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southeast alaska

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Humans have unprecedented power to change our environment. That also gives us a staggering responsibility to be good stewards of the environment. Here’s one take on what hangs in the balance. It focuses on the Tongass National Forest and features one of Alaska magazine’s regular editors and writers, Bjorn Dihle (also a bear viewing guide and book author), as well as wilderness instructor Forest Wagner. Take action! Let your voice be heard and leave a comment for USDA Forest Service Secretary Sonny Perdue regarding the Roadless Rule by completing the form at https://salmonstate.org/tongass-take-action/

After more trips around Alaska than I can count, I had yet to see bubble-feeding whales until this summer. I filled in for a photo instructor aboard the National Geographic Quest on a Lindblad/NatGeo cruise of the InsidePassage, with my eye on this ultimate bucket-list reward. Most humpback whales feed independently or with their calves, except when they do the coordinated dance of bubble-netting. As a group, multiple humpbacks descend below the surface of the water, sounding off and cueing one another, creating a circle of bubbles that “trap” herring inside the confusion. Then, all the whales rise at once, mouths gaping like the Hungry Hippo game our son once played, their hair-like baleen straining out water to keep nutrient-rich fish. Staring into the mouth of a whale topped my adventures at sea this July and made the 16-hour days pass like the gulp of a giant humpback

A few days ago, my 13-year-old son Logan and I descended in the Southeast in the tiny hamlet of Haines, Alaska—aka the Valley of Eagles. I take photographers here in October and November for the annual spectacle of the thousands of bald eagles that congregate on the Chilkat for the last of the chum salmon run. They fight and soar and spend most of their time trying to figure out how to steal a fish from another bird, rather than snag one of their own. But spring here is a different story. Yes, there are eagles, but the natural landscape takes center stage—even for a teenage boy. Our VRBO for two weeks here cost more than our monthly mortgage—after you gulp and gasp as I did, I’ll tell you it was worth every penny. Our cottage sits at the end of Mud Bay Road on an isolated inlet aptly named…