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Senators Murkowski, Sullivan To Host Roundtable Mining Discussion

The following press release is courtesy of Salmon Beyond Borders:

JUNEAU—The day after the 5th anniversary of British Columbia’s Mount Polley mine waste dump disaster, Alaska Senators Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan hosted four commissioners from the six-member United States-Canada International Joint Commission (IJC) for a roundtable discussion on the threats B.C.’s transboundary mining poses to communities and rivers along the B.C./Alaska border. The IJC is guided by the Boundary Waters Treaty of 1909, and is tasked with investigating transboundary issues and recommending solutions for the U.S. and Canada. Alaskans have been calling for an IJC investigation of the abandoned Tulsequah Chief mine in the Taku River watershed since 1998, and for a broader review of the cumulative impacts resulting from more than 12 large-scale open-pit mining projects B.C. is pursuing in the headwaters of the Taku, Stikine, and Unuk Rivers that flow downstream into Southeast Alaska’s Inside Passage.

 

IJC U.S. Section Chair Jane Corwin, U.S. Commissioners Robert C. Sisson and Lance V. Yohe, and Canada Section Chair Pierre Béland visited Southeast Alaska August 3 – 5, 2019, spending time in both the Stikine and Taku river communities. In Juneau, the senators on August 5 hosted a roundtable discussion that featured, in addition to the IJC commissioners and the senators, representatives from the U.S. Geological Survey, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the U.S. Forest Service, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Commissioners from the Alaska Department of Natural Resources, Fish and Game, and Environmental Conservation, the Office of the Governor, Central Council of the Tlingit and Haida Indian Tribes of Alaska, Council of Alaska Producers, United Fishermen of Alaska, the Alaska Miners Association, members of the Alaska legislature and Salmon Beyond Borders.

 

“We are grateful to Senator Murkowski and Senator Sullivan, as well as Congressman Young, for their strong leadership on this important international issue. We’re also very grateful to IJC Commissioners Corwin, Sisson, Yohe and Béland for making the long trek to Alaska to see the threatened Stikine and Taku rivers firsthand, and to hear the concerns of a diverse set of Alaskans,” said Salmon Beyond Borders Director Jill Weitz, who participated in the roundtable discussion. “This is an important step toward ensuring the Boundary Waters Treaty is enforced and that Alaskan businesses, rivers and ways of life are defended from B.C.’s large-scale open-pit mining just over the Alaska/B.C. border.”

 

By coincidence, part of the IJC commissioners’ visit overlapped with  the fifth anniversary of the Mount Polley disaster, which released 6.6 billion gallons of contaminants into waters flowing to B.C.’s Fraser River. The anniversary serves to illustrate the serious shortcomings of B.C. mining safeguards and the way those shortcomings could affect and are affecting the Taku, Stikine and Unuk Rivers, as well as the rivers shared with B.C. by Washington, Idaho, and Montana. The governments of B.C. and Canada missed their deadlines to lay charges against Mount Polley mine owner, Imperial Metals, and B.C. regulators now permit the mine company to pump wastewater directly into Quesnel Lake, the sockeye salmon breeding grounds where the spill occurred. In transboundary regions, pollution of the Alaska/B.C. Taku River and the Montana/Idaho/B.C. Kootenai River watershed is ongoing, as B.C.’s Auditor General pointed out in her 2016 report.

“The rivers Canada and the United States share flow over the border — and so do contamination and problems from B.C.’s large-scale open-pit mines,” Weitz said. “The State of Alaska can work with B.C., and that’s important, but it’s not enough; existing and threatened contamination of shared transboundary rivers is an international problem requiring an international solution, and we are gratified that with the help from Senators Murkowski and Sullivan, the International Joint Commission is finally hearing  Alaskans’ and Americans’ concerns.”

Bait, Multiple Hooks Prohibited On Kenai River

The following is courtesy of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game:

(Soldotna) – Kenai River anglers are advised that, in an effort to continue protection of late-run king salmon, the Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) is prohibiting the use of bait and multiple hooks in the Kenai River from its mouth upstream to Skilak Lake, effective 12:01 a.m. Tuesday, August 6 through 11:59 p.m. Thursday, August 15, 2019. Anglers may use only one unbaited, single-hook, artificial lure in these waters. “Single hook” means a fishhook with only one point.

Anglers are reminded that king salmon fishing closed August 1, 2019, including catch-and-release fishing. Incidentally hooked king salmon may not be retained or possessed. King salmon caught while fishing for other species may not be removed from the water and must be released immediately. Anglers should avoid fishing for coho salmon in areas of the river where king salmon are concentrated and to cut leaders or lines to avoid stressing incidentally hooked king salmon.

As of August 3, 2019, the sonar cumulative estimate of king salmon passage into the Kenai River was 9,586 fish. The projected sport harvest and catch-and-release mortality of king salmon in the Kenai River upstream of the sonar through the end of the season as estimated by an inseason creel survey is approximately 507 fish. Projections to achieve the sustainable escapement goal (SEG) have been dropping in August with lower than anticipated entry of king salmon past the sonar. Based on early run timing assessment of the inriver return, the SEG is not projected to be achieved. Restrictive actions to reduce harvest of Kenai River king salmon are being taken in the commercial fishery as well. Therefore, these measures are warranted to continue to conserve late-run Kenai River king salmon needed for escapement.

Women’s Silver Derby On Tap In Valdez

Anglers such as Janet Lehman will take center stage this week at the Valdez Women’s Silver Salmon Derby. Photosby Valdez Fish Derbies

The following is courtesy of Valdez Fish Derbies:

VALDEZ, Alaska – Anglers will hit the waters of Port Valdez and Prince William Sound Saturday during the Valdez Women’s Silver Salmon Derby. Saturday evening the winners will be announced, starting with 50th place and working up to the crowning of the Queen of the Silver Salmon Sisterhood. There will be prizes for the Top 50 fish as well as cash and prizes for the top three biggest fish. The woman who catches the largest silver will be awarded a tiara and signature Women’s Derby pink bathrobe. The theme of this year’s Women’s Derby is “Pajama Party”.

Registration for the Women’s Derby started August 3rd at the Prospector in Valdez and will continue through Saturday, August 10th at noon. Friday night Valdez Fish Derbies hosts an opening celebration with door prizes, a costume contest, and games. The waters of Prince William Sound will be full of boats and anglers on Saturday hoping to catch a big one and get to the weigh in station before it closes at 6pm.

The Women’s Silver Salmon Derby closing awards ceremony is Saturday night. Last year Leslie West of Provo, Utah won the Derby and was crowned Queen of the Silver Salmon Sisterhood with a 16.48 pound silver salmon. The silver salmon West caught during the Women’s Derby not only won her the 1st place Women’s Derby prize, it also held on to capture 3rd place in the overall Silver Salmon Derby. CLICK HERE to visit the Women’s Derby registration page at www.valdezfishderbies.com.

North Pole’s Keith Herve took over the silver salmon derby lead with a fish weighing 12.24 pounds.

Wayne Tuttle’s 11.68-pound silver has him in second place.

The 1st place winner in last year’s Silver Salmon Derby was caught on Women’s Derby day last year by a 7-year old boy from Valdez. Aksel Hutchinson Reeled in a 17.28 pound silver and won the $10,000 first place price. It paid to fish early last year. The 2nd place silver in 2018 was caught by Daniel Schneider of Anchorage, Alaska who reeled his fish in August 4th.

To compete in the Women’s Derby, ladies must buy a Silver Salmon Derby daily or season ticket so they are eligible to win the $10,000 first place prize in the regular derby if they catch a big one that holds on to the end of the derby. Currently, the largest Silver Salmon in the regular derby is a 12.24 pound silver caught by Keith Herve of North Pole.

In the Valdez Halibut Derby, Christine Ives of Fairbanks is holding onto first place with a 285.6 pound halibut she caught on June 6thaboard the Nunatak Second place overall in the Valdez Halibut Derby is Christopher Barnes of Moorhead, Minnesota with a 225.6 pound halibut he caught on June 24th aboard the Sea Quester. Holding on to third place is Joshua Curry of Valdez with a 213.4 pound Halibut he caught on July 21st aboard the Mistress.

Sean Brewer of Fairbanks took the weekly Valdez Halibut Derby award (201 pounds, 2 ounces).

Halibut Derby – Overall Leaders

1st        Christine Ives              Fairbanks, AK            285.6 lbs.         June 6              Nunatak
2nd       Christopher Barnes     Moorhead, MN           225.6 lbs.         June 24            Sea Quester
3rd        Joshua Curry               Valdez, AK                 213.4 lbs.         July 21            Mistress

Halibut Derby – Weekly Winners

1st                Sean Brewer                 Fairbanks, AK              201.2 lbs.         July 29             Sea Hunter
2nd        Leo McDonnell            Columbus, MT              108.4 lbs.         Aug 3                Reflection

Silver Derby – Overall Leaders

1st        Keith Herve                   North Pole, AK            12.24 lbs.         Aug 3               Chinook
2nd        Wayne Tuttle                     Pepperell, MA           11.68 lbs.         July 23             Alaskai
3rd        Janet Lehman                 Lexington, SC             11.44 lbs.         July 30              Orion

GMU 13 Caribou Hunt Regulations Will Include Either Sex

The Nelchina Herd caribou numbers are strong enough that Alaska Department of Fish and Game officials announced that both bulls and cows can be harvested in Game Management Unit 13’s (Talkeetna Mountains and Alaska Range) season for residentsthat starts on Aug. 10. Here’s more from KTUU:

Managers say that the parturition rates (the rate of cows giving birth to calves) was high this year, resulting in an estimated 17,000 calves in a herd of about 51,000 total caribou.

The goal of managers is to keep the population between 35,000 and 45,000 — otherwise the herd risks overgrazing, which can result in population crashes.

 

GMU 13 resident caribou regulations. On Aug. 10, huinters can harvest a bull or a cow. (ADFG)

Kenai Silver Salmon Derby Coming Soon

The following press release is courtesy of the Kenai Chamber of Commerce and Visitor’s Center:

KENAI, Alaska, Aug. 1, 2019 /PRNewswire/ — The Kenai Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Center and the City of Kenai are hosting the Third Annual Kenai Silver Salmon Derby, a fun and family-friendly fishing tournament. The derby runs from September 13th through September 16th, and September 20th through September 22nd.

Named “The World’s Most Responsible Fishing Tournament”, The Kenai Silver Salmon Derby is a new kind of fishing tournament that reduces selective fishing practices that lead to catch-and-release injuries which compromise the health of the silver salmon population in the Kenai River. Net proceeds will be donated to the Kenai Community Foundation to support management and protection of river banks and other riparian zones in the City of Kenai.

“Fishing is an integral part of Kenai’s culture and heritage”, says Paul Ostrander, City Manager for the City of Kenai. “We invite members of the community to take part in this truly Alaskan experience while also contributing to conservation efforts that support wild salmon populations.”

The Kenai Silver Salmon Derby awards prizes using a Magic Weight that is randomly drawn at the end of each derby day. Since any fish over four pounds is eligible to win, anglers of all skill levels have a chance to earn prizes!

Every day at the close of the derby, the daily Magic Weight is randomly generated using two wheels of identical size. The first wheel is numbered 4-23 is spun once to signify pounds. The second wheel numbered 0-9 is spun once to signify tenths of a pound, and spun a second time to signify 100ths of a pound.

The daily prize is awarded to the registered participant with a fish whose weight is closest to the daily Magic Weight.

All daily entries, regardless of daily winner status, are eligible to win the overall Magic Weight prize, which will be selected at the conclusion of the final day of the Derby.

The Derby Entry fee is $10 for one day, or $50 for the entire Derby. Tickets may be purchased at the Kenai Chamber of Commerce & Visitor Center office, Three Bears, and other local businesses.

To learn more about the Kenai Silver Salmon Derby, visit www.KenaiSilverSalmonDerby.com or visit the Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/KenaiSilverSalmonDerby/.

Chilkoot River Sockeye Limits Increasing

Chilkoot River and Lake Sockeye Salmon Sport Fish Limits Increased

(Haines) – The Alaska Department of Fish and Game, Division of Sport Fish is increasing the sockeye salmon bag limit to 12 per day, 12 in possession in Chilkoot River and Lake beginning at 12:01 a.m. Thursday, August 1, 2019 and continuing through the remainder of the year.

ADF&G’s Chilkoot River weir project has passed 101,272 sockeye salmon upstream of the weir as of July 29. This count exceeds the upper end of the escapement goal range of 38,000 to 86,000 sockeye salmon. To allow additional harvest on these surplus sockeye salmon, the department has liberalized the sport fishery and extended subsistence and commercial periods in Chilkoot and Lutak Inlets.

Anglers should follow these guidelines to prevent bears from associating anglers with food.

  • Clean your fish in the river and place fish remains into swiftly moving water.
  • Secure your fish in a vehicle or other bear-resistant container immediately.
  • Store your food, fish and garbage in a vehicle or other bear-resistant container at all times. Never leave food, fish, coolers or garbage unsecured and unattended.
  • Cease fishing when a bear approaches within 100 yards.
  • Release hooked fish by cutting or breaking the fishing line when a bear approaches within 100 yards or when the bear is attracted by your struggling fish, whichever is greater.

Anyone needing further information concerning this announcement should contact the Division of Sport Fish office in Haines at (907) 766-3638

Sport fishing licenses can be obtained online at www.adfg.alaska.gov/Store/.

Port Valdez Pink Salmon Limits Increased

(Anchorage) – The Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) is increasing the bag and possession limit for pink salmon to 12 fish per day and 24 fish in possession in the Valdez Terminal Harvest area effective 12:01 a.m. Friday, August 2 through 11:59 p.m. Tuesday, December 31, 2019. The increased limit is effective for all marine waters north of line from Entrance Point to Potato Point (Valdez Narrows). Fresh water salmon closures remain in effect for Port Valdez. The bag and possession limit for coho salmon does not change. Only six salmon in your bag limit can be coho salmon and only twelve salmon in your possession can be coho salmon.

Pink salmon returns to the Valdez Fisheries Development Association (VFDA) Solomon Gulch Hatchery (SGH) are high. Pink salmon cost recovery efforts for this hatchery have been completed and they have secured sufficient broodstock at SGH.

“There are plenty of pinks around, but anglers may have to sort through the fish to find brighter ones suitable for table fair,” said Jay Baumer Sport Fish Area Management Biologist. “Later in the run the quality of the meat may be deteriorating so anglers are encouraged to not wait until later in the season.”

Unlike many other Prince William Sound saltwater salmon fisheries, Valdez has numerous areas where shore anglers can cast for pink salmon, especially by the harbor and Allison Point. No wild stock concerns will occur from the increased bag limits and it is warranted to increase the pink salmon bag and possession limits in the Port Valdez marine waters for these surplus hatchery fish.

High Flyer, Proud Alaskan: Elyse Saugstad Soars

PHOTO BY JEFF CRICCO PHOTOGRAPHY

 

The following appears in the July issue of Alaska Sporting Journal:

BY CHRIS COCOLES 

In her line of work, Elyse Saugstad is grateful for plenty of snow, quality ski equipment and frequent-flier mileage plans. 

As an always-working, constantly-on-the-move professional freeskier, ski film star and defacto ambassador for her sport, Saugstad is rarely not packed for another flight to a mountain – from Sun Valley to Sundance. 

So while it behooves her to be in a somewhat central location – northern California’s Lake Tahoe to shorten some of the travel distances between ski destinations – there’s no doubt that she’d just as well be back home in her native Alaska. It’s there that she’d be content to rip it up on all those powder-filled slopes, as well as fish the waters below for salmon and trout with her immediate family.

The irony is, Alaska offers some of the planet’s most challenging freeride skiing slopes (more on that later). Saugstad goes so far as calling the Last Frontier her sport’s “Mecca” locale. But it’s also Alaska, so of course it’s a bit of a logistical conundrum when the job requires so much travel. 

“If you’re based in Alaska, you’re just tagging on an extra three-and-a-half- to four-hour flight. So it makes a lot more sense to be based here where you can travel much easier,” she says, admitting too of an unconditional love for her home state.

“Alaska is amazing. It made me who I am because of the way I grew up and what I was exposed to. That being said, because all my family is still there and it’s so accessible, for me I don’t feel like I’m completely cut off.”

For Saugstad, Alaska will always be there. So will the mountains. So will the fish. So will her parents and siblings. And there are adventures to be had both close to her current home and beyond. But now 40 and married to a fellow professional action skier with a similar obsession with skiing fast and furious down the steepest and baddest terrain, Saugstad will never forget how (or from where) she got here.

“For me, I can’t even really point a finger where I fell in love with the mountains because I fell in love so young,” she says. “I was feeling like I wanted to be a skier. Kids want to be astronauts or firemen, but I wanted to be a skier. I didn’t know what that meant in terms of having a career or anything. But that was just my moment that I can look back at.”

The lady knew her destiny.

Photo courtesy of Elyse Saugstad

 

ELYSE SAUGSTAD IS A ski tiger, someone who can match the skills of her male brethren while making heartstopping descents down steep peaks. 

Her eventual specialty, freeride skiing, is more of a daredevil sport than the traditional skiing you’ll watch in the Winter Olympics, a level that Saugstad once was on a realistic path to. But she was willing to trade the chance to win a gold medal for tearing down some of the most breathtaking routes in the world and getting filmed and paid to do it. 

“For me, I always just sum it up as it’s the coolest way to get down the mountain. So it’s essentially the mountain and using the mountains as a blank canvas and going down it in the way that you want to – fast,” says Cody Townsend, 36, Saugstad’s husband, fellow freeride skier and filmmaker. 

“Whether that’s slow and controlled, whether that’s jumping off cliffs – whatever it is, freeride is truly a free form of skiing. There are no rules to it other than the rules that you set yourself.”

And both he and his wife embrace the idea of putting the “free” in freeride. Saugstad’s resume is full of accolades and honors: Freeskier Magazine’s female skier of the year award (2018); an ESPN poll ranking her as one of the top 50 women in action sports (2014); a 2008 freeride world tour championship. (She’s also been a guest speaker at TEDx Talk conventions and spoken at length to groups about surviving a 2012 avalanche that killed three friends in backcountry Washington state.) 

And where did her love for winter sports begin? On the ski slopes and peaks of Alaska. Born in Anchorage, Saugstad and her family moved to Girdwood, where Alyeska Resort ski area became a second home. 

“When we were in Anchorage, I remember my parents coming to school and pulling me out of school for a powder day. It happened a couple times and I just thought, ‘Oh my gosh. This is the coolest thing ever,’” she says. “So there were just so many fond memories of being a child and creating these senses. Skiing represented freedom for me in so many ways.”

When she was 7, her parents allowed her to ski on her own with friends, which Saugstad now refers to as another “a-ha” moment that living in Alaska allowed: the perks of independence and enjoying the outdoors – complete with companionship and a set of skis, poles, boots and a helmet. 

It probably didn’t hurt that the kid was damn good at what she did. Athletic and skilled enough on skates to also show promise as a competitive figure skater before finally focusing on ski racing full time, it didn’t take long to realize that the sport could become more than just a recreational hobby and an avenue to ditch school for the ski lift.

Remember that when Saugstad was coming up, Alaskans had recently become Olympic heroes. Fellow Alyeska products like Tommy Moe (Alaska Sporting Journal, December 2013) and Hilary Lindh were both Olympic medalists in the 1990s in the downhill and served as built-in role models for Saugstad and other aspiring skiers instate. 

One of her first races was a precursor to what would become a dedication to the downhill and Super-G, ski racing’s glamour speed events.

“I was so young. But afterwards I got this trophy and my parents were like, ‘You had the fastest time.’ But all of a sudden I was skiing with other fast skiers, because I guess I was good enough,” Saugstad says. “But then, of course, when you’re at that young age and win something, you think, ‘This is cool. I like winning stuff.’ So then I got into Mighty Mites and did very well and did well in high school. At 15 and 16 I was ranked in the Super G for my age.”

The Winter Olympics became a possibility to attain when she was a teenager. 

“I was on the fringe (of the national team) and was on the regional team. But I got pretty burned out on ski racing when I was 17 and 18. I moved on,” she says. “And it was for the better because if I continued to race in college, I would have really burned out myself on skiing as a whole. Instead, when I got to college and started anew, it was when the free ski thing all of a sudden started to become prominent and there was this cool new thing (to try).”

Finishing her college studies at the University of Nevada, Reno also fortuitously put Saugstad in the heart of the growing freestyle skiing and snowboarding hub at nearby Lake Tahoe. Her soon-to-be husband Townsend was also based there (though they met at a winter sports trade show in Las Vegas). 

One of their first dates was – you guessed it – skiing with Cody, as well as some of his buddies who just happened to be freestyle community icons (J.T. Holmes and the late Shane McConkey).

Both husband and wife love to share the story about that day. 

“(We) went down a challenging run and she was just on my ass the whole time. And I thought, ‘Oh, she can ski,’” Townsend recalls. “And then we went up to this other run and I felt like I was going to show off a little bit and show her what I can do. I hit it and perfectly landed. And Elyse was midair off the exact same cliff and stomps it, skis up to me and said, ‘That was fun.’ Oh my god. I did not expect this. It was kind of instant love for me. We started hanging out and Elyse joined my little rat pack of buddies. And she was the girl of the group who was outskiing most of the guys.”

And they hadn’t even started fishing together yet. 

“Alaska is amazing,” Saugstad says. “It made me who I am because of the way I grew up and what I was exposed to.” (ELYSE SAUGSTAD)

FOR BOTH SAUGSTAD AND Townsend, fishing was almost an afterthought before their worlds merged. And it’s understandable, given how much time they spent outdoors – in winter skiing weather. 

“My parents worked so much that we didn’t going fishing that much as a kid. My dad was in construction and my mom was an electrician. All the jobs would be in small towns and more remote areas. And so that’s when they would work their butts off all summer,” Saugstad says of the limited opportunities they had to fish as a family.

It really wasn’t until she left Alaska, met Townsend and started going back to visit the family with her boyfriend and then husband in tow that they both figured out that this fishing thing was a pretty cool getaway from the rigors of their ski careers.

And while Saugstad did enjoy getting out to fish during Alaska’s salmon runs, she had to get her California beach community and weekend ski bum significant other interested in fishing. 

“I remember (fishing) once or twice in the ocean thinking it was the single most boring thing, and I wondered why anyone would fish,” Townsend says with a laugh. “It really was not that fun and I thought it was not that very interesting.”

“But when I went to Alaska and we were catching that first salmon, you felt like, ‘Oh my god! This is amazing.’ That surge … the actual fight, and, especially when it comes to salmon, just being able to harvest them, is pretty special. That’s where it hooked me. I remember coming home and trying to figure out how I can keep doing this. I want to keep fishing.”

But even Townsend had an impact on Saugstad when it came to the two inspiring each other from a fishing standpoint. Some in Townsend’s circle of friends hail from Montana and took him fly fishing on remote creeks in California’s Sierra Nevada Mountains. 

When Saugstad joined her husband on one such outing, she too was enlightened by an experience she’d rarely had. 

 “I had only known about going out and catching salmon – big fish that you took home to eat. And you don’t go out there and flounder around with flies and throw a fish back in the water,” Saugstad says. “And at first I was really like, ‘Why are you trying to catch a fish that’s only like 6 inches? That doesn’t sound exciting.’ And I would go to set my hook and I would flip a couple of tiny little fish right out of the water; because I tried to set so much harder, I would lose the fish immediately. But I didn’t understand the subtleties and the idea of catching really small fish and being really excited about it.”

Now when the couple migrates to Alaska to spend time with Saugstad’s family, they’re just as likely to break out the fly rods and cast for a few trout as they are to have the salmon gear out during the spawning run. 

But some of the Alaska trips can be a bit bittersweet for these two. As much fun as they have skiing back home in the mountains surrounding Lake Tahoe, Alaska has even bigger mountains. And more to conquer. 

Elyse and her husband, fellow pro free skier Cody Townsend.

THEY ARE QUITE THE photogenic pair, including when on skis while slicing down some edge-of-your-seat mountaintops. Such a partnership is a match made in film, and both have appeared in several of the skiing adventure flicks made famous by the legendary filmmaker Warren Miller, who influenced both Saugstad and Townsend in their younger days. (Townsend appears in two Warren Miller Entertainment productions, Playground and Impact.)

“I think Warren Miller is responsible for multiple generations of skiers. For me, it was the coolest thing in skiing,” Townsend says. ”It was the most fun thing in the world to do. It was so badass and I don’t even know if we truly understand how important and impactful those films were on skiers.”

Both he and Saugstad have their own YouTube channels, which include some epic videos of the couple’s ski trips. A two-part production titled Backcountry Skiing has between 92,000 and 95,000 views each. It’s a blend of spectacular skiing and some comedy mixed in.

And it’s the kind of footage that most of us – even those who are as hardcore and experienced weekend skiers on the intermediate hills at popular resorts – can only dream of experiencing on their own. 

 

But watching others accomplish the impossible on film and then excelling in the sport themselves is how they got here. The sponsorships, the trips to find new powder to beat and the overall have-backpack-ready-to-travel lifestyle is a hectic one. But it’s a journey Saugstad – she once pondered law school – wouldn’t trade. 

“I was putting off law school to be a ski bum. And then I met Cody. He had just started to break in himself and just broke through in a film with Warren Miller and had filmed with Matchstick Productions,” Saugstad says. “And it wasn’t that I was seeking it out per se, but Cody was definitely urging me to – I don’t know – put some effort into being a pro skier and at least compete and see how I like it. He thought I was definitely good enough, so with his encouragement I did. And now law school is a thing of many, many years ago.”

So too were those days burning up the slopes around Girdwood, and while Saugstad has skied all over the world. There’s always fish to catch and more snow-covered peaks to shred back home. 

“The mountains are endless in Alaska,” she says, “and I feel like I’ve just barely touched it.” ASJ

Editor’s note: For more on Elyse Saugstad, go to elysesaugstad.com and follow on Instagram and Twitter (@elysesaugstad). Check out Cody Townsend’s website at codytownsend.com.

 

EPA Removes Previous Order That Would Protect Bristol Bay From Mining

Photo by Wikimedia user AlaskaTrekker

The Environmental Protection Agency has reversed an order from former President Barack Obama that would help protect Bristol Bay from mining projects like the Pebble Mine.

Here’s CNN with more:

EPA’s Chris Hladick, an administrator who presides over Alaska, said the “proposed determination” that previously blocked the project “does not account for the full record and does not grapple with differing conclusions” about the mine’s potential environmental impacts.
“The agency has worked closely with the Army Corps to engage with stakeholders and the public on this issue, which has resulted in an expansive public record, including specific information about the proposed mining project that did not exist in 2014,” Hladick said in a statement.
Tom Collier, the CEO of the company behind the proposed mine, Pebble Limited Partnership, praised Tuesday’s development and argued that the Obama administration’s EPA reached its determination by relying on hypothetical mining scenarios not based on the development plan proposed by his company.
Some social media reaction:

 

Close Call For Anchorage Officer, Moose Family On Roadway

The above dashboard video from the Anchorage Police Department. And as someone who once hit a deer during a late-night trip in California, I can understand why this would freak out both the driver and the critters. (Check out the reaction of the moose and its calf!)

 

Sockeye Limits Increasing On Kenai River

The following is courtesy of the Alaska Department of Fish and Game:

(Soldotna) – The Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) is increasing the sport fishing bag and possession limit for salmon, 16 inches or longer, except for king, pink, and coho salmon, in the Kenai River downstream of Skilak Lake to six per day and 12 in possession effective 12:01 a.m., Sunday, July 28 through 11:59 p.m. Tuesday, December 31, 2019. This includes the flowing waters of the Kenai River from its mouth upstream to ADF&G regulatory marker located at the outlet of Skilak Lake.

The Kenai River Late-Run Sockeye Salmon Management Plan allows ADF&G to increase bag and possession limits for sockeye salmon when the late-run of Kenai River sockeye salmon exceeds 2.3 million salmon. As of July 26, 2019, ADF&G projects the Kenai River sockeye salmon late-run exceeds 2.3 million fish and anticipates the escapement goal (700,000 – 1,200,000 sockeye salmon) will be achieved. Therefore, it is warranted to increase the bag and possession limit for salmon, other than king, pink, and coho salmon, to six per day and twelve in possession, of which no more than two per day and in possession may be coho salmon.

“Anglers should be advised that this action to liberalize bag and possession limits does not mean that fishing success will dramatically increase, stated Area Management Biologist Colton Lipka. “Fish passage into the Kenai River fluctuates on a daily basis making some day’s better fishing than others.”

Anglers are reminded to review the Kenai River riverbank closures for habitat protection regulations described on pages 55-56, as well as the fly-fishing only waters downstream of Skilak Lake described on pages 52-53, of the 2019 Southcentral Alaska Sport Fishing Regulations Summary booklet. In addition, please respect riverbank restoration projects and private property in the Kenai River corridor.