• New book on XtraTufs includes photos from Running of the Boots fundraiser for Sitka Local Foods Network

Author/photographer Larry Johansen poses with a copy of his new book, "XTRATUF: An Alaskan Way of Life," during the Sitka Artisans Market on Dec. 4

Author/photographer Larry Johansen poses with a copy of his new book, "XTRATUF: An Alaskan Way of Life," during the Sitka Artisans Market on Dec. 4

Photos from the Running of the Boots, an annual fundraiser for the Sitka Local Foods Network, are featured in the new book “XTRATUF: An Alaskan Way of Life,” by Douglas resident Larry Johansen.

The Running of the Boots is a fun, end-of-the-summer event where people run a short downtown course while wearing colorful costumes and their XtraTuf boots, which also are known as Sitka Sneakers or Juneau Tennyrunners. About three years ago, the board of the Greater Sitka Chamber of Commerce, which had managed the race, decided to let the Sitka Local Foods Network use the Running of the Boots to raise money for its main projects, which include the Sitka Farmers Market, expanding community gardens in Sitka, trying to get a Sitka Community Greenhouse and Education Center built, encouraging the sustainable use of traditional foods, and providing education and encouragement for people who want to garden or harvest more local foods.

Runners hit the trail during the 14th Annual Running of the Boots race on Sept. 27, 2008, in Sitka.

Johansen, who used to work for now-defunct cruise company, was an amateur photographer who began taking photos seriously after his employer abruptly quit business. He told the Juneau Empire he focused on XtraTufs as a way to talk about how Southeast Alaskans connect with their environment. He started his own business, Rowdy Dog Images, and tried to take at least one good photo a day while he worked on the book. Johansen wrote all of the copy in the book, but did use some borrowed photos (including his photos from the Running of the Boots, which were supplied by Charles Bingham).

Since the book came out in October, Johansen has been traveling the region to promote it. He did this Oct. 29 interview with Jeff Brown on KTOO-FM’s A Juneau Afternoon show. Johansen also had a booth at the Sitka Artisans Market on Dec. 3-5, and he did an interview with KCAW-Raven Radio news director Robert Woolsey, which appeared in this story on KCAW’s regular newscast with extended audio posted on the station’s website (the extended audio aired on KCAW as a Morning Edition interview on Wednesday, Dec. 8).

According to a 2008 article in Capital City Weekly, about a third of the 100,000 XtraTuf boots sold each year end up in Alaska. Commercial fishermen liked the boots because the chevron outsole doesn’t slip on wet boat decks, and the neoprene kept fish oils from getting into the rubber. The boot’s popularity quickly moved to land as people saw how well the boots worked in Southeast Alaska’s rainy and icy weather.

The boots have been around since the 1950s, when B.F. Goodrich commissioned Norcross Safety Products of Rock Island, Ill., to manufacture the boots. Norcross bought the rights to the brand in 1985, but in 2008 to Honeywell Safety Products acquired Norcross and the XtraTuf brand. Until this year, the boots always had been manufactured in the same Illinois factory, but now they will be made in China.

Johansen’s book can be found in Sitka at Old Harbor Books. People also can order it off of his website for $19.90 a copy (plus postage).


• New ‘Field Guide to Seaweeds of Alaska’ will help Sitka residents identify various types of seaweeds

Alaska Natives have been gathering seaweeds and other sea vegetables for centuries, with the seaweeds providing an excellent source of vitamins and minerals. There are dozens of types of seaweeds available in Alaska, and most of them are edible.

The Alaska Sea Grant program from the University of Alaska Fairbanks recently released a new book by Mandy R. Lindeberg and Sandra C. Lindstrom called “Field Guide to Seaweeds of Alaska.” This book is billed as the first and only field guide to more than 100 common seaweeds, seagrasses and marine lichens of Alaska. The book features color photos, written descriptions and it is printed on water-resistant paper.

As part of the Sitka WhaleFest Maritime Market this weekend, one of the authors (Lindeberg) will be in Sitka signing copies of the new guide at 2:45 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 6, at the Old Harbor Books booth at Harrigan Centennial Hall. Lindeberg is a self-proclaimed “nerdy” Juneau biologist who works for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/National Marine Fisheries Service Auke Bay Laboratory.

Mandy Lindeberg

Mandy Lindeberg

Lindeberg spent nearly 15 years working on the book with the help of Lindstrom, a professor and researcher in botany and marine ecology at the University of British Columbia who was born and raised in Juneau. Lindeberg took about 80 percent of the photos in the book, hoping to come up with enough decent images so scientists and naturalists had more than the sometimes-hard-to-decipher drawings found in most previous books, while Lindstrom helped with the taxonomic work and reviewed the scientific descriptions.

Lindeberg said the new guidebook will help people be able to better identify the types of seaweeds when they are out gathering (Editor’s note, federal and state subsistence laws prohibit the gathering of seaweed in urban nonsubsistence areas such as Juneau/Douglas and Ketchikan/Saxman, but seaweed gathering is legal in rural areas of Alaska including Sitka and most other Southeast Alaska communities, including areas just outside Juneau/Douglas and Ketchikan/Saxman).

Lindeberg said her guidebook will help people identify the various types of seaweeds, but it does not discuss which seaweeds are edible and how to prepare them, so people might want to use it with another Alaska Sea Grant book, “Common Edible Seaweeds in the Gulf of Alaska,” by Dolly Garza. The new “Field Guide to Seaweeds In Alaska” costs $30 and is available at Old Harbor Books or through the Alaska Sea Grant program’s online bookstore.