Category Archives: Life in Yakutat

What it is like to live year ’round in this VERY small community.

Yakutat Land Sale November, 2018

The City and Borough of Yakutat is selling 5 lots located along Ocean Cape Road.  Two are directly on Ocean Cape Road,  while three are back behind on a platted,  but non-existent Water Tank Loop Road.  The “water tank” in question is upland from the Delta Western bulk facility.  These lots are along the road to the Ankau,  less than a quarter mile past The Mooring Lodge,  Delta Western and the AC grocery store.


The deadline for the initial offering is December 3rd,  2018.  Before placing a bid,  check to see how far away basic utilities are from the lots.  My guess is they are within easy reach,  since the West and South Additions are beyond these lots and you can tie into water and sewer relatively easily compared to some of the other properties offered lately.  These look like pretty good lots!  Zoned “industrial”,  you can pretty much do anything you want with them…

Here is the complete packet on PDF:

CBY Land sale Nov 2018 (2)

City and Borough of Yakutat Elections 2018

Our local elections are coming up in about 3 weeks.  We have 7 positions open on the assembly and school board including the mayor position.  Go to the city office to register as a candidate.


If you are looking to declare candidacy,  you have till September 26th at 5pm local to do so…  Election takes place October 16th.


You can be the mayor of the largest city in the world (by area)…

A Glance Back at Steelhead Season

The July issue of the Alaska Sporting Journal had an article on the Situk.  Written by our friend Tony Ensalaco and features a photo of Tanis holding a nice-big-trophy…  beaver.  Also a nice picture of Ryan,  from the Glacier Bear,  holding a big steelie.  The magazine was a month late coming to newsstands,  so it is probably still on the shelf now.

If it is gone from the shelves and you missed it…  Here is a PDF of the article:

Alaska Sporting Journal 7-18 pg54

And some left-over steelhead pictures of Chris and Adam…


Last night as I was driving into town,  something was in the middle of the road.  With my old fart deteriorating eyesight,  it looked like a very small child on a very small bike heading to Glacier Bear down the main road.  For those of you who haven’t been to Yakutat (and it always amazes me that the vast majority of readers haven’t…  How did you even find my blog and why?!?!),  the airport is about 3 1/2 miles from “downtown”.  Glacier Bear Lodge is about half-way to town.  Just before you reach “the intersection”,  there is a bridge that crosses Ophir Creek,  then it rises and does a small S-curve.  Then you are in town…

So this kid was just this side of the Ophir Creek bridge.  As I got closer,  I could see it was really a baby moose,  standing about 3 feet tall on his spindly legs.  He trotted off down the side road to the old Coast Guard station,  no sign of mom anywhere.  Hopefully she’ll find him,  but if not,  he’ll end up as food for wolves,  coyotes,  or bears.  Every spring out at the Italio cabin,  we would see fresh baby moose tracks running around with a cow,  then about a week or so later,  we’d see bear scat with baby moose hooves clearly visible.  It is a wonder anything can really survive out there!

Anyway…  I didn’t have a camera with me of course,  but here are some photos from several years ago when we stumbled upon a similarly sized moose calf out at the Italio.  We were driving the ATV back to the Dangerous River (about 7 miles from the cabin) and you could see tiny tracks all alone wandering all over the sandflats.  We came up to this little dehydrated/exhausted ball of fur on the sand.  He eventually stood up,  but didn’t run off.  He was at least two miles from the nearest tree,  so mom wasn’t going to find him out there.  My guess is he didn’t make it through the night.

Once in town,  I asked Fish and Game if it was legal for me to take him and feed him and keep him alive.  They wouldn’t tell me it was illegal,  but advised against it…  Too late by that time.  Hopefully this latest little guy will find his mom and have a chance survive.  This is a hard place to survive!

On this same trip to the cabin,  we also saw a bald eagle right along the surfline.  As we drove closer,  we discovered he was about to peck the eyes out of a tiny baby seal.  The mom seal was franticly darting back and forth about 50 feet off shore in the surf,  but obviously had no ability to get her stubborn child back into the water,  even with an eagle about to peck out his eyes!  So we gently shoo’d him back into the water and to his mom’s safe flippers.

It was a busy week for critters that week back in 2005 (isn’t Tanis adorable?)…  Right outside the cabin door,  there was a robin nest with a bunch of bright blue eggs…  There is so much life around here (and death).  What a place to live!  You can come and visit for a week,  but we get to live this every day of the year!  We have so many blessings.

Life in a Village

Ever since I was attacked via e-mail by someone over my website for my guide business that mentioned “waterfowl hunting” as a service (how could anyone hunt you evil person you…),  I have tried to be somewhat careful when blogging about some of the things we do around here.  Not for fear of getting verbally attacked by some PETAphile (they are pretty easy to wind up and drop),  but a lot of fly fishermen lean toward the foo-foo animal-lover crap that could be turned off by some of the realities of life in a remote Alaskan village.


Hey,  if I’m gonna be shocking,  may as well start with this!  You are looking at two full chest freezers.


Ya,  I’m pretty much over that now.  If what we do and what I type bothers you,  please feel free to visit another website,  or another village for that matter…  Life is far too short to get worked up over things that have zero impact on you,  thousands of miles away from you.  Specifically,  trapping is something that built our nation,  brought the first people to most of North America and especially Alaska.  It is what clothed and fed our ancestors for thousands of year and without it,  most of the people who get upset over things like this wouldn’t exist to whine and protest,  because their great great great great grandparents would have died of exposure and/or starvation long before they produced whiny protesty offspring.


Twin rodents going for a boat ride


That said,  although I’m not a trapper and don’t get a thrill out of killing animals,  I sure love to eat.  We subsistence hunt a moose every other year to feed our family and a few others in our community,  along with the salmon,  halibut,  clams,  shrimp,  ducks,  geese and other tasty critters that populate our neighborhood.  They all taste yummy.


4 otter pelts drying on their stretchers,  with a couple beaver pelts on the left and beaver tails for making wallets on the right


But…  our family favorite remains beaver.  Tanis traps them for their fur,  but we save off the hind quarters and backstraps for a special treat.  We are planning to harvest more of the meat in the future,  because I think beaver will make an exceptional sausage without having to add suet.  The hindquarters have a lit of stringy tendons and cartilage running through them,  so we put them in a small pressure cooker for 20 minutes and the meat just falls away from the bones and tendons.  Backstraps just get sliced and fried as fajita meat,  or just eaten before it can escape the pan and onto a plate.  You don’t even get splinters in your tongue when eating beaver,  even though sawdust is all they eat…

I’ll do a separate post about Tanis’ trapping adventures,  but  a couple days ago he came back from floating the Situk with three respectable rodents in the truck.  Two were small and not worth the effort,  but the big one yielded about 1 1/2 pounds of backstrap.  Teen bought a new jumbo food processor this winter,  so we decided to shred the meat and make beaver burgers.  Too bad it only made two patties…  McDonalds doesn’t offer a 3/4 pounder?  They should!


Moose is about as fat-free a meat as you can get.  It doesn’t make a patty that holds together unless you add a bunch of stuff (like fat,  oatmeal,  etc) to make it stick.  The nice thing about the food processor is it shreds the meat and holds together nicely.  But moose is a dull reddish brown,  pretty dark and lifeless looking when raw.  This beaver meat looked like it was glo-in-the-dark red with neon lights behind it.  Really weird looking.

But oh,  what a yummy burger!  Toasted bun,  swipe of horseradish,  smoked cheddar,  leaf lettuce,  tomato slice and half an avocado.  Unfortunately we’re all out of bacon,  but I don’t think even bacon could have improved on our beaver burger as I was.

Years ago when she was cute and little,  Eden made a special request for a special birthday dinner…  Beaver and brussel sprouts.  I’m raising very strange kids!

But they will be kids who will be able to survive WWIII and probably enjoy the journey.


Yet More Land for Sale in Yakutat

The city is proposing yet another land sale.  This time,  two lots on the backside of Post Office Lake.  Both are on the water and one is of pretty good size.  Here is a PDF of the Resolution text for RES 18-299,  which will be voted on at the next Assembly meeting April 5th,  7pm.


Page 14 has this map showing the location of the two lots…


The small one is just over a quarter acre,  the large one just shy of three quarters.  Both look buildable if someone wants to put in Thomas Lane (which currently doesn’t exist).

Tsiu River Action

I’m going to cut and paste some info from our State Representative Louise Stutes.  She is the Rep for House District 32,  serving Kodiak,  Cordova,  Yakutat and Seldovia.  This comes from her newsletter regarding actions being taken regarding resource allocation on the Tsiu River.  In a nutshell,  the State of Alaska Board of Fish put restrictions through on one user group to benefit another user group,  without giving proper public notice and allowing adequate opportunity for public comment.  For years,  ONE lodge has been working to eliminate commercial fishing on the Tsiu.  This year,  they were successful in getting additional restrictions on the commercial fishery through some shenanigans instead of an open public process.

If you have been along for this ride for a while,  you know my odd and sometimes contradictory beliefs…  Yakutat is a small village with a very limited economic base.  For Yakutat to survive,  we need both the commercial fishery and the sport fishery.  If you are of a bent that would love to see the commercial fishery end so you get exclusive use of the resource for sport fishing,  you’ll find yourself unable to get here,  due to not enough passenger traffic to justify our twice-daily jet service.  Be careful what you wish for…  You need the cargo hold filled with fresh-market salmon for the plane to keep flying,  just as the commercial fishery needs your sporty butts in the seats to ensure that cargo hold still comes in every day for their catch.  Without both,  we lose both.

From Rep Stutes’ newsletter:

Board of Fisheries

At their recent meeting in Sitka, the Board of Fisheries passed a proposal that myself, Senator Stevens, and Cordova District Fishermen United are very concerned about.

Proposal 165, as noticed, was viewed by user groups as a housekeeping measure to adjust the marker, but what was ultimately voted on after it was amended by RC 331 was a very substantive shift in allocation that will cripple the set net commercial fishery on the Tsiu River.

To view Proposal 165 and RC 331 please click the following links: Proposal 165 RC 331

Basically, the public notice did not align with the intent of the Alaska Administrative Procedures Act as no one would have known that the proposal would affect allocation. The result was that there was a lack of representation at the meeting from the community of Yakutat.

Myself and Senator Stevens wrote a joint letter to the Board urging that they address this at the upcoming Board meeting on March 6th.

Cordova District Fishermen United also wrote a letter to the Board requesting identical action.

Specifically, we requested that the Board of Fisheries take up reconsideration of the proposal as amended or make a board-generated proposal to readdress the situation on the Tsiu River. If reconsideration is no longer possible, we requested that they formulate a board-generated proposal at the meeting that mirrors the original language in Proposal 165, put it out for public notice, and hold a special meeting in April to take up the proposal before the commercial fishery this fall.

This effort to segregate commercial and sports fishermen on the river through the Board process is nothing new. It has been attempted multiple times and has been fully discussed, considered, and defeated or overturned under reconsideration every time. Proposal 301, which failed 3-4 upon reconsideration, as well as ACR 9, which also failed 3-4, at the 2012 October work session were nearly identical to Proposal 165. Another Proposal, 247, which failed 1-6, in March of 2013 was much of the same. Because of this ongoing effort, a group of local entities and individuals approached the Board and set in place a process to form the Tsiu River stakeholders working group.

This group was formed with the expressed purpose of engaging in a collaborative process with all stakeholders on the river to address concerns of user groups. Participants include lodge owners, Yakutat Seafoods, guide businesses, subsistence users, commercial and sports fishermen, Yakutat Coastal Airlines, the City and Borough of Yakutat (CBY), and the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. Since the formation of the working group, annual meetings have been held in accordance with the agreement with the Board and conflicts have not been evident. All stakeholders were invited to participate, and it has been very successful in resolving any conflicts that have arisen between user groups.

I am very concerned about the precedent set when proposals are amended to the point where the public notice wouldn’t actually provide a reasonable person of notice of what would be voted on. Moreover, in this case, there is seemingly a subversion of an agreement with the Board of Fisheries, as well as a collaborative public process that has been effective in keeping user groups happy with access to their respective fisheries.

Hopefully, the large volume of letters that the Board received on this issue are enough to prompt their reconsideration of Proposal 165.

I intend to take a look at legislation in the future regarding how the Board of Fisheries notices and amends proposals to ensure that the public is kept in the loop about potential changes that could affect them.