The Seward Phoenix Log - News of the Eastern Kenai Peninsula since 1966

By Annette Shacklett
LOG Editor 

President Obama tours Seward

 

Nancy Erickson | For The LOG

President Barack Obama accompanied by a National Park Service ranger heads out to Resurrection Bay and Bear Glacier.

For the first time in nearly a century, the U.S. President visited Seward this week.

President Barack Obama was on a three-day tour of Alaska this week with the purpose of emphasizing that climate change is real, it's driven by human activity and Alaskans are living it right now. Monday night he addressed the State Department's Global Leadership in the Arctic: Cooperation, Innovation, Engagement and Resilience conference in Anchorage. In the speech to GLACIER he outlined what the United States has done and is doing to reduce the impacts of climate change and repeatedly emphasized that "...we're not moving fast enough."

Tuesday he came to Seward.

As early 9 a.m. Sewardites and visitors lined the Seward Highway to welcome Obama. Some bore signs welcoming Obama and others came to protest things like Shell's drilling in the Chukchi Sea.

At about 11:30 a.m. the President landed at Seward airport in the Marine One helicopter. With him was a fleet of aircraft.

On one of the hangers was a sign that read "Welcome to Seward, AK. From the students and staff of Seward Elementary School" with the signatures of students and staff underneath.

On hand to greet Obama were Seward Mayor Jean Bardarson and National Parks Service Regional Director Bert Frost.

The President and his contingent headed right out to Exit Glacier in his motorcade. A little after noon he began his hike to the glacier accompanied by Kenai Fjords National Park Superintendent Rebecca Lasell.

Obama noted the signs marking where the head of the glacier was in designated years and commented on air, "You guys have been seeing these signs as we walk that mark where the glacier used to be. This is as good of a signpost of what we're dealing with when it comes to climate change as just about anything. This place has lost about a mile and a half over the last couple hundred years ... What it indicates, because of the changing patterns of winter and less snow and longer, hotter summers, is how rapidly the glacier is receding. It sends a message ... We want to make sure that our grandkids can see this."

Hikers around the glacier and Harding Ice Field from which it springs often see moose and/or bear on their visits. However the critters didn't come out for the President.

While at the glacier Obama taped an episode of the NBC reality TV show "Running Wild with Bear Grylls," putting his survival skills to the test.

The President headed back towards Seward about 3:45 p.m.

Already late for his boat ride, the motorcade cruised through downtown Seward. They stopped near the corner of Fourth and Washington where a crowd of about 50 was gathered.

Obama stepped into Urbach's Clothier and congratulated Dorothy Urbach on the store's 100th anniversary of operation.

Tim McDonald | For The LOG

After a hike to Exit Glacier President Obama stopped in downtown Seward to shake hands with the locals and have a snack at Sweet Darlings.

He then went into Sweet Darlings for some chocolate and coconut gelato. When he came out he shook hands and chatted with the crowd. He correctly guessed the grades of several excited first and third graders, and chatted with some preschoolers. Several people thanked him for his work and for coming to Alaska and Seward.

Next was a boat tour of Resurrection Bay and on out to Bear Glacier. He again addressed the nation before boarding. (See related story.)

Back at the airport by 7:30 p.m. where cars still lined the highway for a glimpse of the President, he thanked Bear Creek Fire Department volunteers and Coast Guard medevac personnel who stood by while he was on the water.

Obama took to the air in Marine One and headed back to Anchorage.

On Wednesday he continued his Alaska tour with visits to Dillingham and Kotzebue.

 

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