders in taking the necessary action now to reduce carbon emissions. Time is of the essence.”

(Thanks to Switgard Duesterloh for this notice!)

Monday, May 4, 2009

KMXT's Sustainability Campaign

KMXT's spring fund drive (starting May 4) celebrates sustainability!

In fact, they've devoted a special KMXT Sustainability Campaign on the section on the website.


"...To educate and inform the Kodiak community about how to reduce energy consumption, recycle resources and products and reuse rather than discard materials."

Learn more about the campaign and how you can participate:

First, a little background...

Two years ago KMXT launched a public information campaign aimed a getting more of our neighbors aware of and involved in recycling. The response from local government, businesses, service organizations and individuals was extremely positive. In the year that followed, Threshold Recycling Services experienced a 50% increase in the volume of recyclable materials that were shipped off Island.

We are still committed to recycling but have broadened the scope of our public awareness efforts to include reuse and conservation of resources as well as information about new technologies and tips for saving energy and money in earth friendly ways. Toward that end, we are launching an informational campaign designed to get more of our neighbors thinking about and involved in sustainability.

Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Sustainable development has three components: environment, society, and economy. The well-being of these three areas is intertwined, not separate.

We believe that sustainability means new technologies and new ways of doing business, which allow us to improve the quality of life today in all economic, environmental, and social dimensions, without impairing the ability of future generations to enjoy quality of life and opportunity at least as good as ours.

$120 Minimum Buy-In TEN 30 - 60 Second EPSA’s
“Sustainability” Enhanced Public Service Announcements sell for $12 each. Due to production costs, a minimum purchase of 10 EPSA’s is required of each participant. Each message will appear in a familiar music bed that listeners will associate with the campaign.

$500 Buy-In FIFTY 30 - 60 Second EPSA’s
Participants buying 50 or more spots will receive a discount of $2 per EPSA. Messages will be broadcast randomly throughout the day (placement at KMXT’s discretion) for a period of up to one year. Sponsors will be recognized on a rotating basis.

To become an underwriter or for more information contact Fred Hawley or Mike Murray at 486-3181.
E-mail: or

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Gifts of Soil Complement Hunting and Fishing on the Family Table

By Hank Pennington
(Published by permission. Thanks, Hank!)

Here’s an interesting question for you. What proportion of your family’s food originates on Kodiak Island?

Sure anglers and hunters can make significant contributions to the family larder, but in all honesty, how much meat do you buy in addition to that which you bring in from the field.

Of course, when we’re talking about food, there’s more on our table than fish, fowl and red meat. Do you garden? Do you harvest wild plants and berries?

With the high cost of food these days, any contributions you can make along those lines is going to have a direct impact on your family’s food budget.

I’ll be the first to admit that hunting and fishing is expensive. But I also have to admit that if I stopped buying fishing tackle and hunting gear tomorrow, I could probably continue putting meat on the table for another ten years or more. That’s right. An awful lot of what I buy is a matter of interest, curiosity and impulse rather than necessity.

But let’s return to my original question and see how our household compares to yours.

I’m absolutely certain that we don’t spend as much as $50 a month on any meat products. That which we buy is more of a supplement to our wild meats than necessity.

Our own list includes bacon or sausage, a little chicken, and on rare occasions other forms of pork ranging from roasts to chops to steaks.

The remainder of our meat supplies comes from Kodiak.

By actual count we have fourteen species of local fish and shellfish in our freezer right now, and some years the total runs higher. Year after year our larder includes some mix of all five species of salmon, Dolly Varden, rainbow trout, halibut, cod, Pollack, two species of rockfish, ling cod, greenling, two species of flounder or sole
, scallops, Dungeness crab, king crab and tanner crab.

Wait a minute! There are twenty-one species on the list! And there are lots more possibilities not on the list. But we have fewer species in the freezer right now because I didn’t crab much last year, and we ran out qui
ckly. I just didn’t get around to catching some of the others either.

Move into the field for the meat sources, and our freezer also holds venison, rabbit, ptarmigan, and three species of ducks. Come to think of it, there are also a few packages of elk, mountain goat, moose and caribou that friends shared with us.

And there’s even more. Through exchanges with distant friends and relatives we also have fish and meats from distant places.

Consider all the product forms possible and all the recipes we can make from that long list, and there’s very little need for us to buy meat in any form, much less any reasonable excuse for us to become bored with Kodiak’s riches.

Drop the rod and gun and pick up a shovel, and another large portion of our food comes from Kodiak. As time allows we’re active gardeners. And while some garden goodies are perishable, others keep well for enjoyment year around.

It doesn’t take much space or the faintest tinge of green to your thumb to grow potatoes on Kodiak. And protected from light, cold and moisture, they keep wonderfully. Most years our enjoyment of planting po
tatoes exceeds our ability to eat all the yield, so we have an excess.

In fact, most root crops grow well on Kodiak and keep well, too. In addition to potatoes we produce our own carrots, rutabagas, parsnips, turnips and beets. Some years we grow our own onions and garlic, but production is highly variable from year to year depending upon the weather.

Other crops do well on Kodiak, though not all keep well. For a few months a year at least, you can e
njoy your own home-grown lettuce, collards, spinach, kale, cabbage, parsley, leeks, peas, radishes, strawberries, raspberries, currants, gooseberries, rhubarb and more.

That’s a really short list of all the possibilities Kodiak soils can produce. I’m by no means a master gardener, but you should take heart from that. If I can do it, anyone can produce their own too! Kodiak has a host of really talents gardeners, and they’re only too willing to pass along their hard-earned experience.

Then there’s the question of all the other wild plants available on Kodiak. I don’t need to point out that most years Kodiak is awash in succulent salmonberries. Talk about an opportunity to sweeten up your table!

But if you’re willing to climb search for them or climb for them, there are other options for your sweet tooth. These include high bush cranberries, low bush cranberries, as well as high bush and low bush blueberries. Then there are nagoon berries and moss berries.
And I wish I could tell you more about the possibilities for greens. We’re comfortable harvesting and eating delicacies like beach greens, fiddleheads, half a dozen species of edible mushrooms, goose tongue and a few more that escape my mind at the moment.

But that’s a very short sampling from a long list of possibilities. With a little study and an open mind towards delicacies from other cultures, Kodiak is a treasure house of edible plants.

As you consider all the possibilities from Kodiak waters and fields, a couple of simple facts should become apparent.

Number one, harvesting, collecting or growing all that food takes time. If your time is short you need to plan ahead and make an extra effort to be in the right place at the right time, as well as set aside a little of each day for watering and weeding a garden.

Number two, you will almost certainly need advice as you work to expand your food horizons. You are simply going to have to invest the time to find out who knows how to grow, harvest and cook all the new varieties.

And number three, you have to figure out where to keep and how to preserve the new products. They don’t come neatly packaged like the foods from the supermarket, so you’re going to have to do that yourself. A
nd you’re going to have to do it in such a way that the quality is preserved.

Where to start? My first stop would be the public library. Kodiak’s library has a wonderful selection of information, but equally important experienced people are working there. They can help you find the information you need from their varied sources, plus they can probably provide the names of local experts willing to help.

Another great source of information is the University of Alaska Cooperative Extension Service. They have a wealth of information about preserving foods safely to retain quality. And among the employees I know, there are some exceptional cooks. With very little prodding, they are more than willing to share outstanding recipes.

If your budget is a little tight this year, Kodiak’s wild and domestic food sources offer real opportunities to put food on your table at minimal expense.

Concerned about the health of the planet? You can greatly reduce the “carbon footprint” of the foods on your table by relying on local sources.

A little bored with the routine in your life? Hunting and fishing for new species, as well as gardening and learning about wild food plants should liven your life up nicely.

Take it from me. The more you learn to gather and utilize the wealth of foods available on Kodiak, the more you will enjoy and appreciate life on our remarkable island.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Inspiring Film Festival Comes to Kodiak

Films to help communities find environmental solutions

A section of award winning films that will leave you feeling inspired and motivated to go out ands make a difference in your community and the world will be in town. The largest environmental film festival in North America is coming to Kodiak when Alaska Marine Conservation Council, Future Farmers of America Kodiak Chapter and Sustainable Kodiak host the Wild and Scenic Film Festival on Tour at the Gerald C. Wilson Auditorium Choral Pod on February 27th, from 7:00 to 9:30 pm.

The tour brings together a selection of films from the annual festival held the second week in January in Nevada, City, CA. “The films include narratives coming directly from people throughout the world engaged in protecting our natural resources and wild places” says tour manager, Susie Sutphin. “The films highlight the “tipping points” that the planet is reaching, yet portrays the “Turning of the tides,” as communities realize what needs to change and how they are responding with creativity, resolve and heart.”

This will be the second annual film festival in Kodiak and this year films will carry viewers into the world of sharks and behavior different than most people would expect to a fantastic journey where a spell has been cast causing people to forget about the ocean and its importance to our lives. Explore two rules: nothing purchased for three months; and living off of only the things, clothing, and food found in the trash. Connect with activists confronting an emerging coal based United States energy policy who have experienced first hand the devastation caused by its extraction and then travel to Oaxaca, where unsustainable land use practices have made it one of the world’s most highly eroded areas.

The Wild and Scenic Film Festival was started by the watershed advocacy group, the South Yuba River Citizens League (SYRCL). The festival’s namesake is in celebration of achieving Wild and Scenic status for 39 miles of the South Yuba River in 1999. By partnering with grassroots organizations, SYRCL is sharing their success as an environmental group with other organizations nationwide. It is building a network of grassroots organizations connected by a common goal, to use film to inspire activism.

The festival is a natural extension of the Future Farmers of America (FFA), dedicated to making a positive difference by developing leadership, personal growth and career success through sustainable agricultural education, Alaska Marine Conservation Council, (AMCC) and their work to advance conservation solutions that address the interdependence between healthy marine ecosystems, strong local economies and coastal traditions and Sustainable Kodiak, working to identify, practice and promote sustainable methods and technologies to benefit our community island and ocean..

Tickets to the festival cost $5.00 and proceeds will go to benefit of the sponsoring organizations to support community conservation through education and awareness. Tickets for general seating will be available at the door and at the Treasury on the Mall. A silent auction featuring a variety of island artists and donated goods will be on hand in the foyer for those seeking treasures to further benefit the organizations. Supervised activities for children in the gym will be provided by FFA while adults sit back and enjoy the films. Complimentary snacks will be provided in the foyer at intermission. Take advantage of an evening to journey into global environmental issues from the comfort of our island home which we all have the power to impact.

See you there!

Monday, January 19, 2009

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle: Does it add up for Kodiak?

+ Did you know that some garbage pick-up services are free?
+ Do you need to pre-sort your recyclables?
+ How does the global economy effect recycling in Kodiak?
+ Got a dumpster gripe or story?
+ Would you like to participate in a beach cleanup party?

For answers to these and many other questions, come to the next Sustainable Kodiak meeting, Thursday, January 29, at 7:00 PM at the Kodiak Refuge Visitors Center, downtown. The meeting will be a special "panel format" for questions and answers.

For more information about recycling, and solid waste in general, contact Tracy Mitchell at the Kodiak Island Borough (486-9348).

Positive Energy in Kodiak

At the December 8, 2008 Sustainable Kodiak meeting, a number of important energy issues were shared:

1. Jennifer Richcreek and Bob Coates from KEA (Kodiak Electric Assn) talked about current LED lighting projects around town, plus steps you can take to reduce your electric bill.

2. Dave Cooper introduced different bartering systems he's researching.

3. Chris Lynch provided an overview about Threshold Recycling's services and Cindy Harrington, a member of the Solid Waste Advisory Board introduced the idea of a committee to tackle litter problems.

4. Local high school teacher and builder Tom Kelly shared his inspiring experiences with building an energy efficient house in Kodiak. No easy task as Kodiak is one of the most expensive places to build in the State. In Tom's words:

The project at 512 Oak St. began when we noticed the original 1952 Aleutian house in a state of disrepair. The roof was collapsing, and the place was trashed. I have always been interested in sustainable building, and an advocate for housing with some dignity.

I know that construction costs are high and will continue to increase over time, so building quality is important. The increases in fuel costs through 2008 were scary, so we wanted to design efficiency to around $1,000 per year. The seismic concerns for building in Kodiak, coupled with the exposure we have, prompted me to build to the 2006 International Building Code vs. the 1999 UBC. That house is built to withstand a magnitude 8.o earthquake; a certainty in our future.

I know that my future housing needs will change, and I won't need 2000 square feet. I thought it would be a nice to build that home in 2008 and move in around 2020. If seeing is believing, and beliefs drive behavior, then we should see more use of sustainable technologies. Total electric, propane, and oil are still less than $200 per month, and will decrease as we get more daylight.

>>> For more information about solar technology for home builders:
>>> To contact Tom Kelly: (907) 481-2848; Email: