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.
Fairbanks remains pretty dry, but we’ve had a couple of tenths of an inch of rain lately. Out east, near Black Rapids, a heavy rain storm coupled with heavy snowmelt caused a flash flood to hit the Richardson Highway where it crosses Bear Creek.
Bear Creek won. Travel to the fishing mecca of Valdez from Fairbanks will now require a much more round about way.
The months of May and June in 2022 were the driest, statewide, on record. The period of January through June was the fifth warmest on record. Amazing, considering the staggering amount of snow we had, up to New Year’s. The tap was simply shut off.
So far in the 2022 fire season, Alaska has seen 2.74 million acres burn. The Clear Fire, near Anderson, Alaska and the Clear Air Force Base, is now pushing 70,000 acres and is right up to the Space Force Base boundaries. It is one of three fires that account for most of the smoke driven towards Fairbanks.
With the 2.74 million acres burned, we have passed the entire 2019 fire season, and 2022 is already the 8th largest season in acres burned.
I included the final photo simply because I love the image. Kudos to the Fire Service Photographer who captured it.
Wrangell, Alaska is hosting their annual Bearfest on July 27-31. It is a celebration of all things Bear. Everything from symposiums to art and photography workshops; as well as hikes and a marathon. Wrangell, Alaska is the place to be for all Bear Lovers. There will also be some salmon tasting, of course.
Wrangell is located in Southeast Alaska in the heart of the Tongass National Forest, and sits at the mouth of the Stikine River. The population of Wrangell Island was 2400 in 2000. Like the entire Southeast, Wrangell is a fishing paradise.
Wildlife in the Tongass include brown, black and the elusive glacier bear, as well as mountain goats, sitka black tailed deer, wolves and bald eagles. Orcas and humpback whales are often seen swimming the straits.
Alaska Airlines services Wrangell daily, weather permitting. The (mostly decimated) Alaska Marine Highway System also services Wrangell, at least in theory.
A severe washout has taken out both lanes of the Alaska Highway in British Columbia, just short of the border with the Yukon Territory. The location of the closure is between Liard Hot Springs and Watson Lake. Judging by the size of the ditch, repairs may take a while. No immediate detour is available.
Travelers will have to make a route change early if they want to continue on to Watson Lake and/or Alaska, or do some serious back-tracking. The alternative is the very scenic Stewart-Cassiar Highway, also known as Highway 37. It’s a beautiful route, but more remote. I recommend bringing extra gas.