Project Jukebox

Digital Branch of the University of Alaska Fairbanks Oral History Program
Andrew and Joanne Beierly, Part 2
,

This is the continuation of an interview with Andrew and Joanne Beierly on October 5, 2018 by Karen Brewster at the Peniel Mission building in Skagway, Alaska. In this second part of a two part interview, the Beierlys continue to discuss their observations of environmental change in Skagway. They talk more about the unusual large die-off and starvation of common murres that occurred in 2016, as well as changes in weather, precipitation, seasonal timing, wind, snowfall and ice. They also discuss floods, and environmental changes in Dyea. Finally, they mention changes in the community of Skagway due to tourism.

Digital Asset Information

Archive #: Oral History 2018-14-04_PT.2

Project: Observing Change in Alaska's National Parks
Date of Interview: Oct 5, 2018
Narrator(s): Andrew Beierly, Joanne Beierly
Interviewer(s): Karen Brewster
Transcriber: Ruth Sensenig
Location of Interview:
Funding Partners:
National Park Service
Alternate Transcripts
There is no alternate transcript for this interview.
Slideshow
There is no slideshow for this person.

After clicking play, click on a section to navigate the audio or video clip.

Sections

Starvation and die-off of common murres

Observations of change in winter temperatures, freeze-up, and snowfall

Observations of change in seasonal temperatures, and effects of change on trees

Observations of change in the river and trees in Dyea

Observations of change in flooding, and bridges washing out

Change in the community of Skagway, tourism, and the availability of housing

Observations of change in the freezing of the bay and development of safe ice

Observations of change in the wind and amount of winter rain and snow

Conclusion

Click play, then use Sections or Transcript to navigate the interview.

After clicking play, click a section of the transcript to navigate the audio or video clip.

Transcript

KAREN BREWSTER: So you -- that bird -- murre die-off, it’s only happened that one year? JOANNE BEIERLY: Here in Skagway. KAREN BREWSTER: Here in Skagway. ANDREW BEIERLY: One year or two years. One year or two. Can’t remember.

JOANNE BEIERLY: Um, it would -- Well, the year that I picked up forty-one or forty-something birds on the small boat harbor, that was the only --

You know, we might see a dead bird occasionally. And um, but usually, we see something’s eaten it, like an eagle or a seal is gonna eat it.

So we can’t really say, did that bird starve to death because something’s eating it. KAREN BREWSTER: Right. JOANNE BEIERLY: We can’t document what’s happened to that bird. ANDREW BEIERLY: Right. Right. KAREN BREWSTER: Right.

JOANNE BEIERLY: But uh -- but we’ve been very fortunate that that hasn’t happened. It was a very distressing time for the bird members. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. JOANNE BEIERLY: Bird club members.

KAREN BREWSTER: Well, that's -- it’s traumatic. So that forty birds, was that in how much time that you picked those up, like -- ? JOANNE BEIERLY: Oh, a couple of weeks, I think. KAREN BREWSTER: Ok.

JOANNE BEIERLY: And those are just the birds that came ashore. And um, but that happened in the winter in January, and usually there’s a north wind blowing in the winter.

And so all the birds that were starving to death weren’t coming to shore. The waves were pushing them away into the ocean. KAREN BREWSTER: Hm.

JOANNE BEIERLY: And it was only the birds that came ashore who could fly. Still kind of fly and swim, they crawled out to onshore to die.

And um, and then we -- on days when the north wind was blowing, we could see dead bodies floating down. ANDREW BEIERLY: Um-hm. JOANNE BEIERLY: The channel. KAREN BREWSTER: Ok.

JOANNE BEIERLY: So that there was just thousands and thousands of them.

KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah, so did they ever figure out why they were starving? JOANNE BEIERLY: Because they weren’t getting the food. There was some sort of a die-off on a fish or something, and --

or the fish were out there, but they didn’t have enough fat on the fish’s body to support the bird. ANDREW BEIERLY: Oh, yeah.

JOANNE BEIERLY: And because um, that happened down in Juneau, too. They -- the die-off went all the way down the channel.

KAREN BREWSTER: Hm. And so, could that be associated with climate change and change in water temperature? JOANNE BEIERLY: Probably. ANDREW BEIERLY: Um-hm.

JOANNE BEIERLY: Because of the little baby fish, or the food fish, weren’t eating the right things.

Maybe there was something missing, ’cause then they couldn’t put fat on their body. And then there wasn’t enough fat to support the bird. ANDREW BEIERLY: Hm-hm.

KAREN BREWSTER: And so since then, have you -- does it seem like that murre population is on the increase again? JOANNE BEIERLY: Possibly.

They don’t usually come close enough to shore to document them. KAREN BREWSTER: Ok. JOANNE BEIERLY: You can -- If we have a spotting scope or something, you can see them out swimming around in the channel.

But we don’t like to see common murres or the little marbled murrelets and stuff, ’cause if they start coming in and hanging around, we know they can’t find the food where -- at the place they should be finding it. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.

ANDREW BEIERLY: We saw some last winter, didn’t we? Two of ’em. JOANNE BEIERLY: Murres? ANDREW BEIERLY: Yeah. But they were ok. JOANNE BEIERLY: They were ok. They were just swimming around, you know, but um. ANDREW BEIERLY: Feeding.

JOANNE BEIERLY: But um, they looked healthy. ANDREW BEIERLY: Yeah.

KAREN BREWSTER: Hm-hm. Um, what about the general health of the ecosystem here? Are the trees doing ok? And the animal population numbers and all that? Or do you -- have you seen a change in that?

ANDREW BEIERLY: I think the trees probably are doing ok 'cause it seems like we’re having a little more rainy days than, you know, -- JOANNE BEIERLY: Instead of -- instead of snow -- ANDREW BEIERLY: Wind. JOANNE BEIERLY: We have rain.

KAREN BREWSTER: In the winter? JOANNE BEIERLY: In the fall. ANDREW BEIERLY: Yeah. JOANNE BEIERLY: Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh.

JOANNE BEIERLY: 'Cause our winters aren’t as severe as they used to be. ANDREW BEIERLY: Right.

A lot of Joanne’s plants died -- died off because we’d have a warm spring, and then it would freeze. Yeah. Kill her --

KAREN BREWSTER: You mean it would freeze still in the spring? ANDREW BEIERLY: Yes. JOANNE BEIERLY: Yes.

KAREN BREWSTER: So you thought it was time to plant, and then it got -- ANDREW BEIERLY: No, they were coming up -- JOANNE BEIERLY: The plants ANDREW BEIERLY: -- out of the ground. Yeah.

JOANNE BEIERLY: -- my perennials were coming up, and then it was -- they thought it was spring, and it wasn’t. ANDREW BEIERLY: Yeah. It wasn’t.

KAREN BREWSTER: And now, once it gets warm, it stays warm? JOANNE BEIERLY: Um-hm. ANDREW BEIERLY: Yeah. Pretty much.

KAREN BREWSTER: And snowfall. Is there a difference? ANDREW BEIERLY: Yes, there’s a difference in snowfall. Usually, it snows around October.

We'd get a little snow during Halloween, and then it would go away. And then November, we’d get -- start our snow.

KAREN BREWSTER: And -- and now, when you -- ANDREW BEIERLY: And now, it’s January, something like that.

We’d get maybe a foot of snow, and then it’d all melt. JOANNE BEIERLY: Or the wind would blow it away. ANDREW BEIERLY: The wind would blow it away, and it’d melt, you know.

KAREN BREWSTER: Um-hm. So when you were growing up here? ANDREW BEIERLY: There was a lot more snow. KAREN BREWSTER: There was? ANDREW BEIERLY: Yeah. A lot more snow.

JOANNE BEIERLY: We used to ski around town. We’d go put our skis on and ski up and down the streets. ANDREW BEIERLY: Yeah. JOANNE BEIERLY: And you can’t do that anymore. KAREN BREWSTER: No.

ANDREW BEIERLY: Or when I was at the mission, the streets weren’t paved. It would be snow, and then it would thaw, and the streets would be icy.

You could ice skate from the mission all the way -- all the way down to the hardware where the theater was. KAREN BREWSTER: Uh-huh.

ANDREW BEIERLY: And then take your ice skates off and go watch a movie. And then skate back. KAREN BREWSTER: Wow. ANDREW BEIERLY: Yeah.

KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. So it -- when it got cold in those winters, it stayed cold? ANDREW BEIERLY: It stayed cold. KAREN BREWSTER: You didn’t have that freeze-thaw? ANDREW BEIERLY: No. KAREN BREWSTER: That you have now. ANDREW BEIERLY: Not as much. I don’t -- can’t remember, but I don’t think so. It was cold. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. ANDREW BEIERLY: Yeah.

KAREN BREWSTER: So other effects of those changing seasons? ANDREW BEIERLY: Yeah, because you’d -- you know, like I was working on a house, and in December, it was forty-six degrees. KAREN BREWSTER: Wow. ANDREW BEIERLY: You know, here, working.

Where before, it used to be colder than that. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.

ANDREW BEIERLY: My son would call up and he’d say, "It’s five above in Oklahoma." I says, "Well, it’s forty-six degrees here. Clear, blue skies." KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. ANDREW BEIERLY: Sun’s out.

KAREN BREWSTER: Right. So is climate change a good thing, then? ANDREW BEIERLY: Well, I don’t know if it’s a good thing or not. Because there, like you say, the glaciers are melting.

JOANNE BEIERLY: And some days we get real -- like, ninety-five degrees in Skagway, and then people just get sick because it’s too hot for us. KAREN BREWSTER: Right. ANDREW BEIERLY: Yeah. Yeah.

JOANNE BEIERLY: We’re not acclimated to those. And it’s going to get worse and worse. You know, it’s going to get hotter and hotter. ANDREW BEIERLY: Yeah.

KAREN BREWSTER: And that means it’s drier as well, right? ANDREW BEIERLY: Yeah. JOANNE BEIERLY: Yes.

ANDREW BEIERLY: I think the only time I’ve ever seen it get up into the nineties is 1957. One day, it got up into the nineties.

KAREN BREWSTER: Wow. And then it happened this summer? JOANNE BEIERLY: Yes. ANDREW BEIERLY: And then it happened. JOANNE BEIERLY: Um-hm. ANDREW BEIERLY: Yeah.

KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah, I wonder what’s going to happen to the spruce and hemlock and -- ? JOANNE BEIERLY: It’s gonna change. ANDREW BEIERLY: Oh, yeah.

JOANNE BEIERLY: The trees are gonna change.

KAREN BREWSTER: You haven’t noticed any changes yet in them? JOANNE BEIERLY: Um, just the spruce bark -- KAREN BREWSTER: Beetle. JOANNE BEIERLY: Beetle damage, but nothing yet. But I’m sure it will change. ANDREW BEIERLY: Yeah.

KAREN BREWSTER: Um-hm. Was there ever, um, yellow cedar growing up here, do you remember? ANDREW BEIERLY: No, but I was really surprised that there is a red cedar growing over in Dyea.

And there’s also a red cedar tree at Burro Creek. I don’t know if a -- a -- a seed came up by bird, or if somebody planted.

But I think over in -- over in Burro Creek, I think it’s from a bird because the tree is not very tall. KAREN BREWSTER: Um-hm. But it’s surviving? ANDREW BEIERLY: But it’s surviving. Yeah.

KAREN BREWSTER: Which, it might not have in the past? ANDREW BEIERLY: Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: I don’t know.

ANDREW BEIERLY: There’s another tree, too. I can’t remember. Hm.

I can’t remember, but there’s a -- there was a tree that we tried to transplant over in -- we got it from Long Bay because they were going to widen the road. JOANNE BEIERLY: And they were blasting.

ANDREW BEIERLY: Was it a white spruce? JOANNE BEIERLY: It was a yellow cedar. ANDREW BEIERLY: Was it? JOANNE BEIERLY: No, no. A yellow spruce. No, it was -- it had yellow leaves. Little -- must've been a --

KAREN BREWSTER: Was it an evergreen? JOANNE BEIERLY: Yeah, it was an evergreen. KAREN BREWSTER: Not a tamarack? JOANNE BEIERLY: No.

ANDREW BEIERLY: There was -- there was a tree that was down. I don’t know if it was Klawock or someplace down there, a big tree. JOANNE BEIERLY: That was yellow. KAREN BREWSTER: Hm. JOANNE BEIERLY: That was yellow spruce. Yeah. ANDREW BEIERLY: Spruce. Yellow spruce or white spruce, I can’t remember.

KAREN BREWSTER: I know we have white spruce up north. ANDREW BEIERLY: White spruce, maybe. JOANNE BEIERLY: No, no. ANDREW BEIERLY: No? JOANNE BEIERLY: This was yellow. The leaves were yellow.

And the -- down south they -- they found this yellow, must've been like a genetic thing or something. KAREN BREWSTER: Um-hm. JOANNE BEIERLY: And the Native people down there considered it a holy tree. ANDREW BEIERLY: Right.

JOANNE BEIERLY: And then somebody cut it down. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh, dear. ANDREW BEIERLY: Oh dear, yes.

JOANNE BEIERLY: And so when we saw that yellow needle spruce by the road, and we knew it was going to be blasted, then the Natives here transplanted it and put it by the STC (Skagway Traditional Council) building.

But it -- it didn’t survive the -- being moved. ANDREW BEIERLY: Yeah, ’cause it -- it grew in the rocks. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh. JOANNE BEIERLY: On the road, yeah. ANDREW BEIERLY: It was on the rocks, and there’s moss and stuff. So it’s a completely different environment when you put it in the ground. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. ANDREW BEIERLY: And -- and think that it would -- it would take.

But there was two trees. One tree, they -- they -- it was gone. And then there was only one left, so we thought maybe we could -- we could get it. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.

ANDREW BEIERLY: But it -- it only lasted probably a couple weeks. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh.

ANDREW BEIERLY: They were watering it every day, but -- KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. JOANNE BEIERLY: It didn’t work. ANDREW BEIERLY: It didn’t work.

KAREN BREWSTER: It didn’t want to live in Skagway. ANDREW BEIERLY: Which -- which was too bad. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. JOANNE BEIERLY: Yeah.

ANDREW BEIERLY: But that’s the only two that I know, is two red cedar trees.

KAREN BREWSTER: Hm-mm. And then out in Dyea. Are the flats out there, have they changed? And with the way the river goes? ANDREW BEIERLY: The way the river goes, yes. It’s changed quite a bit.

There’s more spruce trees on the flats. Before, it used to be wide open because they had horses running over there, and they were, you know -- JOANNE BEIERLY: Eating everything. ANDREW BEIERLY: Eating everything.

It looked like just like the way it looked during the Gold Rush. There was no trees, hardly any trees on the flats.

And that’s the only change besides the river.

KAREN BREWSTER: And the river changed -- has changed how? ANDREW BEIERLY: The river has -- JOANNE BEIERLY: In Dyea. ANDREW BEIERLY: In Dyea. It has changed quite a bit.

It used to be over towards the town site more. Now it’s going over towards the ranger station more.

Where they put the bridge, they have changed -- the river has changed there. It has pushed it over to the west side, where the old cemetery -- KAREN BREWSTER: Um-hm. ANDREW BEIERLY: -- has been washed out because the river has changed.

The Park Service had people from Seattle come up, and they were trying to figure out how they could put the channel back where it was so it wouldn’t wash out the historic part of Dyea. KAREN BREWSTER: Right. JOANNE BEIERLY: The cemetery. KAREN BREWSTER: The cemetery.

ANDREW BEIERLY: Well, the cemetery and the town site. So they -- but they haven’t done anything with it.

There’s a family that has a home over there that had to put -- hire somebody to put rock there because they lost probably 300 feet of -- of land because the river has changed.

KAREN BREWSTER: And do you know what might be causing that change? Is that a natural change? ANDREW BEIERLY: That’s just a natural change that the river has changed.

KAREN BREWSTER: It’s not those beavers? ANDREW BEIERLY: No, it was before the beavers.

JOANNE BEIERLY: Well, I think some of it is since the glaciers more -- glaciers are melting faster, the rivers rise. ANDREW BEIERLY: Yeah.

JOANNE BEIERLY: And there’s a lot more water running down the rivers. And then they, um -- because we have some really flood in the spring when the glaciers start to melt. Um -- ANDREW BEIERLY: Yeah.

JOANNE BEIERLY: We have some pretty strong floods going down the Skagway River. KAREN BREWSTER: Um-hm.

ANDREW BEIERLY: Yeah. 1968. KAREN BREWSTER: There was a big flood? ANDREW BEIERLY: When they had the flood here, the river was probably a foot and a half below the airport. KAREN BREWSTER: Wow. JOANNE BEIERLY: Mm-Mm.

ANDREW BEIERLY: And it was just lucky that there was a contractors in Skagway that were building the road up to Black Lake, 'cause they had all the heavy dump trucks and the graders and bucket loaders and everything.

So they got a lot of big rock. It was a big area, had a big swirl up by the bridge, which was washed out, and they just dumped a lot of rock there.

In fact, you could tell by -- if you go up across -- up by the bridge, you can see this big dike all the way towards the airport. And it’s higher than -- it’s called Alaska Street. KAREN BREWSTER: Ok.

ANDREW BEIERLY: Yeah, so they built that all up, so.

KAREN BREWSTER: So since then that means there hasn’t been a danger of flooding here? ANDREW BEIERLY: No, and that happened in September, so we’ve had, uh, no -- like, now it’s raining, but it used to rain like Southeast Alaska, really -- KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. ANDREW BEIERLY: -- hard.

And then we get our high waters, but it hasn’t happened.

KAREN BREWSTER: Well, and back in the old days, didn’t the bridges on the White Pass get wiped out fairly often? ANDREW BEIERLY: Well, years ago the railroad used to run on the west side. JOANNE BEIERLY: Of the valley.

ANDREW BEIERLY: And they had a bridge up -- It’s called Liarsville. It got washed out twice.

So then the White Pass bought, it’s called Hackett Road, which runs right by the cemetery, and they changed the railroad to the east side. KAREN BREWSTER: And --

ANDREW BEIERLY: And if you go out -- if you go, like right now, if you drive across the Skagway River, you’ll see a piling where the old railroad bridge that went across.

JOANNE BEIERLY: To the other -- that side of the valley. ANDREW BEIERLY: Yeah. It went from -- from the west side over to the east side.

KAREN BREWSTER: So that was just a change in course of the river? That was nothing climatic that changed bridges washing out or not washing out or more flooding? ANDREW BEIERLY: It might have been more flooding, you know, 'cause the river, the -- it comes out of Five-Mile, and it probably went over onto the west side and just bounced off the west side and went to the east side. KAREN BREWSTER: Um-hm.

ANDREW BEIERLY: And it just, high waters. They probably had high waters back then, and it just -- it was knocking trees down and stuff. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.

ANDREW BEIERLY: It probably just wiped out the bridge ’cause it was only made out of wood, not -- not steel. KAREN BREWSTER: Right. ANDREW BEIERLY: Like it is now.

KAREN BREWSTER: Right. So Joanne, you had some other things you were talking about Skagway history or something you had wanted to talk about? JOANNE BEIERLY: Oh. Um, this --

Well, we’ve lived in Skagway -- well, Andrew’s lived here longer than me, but I came in 1961, I believe, and Skagway was a sleepy little town.

And it was beautiful and quiet, and um, and it’s really changed, because -- ANDREW BEIERLY: No TV. JOANNE BEIERLY: Well, there was no TV. It was just a little town.

And then tourism came to town. And so now, Skagway’s in the middle of a building boom. It’s almost like the gold rush.

When the gold rush happened, everybody cut the trees down and built houses and huts and stuff, and now we’re going through that same growing pains.

Because there’s hardly any vacant lots in town because everything’s being built up again.

And, I mean, it’s just natural, and there’s bigger ships coming to Skagway every year, so.

KAREN BREWSTER: Well, I thought it was interesting what you said. With people building, they cut trees down. JOANNE BEIERLY: Yes. KAREN BREWSTER: And then that affects the birds. JOANNE BEIERLY: Yes.

KAREN BREWSTER: So there’s -- any change has repercussions, some way or the other, I suppose. JOANNE BEIERLY: Yeah, it’s affected the bird population because there’s not as many nesting sites for them, and um, how else has it been changed?

ANDREW BEIERLY: Yeah, and -- and the population way back then, was there was about 1500 people here or -- or more. Now there’s maybe 1000. JOANNE BEIERLY: Yeah, but -- ANDREW BEIERLY: Year-round. KAREN BREWSTER: Year-round? ANDREW BEIERLY: Yeah. Year-round.

KAREN BREWSTER: ’Cause in the summer, it goes way up. ANDREW BEIERLY: But summer, it goes way up, because you can tell by all the vehicles that are parked on -- all over. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.

ANDREW BEIERLY: They’re just all over because people bring their vehicles in. Plus with the bus traffic and stuff.

JOANNE BEIERLY: Tour bus. ANDREW BEIERLY: Tour bus. There’s more and more tour buses and stuff. And they start out small; now they have larger buses.

KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah, I’ve seen signs on the street that say "Bus over 27 feet not allowed." ANDREW BEIERLY: Yes. Right. KAREN BREWSTER: And I’m like, how can there be a bus over twenty-seven feet? ANDREW BEIERLY: Yeah, so.

KAREN BREWSTER: And I’ve heard that housing's very difficult for people who want to move here. JOANNE BEIERLY: Um-hm. ANDREW BEIERLY: Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: And -- and -- and set up, you know, a home here. It's really difficult.

ANDREW BEIERLY: And that’s just -- that's the thing, is that most of the larger companies have housing, offer housing for -- for their workers. But there’s no year-round housing. KAREN BREWSTER: Right.

ANDREW BEIERLY: Yeah, there’s housing, but not year-round. KAREN BREWSTER: Right.

So if you’re a young family, you can get a job here. ANDREW BEIERLY: Right. KAREN BREWSTER: And you want to settle here, that makes it very difficult. ANDREW BEIERLY: Oh, yeah. It makes it really difficult for them to --

That’s why you see up on the hillside, there’s more houses being built up on the hillside. JOANNE BEIERLY: Up on the hill. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.

ANDREW BEIERLY: Because they’re renters down here, and they decided to build. KAREN BREWSTER: So they’re more --

ANDREW BEIERLY: And the city decided to sell the land up there. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. ANDREW BEIERLY: Because before it belonged -- it was the state land. Now -- now, it’s city land. KAREN BREWSTER: Right. ANDREW BEIERLY: It’s in the city boundaries.

KAREN BREWSTER: So they can sell off the lots? ANDREW BEIERLY: They can sell lots and -- and build. And the boundary has gone all the way over to Dyea. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh. ANDREW BEIERLY: Dyea now so.

KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. That’s going to get built up, too, maybe. ANDREW BEIERLY: I -- it could, but the value of the land that they want to sell is, a lot of people don’t want to pay that much money. KAREN BREWSTER: Right.

ANDREW BEIERLY: Because you have to have a well. You have to have -- and um -- JOANNE BEIERLY: Septic system, yeah.

ANDREW BEIERLY: But now that the power company has run electricity all the way out to Dyea, which made it a lot better. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah, that helps. ANDREW BEIERLY: For people to build. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. Yeah.

ANDREW BEIERLY: And then the groundwater is not that great. Uh, it’s -- JOANNE BEIERLY: In Dyea? ANDREW BEIERLY: Yeah. There’s a lot of sulfur, rust, and stuff.

So there’s certain places that you can drill a well and where you have good water. Or some people haul their water. Like the family that lived at -- in Dyea Point, they hauled their water. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. ANDREW BEIERLY: Yeah. Their drinking water.

They have a well, but they use that for washing. KAREN BREWSTER: Right. Not for drinking. ANDREW BEIERLY: Not for drinking. Yes.

KAREN BREWSTER: Well, any other things about the environment that we have -- we kind of haven’t talked about the animals so much, but the birds and glaciers. Storms.

The harbor, does it -- does the bay -- did it use to freeze up in the winter? ANDREW BEIERLY: Uh, the harbor freezes in the winter. KAREN BREWSTER: It does? ANDREW BEIERLY: Maybe a quarter of it. KAREN BREWSTER: Um-hm.

ANDREW BEIERLY: And the only reason -- Well, one of the -- there’s underground water that runs there year-round. JOANNE BEIERLY: Fresh water. KAREN BREWSTER: Fresh water. ANDREW BEIERLY: Fresh water from Pullen Creek. KAREN BREWSTER: Um-hm.

ANDREW BEIERLY: Uh, and all the storm drains from that street run into the boat harbor. KAREN BREWSTER: Ok. ANDREW BEIERLY: Which is fresh water. KAREN BREWSTER: Right.

ANDREW BEIERLY: So some boats get froze in. And it’s about -- it’s thick enough to where sometimes you can walk on it, but most of the time, it’s about two inches thick.

KAREN BREWSTER: But when you were growing up and it was colder, did -- was it -- that boat harbor wasn’t there? ANDREW BEIERLY: It wasn’t there, so the tide -- the tide moved. JOANNE BEIERLY: The ice. ANDREW BEIERLY: The ice and everything so, once it froze, then the high tide came in and would break it and then wash back out.

KAREN BREWSTER: Because I was wondering if the bay used to freeze when it was colder? ANDREW BEIERLY: Over in Dyea, yes. It freezes. It freezes quite a ways out. KAREN BREWSTER: Still?

ANDREW BEIERLY: Yeah. There’s a cabin, Kalen's? JOANNE BEIERLY: Um-hm. ANDREW BEIERLY: It freezes from Dyea flats all the way out to Kalen's. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh.

ANDREW BEIERLY: And then the seal will go right up on top of the -- JOANNE BEIERLY: The seals like to lay on top of the ice. KAREN BREWSTER: Yes, they do, in the sun. JOANNE BEIERLY: Yeah.

ANDREW BEIERLY: And -- and I’ve heard people on snow machines go out on that ice, which I would never do. But I’ve heard that they’ve done that.

And I’ve heard that there’s been, like the -- every once in awhile, the killer whales would come up here. So you’d see about 200 seals on the ice, and then the killer whales would leave. And the seals would leave, too.

KAREN BREWSTER: Yes, well, safety out on that ice. ANDREW BEIERLY: Oh, yeah.

KAREN BREWSTER: But I’m surprised that it still freezes. ANDREW BEIERLY: Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: But is it freezing later? ANDREW BEIERLY: But it doesn’t -- it freezes, but it doesn’t last that long. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.

ANDREW BEIERLY: You know, with the south wind storms that come here, it breaks the ice up and then it floats out.

Because I think I have pictures from last year where you could look over towards Saddle Mountain or Face Mountain, you could see all the icebergs out there. KAREN BREWSTER: Oh.

JOANNE BEIERLY: Well, the reason the ice builds up in the winter is because the very strong, cold north winds. ANDREW BEIERLY: Yeah.

JOANNE BEIERLY: And um -- which blow day and night and that -- Then the fresh water, you know, if it’s not running -- ANDREW BEIERLY: Stays on top. JOANNE BEIERLY: -- it stays. The ice just gets thick enough that seals can crawl out on it, so. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. ANDREW BEIERLY: Yeah.

KAREN BREWSTER: Has there been a change in the storms? Either more or less storms, or the severity of those winter storm events or any time of year really? Like with those winds.

JOANNE BEIERLY: Yeah, we -- during the summer, we have a lot. It seems windier in the summer than it used to be. ANDREW BEIERLY: Um-hm. KAREN BREWSTER: Um-hm. JOANNE BEIERLY: But, um. ANDREW BEIERLY: Yeah, used to be a three o'clock wind. Now it’s noon.

KAREN BREWSTER: Oh. This world is speeding up?

ANDREW BEIERLY: Yeah, ’cause if I do go fishing down at Indian Rock, we go out at 7:00, and then, course, we keep looking south for a black line.

You see a black line, you know that the south wind is starting to pick up, so.

KAREN BREWSTER: Is that a black line in the water? ANDREW BEIERLY: In the water. JOANNE BEIERLY: Yeah, it’s just the wind coming. You can see it because it’s pushing the water ahead of it. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah.

ANDREW BEIERLY: Or little whitecaps. You can see the whitecaps, and the black line is probably the bottom of the white -- the top of the waves.

KAREN BREWSTER: So where's Indian Rock? ANDREW BEIERLY: It’s down by Haines. As the ferry turns into the ferry terminal, it’s right there. KAREN BREWSTER: Ok. Ok.

ANDREW BEIERLY: So we’d fish for halibut down there, and we’d watch the -- long look down south every once in awhile, and talk to the fish. Tell ’em not to bite my line.

KAREN BREWSTER: Right. Because you want to get home. ANDREW BEIERLY: Yeah, you want to get home. But anyway, yeah. So you could watch -- watch for that.

But, usually, yeah, usually it was about three o'clock, the wind would come up. But now it’s earlier. KAREN BREWSTER: Huh. Now it’s earlier. ANDREW BEIERLY: Earlier. KAREN BREWSTER: Huh.

And the wind direction is still fairly consistent here? ANDREW BEIERLY: Yes. In the summer, south. In the winter, it’s north.

KAREN BREWSTER: Ok. ’Cause I know some places, they say the winds are all different now than they used to be. But maybe here 'cause of the mountains, it's kinda -- ANDREW BEIERLY: Yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: It’s not going to change?

ANDREW BEIERLY: Yeah, ’cause it’s just amazing that last winter -- Usually if we get a foot of snow, Juneau and Haines get like four feet to six feet. KAREN BREWSTER: Huh.

JOANNE BEIERLY: Um-hm. They get a lot more snow. ANDREW BEIERLY: Last winter, we had a foot of snow, and there was no snow in Juneau or Haines. For some reason, I don’t know. KAREN BREWSTER: Hm.

ANDREW BEIERLY: We had a friend that lived in there, and she had to be tunneled out of her house. JOANNE BEIERLY: All that -- Yeah, usually -- ANDREW BEIERLY: Marge, yeah.

KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. They’d get more snow. ANDREW BEIERLY: Yeah. It’d be so -- they’d get so much snow there.

KAREN BREWSTER: But they’re not getting as much snow there either? ANDREW BEIERLY: No. I don’t think so. I don’t think they are.

JOANNE BEIERLY: It’s more rain. Instead of snow falling, rain falls. ANDREW BEIERLY: Yeah. But uh --

KAREN BREWSTER: So, anything else you want to say about climate change, global warming? Response to it? What’s happening?

I don’t know, a general concluding statement?

JOANNE BEIERLY: Well, I think we’ve covered just about everything, but we do appreciate you coming to Skagway. ANDREW BEIERLY: Yeah.

JOANNE BEIERLY: And documenting our thoughts. And come back again. KAREN BREWSTER: I’d love to. ANDREW BEIERLY: Yeah.

KAREN BREWSTER: Thank you. Well, I appreciate your time and all the detailed observations you guys are making. ANDREW BEIERLY: Um-hm. Um-hm. KAREN BREWSTER: And the records you’re keeping are really valuable. ANDREW BEIERLY: Oh, yeah. KAREN BREWSTER: Yeah. So, thank you.