AK Voices: Bill Sherwonit

Anchorage nature writer Bill Sherwonit is the author of more than a dozen books, including "Living with Wildness" and "Changing Paths: Travels and Meditations in Alaska’s Arctic Wilderness."

Public Rightly Rebukes HB77, the ‘Silencing Alaskans Act’ - 3/14/2014 12:19 pm

An Affordable Care Act Success Story - 2/24/2014 10:39 am

Savoring a Spectacular January Sunrise - 1/23/2014 12:56 pm

Wild Christmas Tree - 12/23/2013 5:22 pm

70 Brown Bears & Counting: Kenai Peninsula Kill is Excessive & Puts Bear Population at Risk - 12/12/2013 4:31 pm

Giving Thanks - 11/26/2013 12:47 pm

Kincaid’s moose & human conflicts, continued: Explosion of new trails are big part of the problem - 10/26/2013 7:55 pm

The Problem Isn’t Agitated Moose, It’s People Showing Bad Judgment - 10/2/2013 1:26 pm

Public Rightly Rebukes HB77, the ‘Silencing Alaskans Act’

We all have to pick our battles and until now I’ve stayed on the sidelines while HB77 has moved through (and for a considerable while, was stalled in) the Alaska Legislature. Introduced by Gov. Parnell in the last legislative session—and pushed hard by the administration—HB77 has been framed by Parnell and his appointees as a way to improve the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) permitting process. But as its opponents have pointed out, this awful legislation is really nothing more than a power grab that largely leaves Alaskans out of the permitting process.

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An Affordable Care Act Success Story

I am one of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act—aka Obamacare—and Health Care Marketplace success stories. Given the considerable denunciation that Obamacare has gotten (some of it deserved, but much of it simply political), I think it’s important for those of us who are benefiting from the nation’s new health care system to share our stories. So here is mine.

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Savoring a Spectacular January Sunrise

I am making my way across the kitchen to the narrow hallway where I’ve dumped a pile of clothes into my washing machine, when I happen to glance out the window and notice fiery clouds in the January sky. Or maybe those morning clouds are pulling my gaze outside the house, beckoning me to pay attention. In either case, I pause and step to the window. And I’m greeted by a stunningly beautiful sky: clouds sweeping from east to southeast glow a deeply reddish-orange.

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Wild Christmas Tree

In celebration of the Winter Solstice/Christmas season, the rapid approach of a new year, and the importance of wildness and wonder in our lives, I’d like to share a nature-themed essay that I first wrote a few years ago.

Wild Christmas Tree

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70 Brown Bears & Counting: Kenai Peninsula Kill is Excessive & Puts Bear Population at Risk

This year’s unusually high kill of Kenai Peninsula brown bears has gotten a lot of attention lately and rightfully so. The peninsula’s population of brown bears (the coastal cousins of grizzlies) simply can’t sustain an annual human kill of 70 or more bears for long. That’s not my opinion, but the shared assessment of many bear biologists and wildlife managers. The bigger question isn’t whether the 2013 kill is too high, but how long it can be allowed before the Kenai’s brown bear population will be irreparably harmed.

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Giving Thanks

The past year and a half has been a turbulent time for me on many fronts. Many mornings I’ve wakened with a start, both head and emotions reeling, mind filled with questions and doubts. “What is real?” I’ve wondered, and “What really matters? What’s truly important?” Moments of clarity have occasionally interrupted long stretches of confusion and worry, but the uncertainty seems to linger. Am I on the threshold of some breakthrough? Or a breakdown? Maybe one is needed for the other to happen.

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Kincaid’s moose & human conflicts, continued: Explosion of new trails are big part of the problem

While much has been said and written about this season’s moose-human conflicts at Kincaid Park, little attention (at least that I can tell) has been given to one recent development that has contributed to the increased encounters between people and moose, namely the huge expansion of single-track bike trails at Kincaid.

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The Problem Isn’t Agitated Moose, It’s People Showing Bad Judgment

I read Val Van Brocklin’s Compass piece in last Saturday’s Anchorage Daily News with great interest and found myself agreeing with her “analysis” and conclusions, as presented in her commentary, “Adults should have used common sense rather than shotgun at Kincaid.” As Van Brocklin says, if the original news story (“Aggressive moose shot near middle-school race at Kincaid Park”

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Cheers for Newspaper’s New Online Reader Comment Policy

Kudos to the Anchorage Daily News for changing its online reader comment policy, to require commenters to log in to the adn.com website using Facebook accounts. That of course means those who wish to “speak out” will have to share their identity, something that letter writers have long been required to do.

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State Expands its War on Predators to the Kenai Peninsula

When it comes to killing predators, the state’s current wildlife management regime shows no bounds. Two new pieces of evidence come from the Kenai Peninsula, where the primary target is—no surprise—wolves, but with coyotes and lynx also thrown in for good measure. It’s hard to say which is the more egregious example, an unnecessary wolf-control program or an effort to open up an area that’s been closed to general hunting and trapping for nearly three decades. Because the latter would occur on federal land and affect more people—and can still be stopped—I’ll start with that.

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In Memory of a Friend: Barbara Winkley

Born in New South Wales, Australia, in 1938, Barbara Winkley made her way to Alaska in the 1960s and eventually settled in Anchorage. She died on May 21, in Portland, OR, where she’d gone for treatment hoping that she would beat the cancer that ultimately ravaged her body.

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Coastal Trail Deserves the Best Repaving that’s Possible

Now that the long-overdue repaving of Anchorage’s celebrated Tony Knowles Coastal Trail has finally begun, those of us who use the city’s most popular trail might reasonably ask: what is the intended lifespan of the newly resurfaced path? And is this year’s construction being held to the highest possible standards?

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On Memorial Day, Memories of My Father

A couple of years ago, I wrote a posting about my father and his military service during WWII. I present it here again today to honor my dad, my memory of him, and the meaning of Memorial Day:

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Musings on Bear Attacks and Notions of Evil

So, if we’re to believe anthropologist Alan Boraas’s analysis of northern life—and life in general—then rogue bears are evil. But more than that, unpredictability and randomness are evil. By that way of thinking, our lives must be constantly threatened by evil (or immersed in it), because random events—or perhaps better put, events perceived as random—happen around us all the time, wherever we happen to be.

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Alaska Politics: More Reasons to Be Discouraged

It has been another hard, discouraging week for those of us Alaskans who care about the public’s greater good. First, our legislature brought its shameful session to a close by passing an oil-tax bill that benefits corporations at the expense of Alaskan residents. Many others have already publicly lamented and lambasted this “reform” effort, so here I will simply applaud those legislators who had the heart and wisdom to fight this give-away to the bitter end, among them Anchorage Sens. Hollis French and Bill Wielechowski and Rep.

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Our Changing Climate and the Citizens Climate Lobby

It is a strange aspect of northern life—not to mention frustrating and disheartening—to live in a place, Alaska, where the effects of climate change are so pronounced and, at the same time, so many residents seem unconcerned, uninformed, unconvinced, or simply in denial.

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A Dam in the Wilderness, an Out-of-Control Legislature, and Rep. Lindsey Holmes

Two thoughts flashed through my head as I read the morning paper’s front-page story, “Senate bill would undo state park wilderness restrictions.” First, thank goodness for Jimmy Carter and the federal government’s large landholdings in Alaska, which prevent such things from happening in most of our state’s wilderness. Second, does Rep. Lindsey Holmes truly “share a common vision of Alaska” with the Republican Party?

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The Noise and the Fury: Some Musings on Urban Soundscapes and Snowmachines at Kincaid Park

I read with interest Jim Winchester’s recent (Jan. 28) Compass piece, “Snowmachiners, skiers should settle Kincaid debate.” This member of the Anchorage Parks and Recreation Commission notes that the Jodhpur site targeted by snowmachiners as a potential playground once hosted activities “we would have a hard time fathoming in that location today,” a gravel pit and a car-crushing facility.

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Anchorage Assembly Needs to Back Up and Do the Right Thing with Title 21

It’s generally not my practice to attend Anchorage Assembly meetings. And I can’t recall ever speaking before the entire assembly, preferring instead to send written comments when I have something to say. That changed Tuesday night, when I joined the throngs who wished to address a proposed new set of land-use laws (or as called by some, a zoning code) for Anchorage, known simply as Title 21. That simple name belies the complex nature of the Title 21 document, which is growing ever more complicated—and, it seems, controversial—as the years pass.

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Chugach Christmas

To help mark and celebrate the Winter Solstice/Christmas holiday season, and also to celebrate and honor the grand gift we Anchorage (and more generally, Alaska) residents were given when Chugach State Park was established in 1970, I’d like to offer an essay that I wrote several years ago while living on Anchorage’s Hillside, one that I occasionally like to present in various forums, including this one. Here then is my essay, “Chugach Christmas.”

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