Hooray, spring has come! Alaska News Brief May 2023
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Hooray, spring has come! Alaska News Brief May 2023

There’s a meme that’s been going around Alaska for months now. It captures the progression of seasons—from winter to fool’s spring to second winter to the spring of deception to third winter to mud season.

New snow on old boots in a garden bed on May 3. Anchorage, Alaska, 2023. Photo by Dawnell Smith

When Anchorage got 1.7 inches of snow on May 3rd, I figured we were well into the spring of discontent. It didn’t help that our work to stop ConocoPhillips’ new Willow oil and gas project turned into a furious storm of legal filings and appeals in March and April, making it hard to come up for air and light. But our beloved Alaska spring—you might say, the month of May—offers a welcome respite from that flurry of filings, deadlines, and rulings—or waiting for them.

The sun has a way of changing how you feel about things. (Yay, for natural vitamin D!) It warms my heart to see our record snowfall turn into snowmelt that soaks the soil and earth. Together with sunshine, it feeds budding plants and busy birds and miraculous growth and, yes, the emergence of bears, the birth of moose calves, and the neighborhood chatter as people linger to catch up on sidewalks and tinker in their yards.

Soon, the ruddy rhubarb balls will unfold into robust canopies of leaves. I don’t have to do a thing except understand these unwieldly plants as a gift, even when they overwhelm my small forget-me-not patch that I’m trying to expand.

Rhubarb down the way from Vicki’s house on May 8, 2023. Photo by Dawnell Smith

The Himalayan poppies require little attention except my unending appreciation and gratitude for their furry leaves and soon to bloom cobalt-blue flowers. The raspberries will again crowd the yard without meddling, though I may fuss with them while longing for those plump berries.

Gardens need our labor, of course, but greens will grow, along with an assortment of goodies showing up on “ground-to-plate” meals, and people will be asking neighbors and friends to “take some kale, please!”

The sun feeds the bigness of Alaska and the speed in which abundance overwhelms us, even as we feel more energy despite needing fewer hours of sleep. For me, spring is a time of gratitude. There’s work to do, for sure, and also so much daylight in which to do it, so many reasons to pause in awe.

When spring rhubarb looks like fall. Vicki’s front yard, May 10, 2023. Photo by Vicki Clark

Spring always feels abuzz at Trustees too, as folks talk about their plant starts and their last yahoo while skiing on crust snow.

Trustees got an extra gift of support this spring, too. Patagonia announced on May 6 its commitment to helping to stop the Willow oil and gas project by contributing to Trustees, Sovereign Iñupiat for a Living Arctic, Alaska Wilderness League, and Earthjustice.

Part of this commitment includes funding our work. Part of it involves elevating our work through the Patagonia Action Works site, where folks engaged with Patagonia can find us, join our events, donate, and even volunteer.

Himalayan poppy fuzzies in Vicki’s yard, May 10, 2023. Photo by Vicki Clark

Patagonia has given grants to us and many of our clients and partners for many years; what makes this support different is its focus on the western Arctic and climate solutions that recognize these lands as essential to protecting human communities for generations to come, sustaining animal life and biodiversity, and keeping carbon and methane in the ground rather than polluting the atmosphere.

The oil and gas industry extracts oil and gas without thinking or caring about how it drives a cycle of burning fossil fuels and releasing billions of tons of greenhouse gases—the very source of climate change. Continuing to do that is the path to crisis, not health.

It turns out that May is also the last month of our spring appeal to those who make our work possible by donating and supporting Trustees any way they can. We encourage you to check out Patagonia Action Works and find, support, and donate to Trustees and our partners.

We do this work together, just as the sun and snow and earth conspire to make the cycles of life apparent again each spring, year after year, no matter what winter brings or how long it brings it.

PS. Thanks to supporters like you, we can continue fighting to protect Alaska’s land, water, air, wildlife and people.

Photo by NOAA

We went to the Ninth Circuit Court to protect Beaufort Sea polar bears

Photo courtesy Suzanne Bostrom

From tidepools to tussocks

Photo by Hank Beckman

Drinks with lawyers: Bridget on doing good and still paying the bills

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