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Port Heiden has anticapted the lake's breach for the last decade. Erosion is an ongoing concern for the village. In recent years, extreme storms and rising tides have accelerated the process.
After a decade of heavy erosion, a lake in the Bristol Bay village of Port Heiden finally breached this week. Water is now pouring into the bay.
Tribal Council President John Christensen noticed Goldfish Lake beginning to drain out slowly at the end of October.
“There was a little trickle. We went back a couple hours later it was a little bit bigger," he said. "We went back the next day there was this big stream coming over. Next day after that it was flowing steady and just picked up steadily after that.”
Coastal erosion is an ongoing issue for Port Heiden. Residents abandoned an old village site by the lake in 2008. Although those buildings are still standing, other houses have fallen. In 2017, the village lost access to a road by the bluff.
Christensen said this week’s collapse exposed various debris around the lake.
“There’s some spent .50 caliber rounds in there; some anchors; there’s all sorts of debris," he said. "We have to clean that up here, soon as the lake slows down from draining.”
Streams from a swamp behind the lake are feeding into the breach. Christensen says it is too soon to tell what will happen after the sight is depleted.
“It might turn into a tiny river,' he said. "We were hoping to turn it into a boat harbor because we lost access to our last one. But we’ll see what it looks like in the end.”
Port Heiden has tracked erosion for the past three decades. In recent years, extreme storms and rising tides have accelerated the process.
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In August, we had a fire that threatened our community.
On the Alaska Peninsula, residents of Port Heiden have been beating back a fire burning northeast of the village. It was last reported to be 12 miles from the community, according to the Alaska Fire Service.
“It is burning tundra, brush and grass. And the conditions are so dry right now that everything in its path is just going up in flames,” said Jaclyn Christensen, a resident of the village.
Christensen said the fire was first spotted Sunday by a pilot flying over Second Cape.
Community members have rallied to the frontlines of the blaze, using a bulldozer and excavator to create fire breaks.
“The heavy equipment operators have been working out there at the fire site since seven this morning," she said. "They finally got up to the site last night and went to bed at 1:00 in the morning and slept in the equipment out there.”
Those efforts are paying off; this afternoon the volunteer crew reported that they are controlling the fire, though it is not yet contained. West winds have also blown much of the smoke away from the village
The AFS has not staffed the Port Heiden fire, according to the service, because it isn’t threatening the village at this point.
Port Heiden has reached out to regional organizations for aide, and the Bristol Bay Area Health Corporation provided masks to the community. The cause of the fire is not yet known.
Attached in a file below is the Environmental Office's Tribal Newsletter which talks about events that took place in October, November, and December.
The Bering Sea continues to tear it's way towards the main road of the Old Village. The photos below were taken by Jeff Orloff Sr. on Februrary 26th, 2018. The Tribal Environmental department of Port Heiden have also done demolition work on the remaining abandoned houses to prevent debris from falling into the sea.
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers-Alaska District seeks the public’s interest in establishing a Restoration Advisory Board, or RAB, for the Port Heiden/Fort Morrow Formerly Used Defense Site. The RAB is a forum for discussion and the exchange of information relating to environmental restoration of the sites. RAB members will serve one- to- two-year terms, and community membership will reflect the diverse interests of the local area. RAB members will be asked to review and comment on plans and technical documents relating to the ongoing environmental studies and restoration activities at the sites. If you are interested in serving as a volunteer for a potential Port Heiden/Fort Morrow Restoration Advisory Board, send an email to Public.Affairs3@usace.army.mil by May 24, 2017. Use Fort Morrow RAB in the email subject line.
starting June 15, at $20 per hour. Please email AdrianneC@portheidenalaska.com if you are interested. The position is open to all residents of BBEDC
BIA Water Resources Technician
We are recruiting for an internship program that provides a 4 week intensive Water
Technician training at the University of Arizona, followed by a position at the Native Village of Port Heiden working to design a hydropower system for the village.
The position will begin July 10.
Applicants must be 18-34 years old, Alaska Native
, and able to spend 4 weeks at the University of Arizona.
Details are provided in the 2017 Water Resources Training Technician flyer
. The 2017 Water Resources Technician Training Program will begin accepting applications in February 2017:
2017 Water Resources Technician Training Application For more information, please contact Archie Barnes at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The application states that the deadline is passed but the deadline has been extended. Please let Adrianne know if you would like to apply so that we can provide a recommendation that your internship is with us.
Marine Debris Program -
With the support of the Native Village of Port Heiden with the use of heavy equipment, and the City of Port Heiden for landfill fees and storage, Port Heiden has managed to maintain the marine debris program. Also the hard work and effort the crew puts into our Marine Debris program. Alaskans for Litter Prevention and Recycling (ALPAR) donate bags which the crew use to collect small debris. Super sacks for the bigger debris are also used which helps with the transporting of the debris.
The crew begin the season at the Old Meshik Landfill which is the closest site. The crew work here for about a week and get the hang of marine debris and weather.
Crew then move on to Ship Creek and Hook lagoon which is farther from Port Heiden and also a critical habitat area. The crew’s main focus is on these two sites.
After the fishing season comes to an end, Scott Anderson, Environmental director, uses his f/v MY GIRLS to travel across the bay to our two other critical habitat areas known as Stroganoff Point and Unangashak.
With the tremendous work our crew does, they manage to collect thousands of debris each and every year. Making our beaches that much safer and cleaner for future generations.
Backhaul - Backhaul has played another major part in the Environmental Department. In the past crews have stacked and shrink wrapped e-waste and batteries. In August, Desert Air had arrived to ship off much of the e-waste that was ready for shipment, in total of 4,963 lbs. In September, Everts Air had made a few trips here to transfer some batteries. Everts had shipped a total of 3000 lbs. of batteries. Slowly but surely our backhaul inventory is decreasing over the years.
Jake Carlson and Lillionna Kosbruk, our Reindeer Apprentices, were nominated for the Spirit of the Youth Award. Listen to their radio interview here; http://www.spiritofyouth.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/11/05.ReindeerApprentices.mp3