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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska

Front Page Photo By STEVEN SPEIGHTS

"A"
Photographed today in the Ward Cove area, this Motor Yacht was formerly known as Project Sigma SF99, now goes by the name "A". The owner, Andrey Melnichenko, named it "A" after his wife Aleksandra Nikolic, a Serbian model. Motor Yacht "A" owned by Russian gazillionaire Andrey Melnichenko. According to Forbes: Melnichenko’s source of $10.4 billion in wealth is coal, fertilizers. He is a self-made billionaire. "A" is 390 foot, cost a whopping $300 million and boasts 23,000 square feet of living space. "A" features an array of over-the-top amenities, including three swimming pools, a lavish owner's suite, six guest suites and enough space to accommodate more than 40 crew members. "A" was built in 2008 by naval architect Blohm & Voss. Online sources say this impressive mega yacht costs an estimated $1 million to fill up in fuel alone.
Front Page Photo By STEVEN SPEIGHTS ©2014
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Southeast Alaska:
Coalition files lawsuit challenging the largest timber sale in decades By MARY KAUFFMAN - A coalition of conservation groups filed suit Friday challenging the U.S. Forest Service decision to approve the Big Thorne timber sale on Prince of Wales Island.

The conservation groups, Alaska Wilderness League, Natural Resources Defense Council, Sierra Club and Southeast Alaska Conservation Council, all represented by Earthjustice, sued asserting the Forest Service acted unlawfully in pushing through this massive sale based on a flawed market demand analysis that led the agency to grossly inflate the volume of needed timber.

“The Forest Service must rethink this massive old-growth logging if it is truly serious about transitioning to sustainable forest management in the Tongass. The Big Thorne sale threatens the salmon, wolves and other wildlife that help support the incredibly important recreation and subsistence economies of southeast Alaska; and it jeopardizes the vital ability of the forest to lessen the impacts of climate disruption that are already being felt around the world,” said Dan Ritzman, Alaska Program Director for Sierra Club’s Our Wild America campaign.

Conservation Director at Alaska Wilderness League Kristen Miller said, “This lawsuit is the result of continued mismanagement of the Tongass and its remaining old-growth forests. Inexplicably, the Forest Service has chosen to ignore the ecological damage Big Thorne will inflict on critical wildlife habitat. Right now the agency only has ears for the timber industry, and ignoring the harm this sale and others like it will have on the Tongass and the region’s vital fishing and tourism industries is simply not the way to run the nation’s largest and most unique national forest."

“Big Thorne is a big mistake,” said Malena Marvin with Southeast Alaska Conservation Council. “There is no reason to unlawfully liquidate the Tongass’s remaining big-tree deer habitat when we can be managing forests for hunting, community-scale forestry, and Southeast Alaska’s $2 billion/year fishing and tourism industries. It’s time to re-tool the Tongass for local jobs that support sustainable communities without hurting the fish and wildlife Alaskan families rely on.”

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) cautioned the U.S. Forest Service on Friday not to give in to threats of litigation from environmental activists determined to stop all responsible timber harvests on federal lands. The Big Thorne sale represents the last best hope for keeping what remains of Southeast’s timber mills in operation.

Murkowski voiced guarded optimism about the decision by the Forest Service to move forward with the long-promised Big Thorne Project in the Tongass National Forest.

 


“I am disappointed that the Forest Service has reduced the first sale from the Big Thorne project in the face of opposition from the environmental community,” Murkowski said. “The Big Thorne project is key to returning the Tongass to a working and healthy forest, and to ensuring that the timber mills in Southeast survive.”

Forest Service officials have chosen to drop multiple old growth harvest units – about 6 million board feet of timber – from the Big Thorne sale in an attempt to avoid a legal fight with environmental groups.

Forest Service officials cited comments from the Alaska office of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that speculated that the sale of old-growth timber could harm deer populations on which the wolf on Prince of Wales Island feed as one reason for the changes. The Fish and Wildlife Service are mulling an endangerment listing for the Alexander Archipelago wolf on Prince of Wales Island.

“I expect the Forest Service to stand up and defend its decisions and not be cowed by threats to tie up the sale in the Ninth Circuit Court,” Murkowski said. “The weight of the evidence from state of Alaska and Forest Service biologists shows clearly that wolf habitat – and the deer the wolves prey upon – is not put at risk by additional logging on Prince of Wales Island.”

Biologists have determined that any downturn in wolf numbers is more likely to be caused by hunting and could be mitigated with appropriate regulations, education and improved enforcement according to Murkowski.

“Use of the Endangered Species Act as a cudgel to threaten legal action against every management decision related to our public lands hurts everyone,” Murkowski said. “If federal managers can no longer exercise their best judgment and expertise when making decisions then perhaps it’s time to consider reforming the law.”

Quoting a news release from Murkowski, the project, as originally proposed, would provide Southeast mills with 147 million board feet of timber – enough to see them through the Forest Service’s plan to transition future sales to young-growth trees. The first sale from the project is currently scheduled to be awarded at the end of September.

“It is vital that the Forest Service move heaven and earth to award the sale this September. The economic future of our timber mills and good paying timber jobs in Southeast Alaska are dependent on it,” Murkowski said. - More...
Monday PM - August 25, 2014


 

Fish Factor: Finding clues to Alaska's Chinook Salmon Decline By LAINE WELCH - More than 100 researchers and three dozen projects are underway to find clues as to why Alaska’s Chinook salmon production has declined since 2007.

The ambitious effort marks the start of a state-backed five year, $30 million Chinook Salmon Research Initiative that includes 12 major river systems from Southeast Alaska to the Yukon. And while it will be years before the project yields definitive data, the scientists have pinned down some early findings.

“It’s not the fresh water production of the juvenile Chinook that is the reason this decline is occurring, it’s being driven by poor marine survival,” said Ed Jones, the lead for the Initiative and Sport Fish Coordinator for the Alaska Dept. of Fish and Game.

“We don’t know why, but once these juvenile Chinook salmon are entering the ocean they are not surviving at the rates they once did,” Jones added. “And at the same, we also are seeing younger and smaller Chinook returning to spawn and this obviously results in smaller fish being caught.”

At each river system, the Chinook team is estimating how many young fish are going to the ocean, refining estimates of how many older fish are returning to spawn, and tracking the marine catches.

“That’s an effort to estimate the harvests of these 12 indicator stocks in detail,” he explained. “So we’re going to implement tagging programs on the juveniles and as they go out to the ocean they’ll be marked with an adipose fin clip. We also will include a tiny coded wire tag in their heads and those will be sent to the Juneau lab where we can tell when and where those fish were released. With those three components we can do full stock reconstruction.”

Jones said his primary focus is on the Kuskokwim and Yukon Rivers because of the importance of Chinook salmon to subsistence users.

“A major part of this initiative is to make sure we can help those folks fish when there’s fish around and pull the reins back when they are not around. But we need to gather the information that allows us to do that accurately each and every year. We are trying to learn from the users and gather information on historical harvests, what the people know and what they’ve learned for centuries. We’ll feed that information into our stock assessment program,” he said.

Chinook salmon spend up to five years in the ocean and production goes through up and down cycles. A few years ago, west coast and British Columbia stocks were said to be doomed – but they have rebounded and are at record numbers in some cases. Jones believes that’s what will also occur in Alaska.

“The take home message is that productivity cycles and unfortunately in Alaska right now, we are at the low end of that cycle”,” he said. “We are experiencing a tough time right now, but it will turn around so don’t lose hope.” - More...
Monday PM - August 25, 2014


 

Columns - Commentary

TOM PURCELL: It's Good to Have to Get Things Done - Did you ever have a week in which you had an impossible amount of work to complete, yet somehow got it done?

Likewise, did you ever have a week in which you knew your workload would be light, so you made grand plans to complete a personal project — and ended up loafing and getting very little done?

Such behavior is true for most people. It's amazing what we can do when we have no other option but to get our work done. This old saying is also true: "If you want to get something done, assign it to someone who is busy."

The fact is, it is good for human beings to have things they must do. It's good to have deadlines and pressure and jobs and projects that we must complete. Our work can be stressful, but as we succeed, we are lifted up. We grow our skills and sense of self-worth and are able to take on ever greater challenges. We become self-sufficient and attain the means to provide for our families.

So why are we encouraging so many people to not achieve self-sufficiency through our welfare programs? - More...
Monday PM - August 25, 2014

JEFF LUND: Making grey colorful - The world is grey.

Yeah, it’s raining, but that’s not what I’m talking about. The more you spend time on the ocean or in the woods with people, the more you notice how many different ways there are to do everything.

Part of the adjustment to a new way of life is learning new skills. We’ve had to do this all our lives, but rarely has living in the grey world without absolutes been so beautiful. When attempting something new, there is a learning curve and the seeking of information.

If the goal is to catch a salmon in the river some will say ‘the best way’ is to use a jig under an indictor. Others will say using a marabou jig will exile you to HumpyTown, if you want silvers, you best buy out the store’s supply of chartreuse spinners. No, red spinners.

Honestly though, if you want the best experience catching fish on the river, use an 7-weight fly rod, then it won’t matter what you catch, it’s going to be far more exciting than with spinning gear. Right?

Nothing better than stalking a 4-point in velvet with a .243? What about calling a buck in front of your .270 during rut? - More...
Monday PM - August 25, 2014

jpg Political Cartoon: Obama Vacations and Coffee Breaks

Political Cartoon: Obama Vacations and Coffee Breaks
By Monte Wolverton, Cagle Cartoons
Distributed to subscribers for publication by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.

      

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Update in Progress. Monday, August 25, 2014.

letter Alaska's Fisheries By Mead Treadwell - Imagine this: two of Alaska’s GOP candidates for US Senate have virtually no experience with Alaska’s commercial fisheries! They have skipped debates – like the one traditionally scheduled during Kodiak Crabfest – where questions have been asked and answered statewide on fisheries every election for decades. Just this week, one candidate skipped a statewide television debate beamed to 26 rural radio and TV stations, most of which are on Alaska’s coast. - More...
Tuesday - August 19, 2014

letter Vote for Agnes Moran By Kathleen Yarr - Please vote for Agnes Moran for State House, District 36. Agnes is diligent in her research of womlocal issues and has a broader knowledge and understanding of issues specific to District 36 (Ketchikan, Wrangel, Hydaburg and Metlakatla) than any of the other three candidates. As a two-term borough assembly member, she has the most governmental experience and has often taken a lot of flack for her well-researched positions on various issues, but she also listens to her constituents, and will change her mind when presented with new information that warrants it Agnes is not concerned with being popular; she's concerned with doing what's best for us. Not one to sugarcoat things, Agnes is willing to make the tough calls when needed. - More...
Monday - August 18, 2014

letter Redoubt Lake issue By Michael A. Baines - We are profoundly disappointed and frustrated that the trustees of the defunct Sheldon Jackson College have filed a notice to appeal a recent federal decision rejecting their claim to 160 acres by Redoubt Falls and surrounding areas near Sitka. - More...
Saturday - August 16, 2014

letter Vote Chere Klein for State House By Bill and Linda Auger - As small business owners, we believe that government should be working to support business . . . providing the infrastructure for those businesses to survive and thrive . . . instead of businesses working to support government. Chere Klein will bring that perspective to the House of Representatives in Juneau for District 36. - More...
Saturday - August 16, 2014

letter Vote for Patti Mackey By Katie Montgomery - I would like to encourage the voters of District 36 to Vote for Patti Mackey this Tuesday August 19. - More...
Saturday - August 16, 2014

letter Chere Klein for House By William and Wynn Hopkins - Were the Alaska House District 36 contest based on popularity, personal philosophy or great ideas, the voter could be in a quandary. - More...
Saturday - August 16, 2014

letter I question Sealaska corporation spending $50,000 in the Governors race By Dana Leask-Ruaro - How can Sealaska represent that this $50,000 independent expenditure is in support of “Byron Mallott's efforts to work tirelessly on Alaska Native issues” when the Political Action Committee that this money was donated to (Mallott-One Alaska) used these funds for an anti-Parnell campaign? - More...
Saturday - August 16, 2014

letter “Yes” on Ballot Measure 1 By Lisa Weissler - On August 19th, Alaska voters will act as legislators. Through Ballot Measure 1, Alaskans have the power to repeal the law currently governing Alaska’s oil and gas production tax, known as Senate Bill 21. A “Yes” vote repeals the current tax and reinstates the system that was in effect from 2007 until 2013, known as Alaska’s Clear and Equitable Share (ACES). Just as legislators need to be informed before they vote, so does the voting public. - More...
Saturday - August 16, 2014

letter Can Alaskans Be Conned Again? Vote Yes Ballot Measure 1 By Hal Gazaway - "Vote no” says if Prop one passes, the Big Three oil companies will leave Alaska. They report oil company contracts are on hold until August 20, 2014. Oil and service companies have advised their employees “on August 20th we will see how many pink slips we will have to give out.” This is an old tactic. - More...
Saturday - August 16, 2014

letter Listen To The Advice Of Senator Stedman. Vote Yes on Ballot Measure 1 By Dan Ortiz - The most important issue facing Alaskan voters who participate in the upcoming primary election on Tuesday, August 19th is Ballot Measure 1. - More...
Saturday - August 16, 2014

letter Lodging regulations for residents By Christina Martinez - In this day and age you think the residents of Ketchikan and the Outer Prince of Wales Borough would push for lodging regulations in Ketchikan. In the winter months the local residents from out of town are the bread and butter to an already dying economy - but in the summer it is worsened by the almost 100 percent increase in lodging rates. - More...
Saturday - August 16, 2014

letter Response to "My rights" By Judith Green - In response to Janalee's well thought out and well stated view, I am sorry I missed the Council Meeting. I did not attend any of the council meetings, and I do not know the details of this last meeting, yet I am saddened that any of our officials in our community would have left such a distaste (for this beautiful member/ citizen of our community) from a public hearing/ meeting. - More...
Saturday - August 16, 2014

letter RE: Fed Up By Amanda Mitchell l - What you are going through does sound very frustrating. I would like to share our experience and I have some suggestions. - More...
Saturday - August 16, 2014

letter True Tongass ‘transition’ would increase local jobs per log cut By Malena Marvin - In its latest statement on the direction of the much-awaited Tongass transition, the Forest Service says the future is now for the Tongass National Forest. We couldn’t agree more, and we’re happy to see the agency working with local people to chart a course toward a more prosperous and sustainable future for Southeast Alaskan communities. - More...
Wednesday AM- August 13, 2014

letter My rights are like "a child asking for candy" By Janalee Minnich Gage - Last Thursday night I attended the Ketchikan city council meeting regarding the integrated access to the new performing arts center, and it is hard to imagine how it is that after 24 years that we still have no concept of what ADA law is or about. - More...
Wednesday AM - August 13, 2014

letter Thank You By Chere Klein - Thank you to Metlakatla Indian Community, Mayor Hudson & the entire Metlakatla community for being so welcoming to all the visitors at your Founder's Day celebration events & feasts. - More...
Wednesday AM - August 13, 2014

letter Tax Increases By Greg Harris - I hope this finds you all healthy and happy as its been a couple years since I've been on the rock. After reading Mr. Dial's letter concerning tax increases proposed and passed I couldn't help myself, I just had to comment. - More...
Wednesday AM - August 13, 2014

letter Fed Up! By Susan Cody - I have lived in my Ketchikan residence at the dead end of a city street for over 4 years. There are more than 10 trash cans near the front of my house for the residents that live in this area. For the past 3 summers I have drilled holes in all of the trash cans, paid for and installed reinforcements to keep the bears from spreading garbage. Although 3 of my neighbors are bear proofing and helping the situation, the majority of my neighbors don't. They simply do not take the 2 seconds to latch them. For the last couple summers I would just pick up all of the garbage, but this year I am fed up with it all. It seems as though they expect me to continue cleaning it up. - More...
Wednesday AM - August 13, 2014

letter Chere Klein for District 36 By Peggy Wilson - I’d like to tell you why I am ENDORSING CHERE KLEIN for District 36 House of Representative; and why it’s important you vote for her August 19th over other candidates currently running. - More...
Wednesday PM - August 13, 2014

letter Vote for Klein By K.A. Swiger - I will be voting or Chere Klein on August 19th. I hope you do too. I have known Chere for many years, serving on chamber committees with her and have seen her many community involvements. - More...
Wednesday PM - August 13, 2014

letter Moran for State House By Steve Ortiz - I believe that southern southeast Alaska would be well served by electing Agnes Moran as its State Representative. Agnes brings multiple years of leadership, experience, and dedication to District 36. Her work history with the Ketchikan Gateway Borough and previously Cisco Systems demonstrates that she produces innovative actions and an ability to solve difficult issues for large organizations. - More...
Wednesday AM - August 13, 2014

letter Vote for Chere Klein By Renee Schofield - I'll be voting for Chere Klein. As a small biz owner, she understands the need for diversity, clarity and simplicity in laws that affect small businesses. That matters a great deal to me. As a small business owner, incorporated in Alaska, but working nationally, I need representation that will grow with me. I think Chere can do that. - More...
Wednesday AM - August 13, 2014

letter FairTax By Kathleen Perera - I agree with Wiley Brook's letter to you dated August 6, 2013. Our country was able to be financial stable for over half of its life WITHOUT the IRS and income tax. - More...
Wednesday AM - August 13, 2014

letter The Fair Tax By Pat Burkett - Wiley Brooks letter of August 6, 2014, is informative and timely. It is of interest to me that the writers of our Constitution rejected taxing income and believed that a tax on consumption was the proper way to fund government. Taxing consumption puts individuals in charge of their money and the amount of taxes they pay because there is no tax on spending for basic necessities due to the rebate provision of the Fair Tax. Therefore, it is discretionary spending that is taxed, and that spending is under our own, immediate control, not that of the IRS to take out before we ever get our paychecks. - More...
Wednesday AM - August 13, 2014

letter Machinations, part II By Rodney Dial - I wasn’t going to write another letter again so soon, but couldn’t believe what happened between my last letter on June 24th and the Ketchikan City Council meeting on July 24th. - More...
Thursday - August 07, 2014

letter The Importance of Integrated Access to the Performing Arts Center By Janalee Minnich Gage - I am concerned about Ketchikan's support quality integrated access to the performing arts center. I am an active member of the First City Players, which has been an integral part of my life even while I was out of town working for the past 10 years in public service. In many ways it is my refuge, my release and my savior. The arts keep me grounded and involved as a community member; it is my therapy. First City Players has always been about my ability not my disability. They have strived to be inclusive and have gone out of their way to provide a place for anyone and everyone who wants to be a part of the program. I think the City should want to support this. - More...
Wednesday - August 06, 2014

letter Thanks with meaning! By A.M. Johnson - A couple of things on my mind that warrants following up on. The first is the line crew of the KPU who are installing new poles on North Tongass. I pass these fellows several times a day. What is most noticeable is the intense attitude of the crew. From the foreman and I suppose the safety watch on the operation to the full crew. There is no slack time. Everybody appears professional with no lost movements. I thank them for their diligent and safe work area that they provide for their selves and the driving public. Good job!! - More...
Wednesday - August 06, 2014

letter Four Friends By Garnet Dima - Four of my friends are running for the House District 36 seat. All four candidates vying for the House District 36 seat are truly wonderful people. They are longtime residents of Ketchikan who want nothing but the best for souther Southeast Alaska. Each of the candidates is smart and hardworking. - More...
Wednesday - August 06, 2014

letter Moran for House District 36 By Bobbie McCreary - Vote for Moran, the best person to speak for Southeast. I have observed Ms. Moran's ability to speak with a strong voice for issues or projects she has carefully researched and determined appropriate for the Borough to support. She will make sure she is well informed and then will go to bat to lead the charge for what we need in Southeast. - More...
Wednesday - August 06, 2014

letter TWO OF THE 3 ALASKA REPUBLICAN CANDIDATES FOR THE U.S. SENATE SUPPORT THE FairTax® By Wiley Brooks - An issue that deserves our attention has recently surfaced in the debates between the Republican Party candidates who hope to unseat Senator Mark Begich in the November 4 General Election. That issue is the 100 year old income tax system which can only be described as a ridiculous complex and intrusive mess. It is burdensome to tax filer, destructive to the economy and custom designed to invite political motivated abuse and corruption. It is broken beyond repair and the time has come to correct a 100 year old mistake. - More...
Wednesday - August 06, 2014

letter Big business & Ketchikan's dock By Bob Brown - Big business is dictating the dock we load and unload , and the City of Ketchikan is going along with it. On July 29th, I brought my bus down for the tour that I was assigned to wait for. We must give our sellers time to sell enough before loading . I normally would have someone come out to back me but instead the Harbor Master came out and tells me I'm too big to be on the dock while Princess buses are there so was told to remove myself for a time while they get to bring more buses down. This has never happened before this year. WE had all been given a space no matter what. They argue that they should bring their buses down first and make us wait and then let us come on the dock. - More...
Wednesday - August 06, 2014

letter SB21: ?A Bad Deal for Alaska By Hal Gazaway & Barbara Gazaway - In the oil revenue debate we've heard and read misleading statements and distorted facts. As long time Alaska residents, business owners, and grandparents, we are very concerned about Alaska’s future economy. The “Vote No on Proposition One” group paints an “almost too good to be true” picture if SB21 prevails in August. The group repeatedly alludes to Alaska’s partnership with the oil companies, assuring us that this new deal (SB21) will result in more jobs as well as economic growth. - More...
Wednesday - August 06, 2014

letter Prop 1 By Paul Hovik - Just say No to "Oiligarchy" - Vote Yes on 1! - More...
Wednesday - August 06, 2014

letter Women Legislators Weigh In On Oil Tax Referendum By Senator Lesil McGuire, Senator Anna Fairclough, Senator Cathy Giessel, Representative Mia Costello, Representative Lynn Gattis, Representative Lindsey Holmes, Representative Shelley Hughes, Representative Charisse Millett, Representative Lora Reinbold, Representative Peggy Wilson & Representative Tammie Wilson - The discussion around oil tax reform and Ballot Measure 1 has benefitted from many informed and passionate voices from across the state. As women who serve in the Legislature and who voted for the bill that created our new tax policy, we want to lend a unique perspective on why we voted to pass Senate Bill 21 and why we will vote NO on 1 this August. - More...
Wednesday - August 06, 2014

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