Mavis Muller: Art In Defense Of The Planet

Bjorn Olson - Saturday, March 10, 2018

Permaculture dot Org has released an article about Homer resident and global eco-warrior Mavis Muller. Kachemak Bay Conservation Society is re-publishing the piece with permission. 

Public Comment Writing Tips

Bjorn Olson - Friday, March 09, 2018


There are different kinds of comments. 

You can write to your state and federal representatives in support or favor of laws: these comments don’t need to get into the nitty gritty to have an impact. Overwhelming numbers in opposition to a project can sway a rep.

You can write to permitting agencies who give the go-ahead on development projects, like docks, hatcheries, mines, pipelines, etc. These guidelines focus on these kinds of comments. Effective comments at this level generally involve some research:

What kind of permit is being considered?

What are the laws governing this permit?

What is the nitty gritty of the proposed project and what will it’s impacts be?

Who reads comments? 

  • Permitting agencies
  • CC your representatives 

• Send them to newspapers

• Post on Facebook

  • Can use them to give testimony at public hearing.

Why do comments matter?

  • Permitting agencies are required to respond to substantive comments.
  • Comments can change permits.

• Agencies are afraid of lawsuits. 

• Be able to talk with friends, strangers and politicians about the issues you care about.

Kinds of Permits: 

Typical Sate Permits:

• Department of Natural Resources (DNR) issues these permits: Plan of Operations, Reclamation and Bonding, Monitoring Plan (Surface/Groundwater/Wildlife), Tidelands Leases

• Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) issues these:  Waste Management Permits and Bonding, Contingency Plans

• Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) issues Fish Habitat and Fishway Permits 

Typical Federal Permits: 


• US EPA Section 402 National Pollution Discharge and Elimination System Permit (NPDES)

• US ACOE Section 404 Dredge and Fill Permit

• NMFS Marine Mammal Protection Act

  • USFWS Migratory Bird Protection
  • National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) requires Environmental Impact Statements (EIS) for federal action determined to significantly affect the quality of the human environment. It’s got two steps where you can comment: 

1) Scoping

2) Draft EIS

For large projects, there are often a number of agencies and permits. There will be a coordinating agency, eg. for large-scale mining in Alaska, DNR is the lead state agency. For the Feds it is often the Army Corps.


Stay in the loop:

Join weekly updates from Trustees for Alaska, The Alaska Center and Alaska Women’s Environmental Network.

Join KBCS’s list to receive copies of our comments before the deadline. Our comments may help you write your own.  Email Penelope at if you want to be on that email list.

Read the draft permit or proposal closely: 

  • What exactly are they proposing? 
  • What laws must the permitters follow: they should be cited in the text of the draft permit.  Also, they will be on the agency’s webpage.

• Look at attachments: maps, tables. 

• How big is it: like a football field, like ten football fields? 

• Get a picture in your mind: 4,500 gal per minute =


  • Ask basic questions: Where will the water go? What exactly is in the water? How much is in there? How do we know? How does it affect living organisms?
  • Get a species list for the area.

• How long will the permit last?   

• Any special protections in region? 

• What are they not talking about?

Find out more:

  • Look up the laws cited. Just copy and paste the citation into google and you will get the full text. Structure your comments around these laws. They are what the agency cares about.
  • Call the agency contact person listed on the public notice and ask them your questions.
  • Research what has happened in similar kinds of developments.
  • Please only use .org, .edu, .gov and cited sources. 
  • Search for the issue you’re commenting on in the news. Call the journalist who wrote the article.
  • Read other comments: 
    • Cook Inlet Regional Citizen’s Advisory Council (esp. for stuff on oil and gas in Inlet)
    • SalmonState (for Pebble questions)
    • EarthJustice (for large-scale issues)
    • Northern Alaska Environmental Center (for northern Alaska issues)
    • Trustees for Alaska
    • Cook Inletkeeper
    • The Alaska Center


  • Persuade your reader.
  • What is at stake? 
  • Keep to the facts.
  • Quote and cite laws:


  • Lists, numbers, diagrams, research results, examples, are all good.
  • If you have a lot of points, number them. 
  • Topic sentences. 
  • Always address any special protections to land or animals.
  • Tell ‘em what you’re gonna tell ‘em. Tell ‘em. Tell ‘em what you told ‘em. 

Start like this: 

Angela Hunt

Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation

Division of Water

Wastewater Discharge Authorization Program

555 Cordova Street

Anchorage, AK 99501

Regarding: Aquaculture Facilities in Alaska General Permit, Permit No. AKG130000

Dear Ms. Hunt: 


Artists Know Climate Change Session #2

Bjorn Olson - Sunday, February 19, 2017

Artist's Know Climate Change Logo

The Artists Know Climate Change art contest is hosting three “sessions” during the contest to help artists refine and define their particular topic and expand the conversation of climate change in our community.

Last week, Asia Freeman, from Bunnell Art Gallery, and Jessica Shepherd, from KBNERR, gave presentations on local impacts and artistic responses to climate change.

This week, Kim McNett and Bjørn Olson will be presenting about personal choices and action.  

Please join us at the KBNERR building -2181 Kachemak, Dr. Homer – on Tuesday the 21st at 6:00 PM for these presentations and discussion.

Read more about the contest here:

Alaskans Know Climate Change - Stickers

Bjorn Olson - Sunday, December 11, 2016

The Alaskans Know Climate Change stickers are in. 

Be on the lookout for them in your community and help us make them as visible as possible.

Thank you

Climate Change Education

Bjorn Olson - Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Kachemak Bay Conservation Society (KBCS) is developing an Alaskan Climate Change Education Campaign we will unveil this winter. 

Alaska is experiencing the effects of man-made climate change; from loss of sea ice, melting permafrost, coastal erosion, community relocation, and habitat loss to name a few. Alaskan's know climate change and science has predicted climate change, and yet, many in our state are still struggling to make these connections. KBCS is working to develop a variety of climate change education tools and resources to help our citizens link the dots, so to speak, and help begin taking actions to address climate change mitigation before the consequences of our inaction become disastrous to our way of life and expensive or impossible to repair.   

We are in the process of developing tools and resources but we will soon be printing our bumper stickers and posters to share freely around the state - Alaskans Know Climate Change. 

We have also produced a short video titled, 'How To Talk To A Climate Change Denier'. Please watch and share. 

Many of us feel impotent since the disastrous outcome of our recent election. It's time we put our minds together and start working to solve what has been called, 'the greatest threat humanity has ever faced.'

If you would like to get involved please join KBCS at our next board meeting at 5:30PM, on the 30th of November at 3734 Ben Walters Ln., Homer, AK (Cook Inletkeeper building)

I hope to see you at the next meeting.

-Bjørn Olson

How to Talk to A Climate Change Denier from Bjørn on Vimeo.

Coal’s Last Gamble: A choking industry bets on one more big score

Bjorn Olson - Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Grist has written a fantastic and comprehensive article about the proposed Chuitna Mine. 

"The coastal village of Tyonek lies on Cook Inlet, about 45 miles west of Anchorage, just a few miles downriver from the proposed mine site. For the tribe, which numbers fewer than 200 people, the mine represents an existential threat. “We will go to war if someone comes down here and starts plowing over us,” tribal president Art Standifer tells me. “We’ll go to battle.”

With the locals deeply opposed, the controversy over the Chuitna mine raises another, deeper question: Why, in 2016, is anyone willing to go to such lengths for a dirty and dying industry?

Read full story HERE :

Loren Flagg -Prehistory of KBCS Part 3

Bjorn Olson - Thursday, May 19, 2016

"This month marks the 40th anniversary of the jack-up rig George Ferris being “stuck firmly in 82 feet of clay just off the Homer Spit,” as the Homer News reported it on May 13, 1976. The incident proved to be the catalyst for the state to buy back oil leases that had been sold in Kachemak Bay. In this three-part series, Loren Flagg gives details of the Kachemak Bay oil lease sale and how the bay eventually was designated a Critical Habitat Area. The series is an abridged version of Chapter 10, “Kachemak Bay Oil Lease Fiasco” from his book “Fish, Oil & Follies.”"

"The committee was shown evidence that Kachemak Bay was in fact one of the “most highly productive marine environments in the world.” Studies showed how current gyres in outer Kachemak Bay allowed larval stages of crab and shrimp to develop and settle within the bay and that bioassay studies indicated that these larvae were extremely sensitive to very low levels of hydrocarbons. A final point was that the leases that had been issued were smack in the middle of the most biologically sensitive area."

Read full article from the Homer News HERE.  

Aphids and Bees

Bjorn Olson - Monday, May 16, 2016

Spruce Aphids and Honeybees

The spruce aphid has invaded Homer.  Our spruce trees have become heavily infected with the spruce aphid due to persistent warm winters.  Spruce aphids can survive when winter temperatures stay above 14 degrees Fahrenheit for an extended time.  Homer has set all-time monthly records the past two winters with high temperatures reaching into the low 50s (NOAA Historical Data).

Homer is developing into an entrepreneurial beekeeping community, with hives supporting around 1.5 million honeybees.  Our bees are threatened indirectly by the spruce aphid.  The only way to really kill the spruce aphid is by using systemic insecticides that kill insects.  Since bees are insects, our bees are put in jeopardy with the use of insecticides to kill the aphids. There are two methods of using insecticides for spruce aphids; one is to spray the trees, the other is to hire an arborist to directly inject the trees.  Either method exposes bees to the insecticide.

Bees gather spruce tree sap to make a substance called ‘propolis’ used to seal cracks in the hive honeycomb.  When a bee visits a spruce tree treated with insecticide, the bee may take insecticide laced sap back to the hive.  Exposure to the insecticide could kill the bees or weaken them to the point they cannot forage. The bees need our help to survive, but we also need their help for survival.  We depend on their pollinating powers for our food.

Before you spray or direct inject spruce trees on your property with an insecticide, think of the honeybee, and perhaps reconsider your use of insecticides.   Instead, keep your spruce tree well-watered thereby saving the tree and the bees.

For the good of the bees,


Linda Gorman

Homer Girls Honey

Click HERE for further reading about the spruce aphid. 

Loren Flagg talks about pre-history of KBCS - Part 2

Bjorn Olson - Friday, May 13, 2016
Part two:

This month marks the 40th anniversary of the jack-up rig George Ferris being “stuck firmly in 82 feet of clay just off the Homer Spit,” as the Homer News reported it on May 13, 1976. The incident proved to be the catalyst for the state to buy back oil leases that had been sold in Kachemak Bay. In this three-part series, Loren Flagg gives details of the Kachemak Bay oil lease sale and how the bay eventually was designated a Critical Habitat Area. The series is an abridged version of Chapter 10, “Kachemak Bay Oil Lease Fiasco” from his book “Fish, Oil & Follies.

After biologists and chemists for SOCAL gave  their dog-and-pony show, concluding  that an offshore oil spill in Cook Inlet would have “insignificant effects,” Homer folks agreed that Big O’s presentation was certainly slick! But it was now Homer’s turn to speak.

 Big Oil soon learned that Homer area residents were not as ignorant or naive as they may have presumed. A total of 18 citizens testified and the next day the Homer News characterized this testimony as follows: “The research that had been done, the carefully worked speeches, the backgrounds and expertise of individuals, the heartfelt emotions expressed by people who really care about their environment and quality of life in Homer, Alaska — all were impressive. Several fishermen spoke, noting the importance of the commercial fishing industry to Homer, the unique biological richness of Kachemak Bay, and the loss of pots they have already suffered from increased surface traffic.”

Read the full article:

Loren Flagg talks about pre-history of KBCS

Bjorn Olson - Monday, May 09, 2016
Tutka Seiner in Kachemak Bay

Kachemak Bay Conservation Society is one of the oldest conservation organizations in Alaska. If you are new to our organization, you may be wondering what our origins are.

Luckily, the Homer News is publishing a three-part article series regarding the events that led up to it. This is one of three.

"It all started in late November 1973 when the Alaska Department of Natural Resources decided to rush through an oil lease sale for Kachemak Bay without holding a public hearing. Held on Dec. 13, 1973, the Kachemak Bay lease sale brought in nearly $25 million and was the second most profitable in state history following the Prudhoe Bay sale. Standard Oil of California had dominated this, the 28th oil and gas lease sale in state history, taking 17 tracts and paying $16.6 million. Other major bidders were Shell at $5.4 million and Texaco at $2.6 million. The tracts drawing the greatest interest happened to be smack in the middle of the most important crab breeding and rearing area in Cook Inlet."

Read the full article

3734 Ben Walters Ln., Homer, AK 99603    •    (907) 235-8214   •    Fax (907) 235-4069    •