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Archive for the ‘Education’ Category

KK Prussian, left, and Laurent Deviche work on the Middle Machete Loop during a recent Sitka Cycling Club work party. The loop is nearly finished and when completed will be the fourth loop built this summer. The Sitka Cycling Club finished the loop in early October 2020.

In late November 2020, the Sitka Cycling Club initiated a survey to begin a master plan for mountain biking trails in Sitka. Our ultimate goal is to provide more mountain biking opportunities to the Sitka community.

With more than 70 responses, the club received a community-wide picture of respondents’ desires for trail length, difficulty and location as well as long-form comments to the four trails built in 2020. If you took the survey, we are thankful for your involvement in the project, and we are so happy to have a chance to develop this fantastic sport here in Sitka.

For context, half of respondents classify themselves as intermediate level bikers, and are most likely to bike between 20-60 minutes an outing. As far as near-term projects that entail a low budget and volunteer labor, the most requested advancement was adding to the current network of single-track in and near the Sitka Cross Trail in town. Development of No Name Mountain also received strong support.

In the long term for projects that require more fundraising and partnership with other entities, expansion of the Indian River Trail to bikes received the most interest by a fair margin. (It’s important to note that if any work were to happen here, we would ensure that trail expansion is permitted in the area and that there is consideration put toward those who walk the trail.) The Green Lake area received the second most interest.

Regarding difficulty, preference was split between easy and more difficult, with the latter carrying more interest. Additionally, close to three-fourths of respondents showed interest in both a skills park and a pump track individually. However, when asked to rank them, more interest was shown in a skills park.

In the longer answer sections, we saw patterns in responses requesting more opportunities for flow, jumps, smaller gravel on the track, and longer trails. Another interesting point that was mentioned multiple times was interest in a Harbor Mountain downhill trail. While only 36 percent of respondents flagged it as a near-term preference, the written responses regard it as an ideal opportunity for the jumps, flow, and length that many riders want to see developed.

As for next steps, based on this information, we plan to start developing a comprehensive plan schedule to prioritize, budget and plan for work parties. We will brainstorm ways to collaborate with other Sitka organizations throughout the project.

Thanks go out to Amadea Wilhite and Reese Jacobs, both students at Outer Coast, for leading the survey effort. The club hopes to enlist more Outer Coast students in the coming months to continue the master planning process.

As well, our partners in trail building during 2020 were crucial — Raven’s Way, Youth Advocates of Sitka, Joel Hanson of Southeast Alaska Independent Living, Rotary Club of Sitka, Troy’s Excavation, Sitka Trail Works, Sitka Conservation Society, Outer Coast, City and Borough of Sitka, and our donors.

We began our efforts to build single-track mountain bike trail loops last spring, and have completed four loops to date — 907, Ewok, Little Machete, and Middle Machete. When added to the new Xóots Dei trail recently constructed by Sitka Conservation Society’s Community Conservation Corps, we now have about a half-mile of dedicated single-track mountain bike trail close to town.

Thanks to all who hauled gravel, stomped on trail, cut logs, and sent moral support messages along the way; many hands make light work. We are gratified to see so many Sitkans responding to the survey, indicating their interest in volunteering to help build trail or donate money to help fund the work. We will post progress updates on our website, https://sitkacycling.wordpress.com, and on our Facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/SitkaCycling.

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Sitka Cycling Club President Doug Osborne, left, and Sitka Cycling Club Treasurer Charles Bingham show off their Bicycle Friendly Community Silver Level designation swag in 2016. Sitka just renewed its Bicycle Friendly Community designation at the Silver Level for 2020-24.

The League of American Bicyclists announced on Wednesday (Dec. 16) that it has renewed the Silver Level designation for Sitka, Alaska, in the Bicycle Friendly Community program.

The Bicycle Friendly Community program promotes safer streets and better bicycling by awarding various levels to communities based on how their city or town meets standards in the Five E’s — Education, Encouragement, Enforcement, Engineering, and Evaluation/Planning. A new E, Equity, is being introduced to the judging process and will replace Enforcement in future applications. Communities are required to resubmit applications at least once every four years.

This is the fourth time Sitka has been honored with a Bicycle Friendly Community (BFC) award. Sitka became Alaska’s first BFC in 2008, after community members chose becoming a more bike- and walk-friendly community as one of the community wellness projects from the first Sitka Health Summit in 2007. Sitka renewed at the Bronze Level in 2012, and upgraded to the Silver Level in 2016. In addition, Sitka also earned the state’s first Walk Friendly Communities designations with Bronze Level awards in 2013 and 2017 (WFC is a newer program coordinated by the University of North Carolina Highway Safety Research Center and supported by the Pedestrian and Bicycling Information Center).

“This is great news,” Sitka Cycling Club President Doug Osborne said. “Thanks to the League (of American Bicyclists) and everyone in town who’s helping us to be a Bicycle Friendly Community. Being a bike friendly community was identified as a top goal at the first Sitka Health Summit planning day in 2007. Since then, we have made steady progress and now we have more places to ride.”

Wednesday’s announcement honored 51 communities as renewing or new Bicycle Friendly Communities at the Platinum (1), Gold (3), Silver (11) or Bronze (38) levels (there also is a Diamond Level that wasn’t awarded this time). In addition, there were 16 communities that earned Honorable Mention status, just below the full BFC designation. Since 2002, the League of American Bicyclists has awarded 485 BFC designations in all 50 states and the District of Columbia, and has received applications from more than 850 communities. There now are five BFCs in Alaska — Sitka (Silver), Anchorage (Silver), Juneau (Bronze), Kenai (Bronze) and Soldotna (Bronze) — and two Honorable Mentions (Fairbanks and Haines).

“During one of the toughest years in recent memory, we have seen so many Americans turn to biking during the pandemic for fun and for necessary transportation options. It’s so important that communities like Sitka have laid the groundwork over several years to make biking a safe, accessible option for people when we all need as much health and happiness as possible,” said Bill Nesper, executive director of the League of American Bicyclists. “This Bicycle Friendly Community award is the culmination of years of work put in by Sitka and its citizen advocates for better biking. This award round, Sitka joins 51 new and renewing Bicycle Friendly Communities in the movement toward healthier, more sustainable and connected places. As we turn the page on 2020 and look ahead to 2021, we’re proud that Sitka and communities like it are embracing bicycling as a solution to our collective recovery.”

The Bicycle Friendly Community program is part of the League of American Bicyclist’s larger Bicycle Friendly America program, which also includes Bicycle Friendly State, Bicycle Friendly Business, and Bicycle Friendly University designations. Sitka’s largest employer, the SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) Sitka Campus, holds a Bronze Level Bicycle Friendly Business designation.

During normal years, Sitka is known for hosting a variety of community bike rides and education events, such as National Bike Month events in May and a Kidical Mass family friendly bike ride in September, and having one of the state’s highest rates of people who commute to work by bike. But the COVID-19 pandemic limited those activities this spring and summer.

Sitka still accomplished several cycling-positive projects over the past couple of years, such as building four single-track mountain bike trail loops off the Sitka Cross Trail this summer, opening the Salty Spoke bike cooperative at Hames Wellness Center, rebranding the Sitka Bicycle Friendly Community Coalition as the Sitka Cycling Club and getting nearly 250 club members to register, starting a citywide bicycle parking plan, starting a Sitka mountain bike trails plan, launching a Bicycle Benefits program where cyclists can show participating merchants a sticker on their helmets to receive a discount at local businesses, and hosting the 2019 Alaska Walk and Bike Conference that included a two-day Smart Cycling training (Sitka also was scheduled to host the 2020 conference before it went virtual due to the pandemic).

To learn more about the Sitka Cycling Club, go to https://sitkacycling.wordpress.com or like our Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/SitkaCycling. Links to Sitka’s Bicycle Friendly Community application and report card can be found under the Documents tab on the Sitka Cycling Club website (previous year applications can be found by scrolling down the page). To learn more about the League of American Bicyclists and its Bicycle Friendly Community program, go to http://www.bikeleague.org/community.

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In recent years there have been several attempts to build single-track mountain bike trails in Sitka. There was one group that tried to build some trails at the end of Sawmill Creek Road, and another group tried to build trails on Harbor Mountain. But the groups never really gained any momentum and the efforts fizzled out.

Map by ROLAND WIRTH

This summer, despite being in an international pandemic, the Sitka Cycling Club actually made some progress by coordinating the building of four single-track mountain bike loops off the Sitka Cross Trail. Now comes the fun part, helping create a coordinated plan for the next series of mountain bike trails.

The Sitka Cycling Club is working with Outer Coast College students Amadea Wilhite and Reese Jacobs to develop the plan, which will help us decide our priorities as far as where and when to build new trails. It also will help us develop a long-range plan.

The two students now are collecting public input to gather data to help guide the plan. They ask Sitka residents to please click this link and take a short, 12-question survey before Tuesday, Dec. 1. Your help is greatly appreciated, and the result will be better mountain bike trails.

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Sitka Trail Works members and the public are cordially invited to join the group’s annual meeting, which will be held on Zoom. The meeting will be held from 6-7 p.m. on Monday, Oct. 19. 

To join online visit https://www.zoom.us/join, enter meeting ID 439 583 8904 and password “trail”.  To connect by phone instead, please contact the STW office in advance for details.

Those with questions may call Sitka Trail Works at 747-7244 or visit http://www.sitkatrailworks.org.

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Click map to enlarge. This map shows the three completed single-track mountain bike loops. It is in the bright green area to the right in the other map.

The Sitka Cycling Club has completed three single-track mountain bike loops off the Sitka Cross Trail this summer. Now it’s time for volunteers to start work on the fourth trail, Middle Machete Loop, during the weekly 5-7 p.m. Thursday work party.

“Meet up on Thursday at 5 pm at the gravel pile on the Cross Trail, near the exit of 907 and the difficult entrance to Little Machete,” Sitka Cycling Club trail volunteer coordinator Amy Volz wrote in an email to volunteers. “We’ll divvy up duties (big rock placing in muddy spots, fabric cutting and laying, gravel hauling and placement). Bring your work gloves and a mask, please.”

The Sitka Cross Trail from the entrance near the Sitka High School Performing Arts Center parking lot. The new 907 loop is in the lime green section to the right (above the Cross Trail). The Little Machete Loop will start near the exit of the 907 loop and is below the Cross Trail in the lime green section on the right. The Ewok Loop also is in this area.

The club completed the 907 Loop in June, then completed Little Machete and Ewok loops last week, with the city giving approval for all three trails. The Middle Machete Loop is short, but it will require the work of an excavator for part of the trailwork.

Due to the pandemic, we are limiting the sizes of the work parties. Please contact Amy Volz by text at 907-957-6009 or email at amy.volz@outlook.com if you plan to help, so she can manage the size of the group. We want to make sure there is enough space between workers so we don’t spread the coronavirus.

In an effort to promote health and safety during the trail construction, please bring (and wear) your mask, work gloves and a bucket with a handle if you have one. The Sitka Cycling Club does have a wheelbarrow, shovels and buckets. All volunteers will need to sign a liability waiver.

To give people a flavor about what a single-track mountain bike trail is all about, Michael Foss put together a YouTube channel for the Sitka Cycling Club that includes some GoPro videos of rides and walks on the new 907 trail.

According to our engineering report for the 907 Loop, these trails have the following features:

  • The trail is located at the base of an alluvial fan where drainage moves across the fan frequently and subsurface material is largely cobble and gravel with organic debris on top
  • Drainage is largely subsurface with two defined intermittent streams which activate during rainfall
  • Drainage across the trail has been accommodated using French drains, inverted dips, and cobble/gravel (intermittent stream) crossings
  • Streambanks along the intermittent stream crossings have been strengthened using boulders to reduce erosion and sedimentation
  • If/when stream naturally diverts across the alluvial fan we are prepared to accommodate drainage (through trail maintenance), as needed

The Sitka Cycling Club also wants to thank some Sitka residents who recently donated to help us build these trails. Donors include Charles Olson and Theresa Allen-Olson, Bill Hughes of Yellow Jersey Cycle Shop, and Reba Trani. In addition, the club also received some money from Sitka Trail Works (originally from the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services) that was left over from hosting the Alaska Walk and Bike Conference in June.

We also want to thank the six-week Sitka Summer Work Program crew led by Joel Hanson of Southeast Alaska Independent Living (SAIL), which just completed its program last week. This crew did much of the work on the Ewok Loop.

You can support this and other projects by donating to the Sitka Cycling Club. You can click this link to donate through PayPal. The other option is to mail a check to Sitka Cycling Club, c/o Charles Bingham, Treasurer, 405 Marine Street, Apt. No. 6, Sitka, Alaska 99835. You can contact Charles at 623-7660 or charleswbingham3@gmail.com for more details.

Most of the supplies we’ve received have been donated, but eventually we will have to pay for signs, tools, fill dirt or rocks, etc. Your support is greatly appreciated.

These trails are being built as part of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the City and Borough of Sitka, signed in February. The plan is to start with a couple of trails all in the same area, then build more trails later in other parts of Sitka. Sitka Trail Works is helping support this effort. A future Sitka Cycling Club project is the building of a skills course or pump track, where mountain bikers can improve their technical riding skills in an area that looks like a motocross track for bikes.

A slideshow of scenes from some of the trailbuilding work this summer is linked below.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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The Sitka Cycling Club will hold its monthly meeting from noon to 1 p.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 5, using Zoom online meetings due to the need to social-distance ourselves for health and safety during the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak. This online meeting is open to all interested folks interested in promoting safe and fun cycling in Sitka.

The monthly meeting is open to everyone interested in making Sitka an even better town for cyclists of all ages. Topics include success stories, including a celebration of the recently completed 907 loop in June and the completion of the Little Machete Loop and Ewok Loop single-track trails off the Sitka Cross Trail in July, revamping the club ride and 2020 schedule, the Sitka Trail Works-hosted Whale Park to Medvejie Bike Ride on Aug. 8, figuring out how we can promote bikes during a pandemic, updating our 2020 goals and other considerations, discussion of the building of a mountain bike skills course and new trails, planning the Sitka Half Century Ride on Aug. 22-23, follow-up actions, and a summary and close.

To access the meeting by Zoom, go to this link. Or you can access by phone by calling either 1-669-900-6833 or 1-346-248-7799 and enter the meeting code of 860-3492-8224# and the meeting password of 446627# when prompted.

For more information, call Doug Osborne at 738-8734.

• Sitka Cycling Club 2020 goals

• Sitka Cycling Club monthly group ride schedule (pre-COVID-19)

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Sam Jones carries gravel while working on the Little Machete Loop single-track mountain bike trail on Thursday, June 11, 2020.

The Sitka Cross Trail from the entrance near the Sitka High School Performing Arts Center parking lot. The new 907 loop is in the lime green section to the right (above the Cross Trail). The Little Machete Loop will start near the exit of the 907 loop and is below the Cross Trail in the lime green section on the right.

The Sitka Cycling Club started building its second single-track loop on the Sitka Cross Trail last week, and another work party is scheduled for 5-7 p.m. on Thursday, June 18. Meet near the exit of the recently completed 907 Loop, and the group will then move to the new Little Machete Loop to continue building that trail.

To protect everybody’s health and safety during the COVID-19 outbreaks, all volunteers should bring sturdy shoes, work gloves, bandanas, face masks, ear plugs (especially for those who might work near someone using a chainsaw), buckets for hauling gravel, and wheelbarrows.

There are tasks individuals and smaller groups can accomplish if they can’t make the regular 5 p.m. Thursday work groups. If you want to help, please RSVP with volunteer coordinator Amy Volz at amy.volz@outlook.com or 907-957-6009 (text) so she can coordinate the work parties to keep them to a safe size. Work parties are being limited to no more than 5-7 people so volunteers can spread out on the trail while working.

Laurent Deviche, who is supervising the trail-building project, said there is trailwork people can do on their own:

Find flat stones from the surrounding forest and put them in muddy holes, or on the side of the trail.   
 
Continue to put down fabric (black and cached at Little Machete entrance and exit) and big gravel (the pile with the larger rocks at 907 exit). You will see that we’ve completed the first uphill from the entrance —continue on from there toward the exit. We have buckets and a shovel cached on Little Machete. Bring your own gloves.
 
Walking on it to pad it down and riding on it to see how it’s going and provide suggestions on what to do next.   
 
Other things we’re thinking about: When biking up it’s a pretty hard left. Giving some thought to make that more doable; more a sweeping (curve) than a quick 90 (degree turn) would work. Just walking it and visualizing next steps and the best path. Finally, we have a wood structure at the top before we go left, that threads through some trees right after and needs to be figured out. We also want to build a little speed bump feature at the exit so bikers don’t go flying into the Cross Trail at high speeds. 
 
IF YOU HAVE ANY IDEAS ON THESE QUESTIONS, SEND TO ME!!!

Black fabric being laid over muddy spots on the Little Machete Loop before being covered with gravel.

To give people a flavor about what a single-track mountain bike trail is all about, Michael Foss put together a YouTube channel for the Sitka Cycling Club that includes some GoPro videos of rides and walks on the new 907 trail.

Another way you can support this project is to donate to the Sitka Cycling Club. You can click this link to donate through PayPal. The other option is to mail a check to Sitka Cycling Club, c/o Charles Bingham, Treasurer, 405 Marine Street, Apt. No. 6, Sitka, Alaska 99835. You can contact Charles at 623-7660 or charleswbingham3@gmail.com for more details.

Most of the supplies we’ve received have been donated, but down the road we may have to pay for signs, tools, fill dirt or rocks, etc. Your support is greatly appreciated.

These trails are being built as part of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the City and Borough of Sitka, signed in February. The plan is to start with a couple of trails all in the same area, then build more trails later in other parts of Sitka. Sitka Trail Works is helping support this effort. A future Sitka Cycling Club project is the building of a skills course or pump track, where mountain bikers can improve their technical riding skills in an area that looks like a motocross track for bikes.

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The City and Borough of Sitka Public Works Department signed off on the new 907 single-track mountain bike loop off the Sitka Cross Trail, after a walk-through and bike inspection on Friday afternoon, May 22. This is the first official single-track mountain bike loop in Sitka, and part of a Sitka Cycling Club plan to build more single-track trails in town.

“Thanks to everyone who helped build this new single track trail,” Sitka Cycling Club president Doug Osborne said. “It’s very fun to ride and it’s great to have something to celebrate during this global pandemic that’s affected us all. I’m thrilled to announce that the city public works staff did the ride and walk thru yesterday and gave the trail the thumbs up. With this last step complete we have finished before our June 1st goal. Good work, Sitka!”

Single-track mountain bike trails are narrow trails designed for one-way mountain bike riding, giving riders a feeling of being closer to the woods than some of the wider trails. This trail includes banks to the curves, to help cyclists regulate speed.

Asa Dow helped build berms around the curves in the 907 single-track trail.

Amy Volz, who coordinated the volunteer crews who built the trail this spring, wanted 907 trail users to remember these things:

  • 907 is for bikers only. We’ve tried to sign it clearly, but be on the watch for curious hikers and dogs (who don’t know how to act around bikes!) and look forward on the trail. If you do see a hiker, be courteous and slow down/dismount.
  • 907 is ONE WAY only. We built this trail to be one way, hence its narrowness. Start at the entrance on the Indian River (south) end and go toward the HS (north). Yes, we’re all wondering what it will be like going “the other way” … but, that will cause real problems when two bikers meet going opposite directions.
  • As we ride 907, we’ll start to see where we need to make improvements due to more traffic. As you see these areas, let us know so that we can promptly repair. (Or, if an area needs some gravel, feel free to replace from the stream bed or the remaining gravel pile near the exit.)
  • Wear your helmet! Enough said.
  • In our tender and wet forest environs, any off-trail biking will make for muddy tracks and a degraded trail. Please keep on the gravel path. There are berms (thank you, Asa!!!) around many corners in case you find yourself going too fast.
  • Go slower (than you want to) the first few times until you learn the track to minimize accidents.
  • Above all, ENJOY!

The 907 trail is located in the lime green area on the right of this map, near the Sitka High School entrance to the Cross Trail

The Sitka Cycling Club will hold its monthly meeting from 1-2 p.m. on Wednesday, June 3, by Zoom online meetings, and during that meeting will discuss future single-track cycling trails. There are a couple of additional single-track loops planned for the Sitka Cross Trail, plus the Sitka Cycling Club is proposing adding new single-track trails in the Granite Creek/No-Name Mountain Area. To join the meeting, click this link, and use the meeting ID 873 1196 1011 and the password 022774.

A grand opening ceremony is being planned for once things are fully reopened from the pandemic outbreak.

• Sitka Cycling Club letter of support for more single-track mountain bike trails in Sitka

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This photo and caption was provided on Wednesday, May 20, 2020, by the Daily Sitka Sentinel. It is reprinted here with permission.)

BIKES GIVEN – Mt. Verstovia Masonic Lodge members Darrell Windsor, left, and Tom Brown pick up three bicycles at Yellow Jersey Cycle Shop recently for delivery to students. The Masons are continuing their program to give a bicycle to one student in each third grade class at Keet Gooshi Heen Elementary School. Third-grade teachers are selecting the recipients based on students’ behavior in class and the students’ display of good citizenship. Yellow Jersey Cycle Shop donates a lock and helmet to the winners. Receiving bicycles were Taylor McCarty, Olivia Osbekoff and Jude Dart. (Daily Sitka Sentinel photo by James Poulson)

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Angela McGraw shovels gravel into a wheelbarrow so it can be used to surface the 907 single-track loop off the Sitka Cross Trail.

The Sitka Cycling Club is nearing its goal of having built its first official single-track mountain bike loop off the Sitka Cross Trail, and volunteers are needed to help continue the work so the trail will be open for riding by June 1.

The Sitka Cycling Club hosted regular trail work parties (limited to five people due so people can work far enough apart for health and safety) from 5-7 p.m. on Thursdays in May, with the next one set for May 21. Hopefully this will be the final scheduled work party before the trail is turned over to the city for final inspection and approval on Friday, May 22.

Bill Spivey takes a test ride on the new 907 single-track loop off the Sitka Cross Trail

To protect everybody’s health and safety during the COVID-19 outbreaks, all volunteers should bring sturdy shoes, work gloves, bandanas, face masks, ear plugs (especially for those who might work near someone using a chainsaw), buckets for hauling gravel, and wheelbarrows. There are tasks individuals and smaller groups can accomplish if they can’t make the Thursday groups. If you want to help, please RSVP with volunteer coordinator Amy Volz at amy.volz@outlook.com or 907-957-6009 (text) so she can coordinate the work parties to keep them to a safe size.

Dubbed 907, the first single-track loop can be found by entering the Sitka Cross Trail from the Sitka High School auditorium parking lot and turning right at the first junction (lime-green shaded area on right side of map). The loop has been laid out, and plastic sheeting spread to mark the trail. Now, workers are filling it in with rock, gravel and dirt.

Calder Prussian, 12, rides down a section of newly completed bike trail off the Cross Trail on May 10. Calder is one of the Sitka cyclists who have volunteered time to build the spur trail. Volunteers will be following social distancing protocols while working on the new path this evening. (Daily Sitka Sentinel photo by James Poulson)

The Daily Sitka Sentinel recently ran a story about the trail project, and you can read it by clicking this link.

Thanks to Laurent Deviche for serving as trail supervisor, Amy Volz for coordinating work parties, the Bayne family for bringing in gravel and other supplies, and the Raven’s Way students for labor. If you missed helping on this trail loop, we hope to have other trail loops to build later in the summer.

Another way you can support this project is to donate to the Sitka Cycling Club. You can click this link to donate through PayPal. The other option is to mail a check to Sitka Cycling Club, c/o Charles Bingham, Treasurer, 405 Marine Street, Apt. No. 6, Sitka, Alaska 99835. You can contact Charles at 623-7660 or charleswbingham3@gmail.com for more details.

Most of the supplies we’ve received have been donated, but down the road we may have to pay for signs, tools, fill dirt or rocks, etc. Your support is greatly appreciated.

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