In other parts of the country dominated by agriculture, the fall harvest is a time of celebration after a successful growing season.
Sept. 1 in Alaska's Interior is a day worth celebrating as an unofficial first day of bringing in our most revered of renewable resources--wild game. It's what we grow here. Hunting seasons open and close throughout the year, but today's annual opening of waterfowl and moose hunting seasons is unequaled by other modern-day dates of harvest on Alaska's calendar.
It remains so noteworthy because so many Alaskans still enjoy a hunter-gatherer lifestyle. Commencing with breakup, they take to the lakes, streams and oceans to put up fish. As summer progresses, they harvest wild berries and garden vegetables; and finally, with the first hint of autumn's chill, they take large and small game as a dietary mainstay.
Others in our nation pursue similar wild interests, but rare are the places where this natural resource harvest takes place on such a grand scale. Fathers or mothers afield this morning may fire a single shot and take a moose that will provide a family's meat supply for an entire year.
Here we are in a far north city on the edge of an area of several thousand square miles that supports one of the highest moose population densities in North America.
That area, known as the Tanana Flats, was just decades ago a game-poor area. Now it is not only a moose-rich area, but relatively wolf-rich as well. This, after moose populations were low and wolf control curbed predator numbers in the late 1970s.
Regular hunting and trapping keeps the wolves and black bears in check, weather and habitat have cooperated to help boost moose productivity, and a natural absence of grizzly bears has helped boost moose survival over the years--almost to the point of over-abundance for available browse.
Plentiful game, plentiful predators, plentiful habitat and so much public land that the challenge is great and conditions are something much less than crowded for hundreds of hunters bound for this rich valley.
Today is a great time to celebrate that these opportunities remain for us and to celebrate this time for harvest.
How lucky we are to live in a city that is nestled in such country.