Ned Rozell
Ned Rozell
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The life of Riley, former leader of once-mighty Denali wolf pack, reaches its end

The life of Riley, former leader of once-mighty Denali wolf pack, reaches its end

Riley the wolf has died. She lived in the wild until almost the age of 11, which biologists call a remarkable feat. Wolves are lucky to live to 6.The female wolf, former leader of the once-mighty Riley Creek pack in Denali National Park and Preserve, drowned in an open lead of the Nenana River on March 9.Area residents pulled her body from the river and informed biologists at Denali National Park. Alaska Department of Fish and Game wildlife health veterinarian Kimberlee Beckmen performed a necropsy.I in February 2019, when I noticed her bobbing through the snow on the side of the Parks...

April 18, 2020
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The story of the Valley of 10,000 Smokes, a name coined after Alaska’s biggest eruption 110 years ago

The story of the Valley of 10,000 Smokes, a name coined after Alaska’s biggest eruption 110 years ago

To put the largest eruption in Alaska’s written history in context, Robert Griggs pondered what might have happened if the volcano that erupted in summer of 1912 was located on Manhattan Island rather than the Alaska Peninsula.“In such a catastrophe all of Greater New York would be buried under ten to fifteen feet of ash and subjected to unknown horrors from hot gases. The column of steam and ash would be plainly visible beyond Albany (150 miles away) ... Explosions would be heard as far as Atlanta and St. Louis.“The fumes would sweep over all the states east of the Rocky Mountains. In...

Jul 16
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How a field guide to old coffee cans is helping archaeologists studying Alaska’s gold rush era

How a field guide to old coffee cans is helping archaeologists studying Alaska’s gold rush era

The year is 1905. You are a prospector in Alaska relaxing in your cabin after a chilly day of working the tailings pile. Craving a cup of joe, you pull a tin of coffee off the shelf. Though you can’t imagine it, that distinctive red can, the one you will later use for your precious supply of nails, will long outlive you. And it will give an archaeologist a good idea of when you made your Alaska home.The coffee was Hills Bros. The can was vacuum-sealed. For more than a decade, no other coffee company mastered this technique that was first used with butter. This made Hills Bros. of San...

Jul 23
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The inner workings of the world’s largest sockeye salmon hatchery

The inner workings of the world’s largest sockeye salmon hatchery

EAST FORK OF THE GULKANA RIVER — In late summer, a few months before this mossy valley will feel the sting of 40-below air, bright red salmon dart through a crystal-clear pool amid fragrant green vegetation. The Gulkana Hatchery has a Garden of Eden feel, which is fitting since millions of sockeye salmon begin life here each year.“There are seven springs in the canyon,” said Gary Martinek, former manager of this salmon hatchery just off the Richardson Highway between Summit and Paxson lakes during an interview in 2011. “From summer to winter the water temperature only varies 3 degrees. This...

Jul 30
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Alaska’s unique lexicon sinks in over the years

Alaska’s unique lexicon sinks in over the years

When my little Ford pickup chugged into Alaska 36 years ago this month, I didn’t know a wheel dog from a dog salmon. You could have told me the North Slope was connected to the Panhandle by the Chain and I would have believed you.Back then, I mispronounced the name of my new home river — Tanana — because a pitcher for the California Angels spelled his name the same way.I could have avoided that awkwardness if I had possessed the “Dictionary of Alaskan English.”In it, former University of Alaska Fairbanks English professor Russell Tabbert included hundreds of terms he found unique to Alaska....

Aug 6
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A 765,000-year-old bone from the leg of a Yukon horse offers a window into the past

A 765,000-year-old bone from the leg of a Yukon horse offers a window into the past

WHITEHORSE, YUKON — A few minutes’ walk from the bank of the aquamarine upper Yukon River in northwestern Canada, thousands of bones of ancient creatures rest in boxes and on shelves.Here in the lab of Yukon government paleontologists are the remains of saber-toothed cats, bears with boxy faces that stood 8 feet tall, woolly mammoths and sloths the size of gorillas.Of all these time-hardened riches of the past, Elizabeth Hall has a cherished piece — the fragment of a horse’s foreleg that fits in the palm of her hand.Hall, a paleontologist for the Yukon, has been digging up, identifying, and...

Aug 13
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