It is Offically Early!

We have steelhead.  I would not be afraid to come early.  As in now…  The lake is thawed and those fish can come out at any time.  They have NOT appeared within two miles of the bridge as of yesterday,  but we do have pretty reasonable numbers if bright fish there.  Late last night,  there were groups of as many as 20 steelhead on the move.  Fishing was slow all day,  but really took off right before dark.

Brian at Fish and Game said they have been in and out of the weir cabin this week and have not seen any significant sign of incoming fish (yet there are bright fish upstream).  Absolutely no snow on the ground anywhere.  Not even hiding in the trees.  This would be an excellent time to avoid the crowds…

Yakutat Lodge won’t open till April 1st,  but Situk Leasing has their cars ready and available.  Glacier Bear is planning to open for lodging the 3rd week of March.  I doubt we’ll see many people changing their schedule,  except potentially some of the campers.  The fishing right now as comparable to what we’d expect to see second week of April.

I’m not planning to officially open the fly shop right away,  but as usual,  we are here every day anyway.  Devon has been coming in daily to buy his usual 3 flies.  He pulls up and honks the Suburban horn,  we come down and unlock the door.  If you do come early,  give me a heads up if you can,  but just coming over and honking or yelling at the second floor windows works…

I need to have the spring disclaimer…  The weather is warm right now,  but it could always change and snow 8 feet…  I highly doubt it since the ground is so warm now.  Weather feels like May,  with no ice on any of the lakes around town.  Always possible for a winter storm to pass through,  but I wouldn’t hold my breath at this point.

Devon landed 2 and lost a third right at sunset last night,  after a slow day otherwise

Devon landed 2 and lost a third right at sunset last night, after a slow day otherwise… This one is a little blushed, but the other one was a chrome (picture wasn’t as good though)

I Started Another Business Today!

You have already heard my rantings about Yakutat’s declining economy and population,  so I won’t go into it again here…  But…

Yakutat Airport (PAYA)

Yakutat Airport (PAYA)

At our last Assembly meeting,  one of the other assemblymen suggested we have a business summit to discuss economic development.  The mayor and City Manager proceeded to discuss possible dates sometime in the next 30 days…  After sitting through meetings nearly every single day for the previous 2 weeks,  I let my frustrations get the best of me and I blurted out something about just “XXXX or get off the pot” and do something!

So I said meet me at the hangar conference room on Saturday at 7pm for a business development meeting.  It was in two days from my outburst.  Without promoting the idea,  we ended up with 15 people from a pretty diverse cross section of Yakutat.  The meeting lasted 3 hours and we covered many subjects,  from school funding to the cruise ship industry (both have their own boards meeting elsewhere),  but we came back to the topic of overcoming the obstacles for starting businesses here in Yakutat.

P8130402

Nothing earthshattering happened,  other than they wanted to meet again in two weeks.  The second meeting will be this coming Saturday March 7th,  at 7pm here at the hangar.  We are going to be working on “solving” the issue of financing small businesses here – #1 problem is that banks don’t want to loan based on our unconventional collateral.  Our houses tend not to be on foundations and they don’t think assets located in a remote Alaskan village are sellable should the loan default.  Can’t say I blame them for that…

We are going to start a small venture capital company based locally.  We can recognize the value of a set-net skiff,  or Honda ATV as collateral because we deal with those things every day.  Some of the services Yakutat needs do not require all that much capital anyway – for instance a sea kayak rental company could easily be started for under $20,000.  Getting a line of credit as a kid just starting out would be “challenging”,  but that is a no-brainer business for around here.

Kayaking17

 

My goal is to sell 100 shares for $1,000 each.  You have 1/100th ownership in voting stock in the corporation.  Buy 2 shares and you have two votes…  That gives us $100,000 to invest in local business ideas,  where we can do straight loans and earn interest,  or we can have ownership stake in the company.

Let me know what you think,  or if you want to help Yakutat recover her financial legs by stimulating business.  In the meantime,  I started (yet another) business today!  Another airport business…  More on that later though…

P3020013

Is It Time?

Last night,  our friend Devon (who guides out at Icy Bay Lodge and is in town this week) sent me a fishing report off the upper Situk…  This was the only fish landed,  but she looks like a bright spring fish.

Devon Fernandez took a wonderful selfie out on the Situk yesterday

Devon Fernandez took a wonderful selfie out on the Situk yesterday

With our gorgeous sunny day today,  everyone was out flying (two local planes and a bunch of people passing through).  I finally couldn’t take it any more and just before sunset,  Tanis,  Chris and I took off.  We landed out at the Situk Cabins,  then flew over the lake.  A VERY thin layer of clear ice over the lake that was hard to see.  The outlet is OPEN and the lake fish can come out any time they feel like it…

Hey!  This isn't from our flight!  I stole the photos off Chris' camera and this salmon dinner photo looked delicious!  Or is it steelhead?

Hey! This isn’t from our flight! I stole the photos off Chris’ camera and this salmon dinner photo looked delicious! Or is it steelhead?

Ankau Bridge

Ankau Bridge

South end of Khantaak Island

South end of Khantaak Island

Town...  Lt. Governor Byron Mallott's house is there on the point closest to us

Town… Lt. Governor Byron Mallott’s house is there on the point closest to us

Looking out toward the bay over the islands

Looking out toward the bay over the islands

There is absolutely no snow on the ground.  You can see the snowline is well up at about 2,000 feet against the mountains.  For a better look,  here is what the area around the Forest Service cabins look like:

https://vimeo.com/121000487

Not atrace of snow

Not atrace of snow

A dry path to the Eagle Cabin

A dry path to the Eagle Cabin

What's wrong with this picture?  Wood drying for the OIL stove...

What’s wrong with this picture? Wood drying for the OIL stove…

We took off and headed for Situk Lake.  The sun was already below the horizon,  so the photos don’t look so hot…  But you can see the lake is ready to release the winter fish.

It looks lice-free,  but there is a think frozen layer across the entire lake.

It looks lice-free, but there is a think frozen layer across the entire lake.

The immediate outlet is ice-free.  The fish can come out any time they feel like it.  They don't appear to be in the river yet though.  The ones being caught are scattered and mostly bright fresh fish.

The immediate outlet is ice-free. The fish can come out any time they feel like it. They don’t appear to be in the river yet though. The ones being caught are scattered and mostly bright fresh fish.

The spring run isn’t here yet,  but we are getting very close.  It can happen any time.  I’m betting we’ll have a run within the next two weeks.

A Day with No Meetings

You are getting two posts tonight!  Because for the first time in a couple weeks,  I didn’t have any city meetings to go to!  There were three yesterday.  Only one tomorrow (that I know of).  The meetings about meetings are growing a little tiresome!

Flying down the coast at sunset,  with ice along the shore

Flying down the coast at sunset, with ice along the shore

So…  three weeks ago,  we packed up the plane and headed out to the cabin for a break.  It was cold,  clear and blowing a heck of a north wind.  I was asked to check on one of the camps on the Akwe,  but the winds were not going to let me do that.  Calm in town,  but blowing about 40 knots at the cabin.  We just came in straight and landed ASAP.  In town,  we had rain.  At the Italio,  we had freezing rain coating everything with a layer of slick snot.  No traction on the runway.  Polished ice on the sand.  Two little patches of crust that gave us a little traction,  but not enough.  Fortunately the winds were so strong,  they slowed us enough not to smack into the trees.

Eden keeps a lookout for glass balls

Eden keeps a lookout for glass balls

Trudging through the icy wind

Trudging through the icy wind

Frozen tiedown ropes

Frozen tiedown ropes

Tracks on the runway

Tracks on the runway

Tied the plane down and then the winds really picked up.  For the next couple days,  the north winds were relentless.  Sitting in the cabin on the second night,  the whole box would shudder and shake with every slamming gust.  We were reading by lamplight when the roofing peeled off and slammed into the stovepipe.  Not much we could do but hunker down till it let up – and it did eventually.

A butt-kicking at cribbage

A butt-kicking at cribbage

Northern Lights over the cabin

Northern Lights over the cabin

Picturesque sunset over the Middle Italio

Picturesque sunset over the Middle Italio

Full moon rising

Full moon rising

Winds out there topped 100 knots – especially at night.  Usually they calm in the evenings,  but not with this system.  They finally let up and we headed back to town.  Teen says she is done flying for the season.  Tanis and I went back out last week to check on things and found the new outhouse blown over.  Looks like the winds were even worse after we escaped.

Mid to upper 40's now,  so hard to believe we were this cold!  At least the winds were relatively calm as we readied for take-off

Mid to upper 40’s now, so hard to believe we were ever this cold! At least the winds were relatively calm as we readied for take-off

Flying over John Latham's Akwe Camp as promised - looks OK.

Flying over John Latham’s Akwe Camp as promised – looks OK.

Looking down the frozen Akwe

Looking down the frozen Akwe

Passing by home on our way back to town

Passing by home on our way back to town

Turning final onto Runway 02 (closed in winter by the way...)

Turning final onto Runway 02 (closed in winter by the way…)

I'm gonna need a little help getting this back upright - glad I wasn't in it at the time!

I’m gonna need a little help getting this back upright – glad I wasn’t in it at the time!

Don't fall in Tanis!

Don’t fall in Tanis!

Amazing Coincidences

I have heard many times that there is no such thing as coincidence.  Well,  what the h-e-double hockey sticks do you call this?!?!

Our good friend Rod,  who used to fly for Cascade Air and had spent about a decade flying and fiddling with our DC-3 called today.  As you may remember,  he came up this summer and we fired up the plane and taxied up and down the runways for a couple days.  He is trying to buy his own DC-3 and I located his plane in my DC-3 Survivors book,  showing the bird’s history.  I sent him photos of the pages of both planes.

2-book series for DC-3 lovers

2-book series for DC-3 lovers

So he read from the book that N91314 was owned by a company that he flew one flight for when he was 21.  He looked back in his early pilot logbook and there was N91314 staring at him from his 1968 entry.  All these years,  he had no idea he flew her almost 50 years ago.

I wish I had recorded the call.  Rod talked about the two-day trip to Texas with a load of 3,000 baby turkeys in crates.  The pilot was a WWII veteran,  who didn’t let the punk kid touch the controls.  Rod’s job was to manage the heaters,  so the birds didn’t freeze – or cook.  They hit some turbulence and a couple crates broke open.  The freed baby turkeys heard the voices in the cockpit,  so they scrambled forward.  Rod ended up with about 20 chicks on his lap (knowing Rod – he likes chicks…).  The pilot shouted loud to scare the birds and they all crapped on Rod’s pants…  Mr. Veteran thought that was great fun.

Me actually flying N91314 IN THE AIR in 2006

Me actually flying N91314 IN THE AIR in 2006

Tanis helping to dig the landing gear out of the soft sand...

Tanis helping to dig the landing gear out of the soft sand…

Flying thousands of pounds of salmon on back-to-back flights off the Tsiu can make a cargo plane reek,  but flying turkeys for the American Turkey Breeding Farms in the summer to Texas probably smelled a bit worse…

Here is the channel with all my DC-3 videos…
https://vimeo.com/channels/802429

And one of the vids – blind leading the blind as I’m telling Chris how to taxi a plane I don’t know how to fly:

If this plane could speak…  and sometimes she does.

Rod unknowingly sitting in the same seat he occupied 47 years earlier

Rod unknowingly sitting in the same seat he occupied 47 years earlier

Me - with a look of concern and pucker

Me – with a look of concern and pucker

Looking down the runway again

Looking down the runway again – not quite on center

The last time she flew - with Rod at the controls over the Yakutat airport

The last time she flew – with Rod at the controls over the Yakutat airport

Running her engines again

Running her engines again

February 19th, 2015 Assembly Meeting

Seems like my only posts this winter are about the assembly…

Tonight will be another regular assembly meeting at the High School Auditorium 7pm.  Here are the attachments:

#1 Feb 19 Notice Agenda minutes 6.1
Notice,  agenda,  meeting minutes from the Feb 5th meeting and a flier from the tribe about “Adverse Childhood Experiences”

#2 Feb 19 Ordinances
Introduction of ORD 15-584 – Defining “public place” for Marijuana consumption and prohibiting the manufacture of “Marijuana Concentrates”

Introduction of ORD 15-585 – Changing the Borough Tax Code to allow exemptions from sales tax for wholesale purchases of “ingredients”

#3 10.1 and Calendar
Monthly financial statement ending December 31st and Borough meeting calendar

Other attachments:

2015 Legislative Bulletin 29-3
Report from the Alaska Municipal League listing State of AK legislative bills

Inspection summary and detailed report_02-16-15
Energy Audits of Alaska report on the VEEP Grant projects

http://www.seconference.org/sites/default/files/Kake%20Collaboration.pdf
A report on what Kake,  Alaska did to stimulate economic development

We also received this e-mail relating to State of AK funding issues for the Alaska Land Mobile Radio program and Secure Rural Schools funding:

First of all………………………to those of you interested in ALMR (the Alaska Land Mobile Radio) issue, the Governor’s budget has reduced the “ALMR payment for municipalities” from $500,000 to $160,000.  My concern has been………………….how does the Department of Administration hope to handle this shortfall?  Will they come to municipalities for this money?  I spoke to someone in that Department today who said that, SO FAR, that is NOT the intent of the Department.  They are, as we speak, cutting back on contractors.  That, for right now, is very good news.  In years past, they have attempted to get this money from municipalities.  For those of you who use the system, however, it is not apparent what “cost-savings” will do to the system.  The Commissioner of the Department said yesterday in a Senate hearing that they would also be attempting to look for equipment that served the same purpose, but which was more cost effective (sounds better than “cheaper”), however, they had not identified any as of yet.  We are attempting to line someone up at the last minute to discuss the State’s plans with the future of ALMR. 

That is the good news. 

The bad news………………………………as most of you know who receive Timber Receipts (or funding from Secure Rural Schools), the funding has crashed.  AML has been taking this message to our State Legislature, as well.  They need to be made aware that while they discuss cuts to municipalities, that we are getting cut in other areas, as well.  Here is a list of the communities that receive Timber Receipts, what they would have received (without the latest sequester) and what they will get this year.  It might make you want to throw up. 

Municipality                     SRS                                     After sequester

Anchorage                        $93,040                             $2,836

Haines                               $154,801                           $51,686

Juneau                              $728,908                           $32,023

Kenai Borough                 $676,603                           $45,724

Ketchikan Gateway         $1,230,435                       $11,167

Mat-Su                              $19,285                             $95,410

Petersburg                       $1,477,160                       $9,726

Sitka                                   $941,775                           $41,399

Skagway                            $24,027                             $2,783

Wrangell                           $1,315,138                       $49,971

Yakutat                             $659,974                           $38,336

Unorganized (this money is “split” between municipalities in forested areas that are not  in an Organized Borough

                                           $6,923,581                       $196,142

Three of us will be traveling to Washington, D.C. in about a week to address this issue with some members of Congress.  Things can look a bit glum with regards to our State deficit, but remember that as political subdivisions, we should certainly not ever be content to be pushed to the back when it comes to sharing the state’s revenues.  We at AML will NEVER give up!!!!!!

And finally…  we’ll have a special Executive Work Session on February 23rd at 6pm at the CBY Office to review two reports the assembly commissioned last year.  Some of the information may have a direct adverse impact on the financial wellbeing of the Borough,  thus the Executive Session requirement (AKA – not open to the public).  No other business may take place at this meeting.

Busy Weeks

So much for my thought that I’d be back to blogging again this winter…  Two weeks of EMS training to recertify (Tanis is also getting his ETT cert as part of health class) and meeting after meeting after meeting for the city.  Tonight was another school board budget workshop that I volunteered to represent the assembly at,  tomorrow is our regular assembly meeting,  Friday is the Sustainable Development Plan meeting…  These things never seem to end!

This is when I broke my arm...

This is when I broke my arm…

Followed by my spine injury...

Followed by my spine injury…

Poor Tanis had to be extricated from a car wreck...  He sure seems happy about it.

Poor Tanis had to be extricated from a car wreck… He sure seems happy about it.

Difficult times,  but optimistic times as well.  We are here at this time in history for a reason.  Whether we act,  or sit on our butts is our decision.  With the drop in oil prices,  the Alaska state budget is $3.5 billion shy of what they were planning for.  Our fuel costs here in Yakutat haven’t dropped significantly,  but the savings you are seeing in the real world will translate into extra spending cash come summer.  That should mean increased travel to Yakutat…  Not enough to enable us to recover from our financial troubles,  but it’ll definitely help.

I’m putting off posting all the assembly documents till tomorrow.  Instead…  let’s talk fishing!  Some guys were seen in waders last week standing over the airport ditch looking at the silvers spawning.  Not sure if they were fishing for them or not…  But three days after I last checked and there were 50+ in the one hole at the Cannon Beach turn,  there were only three left.  Our silver run is finally over now – the 3rd week of February.  Weird!

The Winter Silver Run

The Winter Silver Run

As for steelhead…  I’m going to start updating the fishing reports page again this week.  Right now,  we have pretty decent steelheading conditions.  Absolutely no snow on the ground,  but we have had 5 inches of rain this week.  Pretty consistently spaced rain storms, so the river is high,  but not flooded.  426 CFS right now with a water temp of 36 degrees.  A little cool to draw fresh fish in enmass,  but we still have fish holding throughout most of the river.

I’m officially going to walk out onto the limb now and say – COME EARLY.  Although we will undoubtedly still see some more snow,  we’re not going to see it stack up.  And it is too late for us to really get some deep freezes that will freeze up the river.  The days are getting longer now and more heat is coming from that sunshine every day.  My hunch is that the peak steelhead run in 2015 is going to be March and April instead of April and May.

DOT worked hard to build a snowpile.  Then three days later they hauled it away...

DOT worked hard to build a snowpile. Then three days later they hauled it away…

Yes,  there will still be steelhead in May,  but the peak is going to be early.  It should shift 2 weeks or more,  with this warm winter we have.  I’ll keep as close an eye on things as we progress,  but all indications are for a very early run.  I’m really interested in seeing how big this winter run was,  with the continuous fish in the river.  Who knows how many made it into the lake before it froze up.  There are still so many fish in the river!

I’d expect the lake to break up in early to mid March,  with the bulk of the spring run coming in around the last week of April.  That’s my prediction!  I figure I have a 50:50 chance of being right…

Flying out to check on the cabin this week - Johnson Slough,  the Divide and Ahrnklin Inlet

Flying out to check on the cabin this week – Johnson Slough, the Divide and Ahrnklin Inlet

The first arrival of the Stellar Sea Lion colony to feed on Eulachon in the Akwe River

The first arrival of the Stellar Sea Lion colony to feed on Eulachon in the Akwe River

Can you spot the glass ball in the ice flows?  Neither could I...

Can you spot the glass ball in the ice flows? Neither could I…