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Alexander Deedy

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Chuck Miller in episode 16 of the 14 Miles project. Courtesy 14 Miles. Despite how they might be labeled, people living in rural America lead complex lives and develop dynamic communities. The documentary project 14 Miles is a series of short three- to five-minute videos that aim to shine a light on some overlooked stories in the remote community of Sitka, which takes up a roughly 14-mile stretch of land in Southeast. The 37 videos in the project’s library include a profile of a young woman’s past trauma, a behind-the-scenes look at the town thrift store, and a snapshot of community gatherings. “It’s about what we celebrate and care about living in a small Alaska community, but it’s also about the challenges,” says Ellen Frankenstein, who led the project. The episodes are available on 14miles.org and through video streaming platforms including Vimeo and YouTube.

Jon Devore catches air during the filming of The Unrideables: Alaska Range in the Tordrillo Mountains. Scott Serfas/Red Bull Content Pool Jon DeVore has one of the most adventurous jobs possible. He’s been aerial coordinator and manager of the Red Bull Air Force for the last 17 years. Basically, he skydives and coordinates stunts for a living. DeVore was born in Colorado but grew up in Juneau after his parents moved there when he was a baby, a move that DeVore says he thanks his parents for every time they talk. “I think it shaped who I turned into,” he says. DeVore kept busy with many of the standard northern sports like skiing, snowmobiling and rock climbing. But he didn’t stop there. “I guess if you asked anyone who knew me, I was always seeking the adventure and adrenaline side of things,” he says. As a high schooler, DeVore and…

Jesika Reimer, Assistant Zoologist at UAA’s Alaska Center for Conservation Science (ACCS), retrieves a Little Brown Bat (Myotis lucifugus) from a mist net so it can be banded and radio tagged on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson (JBER) near Anchorage, Alaska. Photo by James R. Evans/University of Alaska Anchorage. Until recently, not much was known about bat populations in Alaska. In 2016, white nose syndrome, the disease that is decimating bat populations mostly in the eastern continental United States and Canada, made a jump west and was discovered in Washington. “With this fungus spreading it means people are more interested, and funding agencies are more interested, in finding out about the little brown bat. Especially in somewhere like Alaska where we didn’t know a lot,” says Jesika Reimer, an Alaska-based biologist whose research is focused on bats. For a long time, people thought bats migrated outside of Alaska for winter hibernation. Based…

After seeing the Aleutians while serving there as an Army officer during World War II, Robert Jones knew he wanted to return and protect the area’s rich wildlife. In 1949, Jones became the first manager of what is now the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge. A famously tenacious champion of wildlife rehabilitation efforts, he became known as “Sea Otter” Jones for his efforts to save sea otters and other species in the Aleutians. Jones spearheaded the effort to remove invasive foxes that were decimating wildlife in the Aleutians and is often credited for the recovery of the Aleutian cackling goose, a bird once thought extinct that was removed from the endangered species list in 2001.

Art by Tim Bower Why do moose have that weird goatee thing? The unofficial answer is… well… because… nature’s weird? The flap of skin that hangs underneath a moose’s chin is known as a dewlap, or bell. Scientists have theories about the purpose of the dewlap, including that it may be used for communication during the rut. Another theory is that it may act as a sign of social hierarchy; a larger dewlap could signal a more dominant male. Ultimately, there’s no conclusive evidence explaining exactly why moose have dewlaps. That means the official answer is, well, because nature’s weird. Nature is, in my opinion, pretty neat. What’s the neatest thing about nature in Alaska? During winter, wood frogs in Alaska will stop breathing, their hearts will stop beating for days to weeks, and two-thirds of their body will freeze before they thaw and return to life as usual in…

A Harlequin duck. Photo courtesy Andy Reago & Chrissy McClarren, Wikimedia Commons Red-faced cormorant Nesting on cliffs or steep slopes above cold ocean water, this bird can be spotted along the Aleutian Islands and around the Kenai Peninsula. Alaska is the only place this cormorant lives in the United States. Willow ptarmigan The Alaska state bird masterfully camouflages itself by turning white in winter and mixed browns and reds in summer. Identify this largest of the state’s ptarmigan by its wide bill or feathered feet. Harlequin duck Named because the blue-gray feathers with striking black, white, and rufous markings look like medieval court jesters, or harlequins.

A bull moose rubs his antlers on weather instruments in Anchorage. Photo courtesy Dan Peterson, NOAA/NWS/WSFO Anchorage It’s uncommon to see wolverines in Anchorage, but one rogue wolverine ventured into the city where it could prey on chickens and chase stray cats. Biologist Dave Battle got a call one day that the wolverine had killed someone’s rabbits and stashed them under a low deck. Every time the homeowner approached the deck, the wolverine growled. To solve the dilemma, Battle first used a garden tool to pull the rabbits out from under the deck. Then, he and a fellow biologist turned on the hose and jetted water at the animal. The wolverine sprinted out from under the deck and never returned. “Not every day that you spray a wolverine out from under a deck with a garden hose,” Battle says. Battle, who has worked as the management biologist for the Anchorage…

Founders of a community supported fishery After Micah Hahn and Ben Tietge moved to Alaska in summer 2017, Tietge bought a boat and started commercial fishing in the Copper River Delta and Prince William Sound. 2019 was their second season operating the Copper Valley Fish Collective, which allows consumers to cut out the middle man and purchase their fish directly from Hahn and Tietge. Buyers can select at the beginning of the season how many pounds of salmon they want, essentially reserving a portion of the catch, which is then shipped at the end of the season. ~as told to and edited by Alexander Deedy Alaska: Can we start with a little background on yourselves? MH: I’ll start. We moved up to Alaska in the summer of 2017. Ben had been salmon fishing before then, but he decided he wanted to make it his profession. I have a background in…