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Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Alaska Travel News


Anchorage is for the birds

Anchorage's Potter Marsh has long attracted eagles, waterfowl, shorebirds, bears, moose and fox. But just last month, the 540-acre site saw a surge of human visitors when the Alaska Department of Fish and Game officially unveiled $3.1 million worth of new improvements, including 1,000 feet of new boardwalks, wildlife viewing decks and viewing blinds. The new boardwalks meander along the north and east ends of the marsh, and offer wide viewing platforms from which birders can look for rare species, such as horned grebes, canvasbacks and arctic terns. Two more improvement projects in the works this summer will add a nature trail off the parking lot and a viewing deck at the eastern end of the boardwalk. The marsh is located at the southern end of Anchorage at mile 112 of the Seward Highway, within the 32,500-acre Anchorage Coastal Wildlife Refuge. Click here to learn more about Potter Marsh.

URL: www.wildlife.alaska.gov

Baranov Museum digs up history

The oldest building in Alaska celebrated its 200th anniversary this year. The Russian American Magazin, also known as the Erskine House and home of the Baranov Museum, is located in Kodiak, which was once the capital of Russian Alaska. To celebrate the building's history, the museum launched a Bicentennial Archaeology Project to uncover the roots of the building, its evolution and how it relates to Kodiak and Alaska history. The archeological dig took place over two weeks in June, in collaboration with the Alutiiq Museum's annual Community Archaeology Program and with the help of community volunteers. The excavation yielded landscape features, rare artifacts and new information about the site use. The building is the earliest documented log structure on the West Coast of the United States. Originally constructed as a warehouse to store the Russian-American Company's sea otter furs, this building was also used as a general store, Alaska Commercial Company Kodiak station headquarters, a private residence and a boarding house. For more information and photos of the dig, go to www.baranovmuseum.org. For information on visiting Kodiak, go to www.kodiak.org.

Nine-hole course debuts in Sitka

Golf may not be the first outdoor activity travelers expect to find in Sitka, a harbor town perched amidst the mountains and Tongass National Forest. But Sea Mountain Golf Course, which opened this summer near Sitka's existing driving range, takes advantage of every aspect of its hillside terrain, supplying gorgeous ocean and mountain views along its nine holes. Run by Sitka Golf Association members, the course will host league play and tournaments throughout the season. For more information about the golf course, visit www.seamountaingolf.com. To learn more about Sitka, go to www.sitka.org.

URL: www.sitka.org

Seals and sea lions, oh my

It's exciting to watch a Steller sea lion sunning itself on the rocks in Kenai Fjords National Parks from the deck of a catamaran. It's a different experience altogether to encounter the marine mammal with a trainer in the Alaska SeaLife Center's outdoor laboratory. The center's new Marine Mammal Encounter offers visitors the chance to get up close and personal with its resident sea lions and harbor seals, including Snapper, a 400-plus-pound harbor seal. Guests can participate in a harbor seal training session with the center's mammalogists. The one-hour program will be offered Wednesday through Sunday at 3 p.m. for a maximum of four people. The program fee ranges from $59 (students age 12-17) to $79 (adult). To learn more about the Marine Mammal Encounter or the center's other programs, go to www.alaskasealife.org.

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