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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska

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Orca breaching near Noyes Island recently.
Front Page Feature Photo By ECHO BOLEY ©2019



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Ketchikan: AMHS Will Temporarily Resume Service To Prince Rupert; AMHS Economic Reshaping Report Public Release Delayed By MARY KAUFFMAN – The Alaska Department of Transportation announced today that Alaska Marine Highway service will temporarily be resumed to Prince Rupert with sailing scheduled for October 29th and November 25, 2019.

AMHS Will Temporarily Resume Service To Prince Rupert; AMHS Economic Reshaping Report Public Release Delayed

MV Malaspina
Photo courtesy Alaska Marine Highway System

The Alaska Marine Highway System (AMHS) is scheduling these two runs to Prince Rupert with approval from U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), and law enforcement support from the City of Prince Rupert. The three parties are working together to determine how AMHS can meet U.S. Customs and Border Protection requirements in Prince Rupert and continue sailing in the future.

“I applaud the cooperation between U.S. Customs and Border Protection, City of Prince Rupert, DOT&PF and AMHS,” said Alaska Governor Michael J. Dunleavy. “The State of Alaska recognizes that the AMHS presence in Prince Rupert is important and we are committed to maintaining this route if it’s logistically and fiscally feasible.”

Rep. Dan Oritiz commented to today's announcement by email writing to SitNews, ""I see this as a great first step hopefully culminating in a long term solution whereby the AKDOT-AMHS commits itself to partnering with all the parties involved to restoring Prince Rupert as regular port of call for the AMHS.  Having access to the Port of Prince Rupert is a priority to many businesses, families and individuals that live through out Coastal Alaska."

Last month, AMHS announced that service to Prince Rupert was being discontinued because AMHS could not meet a new CBP requirement to provide a Canadian law enforcement presence in Prince Rupert. The Canadian law enforcement presence in Prince Rupert is required by CBP to protect CBP personnel while inspection tasks are performed.

This development comes after months of collaboration with the U.S. Customs and Border Protection . In an Oct. 3 letter from U.S. Customs and Border Protection, the Alaska Department of Transportation & Public Facilities (DOT&PF) was given 60 days to notify Customs and Border Protection of its intent to commit to substantial facility modifications at either the AMHS Prince Rupert or Ketchikan terminals. The AMHS facility modifications must fully comply with the security operations stipulated within the Land, Rail, Marine, and Air Transport Preclearance Agreement (LRMA) signed by the U.S. and Canada.

AMHS sailings to Prince Rupert are scheduled for Oct. 29 and Nov. 25 on the M/V Malaspina. Reservations are now available for booking at www.FerryAlaska.com, by calling the AMHS Reservations Center at 1-800-642-0066, or by visiting ferry terminals throughout the ferry system.

Future sailings to Prince Rupert will be dependent on a number of factors that include considerable financial investment and meeting the long-term requirements of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection.

AMHS Economic Reshaping Report Public Release Delayed

The Alaska Department of Transportation announced yesterday that Northern Economics delivered the draft AMHS Economic Reshaping report to DOT&PF on Oct. 15.

Due to the volume of data and complexity of the issues, the Alaska Department of Transportation extended the due date for the final report. According to the news release, this will allow the department sufficient time to review for accuracy. The department will provide a final draft of the report to the Marine Transportation Advisory Board for review and comment.

“I’m disappointed by the decision of the DOT to delay the release of this potentially very important report. The Alaska Marine Highway is  critical piece of Coastal Alaska’s transportation infrastructure. The contents of a report that speaks to the potential restructuring of that infrastructure is a matter of immediate concern to many Alaskans throughout the state,” commented Rep. Dan Ortiz by email to SitNews. - More...
Wednesday PM - October 16, 2019


Public Comment Sought On Draft of Tongass-Specific Roadless Rule; Preferred alternative could resurrect timber industry in Southeast Alaska

Public Comment Sought On Draft of Tongass-Specific Roadless Rule; Preferred alternative could resurrect timber industry in Southeast Alaska
By MARY KAUFFMAN

Central Tongass - Petersburg, Wrangell area

Photo courtesy USFS


 

Southeast Alaska: Public Comment Sought On Draft of Tongass-Specific Roadless Rule; Preferred alternative could resurrect timber industry in Southeast Alaska By MARY KAUFFMAN – The U.S. Department of Agriculture announced Tuesday it is seeking public comment on a draft environmental impact statement offering a range of alternatives to roadless management and a proposed Alaska Roadless Rule. If adopted, the proposed rule would exempt the Tongass National Forest from the 2001 Roadless Rule.

The Tongass stretches over the 500-mile-long Southeast Alaska Panhandle and covers 80 percent of the land. It is rich in natural resources and cultural heritage. Developed areas cover about 8 percent of the land. There are 32 communities, including the state capitol of Juneau, in Southeast Alaska.

The USDA Forest Service will publish the documents in the Federal Register this week. The publication will begin a 60-day public comment period on the proposed rule, and on each alternative outlined in the draft environmental impact statement.

The draft environmental impact statement, prepared under the National Environmental Policy Act, provides an analysis of six alternatives, which are options, choices, or courses of action related to roadless management in Alaska. The alternatives range from no action to the removal of the Tongass from the 2001 Roadless Rule. The Department has identified Alternative 6, which is a full exemption, as the preferred alternative at this time. The full range of options are:

  • Alternative 1 takes no action and would leave all of Alaska under the 2001 Roadless Rule, including the Tongass National Forest.
  • Alternative 2 provides regulatory protection for the majority (89%) of key watersheds inside roadless areas and would convert 18,000 old-growth acres and 10,000 young-growth acres previously identified as unsuitable timber lands to suitable timber lands.
  • Alternative 3 provides regulatory protections for all key watersheds inside and outside roadless areas, creates a community priority roadless designation that allows for recreational development and timber sales under 1 million board feet, and would convert 76,000 old-growth acres and 14,000 young-growth acres previously identified as unsuitable timber lands to suitable timber lands.
  • Alternative 4 restricts harvest and road-building activities in scenic viewsheds and most (88%) key watersheds inside roadless areas and would convert 158,000 old-growth acres and 15,000 young-growth acres previously identified as unsuitable timber lands to suitable timber lands.
  • Alternative 5 would remove 2.3 million acres from roadless area designation, protects some (59%) key watersheds, and would convert 165,000 old-growth acres and 17,000 young-growth acres previously identified as unsuitable timber lands to suitable timber lands.
  • Alternative 6 (preferred) would exempt the Tongass National Forest from the 2001 Roadless Rule and is fully responsive to the State of Alaska’s petition. The alternative would remove all 9.2 million acres of inventoried roadless acres and would convert 165,000 old-growth acres and 20,000 young-growth acres previously identified as unsuitable timber lands to suitable timber lands. Conservation of roadless values would be achieved through other means, including the Tongass Land Management Plan. This is specific to the Tongass National Forest. The Chugach National Forest would remain under the 2001 Roadless Rule.

Tuesday Alaska Governor Michael J. Dunleavy praised the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) on the proposed Alaska Roadless Rule exemption for the Tongass National Forest. Quoting the governor's news release, the draft EIS lists six potential options and selects Alternative 6, a full exemption of the Tongass National Forest from the Clinton-era 2001 Roadless Rule as the preferred option.

“[Tuesday’s] announcement on the Roadless Rule is further proof that Alaska’s economic outlook is looking brighter every day,” said Governor Dunleavy. “The ill-advised 2001 Roadless Rule shut down the timber industry in Southeast Alaska, wiping out jobs and economic opportunity for thousands of Alaskans. I thank the USDA Forest Service and for listening to Alaskans wishes by taking the first step to rebuilding an entire industry, putting Alaskans back to work, and diversifying Alaska’s economy.”

According to the governor, Alternative 6 is fully responsive to the State of Alaska’s petition to completely remove the Tongass National Forest from the Roadless Rule. This USDA preferred alternative  removes all 9.2 million roadless acres and reclassifies 165,000 old-growth acres and 20,000 young-growth acres to suitable timber lands. The draft EIS only applies to the Tongass National Forest. 

Governor Dunleavy worked with President Donald Trump, USDA Secretary Sonny Perdue, Congressman Don Young, Senator Dan Sullivan, Senator Lisa Murkowski and others to reopen the Tongass and thanked them for their support and hard work.   

U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R_AK) said, “I’m very pleased the administration has listened to Alaskans and is proposing a full exemption from the Roadless Rule as its preferred alternative.” Murkowski said,  “I thank President Trump, Secretary Perdue, and the team at the Forest Service for their hard work to reach this point—and for their continued efforts to restore reasonable access to the Tongass National Forest. This is important for a wide array of local stakeholders as we seek to create sustainable economies in Southeast Alaska.”

U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan responded to the announcment saying, “I welcome the decision by Secretary Perdue and President Trump to include as the preferred alternative a full exemption for Alaska from the Clinton-Era Roadless Rule. As Alaskans know well, the Roadless Rule hinders our ability to responsibly harvest timber, develop minerals, connect communities, or build energy projects to lower costs - including renewable energy projects like hydropower, all of which severely impedes the economy of Southeast.” Sullivan said, “I am grateful that the Forest Service is committed to work with the State of Alaska and the people affected by its policies to create a more workable regulation that can provide for responsible economic activities to provide for Alaskans living in Southeast.” - More....
Wednesday PM - October 16, 2019


 

Alaska: Lt. Governor Certifies Oil and Gas Tax Initiative Alaska Lieutenant Governor Kevin Meyer yesterday certified the initiative application entitled “An Act relating to the oil and gas production tax, tax payments, and tax credits,” (19OGTX) based upon the recommendation from the Alaska Department of Law. According to a letter to 19OGTX initiative sponsors, the proposed initiative was found to be in the required form with a sufficient number of qualified sponsors.

19OGTX, also known as the Fair Share Act, submitted to the Office of the Lieutenant Governor on August 16, 2019, was reviewed by Division of Elections and the Department of Law to confirm the proposed bill is in the required form, the application is substantially in the required form, and there is a sufficient number of qualified sponsors. - More...
Wednesday PM - October 16, 2019

Alaska: President Signs Alaska Remote Generator Bill into Law – President Donald J. Trump signed S. 163, the Alaska Remote Generator Reliability and Protection Act earlier this month. This legislation, introduced by U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan (R-AK) and Alaska Congressman Don Young (R-AK), and co-sponsored by Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), relaxes stringent Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) emission regulations for generators used in remote Alaska to allow residents in these communities to reliably and affordably power their villages.

“Prior to this bill being signed into law, rural communities in Alaska that were isolated from the power grid were shouldered with overly burdensome federal rules that jeopardized access to reliable and cost-effective electricity,” said Senator Sullivan. “I want to thank the President for signing this bill into law to help ensure that rural Alaskans can safely heat and power their homes in time for the quickly approaching winter season.”  

“Passage of the Alaska Remote Generator Reliability and Protection Act was a great victory for our remote Alaskan communities, and I am very pleased to see it signed into law,” said Congressman Young. 

Young said, “New generators are very costly, and families shouldn’t be burdened by an arbitrary ban made by EPA bureaucrats four thousand miles away. Many Alaskans depend on diesel generators to heat their homes, run their appliances, and keep their lights on, and Washington D.C. shouldn’t be getting in the way of their everyday lives. I am proud to have worked with Senator Sullivan on this issue that affects so many rural families. I would like to express my sincere gratitude to President Trump for signing our legislation into law and also to my friends in both chambers of Congress for supporting a bill crucial to many Alaskans.”

In remote areas of Alaska, nearly 100 percent of the electricity used in villages is supplied by diesel fuel. Many villages rely on diesel generators that are between 10 and 30 years old. These systems do not last forever and many small utilities are looking for ways they can purchase new generator sets to improve efficiency and reduce the maintenance costs of worn out engines. - More...
Wednesday PM - October 16, 2019


 
Columns

jpg TOM PURCELL

TOM PURCELL: TODAY’S BULLIES ARE ONLINE, BUT SO IS HELP FOR THEM AND THEIR VICTIMS - My sister Kris kicked the tar out of Frankie Leper.

It happened in 1972 after Leper, a notorious neighborhood bully, busted up my handmade go-kart, then shoved me into the mud.

Sure, Leper was a big kid. But as he stood over me, taunting me, Kris tackled him and pounded on him so hard that he blubbered like a baby. That ended his bullying days. He never lived down getting whooped by a girl half his size.

I was lucky to be a kid in the 1970s, in that regard. Bullies have always existed, but in that era of big families, there were always older siblings and neighbors who protected us younger kids.

Bullying victims have it way worse today.

First, they cannot escape the torment – even in the safety of their own homes. Today’s bullying victims carry the torment around in their pockets – on their smartphones. They’re humiliated by bullies in front of many others online – and they have no escape. - More...
Wednesday PM - October 16, 2019

jpg CARL GOLDEN

CARL GOLDEN: DO THE DEMOCRATS NEED HILLARY OR MICHELLE TO ENTER THE RACE? - It began with 25 candidates. It’s been reduced by half, yet concern persists among Democrats that the party should look beyond the still standing contenders and seek an individual capable of party unification and persuade him or her to enter the race.

It is an acknowledgement that each of the current candidates is burdened by baggage – ideological or personal – but seem determined to take the contest through a string of expensive, exhausting and bitter primaries.

Former Vice President Joe Biden, whose lead has shrunk to single digits or vanished altogether, has been hurt by periodic mental lapses and scrambled syntax. His and his son’s involvement in governmental and business affairs in Ukraine hangs darkly over his head.

Voters will hesitate to deliver the presidency to a 78-year-old heart attack survivor – Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders – despite his fervent and committed base.

Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren, the leader, co-leader or strong second place finisher in polling averages, has moved steadily leftward, embracing policies with which huge swaths of the nation disagree. - More...
Wednesday PM - October 16, 2019


jpg Political Cartoon: Warren's Medicare for All

Political Cartoon: Warren's Medicare for All
By Kevin Siers ©2019, The Charlotte Observer, NC
Distributed to paid subscribers for publication by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.


      

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jpg Opinion

RESPECT ALASKA TRIBES' RIGHTS ON THE TONGASS QUESTION By Richard Chalyee Éesh Peterson - The Central Council Tlingit and Haida Constitution declares as our peoples’ inherent right that our tribal government, “Protect, preserve and enhance Tlingit ‘Haa Aani’ and Haida ‘Íitl' tlagáay’, our way of life, its ecosystems and resources, including the right to clean water and access to native foods and traditional practices through our inherent rights to traditional and customary hunting, fishing and gathering.”

Tlingit & Haida works constructively with all elected officials of any political party without partisanship. We aim to be collaborative partners, working together in the best interest of Alaska- our homelands. Yet today we are challenged by our disagreement with Alaska elected officials that support the proposed full exemption of the Tongass National Forest from the Roadless Rule.  Any elected official in Alaska who supports a full exemption, is disregarding their constituents, undermining the public process, and ignoring the sovereign Tribal governments – who’s people have lived and depended on these lands and waters since time immemorial.

The indigenous tribal governments of southeast Alaska know our traditional territory, we have lived, depended on, and stewarded these lands and waters since time immemorial. We know that the full exemption for development activities would forever harm our homelands.

The Tongass National Forest is the United State’s largest national forest and the largest remaining temperate rainforest on earth.  Some see it as a salmon forest, a timber forest, a vast wilderness to visit and explore. Indigenous people see it differently. The Tongass is the traditional homelands of the Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian people, a lineage that stretches so deep in time, we call it immemorial. Our origin stories are derived from these lands. Our ancestors are buried here. Our songs and dances are created here. Our languages have always been spoken here.  - More...
Wednesday PM - October 16, 2019

jpg Opinion

AMHS: WHY SUCH A BIG COST HIKE? By Norma Lankerd - I’m writing because I have a friend and her husband pay for a same day ticket from Ketchikan To Annette Bay, a 45 min. ride on the Lituya which supposedly made specifically to run between Annette Bay and Ketchikan. (Her cost went up from $206.00 to 286.00) because the ticket was bought the same day.  Then my friend looked online and a ticket one way from Ketchikan To Wrangell is $102.00 and 102.00 back.

SO WHY SUCH A BIG COST HIKE (traveling from Ketchikan To ANB)?

My only beef with AMHS is that the ferry was supposed to run about 6 times a day and 7 days a week just so the people from Metlakatla could have people go to Ktn. To work and go back to Metlakatla on the last ferry.   But the ferry only runs Thurs, Fri, Sat, Sun, and Mon. (making a run in the morning leaving Met. At 900a.m., and leave Ktn., at 10:45a.m arriving at Annette Bay at 11:30.  Then heading back to Ketchikan, at 245a.m. arriving in Ketchikan at 3:30p.m.

Our little ferry Lituya was where the driver went free (then) that dropped and our price went to 1/2 price for the driver, then that was dropped and now charged full price for car and  driver. - More...
Wednesday PM - October 16, 2019

jpg Opinion

Ketchikan's Cruise Ship Project By Janalee Gage - For full disclosure, I’m serving my second term on the Ketchikan City Council. These are my views and information I’ve gathered working on the cruise ship project, speaking only for myself as a resident, and not for the council.

The question I’ve heard a lot lately is, why solicit a port expansion Request for Proposals when most residents don't want more tourists? This RFP wouldn’t be looking at expansion; it’s about reconfigurating the port to accommodate ships already visiting Ketchikan.

The question should be: Why haven’t we investigated every opportunity that benefits our community with an RFP?

For the past 30 years we’ve given the cruise industry huge breaks in docking fees — as if they need a break. The three major cruise companies, Norwegian, Royal Caribbean, and Carnival, control up to 80% of a market worth nearly $80 billion and growing so fast that, by 2020, nearly 30 million people will take a cruise somewhere.

Yet, because of maritime law, we cannot use fees that the city collects on things these ships and passengers use outside the port. Meanwhile, Ketchikan struggles to maintain infrastructure that isn’t built to withstand the mass numbers of tourists who use these services here: Emergency response (Fire, EMT, hospital), Wi-Fi, electric, sewage, garbage, public trails and roads.

First, the reconfiguration isn’t about adding ships, it’s so the current ships can accommodate passengers on and off the ship efficiently. - More....
Saturday PM - October 12, 2019

jpg Opinion

Domestic Violence Will Never Be Tolerated By Amanda Price - He is the monster under my bed, saboteur of my dreams. His résumé includes schoolteacher, felon and, more recently, retired country “gentleman.” He is a specter of my past, a stalker who lurks within waiting to spring into view and set my heart pounding. He is the Devil at my doorstep, progenitor of my greatest fears. Most poignantly, though, his blood is my own. He is my father.

Only last week I was startled awake after 3 a.m. by a house-rattling “bang!” It was him. He was in the hallway outside my closed bedroom door, beating my mother. My mother screamed and, smothered by darkness and too terrified to move I cowered beneath my blankets, trembling as I had so many times more than 45 years before. 

Forty-five years?

Ridiculous. 

The impulse is to sneer and shout: Let it go already! Take responsibility for your life and move on, for Christ’s sake. Stop blaming your father. Be a man.

Perhaps those jeers are his; the voice delivering them, after all, sounds familiar. But the fear is imbedded deeply within, like a virus. And it’s not going away. Ever. The heart-racing terror I felt in the wee hours last Tuesday was as sheer and stark as any imaginable. The roars and screams, the breaking glass and panic of decades ago were not nightmares. They were real.  

That is how a colleague of mine - a professionally successful and well-regarded associate, and a middle-aged survivor of domestic violence— described a recent nightmare. Similar frightening dreams, once common, haunt him less frequently now, he says. But the scars remain. And the horrors reflected above, along with others far worse, will remain with him – and his mother, and his sister – forever. Healing from domestic violence is a lifelong endeavor. - More...
Saturday PM - October 12, 2019

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