Category Archives: Life in Yakutat

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

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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

LandSale_4_5_18

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

LandLots

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.

Glacier Bear Starting to Serve Food!

Beginning February 22nd, 2018,  Glacier Bear will be serving burgers on Thursdays and Saturdays from 5pm to 8pm!  Yay!  We can actually go out to dinner again!!!

They will be serving on the bar side and only letting you in the restaurant side if you call ahead and have someone who can’t be in the bar.

Spring is nearly here!

Yakutat Land Sale Update

OK…  The Borough Manager wanted me to update everyone on the status…  The Borough Assembly had a work session this week to fix some issues regarding the new land sale.  This applies to the posting:

Yakutat Land for Sale

As I mentioned in the original posting,  one of the nine lots was donated to the local Humane Society that went out of business.  The city has taken this one off the table for now,  until they can reincorporate the HS and give the property back to the city.

There are two lots up around Post Office Lake that will be available “over-the-counter” at the city office,  but apparently the assembly has to approve a new ordinance for just these two lots.  Hopefully that will happen soon.  They have road access,  but not utilities and you’d have to bare the cost of hooking up to city water and sewer and AVEC power.

Then there are 6 lots down in the “Old Village” area…  Originally the city did not intend to put in road access or utilities,  but at the work session,  the assembly decided to pay the cost of putting in all these things and rolling those costs into the sale price.  Otherwise,  these lots really wouldn’t have had much value to anyone except for the people with adjacent property as a way of expanding the size of their existing lot.  Now,  they will all be buildable and usable by anyone,  thus more valuable.

And the city is rewriting the ordinances to be clear the city can and will finance the purchase of the land as well as the utility services cost.  The rate is 8%,  so a bank loan is probably going to be cheaper,  but the city financing doesn’t require any down payment,  or any significant credit check.  Heck,  if you have bad credit and default,  the city takes the land back,  sells it to someone else and keeps what you paid into it.  Pretty low-risk for the city…  But allows anyone to be able to afford a land purchase regardless of credit history,  age and anything else that could be an obstacle for getting a bank loan.

Who wants to be a real estate tycoon in the World’s Largest City (by area)?

And… We have MORE Land For Sale!

Back in November,  the City put 9 land lots up for sale and I managed to forget to post the info.  Sorry.  Looks like all of them are still for sale,  so no harm,  no foul.  These are now available “over the counter” at the city offices,  so anyone can just put up the money and they are yours.  Or get the city to finance it at 8% interest…

Prices range from $5,700 to $28,300 depending on size and how far away from the road they are.  6 of the lots do NOT have direct road access (although there is a road on the plat that the city does NOT intend to put in).  Here is the map of the lots.  They are up on Ridge Road,  which is the road between the two churches…

2017 Land Sale Map

If you drive up Ridge Road,  you can see the city water tank on the right edge of the picture,  so you can know where the lots are located…

And here is the full document packet:

2017 Land Sale Packet

Yakutat Land for Sale

At the last Assembly Meeting,  the Assembly voted to approve an ordinance to release some of the city’s land holdings for sale.  They have 9 lots available right now,  although one is going to be tied up for a bit while they clear up the title.  It was donated to the local Humane Society,  but the HS is now defunct and no longer in existence.  So they need to recreate it,  to release the land and then go defunct again…

Here is the ordinance,  which shows prices,  locations and the terms for having the city finance it for you…

CBY land sale 01-18-2019

If you remember last year,  the State of AK Mental Health Trust put up 5 lots near Glacier Bear.  As far as I know,  they all sold.  Mental Health is considering putting in a road to access more of their lots,  then putting them up for sale as well.  We could be in for a little land sale boom in 2018.

If you have an interest in owning your own little slice of paradise,  call the city for details…