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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
March 03, 2011

Front Page Photo by BILL MECK

Four trumpeter swans landed in Herring cove for a
quick stop until the tide went out.
Front Page Photo by BILL MECK

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Southeast Alaska:
Murkowski Questions Forest Service Spending, Timber Sales; Management Policies Strangling Southeast Alaska Economy a Top Concern– The Senate Energy and Natural Resource Committee held a hearing today to consider the President’s Fiscal Year 2012 proposed budget for the USDA Forest Service. During the hearing, U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) expressed her concerns about Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell's proposal to combine the forest planning, inventory and monitoring line items together into one line item that may facilitate his draft forest plan rule, but will make forest planning more expensive and perhaps unworkable.

Murkowski said, “Once again the Forest Service is recommending changes to the budget structure, including the combination of a significant number of programs into the Integrated Resource Restoration account."

Addressing her comments to Forest Service Chief Tom Tidwell during the Senate Energy and Natural Resource Committee’s hearing she said, “Given the difficulty the Forest Service seems to be having accomplishing work under the existing budget, perhaps I can be persuaded that this year’s proposed budget makes sense. But I’m concerned your proposal to take seven line items and turn them into one – called the Integrated Resource Restoration (IRR) – will make it much more difficult to figure out how or where the funding is being spent."

Murkowski said, “I’m concerned about the permanent re-authorization of the Stewardship Contracting, which was proposed last year as a replacement for commercial timber sales. I am also troubled by your failure to provide the four 10-year timber sale contracts in Alaska that were promised."

“We know that since 1997 over 41 million acres of National Forest land has been damaged or destroyed by insect activities, and your science advisors expect that activity to continue for the next decade. That equates to 19 percent of all of the forested acres within the 13 intermountain states, and as high as 33 percent in some states. And we know that in fiscal year 2010 the Forest Service treated less than two-tenths of one percent of the bark beetle impacted areas," said Murkowski.

With the Forest Service spending over $101 million of funding to treat 59,000 acres Murkowski said makes her question whether the Forest Service is ready to be trusted with a ‘big bucket’ budget approach like that which is called for in your Integrated Resource Restoration proposal.  

Murkowski said, “Related to the apparent difficulty the agency is having responding to the bark beetle epidemic, I would suggest that now is not the time to be acquiring new lands while cutting the fire assistance and other programs that rural communities depend upon. The last thing your agency needs is the added burden of having to manage yet more lands during periods of declining budgets."  

“In your written testimony you have a portion titled ‘Jobs in Rural Communities.’ Folks in Southeast Alaska are skeptical and perhaps cynical about the promises made by the Forest Service," she said to Chief Tidwell.

The big mills in Southeast were gone years ago said Murkowski, but this year, the second largest remaining mill in Southeast closed and has gone from over 600 employees to six. The sole remaining large mill is desperately worried about its timber supply. The second largest timber related construction company is gone and the largest is now down to four employees.


In 2008, the Forest Service promised to offer four 10-year timber sales, of up to 200 million board feet each, in the Tongass National Forest. The sales were meant to ensure the economic survival of mills in Southeast Alaska. In its current budget proposal, however, the Forest Service is now saying it wants to convert two of the timber sales to “stewardship” contracts and only offer half the board feet in small parcels. With the continued failure of the Forest Service to offer access to timber has resulted in the closure of mills in the region and threatens the existence of the industry in Southeast Alaska.

“Chief Tidwell, the federal government owns 98 percent of Southeast Alaska, with the vast majority of that being the Tongass National Forest. Income is falling in Southeast and it is the only region of our state where the population is declining and getting older. This is a direct result of policy and management changes by the Forest Service," said Murkowski. 

The FY 2012 President’s budget request for the Forest Service totals $5.1 billion in discretionary appropriations, a decrease of $178 million from the FY 2011 Budget Estimate. Within the Forest Service the administration plans to merge multiple programs to streamline forest management overall. The FY 2012 proposal includes eliminating funds for Forest Service Land Management Planning, but significantly increases funds for the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

In his testimony to the committee, Chief Tidwell addressed jobs in rural communities. He said more than 2.5 million Americans have forest-related jobs in fields ranging from ecological restoration to outdoor recreation services to the forest products industry.

Tidwell said the Forest Service provides service contracts for many types of activities including tree planting, timber harvesting, noxious weed control, culvert replacement, and road reconstruction said Tidwell. Recreation on national forest lands also bolsters local economies and creates jobs. The 2010 National Visitor Use Monitoring Report found that spending by recreation visitors in areas surrounding national forests amounts to nearly $13 billion each year. - More...
Thursday - March 03, 2011



Alaska: Federal Health Care Will Be Treated As Being In Place in Alaska; Florida Judge issues stay of ruling that Affordable Care Act is Unconstitutional - Today, the Florida federal court judge Roger Vinson issued a 'stay' upon his ruling that the Affordable Care Act was unconstitutional.  The legal effect of the stay is to remove any legal block to the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Commenting on U.S. District Judge Roger Vinson’s clarification of his January 31st ruling that struck down the entire federal health care reform law, Alaska Governor Sean Parnell said, “I appreciate and respect Judge Vinson’s careful consideration of this issue, which affects all Americans. Judge Vinson’s clarification today made clear that he believes the law is unconstitutional and that his original ruling was an injunction and should have halted the federal government’s implementation."

“Now Judge Vinson has issued a stay, which will be lifted in seven days should the Obama administration not pursue an appeal. What this means for Alaska is that our administration will treat the federal health care law as being in place, as we are directed by the judge in the lawsuit to which our state was a party," said Parnell.

Quoting a news release from Senator Hollis French, the stay, in conjunction with the legal analysis done this week by Dennis Bailey of the Legislative Legal division, leaves Governor Parnell with no choice but to comply with the health care reform law passed by Congress last year.

"This is a good day for Alaska," said Senator Hollis French a member of the Alaska legislature, who requested the legal analysis done by Bailey.  "The Governor can no longer evade the issue.  115,000 Alaskans do not have health insurance.  I look forward to working with the Governor to help put the federal law in place that will help these Alaskans find a policy that works for them."

Governor Parnell said, “Going forward, Alaska will make decisions on a case-by-case basis whether the state will undertake with our own money or with federal money how to implement the provisions of the law. My sole responsibility is to act in Alaska’s best interests and we will do so. I continue to strongly prefer to use state resources for state-based health care solutions to increase access and improve affordability, rather than become more entangled." - More...
Thursday - March 03, 2011

Science: Earth's Sixth Mass Extinction: Is It Almost Here? Steep decline of many animal species warns that Earth is on the brink - With the steep decline in populations of many animal species, scientists have warned that Earth is on the brink of a mass extinction like those that have occurred just five times during the past 540 million years.

Each of these "Big Five" saw three-quarters or more of all animal species go extinct.

In results of a study published in this week's issue of journal Nature, researchers report on an assessment of where mammals and other species stand today in terms of possible extinction compared with the past 540 million years.

They find cause for hope--and alarm.

"If you look only at the critically endangered mammals--those where the risk of extinction is at least 50 percent within three of their generations--and assume that their time will run out and they will be extinct in 1,000 years, that puts us clearly outside any range of normal and tells us that we are moving into the mass extinction realm," said Anthony Barnosky, an integrative biologist at the University of California at Berkeley, and first author of the paper. - More...
Thursday - March 03, 2011



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Questions, please contact the editor at editor@sitnews.us or call 617-9696

Update in Progress

letter OLD POOL?: New Skatepark Started! By Bobbie McCreary - Thank you, Krista Allen(and to many who have spoken before) for voicing what many parents believe, that our youth need more healthy activities to keep them busy. The good news is, earlier this month, the Ketchikan Gateway Borough voted to begin the process of building a skatepark at the corner of Park Avenue and Schoenbar, next to the creek and across from Walker Field. This is an ideal location as it is centrally located and highly visible. - More...
Monday PM - February 28, 2011

letter Cruise Ship power opportunity By Thom Fischer - This is in response to the question by Pete Ellis regarding revenue opportunity to sell energy to the cruise ship industry in Ketchikan. I have reviewed the existing cruise ship schedules, and energy these ships use when at dock in Ketchikan. The collective cruise ship summer energy use in Ketchikan is approximately 35,000,000 kWh of energy each year. At a sales price of 10 cents/kWh, this would be $3.5 million per year in gross revenue. - More...
Monday PM - February 28, 2011

letter Homeless in Ketchikan By Jennifer Gardner - What I would like to know is what agency can help those who've been homeless and living from couch to couch with their children? There are people like me who have gone through the agencies here in town for help in getting an overpriced apartment only to get kicked out a couple months later. What can Ketchikan do to help all the families that need the help now in getting an apartment or housing? - More...
Monday PM - February 28, 2011

letter A local hero By Rachel Ross - Sunday, a week ago, Ketchikan residents woke up to a winter wonderland.  The snow was over eight inches deep at the higher elevations on Carlanna Lake Road.  Brian Calvin, a local Correctional Officer, saw an opportunity to help others and sprang into action. - More...
Monday PM - February 28, 2011

letter Snow Removal By Jill Dobrydnia - I would like to thank the person who is responsible for clearing snow from the sidewalk along N. Pt. Higgins Road this winter. - More...
Monday PM - February 28, 2011

letter Feeling violated By Reynelda McDonald - I have lived in Ketchikan most my life and have had the luck of never having anything stolen from me. That luck ended this past weekend on 2/26/11. My daughter and I stopped at McDonald's to get something to eat. While we were there I mistakenly left my purse in the restroom and left McDonalds. 5 minutes passed between the time I left and the time I returned to find my purse gone. - More...
Monday PM - February 28, 2011

letter HERRING ABUNDANCE IN SOUTHEAST ALASKA (A response to Jennifer Castle, Ron Porter, and Ernie Koepf) By Andy Rauwolf - I take exception to the accusations by the above mentioned herring permit holders that the letter regarding “The Plight of West Behm Canal” by myself, Snapper Carson, and Mike Fleenor are “false claims”, “ill informed opinions with no scientific data to support them” and “baseless environmental cautions”.  To begin with, the letter listed the chronological order of events that have occurred in West Behm Canal since commercial herring fisheries began in the area and are a matter of public record that are hardly false claims. - More...
Thursday PM - February 24, 2011

letterHalibut Be Gone By Clay Slanaker - People, did you realize that the Atlantic coast had more and bigger halibut than the Pacific coast many years ago.  They were severely depleted by 1850 because they were killed as BYCATCH! Yes bycatch, the European cod fishermen crossed the Atlantic looking for richer cod fishing grounds and found them, they also found an abundance of halibut.  With no market for them early on they were killed and thrown back to the sea.  Google Atlantic halibut.- More...
Thursday PM - February 24, 2011

letterDeer Mountain Winter Fireworks 2011 By Ken Arriola - To the wonderful citizens of Ketchikan, Saxman, and Metlakatla. As I'm certain that many are wondering what's going on with the 2011 Deer Mountain Winter Fireworks, here's an update. No, it has not already happened, and no, it hasn't been cancelled indefinitely. - More...
Thursday PM - February 24, 2011

letter Open Letter to Ketchikan City Manager: Ketchikan Cruise Ship Power Opportunities By Pete Ellis - The World Cruise Center [in Los Angeles] is also the only port where two cruise ships can be connected simultaneously. Cruise ships utilize either 6.6 kilovolts (kV) or 11 kV electrical power distribution systems to plug into shore side power; the Port of Los Angeles can now accommodate either.  Currently the power demand of the cruise ships calling the Port of Los Angeles is anywhere between 8 to 13 megawatts of power.   A seven megawatt load is equivalent to producing enough electricity for approximately 1,000 homes.  The Port’s AMP system installed at the World Cruise Center is capable of delivering up to 40 megawatts of power, with 20 megawatts of power delivery capacity to each of the two different ships. - More...
Thursday PM - February 24, 2011

letter Care Abounds in Communities in Ketchikan for Dennis Weis By Pam Christianson - I wanted to thank you for your caring contribution towards the Care Abounds in Communities grant for Dennis Weis.  At the spaghetti dinner on Tuesday, there were wonderful performances by the bell choir, children’s choir and jump ropers. A total of $3400 was made in contributions.  Spaghetti sauces w/ and w/out meat, salad, beverage and a dessert – all donated by area restaurants (sauces - Oceanview & Cape Fox), Alaskan & Proud, Tatsudas IGA, & supply warehouses.  Tickets were $10.00 per person and $35 for a family. Thank you again to all who were able to attend and/or volunteer and to those who contributed. - More...
Thursday PM - February 24, 2011

letter South trail snow removal By Terri Jirschele - Of course frozen snow on sidewalks, crosswalks, paths is a problem! But I don't believe we should ask the City to help with this. - More...
Thursday PM - February 24, 2011

letter Reading Skills By Alan R. McGillvray- I will respond to this letter by stating, a reading course that starts with the alphabet, and the sounds the letters make. A method that went out of style back in the 1930s. - More...
Thursday PM - February 24, 2011

letter Invitation to the Community By Karen Eakes - The Strengthening Cultural Unity task force of the Ketchikan Wellness Coalition is sponsoring a Challenge Day breakfast on Saturday, February 26th from 9:00 to 11:00 am at the Ketchikan High School Commons. This event is to honor and thank the many community volunteers who helped to make our Challenge Day events back in December possible. We are encouraging volunteers and other community members who may want to learn more about Challenge Day to attend. We have also invited the many individuals and organizations that generously funded these events. - More...
Tuesday - February 22, 2011

letter Too late by high school By A. M. Johnson - Exiting the second grade without reading at grade level will find a student struggling and falling behind. Entering the fourth grade all the picture books disappear and text books are in full print. A struggling or failing reading student becomes bored, and begins the journey to dropping out. He/She will fail as a student. By the time a student reaches the 8th grade without proficiency in reading (basic math as well) they are on the way to dropping out of school. Children brains operate at a higher absorption rate in the early primary grades. Concentrated pre/post testing in Kindergarten, first and second grades will identify children who are struggling or failing.Reading strategies MUST BE instituted then not later. Waiting till middle or high school to address student drop out is far far too late to be effective. - More...
Tuesday - February 22, 2011

letter South trail snow removal By Dale Curtis - I am concerned about people walking on the road between Ketchikan and points south, especially Saxman after a snowfall. As this is a state road why can't the state road crew send a snow blower to keep the walking trail clear? Many people use this trail, some because they like to walk and some because it is the only way they can get to town. - More...
Tuesday - February 22, 2011

letter Re: Responding to complaints By Charlie Reynolds - Thank you Jerry Cegelske and others for your persistency in bringing this eyesore property into compliance. - More...
Tuesday - February 22, 2011

letter OLD POOL By Trista Allen - As a mother of a teenager, I think a skatepark would be a great addition to the area. I see a lot of teenagers walking arround town and in the mall having nothing to do but cause mischief. - More...
Tuesday - February 22, 2011

letterThe rest of the story By Zig Ziegler - The weekend edition of the Ketchikan Daily News printed an article regarding Alliance Realty and Alliance Realty Property Management. I approached Tom Miller, author, after I read the article to offer some clarification and explanation to the information he had gathered for the article. There were some glaring errors, specifically the amount of money and including personal business with company business. He did not appear to be interested in any kind of immediate follow up so I am choosing this forum to do so. - More...
Thursday - February 17, 2011

letter Re: Dungeness Crab By Lloyd Gossman - In short response to Max Worhatch, nobody cares that you're appalled by my lack of knowledge on Dungeness Crab. However, you  can look at the internet as well as anybody else and find out the Southeast Alaska Dungeness Crab fishery is not the most conservatively managed Dungeness fishery in the world. You're wrong on that account. - More...
Thursday - February 17, 2011

letter Responding to Complaints By Jerry Cegelske - Sometimes the process of bringing properties into compliance takes time, but through persistence even the most difficult cases can be addressed.  Difficult cases develop over time and can take time to get fully resolved.  As an example, for several years the Borough had received complaints about a residential property along North Tongass.  In response to their complaints, I would tell them of the latest attempts to contact the owner to get the property cleaned up, and then I would check to see what else I could do about it. - More...
Thursday - February 17, 2011

letter Sea Alaska Land Bill By Mark & Miriam Edwards - In response to Letter Dated 14th February / Notification of Town Hall Meetings / Sealaska Land Swop Bill, Ketchikan - Monday, Feb 21, 4pm to 6pm at Borough Assembly Offices, please note that the bill includes giving Sealaska the following: 30 acres in Naha Bay and 40 acres Bailey Bay/Lake Shelokum Hot Springs. These two areas are some of the most prized and cherished areas for Ketchikan residents and visitors alike. They are currently controlled and protected by the Forest Service for everyone's benefit. - More...
Thursday - February 17, 2011

letter RE: International Year of the Forest By A. M. Johnson - Mr. Tom Tidwell, as a spokesperson for the U.S.Forest Service publicly advocates for the surrender of American independence to the "One World Order".aka -"International Community".aka "United Nations". - More...
Thursday - February 17, 2011

letter International Year of the Forest is a time for reflection, action By Tom Tidwell - The International Year of the Forest, a United Nations-sponsored celebration to focus the world's attention on the need to sustainably manage the world's trees, is not merely an event but a reminder that we are at the precipice of change. We are guardians who have an obligation to protect and restore our world's forests, grasslands and wetlands, all of which are the source of clean air and water, the protectors of fish and wildlife habitats and the greatest assets to mitigate the effects of global climate change.- More...
Thursday - February 17, 2011

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