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· Alaska is one-sixth the size of the Lower 48
· With 30,000 miles of coastline, Alaska has more than the rest of the states combined.
· Alaska has approximately 100,000 glaciers. More than 600 sf of them are named. The Malaspina Glacier is larger than Rhode Island, and the Nabesna Glacier is more than 75 miles long. Both are in the Wrangell-St. Elias National Park.
· The Aleutian arc contains 80 volcanoes, more than 40 of which are active. Volcanoes close to Anchorage include Augustine, Redoubt and Iliamna.
· Most recently, Redoubt, 100 miles southwest of Anchorage began erupting in March 2009, with ash dusting Anchorage and beyond. Redoubt continued to rumble, reverted to a non-eruptive state in the fall, then started acting up again the last week December. Redoubt had a similar period of activitiy in 1989 & 1990.
· Mount Spurr, 80 miles west of Anchorage, erupted in 1992, covering the city in ash. The 1912 explosion of Novarupta Volcano was the largest in North America, creating the Valley of 10,000 smokes.
· Alaska is home to 17 national park systems. More than 54 million acres– 13 percent of the state’s landmass – are devoted to the national parks. Wrangell-St. Elias is the nation’s largest national park at more than 13.2 million acres. It’s twice as big as Denali National Park and six times larger than Yellowstone National Park in the Lower 48.
· The 1964 Good Friday earthquake – magnitude 9.2 – was the strongest recorded in North America. Alaska has more earthquakes than any other state.
· At 17 million acres, Tongass National Forest in Southest is the largest in the country, about three times as big as the second largest, which is …
· Chugach National Forest, at 5.6 million acres. It is roughly the size of Massachusetts and Rhode Island combined.
· Chugach State Park (Anchorage’s backyard) is one of the largest state parks in the nation, with more than 500,000 acres. It’s less than one-third the size of Wood-Tikchik State Park in Southwest Alaska. At 1.6 million acres, Wood Tikchik is the nations largest state park.
· Don’t forget the world-record fish caught in Alaska waters; Les Anderson’s 97 lb king salmon, caught in 1985, and Jack Tragis 459 lb halibut from 1996.
If some Alaskan tells you he saw a sourdough go into the Bush right after breakup, you might be a bit confused. That’s because we’ve got our own regional dialect in the Last Frontier. Here are some words and phrases that may help you understand “Alaskan” a bit better:
§ BREAKUP: It marks the end of winter and beginning of spring. It’s usually messy. The basis of the word comes from when melting snow raises the level of ice-covered rivers and streams, causing the ice to break apart and float downstream.
§ BUSH: The Bush is anywhere in Alaska that’s off the road system.
§ CHEECHAKO: Describes a newcomer, generally someone who hasn’t spent a winter in Alaska.
§ DENALI: Mount McKinley. It translates as “the high one” in an Athabascan language.
§ INTERIOR: The area around Fairbanks.
§ OUTSIDE: Any place other than Alaska, generally the Lower 48 – another way to refer to the contiguous 48 states.
§ SLEEPING LADY: The local name for Mt. Susitna, visible across Cook Inlet from Anchorage.
§ SOURDOUGH: Any Alaska or Yukon old-timer.
§ SOUTHCENTRAL: The area of Alaska between the Gulf of Alaska and the Alaska Range, included in Southcentral are Anchorage, the Mat-Su area, Kodiak, Valdez and the Kenai Peninsula.
§ SOUTHEAST: Also called the Panhandle, it stretches from Icy Bay near Yakutat to the US-Canada Border. Juneau, Haines, Sitka, Skagway and Ketchikan are in the Southeast.
§ TERMINATION DUST: If you’re around in late summer, you might see it. It’s the first light snow on the mountains; it signals that summer is ending.
§ THE VALLEY: Part of the Matanuska-Susitna Borough. It includes Palmer, Wasilla, Big Lake and Willow. Frequently it’s called the Mat-Su.
§ FIREWEED: The magenta-colored perennial herb that blooms in midsummer. Its blooms gradually turn cottony in autumn, signaling the approach of winter.
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