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10 Alaska summer music festivals that will get you groovin’  If winter has you restless, maybe it’s time to plan a roadtrip to one (or more) of Alaska’s summer music festivals. The lineup of multiday events has grown in recent years and offers both Alaskan and national acts exploring a range of genres. For Alaskans, the festivals are community celebrations that offer a break from summer’s busy pace. For visitors, they’re a chance to dive into a local scene, with great music against a backdrop of gorgeous scenery. Here’s a quick sampling of 2024 events. Alaska Folk Festival The music is mostly acoustic, but the atmosphere turns electric as hundreds of musicians descend on Juneau each April for this seven-day festival. It offers nine four-hour performances averaging 15 acts each, along with workshops. The music also runs late-night at bars, restaurants, and even street corners. If you come by ferry,…

Each of the 223 parks has a story The Municipality of Anchorage manages 223 parks covering 10,946 acres. Some, like Kincaid Park, are sprawling, while others are pocketed away in urban neighborhoods. Each has a unique story, including these three: Delaney Park (the “Park Strip” along 9th Ave): This downtown centerpiece hosts military monuments and summertime fairs and music. It was first cleared as a firebreak in 1917, then used as a golf course and an airstrip. In the 1920s, it was lined with brothels, which Mayor James Delaney ordered shuttered in the 1930s. Kincaid Park: Stretching between Turnagain Arm and Knik Arm, Kincaid is a local favorite for biking, disc golf, and miles of groomed and lighted ski trails. It was withdrawn from the Chugach National Forest in 1915 and later served as a Nike-Hercules missile battery before the park was pieced together beginning in the 1960s. It is…

Alaska’s complex relationship with fossil fuels by Larry Persily Oil and gas production —and the good-paying jobs that come with it—have helped fuel the Alaskan economy for decades, and likely will for the near future. The far future is less certain. The industry’s tax and royalty revenues to the state treasury have allowed Alaskans to enjoy life without a personal income tax or a state sales tax—plus, they receive an annual dividend from investment earnings of the state’s 46-year-old oil-wealth savings account. But there are a lot fewer of those jobs. And there is a lot less oil flowing through the trans-Alaska oil pipeline, putting a strain on the state budget. Still, the industry is an essential part of Alaska’s economy. Pay is still good, but fewer jobs Oil and gas jobs are among the highest paying in Alaska. State Department of Labor statistics put the average oil company wage…

8 Reasons to Visit Kenai Mountains-Turnagain Arm National Heritage Area by Robert Manning When President Ronald Reagan dedicated America’s first National Heritage Area in 1984, he announced that this and other NHAs to come would be “a new kind of national park.” The purpose: to preserve areas of the United States that reflect distinctive regions’ sense of place, including natural and cultural history, and offer outstanding visitor attractions, recreation, and educational opportunities. Kenai Mountains-Turnagain Arm National Heritage Area (Kenai Mountains) is the only national heritage area in Alaska, established in 2009, and is located on the Kenai Peninsula. Extending 150 miles, the peninsula is bordered on the west by Cook Inlet and on the east by Prince William Sound. While national parks are generally large areas of public lands managed by the National Park Service (NPS), NHAs are a mix of public and private lands, run by partnerships that usually…

My Love for Alaska’s Winter Images and text by Carl Johnson It is 6 a.m., and, while it is still pitch dark, the nearly full moon floats over Cook Inlet on its descent behind the Alaska Range. Its bright light and surrounding stars reveal a hillside’s silhouette with a layer of fog enveloping the Anchorage bowl below.  This is one of my favorite times of winter—when several days of calm, cold, and clear conditions and persistent ice fog create a landscape that might have inspired the movie Frozen. It is a winter wonderland, where everything is fresh and new, magical and mystical, and utterly beautiful. This, for me as a photographer, is one of the many reasons why I love winter in Alaska. In any season, photography provides me a way to connect deeply with my natural surroundings. In winter, that experience is enhanced through a greatly simplified landscape, covered…

Bringing Native Values to Work Sophie Minich and Sheri Buretta were both little girls in Alaska when, 51 years ago, on December 18, 1971, President Richard Nixon signed the landmark Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA). The act was the first of its kind in the United States’ long history of settlements with Native Americans. ANCSA created 12 Native regional economic development corporations in which the stockholders are the Native people who traditionally lived in these regions. The corporations were formed to provide economic, educational, social service, and cultural benefits to their shareholders. Today, Minich and Buretta lead two of these Native corporations. Buretta is the chairman of the board for Chugach Alaska Corporation. Minich is the president and CEO of Cook Inlet Region Inc. (CIRI). Sheri Buretta Growing up between Tatitlek and Anchorage, Sheri Buretta and her family drove from Anchorage, where she lived, to Valdez, where an uncle…

Citizen council remains vigilant three decades after the Exxon Valdez oil spill Donna Schantz has worked with Prince William Sound Regional Citizen’s Advisory Council since 1999 and served as its executive director since 2016. After the 1989 Exxon Valdez oil spill, PWSRCAC was created to give a voice to those who have the most to lose in the event of another spill. The council includes representatives from communities in the spill region and industries like aquaculture, commercial fishing, and tourism. It is mandated by Congress and funded by the oil industry but has complete independence. The Prince William Sound council is one of two such organizations in the United States. The other represents Alaska’s Cook Inlet. Can you share something that the council has accomplished recently that you are proud of? This is always an interesting question because it’s really hard to hold up the oil spill that…