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Alaska and Yukon Headlines

New Sullivan ad pushes back against criticism of Alaska bona fides

Mon, 2014-07-21 16:50
New Sullivan ad pushes back against criticism of Alaska bona fides Dan Sullivan, the Republican primary candidate for U.S. Senate, released a new ad Sunday pushing back against attacks he’s not Alaskan enough.July 21, 2014

Companies Apply for LNG Export License

Mon, 2014-07-21 16:13

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The companies pursuing a major liquefied natural gas project in Alaska have applied for an export license with the U.S. Department of Energy.

The application requests authorization to export up to 20 million metric tons of liquefied natural gas a year for 30 years.

Participants in the project include BP, ConocoPhillips, ExxonMobil Corp., TransCanada Corp. and the Alaska Gasline Development Corp., or AGDC.

TransCanada owns the state’s interest in the pipeline and gas treatment plant, with the state having an option to buy some of that back as the project progresses. AGDC holds the state’s interests in liquefaction facilities.

Scientists in Denali Looking for Dinosaur Remnants

Mon, 2014-07-21 16:11

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Late last week Dr. Tony Fiorillo and his team were wrapping up work at the site near the road and preparing to helicopter out to another undisclosed location for a week of investigating a site he’s not ready to disclose much about, but they just published a report about the lake bed site in the journal “Geology.” They found a huge number of tracks there.

Their analysis of those tracks shows that these duck-billed Hadrosaur dinosaurs formed herds and fell into four age categories, indicating a social structure in which young dinosaurs were cared for by older ones.

They could obtain that fine detail because of the quality of the tracks. They can see the actual texture of the animals’ skin, which means its not just deeper mud compressed by the great weight of the dinosaur, but the actual spot on the surface where the foot went down.

These dinosaur social groups were walking in an Arctic warmer than today, with a temperature range similar to that of wintertime Tokyo – not really freezing much, if at all. And the site was definitely some sort of water hole.

Along with the Hadrosaur foot impressions, the scientists have found fossil plant impressions and the tracks of another Dinosaur species – a strange feathered one that is mostly seen in Asia. That’s one of the things they were looking for this year, and found, Fiorillo said.

Most of Fiorillo’s documentation ends up in the Perot Museum in Texas but some of it has now gone into an exhibit at the park’s  Murie Science Learning Center.

Alaska Bat’s Population Probed

Mon, 2014-07-21 16:09

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It’s 1 a.m., and the dim glow of the sun just peaks over the horizon at Potter Marsh, a popular bird watching spot in South Anchorage. Veronica Padula and Keegan Crowley, both students at the University of Alaska, meander down a zig-zagging boardwalk and scan the horizon. The two researchers aren’t trying to spot cranes or herons. They’re looking for bats.

A map of the Little Brown Bat’s known range in Alaska. The Little Brown Bat is the most common bat in the state (Alaska Department of Fish and Game).

“It’s like a treasure hunt,” Padula says with a chuckle.  “Last night we were really stoked when we finally found a bat.”

Padula and Crowley have been patrolling Potter Marsh for the past week trying to determine where bats feed, so they can come back later with nets to catch the animal for study. To assist in the hunt, Crowley uses a small ultrasonic recorder that measures the frequency of bat calls.

“When they’re feeding you’ll see a bunch of small, shorter calls because they’re trying to be really accurate to find the tiny insects,” Crowley explains, before being interrupted by the shrill chirp of a bat weaving through a meadow a few feet in front of him.

After consulting the recorder, Crowley and Padula determine the bat is feeding. Next week they plan to set up nets in the area to catch the critter.

The research at Potter Mash is part of a broader effort to try and understand bats in Alaska. While the mammal occupies a huge swath of land between the Brooks Range in the Arctic and Alaska’s southernmost boarder with Canada, they remain mysterious.  “What we don’t know about bats far outweighs what we do know,” says David Tessler, a biologist with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

For example, scientists don’t know whether the mammal spend their winters in Alaska or migrate, if they nest in caves, trees, or man-made structures, or how long they’ve occupied the far north.  And while there are six known species of bats in Alaska—most living in south-east—there could be more.

“There aren’t many times in wildlife biology…where you can embark on something entirely unknown,” Tessler says, “and we know almost nothing about bats here, so that’s exciting.”

But the lack of information could make it hard to protect Alaska’s bats from the fungal disease White Nose Syndrome. First discovered in New York in 2006, the disease covers bats in white splotches of fungus, and causes them to come out of hibernation in the winter and act abnormally.

Little Brown Bat affected by White Nose Syndrome (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

During the early days of the disease there were reports of swarms of bats hovering over interstates during wintertime daylight hours—a time period bats typically spend hibernating. Some caves were found overflowing with tens of thousands of dead bats. And the animal displayed erratic behavior, such as flying into people and objects. To date, the disease has killed more than six million bats in twenty five states and five Canadian provinces.

“It has been called the greatest wildlife disease of our lifetimes and it’s impacting the mammal in a major way,” says David Coleman, national White Nose Syndrome coordinator with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  “We are seeing demise akin to the passenger pigeon and the American bison.”

While White Nose Syndrome hasn’t made it to Alaska yet, that doesn’t mean the state’s safe. Researchers say the disease is traveling about 200 miles per year, and the fungus could potentially spread throughout all of North America. If it finds its way to the last frontier, White Nose Syndrome could wreak havoc on the state’s ecosystem. One obvious impact would be an increase in the number of small insects.“It’s estimated that one bat can eat as many as 5,000 mosquitoes a night,” Tessler says, ”so they’re actually very, very useful in controlling pests.”

With such a shortage of information on Alaska’s bats, though, it’s hard to know if or when White Nose Syndrome will arrive. Which is why Veronica Padula and Keegan Crowley are romping through Potter Marsh in the early morning hours, trying to find and catch the nocturnal mammals.

“It helps us get to know better where they’re roosting and if they’re staying here over winter or migrating,” Padula says. “A bat in the hand can tell us many, many things.”

North Slope Students Inspired by GeoForce

Mon, 2014-07-21 16:04

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Twenty-six high school students from the North Slope recently completed the third year of UAF’s GeoForce program. The four-year summer program gets students into the field to learn about geology hands-on. They’ve seen glaciers in Alaska, visited the Grand Canyon, and explored volcanoes in the northwest.

Program Coordinator Sarah Fowell says GeoForce aims to motivate the students to study science. “We think one of the reasons that rural students are under represented in science and math majors is perhaps that they don’t see the relevance to their lives and their communities. And, for example, they don’t see what a geoscientist would do for a living.”

The program is mostly funded by oil and gas companies that want to recruit local workers but need them to understand geology. To participate, the students have to maintain a B-average in science and math classes. Fowell says this helps keep them on track for graduation.

Participant Lolo Drigs from Wainwright says this year’s program, with visits to Mount St. Helens and Crater Lake, inspired her interest in the environment. “It got me interested in learning more about how everything forms and why they are there and how we can prevent certain disasters.”

Cynthia Kim from Barrow says at first she didn’t care about science, until she met her 8th grade teacher. “And she changed my whole perspective on science. And she opened my eyes to what science really encompasses. And it’s really about the whole world. Everything is pretty much science.”

With that enthusiasm, Kim was willing to face GeoForce challenges, like drawing a geological map of an area. She says it was hard. “’Cause it was kind of like this 2-D thing where you had to look at a piece of paper and think that it was 3-D. You had to look at it from a perspective that it was obviously not. So you had to put yourself onto the map and figure out where you are. That was pretty confusing.”

She says she still too young to know for sure, but she thinks she might want to become a geologist.

The program ends for this group of students next summer.

Oil Spill Drill Conducted Near Teller

Mon, 2014-07-21 16:02

Chadux officials set a skimmer down current from the Teller tank farm, near fish-racks and other subsistence equipment. (Photo by: Zachariah Hughes – KNOM)

Even as marine traffic increases past the Bering Strait, no one knows how well an oil spill could be cleaned up in the case of an accident. Stakeholders traveled to the region last week to conduct the region’s first spill response exercise, and learn more about the challenges posed.

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John Katula oversees marine vessels with the Alaska Department of Conservation, one of the agencies that organized a cleanup drill last Wednesday in the community of Teller, near Nome.

“We’ve got seven of the plan holders that actually move oil in through this area involved in the exercise, so that we can make sure that if there was a spill from any of the operators that we were prepared and that our contingency plans were designed correctly to respond to any spill,” Katula said, standing on the rocky spit connecting Teller with Brevig Mission as the tide came in.

It’s DEC’s job to decide whether fuel shippers are prepared to handle an accident. In the Bering Strait, companies that barge fuel to small communities up and down the coast don’t expect to be the ones actually cleaning up oil. Instead, they contract with Alaska Chadux, an Oil Spill Response Organization.

Colin Daugherty manages cleanup response for Chadux and helped deploy 30-foot-long strips of orange boom (the floating tubes that help collect oil) along the shore of Teller’s inner-harbor, near the tank farm.

Part of the drill included deploying 30-foot long strips of orange boom. (Photo by: Zarariah Hughes – KNOM)

“We brought everything to enact a Geographical Response Plan to protect Grantley Harbor,” Daugherty explained, equipment humming nearby. “The plan calls for 3600 feet of boom. So we brought two containers of boom and anchors and line. And this is equipment that’s staged in Nome. So this is permanently here for this type of event.”

Part of the drill was testing how long it took for a convoy with equipment to drive the 72 miles from Nome to Teller. Organizers were interested in small but vital questions like that because no oil spill response plan for the Bering Strait has been tested in the field. And with rough water and wind speeds around 20 miles per hour, the crew was forced to adjust the day’s original goals.

“I don’t think we’d know how to do this in good weather,” Daugherty said. “It’s usually bad weather that causes an incident. So we came here this morning and adapted—we didn’t want to get anybody hurt over this, over a training exercise. So we just went to something a little bit less weather affected by working the inner harbor.”

But rough weather is part of what Chadux and others agencies want to learn more about as they plan for expanded commercial activity in the Bering Strait.

DEC will sort through the data they collected with Chadux and revise plans that are on the books. Chadux, like most other Oil Spill Response Organizations working in Alaska has most of its equipment and personnel in Anchorage. They rely on storing caches of equipment in hub communities like Nome that can be deployed relatively quickly in case of an accident. Chadux general manager Matthew Melton said getting to actually see and experience conditions is essential, because even basic things like roads present challenges.

“That was something that didn’t occur to me until I was driving the road yesterday,” Melton summed up at a debrief Thursday morning over breakfast between all the drill’s participants. “If it was rainy and washed out and we put 20, 30 tractor-trailers going back and forth on their trips, that road’s gonna get beat up.”

Another point repeatedly raised is the need to work more closely with Bering Strait residents, Jacob Okbiok works for the Teller Native Fill business, and described the reason more residents did not turn out to observe the drill.

“It’s usually around this time of year when everybody’s at camp, and maybe around first of August is usually everybody comes back,” Okbiak said in between examining equipment staged on the beach and helping pack it away. “It’s kind of, you could say [an] oddish time to chose to do an oil spill response.”

Those are the kinds of things you might not know if you’ve never been to the region.

Strings of plastic boom fabric were set early Wednesday morning by the Inner Harbor, and on the rocky spit connecting Teller with fish camps at nearby Brevig Mission, which was partially washed out during storms last fall. (Photo by: Zachariah Hughes – KNOM)

The exercise in Teller did not answer many questions about how an oil spill in one of the most remote parts of the state will be handled. For example, while Teller has a road for rigs to haul equipment to, the rest of the 14 communities in the region do not. And though weather was rough enough to scramble plans for organizers, the water was ice-free with decent visibility–conditions that cannot be counted on most of the year.

However everyone involved in the drill, from fuel company reps to subsistence advocates, agreed this was an important first step in what needs to be a longer process.

 

 

Sunday night shoot spree results in no injuries

Mon, 2014-07-21 15:58

Few details are available about Sunday’s 3 am drive-by shooting in Anchorage near 47th Avenue and Arctic Blvd.  An Anchorage party bus with 17 people inside was shot 10 times by at least four different guns. Bullets entered through the back window and the body of the 28-passenger vehicle. No one was injured.

Left: Markers showing where APD found bullet casings.
Right: Bullet holes in the Anchorage Limo and Sedan vehicle.
Photos courtesy of APD.

The police contacted the driver about three and half miles away near Lake Otis and Northern Lights. All of but one of the occupants had fled when the bus stopped. The remaining witness told police she didn’t know why anyone would shoot at the bus. They had been at Al’s Alaska Inn for about two hours before the shooting. She said she didn’t know about any fights there.

Police are still trying to identify the shooters and locate people from the bus. They photographed and collected more than 30 shell casings at the scene. They say incidents like this are very rare.

Campaign Profile: Sullivan’s “Amazing Credentials”

Mon, 2014-07-21 14:45

Republican U.S Senate Candidate Dan Sullivan

As a Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, Dan Sullivan has a bucket of advantages. He married into an acclaimed Athabascan family. His own family, back in Cleveland, are six-figure donors to Republicans in high places. One of his biggest assets, though, is his resume.

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Degrees from Harvard and Georgetown. Positions in the White House and State Department. And, interspersed throughout, service as infantry officer in the Marines. Gov. Sarah Palin gushed about his “amazing credentials” just before she appointed him Alaska Attorney General. Topping off his C.V.: three years as Alaska’s Natural Resources Commissioner.

His resume is part of what impresses Irene Rowan, who has worked on Alaska Native issues since the 1960s and is close to Sullivan’s wife.

“I think he’ll do very well for Alaska in Washington,” she says. “He has the drive, he has knowledge of all the Alaska issues, and he knows how to move around in the system of Washington DC.”

Sullivan deploys his resume to strategic advantage. He says he’s the only candidate in the race who has a real record of fighting the policies of the Obama administration.

“Fighting the federal government’s over-reach, taking it to the Obama administration,” he said on KOAN recently. “A lot of candidates love to talk about that. I’ve had the honor of being in the arena, battling these guys.”

It’s a candidate’s job to sell his accomplishments.  But political opponents say his resume has thin spots and complain he oversells himself. Sullivan, for instance, often says he was one of the lead AGs in the country to challenge the legality of “Obamacare.”

“In terms of credibility candidates, I’m the one who sat down, the one who sued on this, the one who laid out a lot of the intellectual framework of why we thought (the Affordable Care Act) was unconstitutional,” he said.

Sullivan’s name is on a 2010 memo to Gov. Sean Parnell analyzing the legality of the Affordable Care Act.  But Alaska didn’t file its own challenge.  It attached its name to a lawsuit out of Florida, after 20 states were on already board. It’s much the same with the dragon all the Republican candidates pledge to slay – the EPA.

“We won a case that I brought, originally brought, just three days ago,” he said at a Republican debate in June. “In the U.S. Supreme Court! With the EPA! Putting them in their place.”

The case was about the EPA’s power to regulate greenhouse gas emissions, which, actually the Supreme Court left intact, at least for major smokestacks. Alaska tagged on to a case filed previously filed by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. These days Sullivan says he brought the case, but a press release from Sullivan’s time as AG strikes a softer tone. It quotes Sullivan saying the state’s involvement began in 2003 – years before Sullivan became attorney general.

As AG and later as DNR commissioner, Sullivan frequently cited his professional history during lobbying visits in Washington, says Russ Kelly. Kelly was an associate director of Gov. Parnell’s Washington, D.C. office and was assigned on several occasions to shadow Sullivan as he made the rounds of congressional offices.

“I was disappointed,” says Kelly. “I didn’t think the meetings went well. I didn’t think they were productive.”

After one trip, Kelly wrote a long memo to top Parnell staffers critiquing Sullivan’s work. It was recently emailed anonymously to APRN. Kelly, who had a bad break with the Parnell Administration, says he doesn’t know who’s distributing it. He says he wrote it because he felt a duty to report what he’d seen of Sullivan’s presentations on Capitol Hill.

“I was concerned that when you go into these offices and you don’t make the right impression and you don’t have substance to share, then you’re at risk of burning bridges and hurting relationships for the future,” he says.

In the 2011 memo, Kelly says in most offices, Sullivan spent too much time reciting his resume and basic facts about Alaska, even when, in Kelly’s opinion, the situation called for more complex answers.

But Kelly’s memo says Sullivan made good use of his connections, particularly with Ohio Sen. Rob Portman, with whom he exchanged family news. Sullivan has connections across Washington, but his link to Sen. Portman is especially valuable. Portman’s the chief fundraiser for the National Republican Senatorial Committee, an arm of the party. Over the years, Portman and his leadership fund have received tens of thousands of dollars from Sullivan relatives in Ohio and employees of RPM International. That’s the paint company Sullivan’s grandfather founded and his brother Frank now runs. The NRSC is supposed to remain neutral in a Republican primary, but Portman’s presence at a Sullivan fundraiser on Capitol Hill last fall helped raise his profile among national donors.

So far, Sullivan has raised $3.8 million, nearly 90% of it from out of state. He’s keeping pace with Sen. Mark Begich – quite a feat for a first-time candidate. Meanwhile, two Sullivan brothers and an ex-RPM board member have paid $125,000 to an independent campaign called Alaska’s Energy/America’s Values that’s dedicated to promoting Sullivan.

Sullivan brushes off questions about how his family’s political contacts may have helped him raise money from national groups.

“We worked hard to get in front of those groups and make our case that we were the strongest candidate to win this primary, win this race,” Sullivan says.

The U.S. Chamber of Commerce has run a TV ad promoting Sullivan. Sullivan’s brother Frank sits on the board of the U.S. Chamber. When pressed about any help his brother may have provided, Sullivan sticks to generalities.

“There’s been a lot of people who’ve been helpful …. A lot of people who have been helpful who care about America,” he said.

One of the gems of Sullivan’s resume is his military service. Sullivan was a full-time Marine for four years. As a reservist, he spent all of 2005 as staff to the general in charge of the entire Middle East.

“Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan – wherever he was …. I was with him,” he says.

Last year, Sullivan was called up for six weeks to Afghanistan, where he says he focused on dismantling terrorist networks. As an infantry officer, Sullivan is trained to “kick in doors and kill bad guys,” as he put it to a conservative group in Wasilla, according the Anchorage Daily News.  While rival Republican Joe Miller often calls himself a “combat vet,” that’s one thing Sullivan acknowledges is not on his resume.

“I do not consider myself combat in terms of kicking in doors, shooting, being shot at. I’m an infantry officer. I was a recon officer. I’ve spent years up here training hundreds of Alaskans to be recon officers,” he says.

Like Republican opponent Mead Treadwell, Sullivan has a history on the climate change question. These days, Sullivan sounds like a skeptic: “The consensus in the scientific community on what’s going on with regard to man-made global climate change is still out.”

But in 2007, as an assistant secretary of State, he flew to Germany to help sell the Bush climate initiative. At a press conference in Berlin, he insisted to a room of doubtful reporters that the administration was serious about helping meet UN targets for greenhouse gas reductions.

“Our goal, our stated goal, has been to slow, stop and reduce emissions,” Sullivan told them, according to the State Department transcript.

Sullivan says he thinks the scientific consensus on climate change has weakened since then.

Can Scientists Protect Alaska’s Bats?

Mon, 2014-07-21 13:52

It’s 1 a.m., and the dim glow of the sun just peaks over the horizon at Potter Marsh, a popular bird watching spot in South Anchorage. Veronica Padula and Keegan Crowley, both students at the University of Alaska, meander down a zig-zagging boardwalk and scan the horizon. The two researchers aren’t trying to spot cranes or herons. They’re looking for bats.

“It’s like a treasure hunt,” Padula says with a chuckle.  “It’s fun when you find one. Last night we were really stoked when we finally found a bat.”

A map of the Little Brown Bat’s suspected range in Alaska. The Little Brown Bat is the most common bat in the state (Alaska Department of Fish and Game).

Padula and Crowley have been patrolling Potter Marsh for the past week; they want to determine where bats feed, so they can come back later with nets to catch animals for study. To assist in the hunt, Crowley uses a small ultrasonic recorder that captures bat calls and measures their frequency.

“When they’re feeding you’ll see a bunch of small, shorter calls because they’re trying to be really accurate to find the tiny insects,” Crowley explains, before being interrupted by the shrill chirp of a bat weaving a few feet in front of him through a meadow.

After reading the recorder, Crowley and Padula determine the bat is feeding. Maybe next week they can set up nets and catch the critter.

The research at Potter Mash is part of a broader effort to try and understand bats in Alaska—which live as far north as the Brooks Range in the Arctic Circle. “What we don’t know about bats far outweighs what we do know,” says David Tessler, a biologist with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game.

For example, scientists don’t know whether the mammal spend their winters in Alaska or migrate, if they nest in caves, trees, or man-made structures, or how long they’ve occupied the far north.  And while there are six known species of bats in Alaska—most living in south-east—there could be more.

“There aren’t many times in wildlife biology, especially down in the lower 48, where you can embark on something entirely unknown,” Tessler says, “and we know almost nothing about bats here, so that’s exciting.”

But the lack of information could make it hard to protect Alaska’s bats from the fungal disease White Nose Syndrome. First discovered in New York in 2006, the disease covers bats in white splotches of fungus, and causes them to come out of hibernation during the winter. Since being discovered, the disease has killed roughly six million bats in twenty five states and five Canadian provinces.

During White Nose Syndrome’s early days there were reports of swarms of bats hovering over interstates in daylight hours during the middle of winter—a time period when the animal typically hibernates. Some caves were found overflowing with tens of thousands of dead bats. And the animal displayed noticeably erratic behavior, such as charging visitors in the Great Smokey Mountains National Park.

Little Brown Bat effected by White Nose Syndrome hanging in a Vermont cave (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

“It’s been called the greatest wildlife disease of our lifetimes and it’s impacting the mammal in a major way,” says David Coleman, national White Nose Syndrome coordinator with the US Fish and Wildlife Service.  “We are seeing demise akin to the passenger pigeon and the American bison.”

While White Nose Syndrome hasn’t made it to Alaska yet, that doesn’t mean the state’s safe. Researchers say the disease is traveling about 200 miles per year, and the fungus has the potential to spread throughout all of North America. If it does find its way to the last frontier, it could wreak havoc on the state’s ecosystem. One obvious impact would be an increase in the number of small insects.

“It’s been estimated that one bat can eat as many as 5,000 mosquitoes a night, so they’re actually very, very useful in controlling pests,” Tessler says.

With such a shortage of information on Alaska’s bats, though, it’s hard to know if or when the disease will arrive. Which is why Veronica Padula and Keegan Crowley are romping through Potter Marsh in the early morning hours, trying to find and catch bats.

“It helps us get to know better where they’re roosting and if they’re staying here over winter or migrating,” Padula says. “A bat in the hand can tell us many, many things.”

No injuries in Sunday drive-by shooting in Midtown Anchorage

Mon, 2014-07-21 12:15
No injuries in Sunday drive-by shooting in Midtown Anchorage Anchorage police said that a limousine bus with 17 passengers was the target of a drive-by shooting early Sunday morning. The vehicle was hit numerous times with bullets fired from as many as four different guns.July 21, 2014

From Photojournalism to Fine Art

Mon, 2014-07-21 10:33

15,000 people participated in Anchorage’s first Color Run on June 15, 2013. The run is a 5k race where colored powder is thrown on participants every kilometer.

Click for the full audio story:

http://www.alaskapublic.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/loren-final.mp3

Today we’re going on a ride along with a photojournalist. Loren Holmes works for the newly rebranded Alaska Dispatch News.

Both Holmes’ father and grandfather were photographers. In fact the first room his dad built in his childhood house was a dark room. But when Holmes graduated high school he took a different path. He majored in philosophy.

“I think philosophy is sort of a prerequisite to life. It teaches you how to think critically, explore something from different angles,” Holmes says.

But Holmes could only hold out so long before he got the photography bug. Luckily, he was able to apply those philosophical principles to his new career.

“Your life experiences will influence your photography. So the more you can think critically and differently, the more interesting I think your photos will be,” Holmes says.

Holmes originally fell in love the tradition of photojournalism; the planning, the editing, the ethics. But he says the profession is changing, and it’s changing fast.

“Where I work social media is so important. I’m expected to post on Twitter, post on Instagram and Facebook. I’m supposed to post photos that people will like and share,” Holmes says.

Holmes says he likes apps like Instagram, and the seemingly infinite number of great photos you can find on them. But he says there’s a trade off; a drop in what he calls “visual literacy.”

“I think people don’t think about photos they way they used to, I don’t think they think about their meaning, and I don’t think they give them enough mental time as they used to and as they probably should. It just gets lost so quickly now, and that’s a little concerning,” Holmes says.

Today Holmes won’t be posting to Instagram or Facebook. He’s driving out to Palmer for a portrait series he’s working on.

“It’s a project on Alaska’s centenarians: Alaskans that are over 100 years old. So I’m trying to interview as many as I can, make some portraits of them, and just find out about their lives and how they’ve seen Alaska change,” Holmes says.

Holmes isn’t working on a daily deadline for this project. That gives him time to interact with his subjects; something he rarely gets to do.

A portrait of centenarian Margaret Lucas that Holmes captured:

Margaret Lucas, born February 14, 1914 in Denver, Colorado. Photographed in her Palmer, Alaska home on July 16, 2014.

Holmes tells me that in addition to his job with the Dispatch, he sits on the board of the Alaska Photographic Center, a group that deals mostly with fine art photography. He says the contrast between that role, and this one might seem stark.

“Photojournalists don’t stage events. They don’t manipulate the scene. They don’t Photoshop things out of or into the photo. So a lot of those things that are common and expected in the fine art world wouldn’t be accepted in a newspaper,” Holmes says.

Holmes says he is constantly trying to incorporate the “wow” of fine art into his daily pictures.

“The great power of photography is the emotional impact it makes. A photojournalist is recording the facts before them, a moment in time. But it’s not just what’s literally in the photo that makes it a good photo. It’s the emotional impact you get when you see that photo that makes it a great photo,” Holmes says.

For more information on Alaska Photographic Center’s Rarified Light 2014, including the upcoming lecture by Joyce Tenneson, visit: www.akphotocenter.org

More photos from Loren Holmes:

Karan Nixon’s disabled rabbit, Tubby, seen here on May 21, 2012, inherited his wheeled cart from George, who was killed by a black bear last year in Nixon’s yard. Nixon became famous for chasing after the bear in her slippers.

Jake Berkowitz passes by an old truck on his way into Anvik during the 2013 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on March 8, 2013.

A coronal mass ejection from the sun created stunning northern lights on March 16, 2013.

Children play on the sea ice in Diomede, Alaska on March 13, 2013. They can’t stray too far from the village, lest they either meet a polar bear or cross the International Date Line, a mere 1 mile away.

Charles Brower, Jr helps butcher Kaktovik’s first whale of the year, a 44 foot long bowhead on September 6, 2012.

A spectacular early spring sunset over downtown Anchorage, Alaska’s largest city on April 25, 2012.

Iditarod winner Mitch Seavey’s headlamp creates a streak of light as he crosses the sea ice before dawn near Koyuk during the 2013 Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race on March 11, 2013.

The Iñupiat Eskimo village of Kivalina, seen on December 11, 2012, sits on a narrow barrier island off Alaska’s Chukchi Sea coast. A new stone seawall has helped curb erosion from winter storms, but it is only a stopgap, at some point in the near future the village will have to move.

From left, Jonas Mackenzie, Eddie Rexford and Karl Brower prepare to butcher a bowhead whale head on the beach in Kaktovik, Alaska on Sept 6, 2012. The predominantly Iñupiat Eskimo village is allotted 3 whale strikes per year as part of their subsistence harvest.

A stump burns on Monday, May 26, 2014 near the Upper Killey River, a tributary of the Kenai River. The Funny River fire burned through the area overnight.

Sam Werner walks a fire line near Browns Lake, looking for hot spots, on Saturday, May 24, 2014. The Funny River fire had burned up to the line three hours before.

An airplane prepares to drop retardant on a fire burning on the edge of Browns Lake in the Funny River neighborhood of Soldotna on Saturday afternoon, May 24, 2014. The Funny River fire burned over 100,000 acres on Alaska’s Kenai Peninsula.

A musher nears Shaktoolik on March 9, 2014. Norton Sound, behind, is usually frozen this time of year.

Dallas Seavey mushes on the Yukon River between Ruby and Galena on March 7, 2014. Seavey won his second Iditarod race a few days later.

A group of Sandhill Cranes flies in formation above Alaska.

AK Beat: 1 dead, 1 hurt in Wasilla home

Mon, 2014-07-21 09:32
AK Beat: 1 dead, 1 hurt in Wasilla home Alaska State Troopers say they found one man dead and another seriously injured early Monday morning in a residence on Pioneer Peak Drive in Wasilla.July 21, 2014

Photos: Thai restaurants in Fairbanks

Mon, 2014-07-21 06:41
Photos: Thai restaurants in Fairbanks

Many Thai restaurants have opened in Fairbanks, creating a competitive market for the cuisine. 

July 21, 2014

Thai restaurants flourish in Fairbanks

Mon, 2014-07-21 06:41
Thai restaurants flourish in Fairbanks The Interior community of Fairbanks is home to more than a dozen Thai restaurants and drive-thrus, some competing for business within blocks of each other. Despite their ever-increasing numbers, restaurants say demand for Thai food keeps business steady.July 21, 2014

Laine Welch: All eyes on sockeye prices

Mon, 2014-07-21 05:59
Laine Welch: All eyes on sockeye prices Demand for Bristol Bay sockeye salmon is strong among both foreign and U.S. buyers, but there’s a downward press on prices stemming from lots of competing red salmon rivals in the works this year.July 21, 2014

Readers write: Letters to the editor, July 21

Mon, 2014-07-21 04:00
Readers write: Letters to the editor, July 21 LETTERS: Readers thank rescuers following a Fourth of July mishap, defend the revised oil tax structure under SB 21, and weigh in on immigration on the state and local levels.July 21, 2014

Memorial for Anchorage cyclist killed in hit-and-run draws crowd of mourners

Sun, 2014-07-20 21:07
Memorial for Anchorage cyclist killed in hit-and-run draws crowd of mourners Bicyclist Jeff Dusenbury was known in Anchorage cycling circles for pushing hard and going far, all the while with a smile on his face. So when he was killed Saturday morning on a quiet street close to his home, it was hard for those close to him to understand.July 20, 2014

On TV in Anchorage

Sun, 2014-07-20 20:18
On TV in AnchorageLocal listings for Monday and Tuesday.July 20, 2014

In the area

Sun, 2014-07-20 20:15
In the areaRead about upcoming events around Anchorage.July 20, 2014

Alaska documentary chronicles one family's remote cabin adventure

Sun, 2014-07-20 19:45
Alaska documentary chronicles one family's remote cabin adventure Jean Aspen and her husband, Tom Irons, who divide their time between Homer and the Brooks Range, created a documentary about a solitary life in the wilds of Alaska that differs from a lot of Alaska reality TV in one key way: It's actually real. July 20, 2014

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