Recent news and events at ABR.
After nearly 40 years in the ABR family, Brian Lawhead is retiring. Since beginning as a Research Biologist with ABR in 1982, Brian has been a pivotal influence on ABR’s growth into the company it is today, all while building an extensive project portfolio as an ABR Senior Scientist. After earning his B.S. in biological science from Cornell University in 1975 and his M.S. in wildlife management from UAF in 1983, Brian has been active in both terrestrial and marine biological studies in Alaska, from monitoring breeding seabirds along the Kenai Peninsula to leading numerous studies of mammals in northern Alaska.
As we approach another brilliant summer solstice in Alaska, we must pass through the 19th of June, which is of course the day 2 years ago when we lost our dear Erin Johnson. We miss her every day still and even more so at this time of year. We urge you all to hug your family members warmly and give thanks for the life we have. We should also take a moment to reflect on Erin’s passion for life, her athleticism, her enthusiasm to address all challenges tossed her way, scientific and otherwise, and her indomitable spirit. If you have a chance, consider a donation to the Erin K. Johnson Memorial Fund (https://www.erinkjohnson.com) now or in the future. We hope everyone can take a little time today for a moment of silence for Erin or maybe engage in some hooting and hollering to the high heavens, as is your want!
The 2019 Alaska Bird Conference was held in Fairbanks 4–8 March 2019, with sponsorship and participation from ABR. We were excited to attend sessions, present talks, and even help lead a workshop on using unmanned aerial systems (UAS, or drones) to study birds.
Disaster struck 30 years ago on 24 March 1989 when the Exxon Valdez oil tanker ran aground on Bligh Reef, a charted rocky area outside the designated shipping lane at the mouth of Valdez Arm in Prince William Sound, Alaska. The Exxon Valdez spilled approximately 11 million gallons of crude oil from the Prudhoe Bay, which was scattered by wind and waves over some 1,300 miles of coastline. At the time, it was the worst maritime oil spill in U.S. waters, only surpassed by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico in 2010. The impact was immediate and dramatic, with oil-drenched wildlife appearing on the front pages and nightly news of major and minor media outlets. The death toll for marine mammals, birds, fish, and other marine life will never be known with accuracy, but estimates were in the hundreds of thousands for birds and marine mammals alone. The impacts on commercial fishing and tourism were devastating.
ABR’s commitment to environmental stewardship is reaching new heights—7.6 meters to be exact—in the form of a newly installed solar power system. The installation consists of three 14-panel, pole-mounted arrays on the north side of our main office parking lot. The 265 watt SunSpark solar panels equate to a total array capacity of 11,130 watts using 21 microinverters each. The arrays are manually adjustable for a 45 degree summer angle and an 85 degree winter angle to optimize power generation. Every electron that we produce will be used on site by ABR or will feed into the Golden Valley Electric Association’s (GVEA) grid. By using the power on site, we will save on GVEA’s kilowatt costs, also known as net metering.