On Saturday at Pioneer Park, the Borough will celebrate SS Nenana Day, to honor the Last Lady of the River.
The SS Nenana steamed the waters of the Yukon and Tanana Rivers between 1933 and 1954. It was officially retired in 1957, and has been a museum ship since 1965.
The Nenana is one of only three steam-powered passenger sternwheelers left in the U.S. and the only large wooden steamer to survive the years.
The Nenana has been neglected, restored, and then neglected once again. Efforts, including today’s celebration at Pioneer Park, are underway to try to stabilize, and hopefully restore the Last Lady of the Yukon.
Mack Rutherford, a 17 year old pilot, is attempting to become the youngest person to fly around the globe solo. Rutherford left Sophia, Bulgaria on March 23.
He recently flew his Shark ultralight plane down the Aleutian Chain, landing at Attu, Shemya Island, and Adak. Rutherford arrived at Unalaska on August 1. When I last checked his online tracker, Rutherford was in Ketchikan, following the coast down to Mexico. Although, by now, Mack has no doubt moved further on down the coast.
The young, Belgian-Brit Adventurer is expecting to complete his circumnavigation by the end of August.
Ninilchik’s annual musical tribute to salmon starts on Friday the 5th and runs through the weekend. One of Alaska’s largest music festivals, Salmonfest is even worth the battle with the tourists down on The Kenai.
Alaska has two very different salmon stories being told in 2022. In one, the Bristol Bay Fishery is booming. Last year the salmon harvest set a sockeye record in Bristol Bay, and the region has already topped that record in 2022. Over 73.7 million sockeye salmon have returned to their spawning grounds in and around Bristol Bay, with over 56 million harvested.
The Yukon River basin, however, is headed for its worst run ever. The sonar station has never recorded such a low number of Chinook salmon, and the run for the entire drainage-wide system may only hit 50,000. Not one tributary is expected to make their escapement goals. Salmon fishing for the entire drainage, which includes the rivers in and around Fairbanks, has been closed for the entire season.
The chum salmon run, which starts in late summer, is also expected to be bad. The season will start out closed for fishing, with a hope that enough chum return to open for a fall season. No one is expecting it to open.
A new tourism study released by the University of Alaska Fairbanks turned a few heads recently. The group of tourists that spend the most money and stay the longest in Alaska are birdwatchers. In fact, birders spend twice as much time in Alaska when they visit than the non-birders do. In 2016, birdwatchers spent over $300 million in Alaska.
The study probably shouldn’t have surprised as many people as it did. Alaska is a birdwatching mecca. Alaska is home to the largest concentration of shore birds in the world. There are some 530 species of birds that have been documented in Alaska, 55 of which are considered rare.
So, if you want to see a red-breasted sapsucker, I suggest the rainforest of Southeast Alaska. As for Fairbanks, we have a very active and vocal raven population.