Community editor and columnist Kris Capps is a longtime resident of Fairbanks and Denali Park. Contact her at, in the office at 459-7546 or by cell at 322-6334. Follow her on Twitter: @FDNMKris.

It’s time to sign up for the Tri-Valley Volunteer Fire Department’s annual ambulance plan.

But don’t wait to receive a notice in the mail. In a cost-cutting measure, the department is advertising the program on social media and in other ways. 

I’m always surprised more local residents don’t sign up for this bargain. Here’s how it works: If you need emergency medical services, and sign up for this program, you will get that emergency care at no cost. If you are insured, your carrier will be billed and any outstanding balance not covered by your medical insurance will be forgiven. All members of each household are included in the program.

Cost is $100 per household. Those funds are used to pay for maintenance of fire and rescue equipment. The new year’s plan covers January through December 2020.

Enroll by listing your physical address and mailing address, plus names of all residents at each address. Please also advise if there are special needs residents in the home. Include a drawing of the residence and detail any hazards, such as fuel, propane tank placement, storage for paint/solvents, electrical cut-offs or any other information.

In fact, the department would love to have residents provide this information, even if they don’t sign up for the ambulance plan.

Mail enrollment information and $100 to: TVVFD, P.O. Box 146, Healy, AK 99743. More information at


Denali Park Bird Count 

It was a bone-chilling day for bird watching during the annual bird count in the Denali Park area this week.

“Temps started at -37 F at 10 a.m. and rose to a whopping -30 F for a high,” said local resident Nan Eagleson, who spearheads the count every year.

A total of 15 hardy birders in eight groups counted a total number of 111 birds and 14 species.

Eagleson said she and her group went up Carlo Mountain and counted 54 ptarmigan.

“There were lots more that were hunkered down in the snow, deep in the willow, trying to stay warm in the areas with the deepest snow,” she said. “We didn’t want to hassle them, but I would guess there were several hundred more.”

Other species included four spruce grouse; one northern goshawk; one hairy woodpecker; one three-toed woodpecker; four Canada jays (a surprisingly low number, according to Eagleson); 13 black-billed magpies; nine common ravens; one black-capped chickadee (another surprisingly low number, she added); 11 boreal chickadees; one red-breasted nuthatch; 17 pine grosbeaks and two common redpolls.

Birder Mike Speaks counted one great horned owl, which flew overhead with a snowshoe hare in its talons. Eagle expert Carol McIntyre also spotted a golden eagle, but it was north of the count circle, so couldn’t be officially included. 

“Not too bad given the temps and our limited daylight hours, but this has been a hard week for the little birds,” Eagleson said.

The birders covered a total of 18 miles by foot, three miles by ski and 14 miles by snowmachine, she said.

Results of the Cantwell and Healy Bird Counts have not been reported yet. Information from the counts is sent to the National Audubon Society database to be included in the international citizen science monitoring program.

Reach columnist/community editor Kris Capps at Call her at the office 459-7546. Follow her on Twitter: @FDNMKris.