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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
March 27, 2015

Front Page Photo By ALDRIN DRAKE

Knudson Cove: Aurora Borealis
Knudson Cove is approximately 15 miles north of Ketchikan. This photograph was taken Monday, March 23, 2015.
Front Page Photo By ALDRIN DRAKE V. ESCANO ©2015
(Submit your photograph to be featured on the SitNews' front page. Email photo to editor@sitnews.us include your name and a brief photo description.)

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Southeast Alaska: Conservation Groups Appeal Recent Court Decision in Big Thorne Sale and Tongass Forest Plan By MARY KAUFFMAN - Within days of a denial by Federal Judge Ralph Beistline of a lawsuit brought by 10 environmental groups and the approval of logging in the Tongass National Forest, two coalitions of conservation groups filed Notices of Appeal Thursday before the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.

Conservation Groups Appeal Recent Court Decision in Big Thorne Sale and Tongass Forest Plan

Clearcuts and old-growth forests are part of the view on Prince of Wales Island.
Creative Commons:
Photo by Nick Bonzey

The decision last Friday by Judge Beistline, stems from two lawsuits filed by conservation organizations. In the first case, Southeast Alaska Conservation Council, Sierra Club, Alaska Wilderness League, and Audubon Alaska challenged the Big Thorne timber sale. In the second lawsuit, Southeast Alaska Conservation Council, Sierra Club, Alaska Wilderness League, and Natural Resources Defense Council challenged the Tongass Land Management Plan. Earthjustice, a nonprofit environmental law firm, represented the organizations in both lawsuits.

The U.S. District Court in Alaska ruled last Friday the Forest Service complied with the law when it approved the Big Thorne timber sale, allowing logging from approximately 6,200 acres of old growth forest, and when it adopted the Tongass Land Management Plan.

Appealing last week's Big Thorne decision are the Southeast Alaska Conservation Council, Alaska Wilderness League, Sierra Club, and Audubon Alaska. Appealing a separate decision related to the Tongass Land Management Plan are Southeast Alaska Conservation Council, Natural Resources Defense Council, Alaska Wilderness League, and Sierra Club. Earthjustice represents the groups in both appeals.

Southeast Alaska Conservation Council's Executive Director Malena Marvin said,“We’re looking for a solution that keeps jobs in the woods without sacrificing key habitat for deer, bear, wolf and salmon. We support projects that will be compatible with the region’s fishing and tourism industries – as well as deer hunting opportunities - over the long run." She continued, “For years, SEACC has worked with regional partners to advocate micro sales, develop community-scale forest projects that support local businesses, and promote the region’s small sawmills.” Marvin said, “Our organization remains opposed to industrial-scale clearcuts that rely on exports - curtailing the export of round logs to Asia would increase jobs per log cut on the Tongass while eliminating massive, controversial old-growth sales."

The Big Thorne sale is by far the largest Tongass old growth sale in decades. The conservation groups argue that it undercuts the region’s billion-dollar fishing and tourism industries while continuing an unsustainable log export industry. The groups are also concerned about damage to vital habitat for salmon, bears, Sitka black-tailed deer, goshawks and the Alexander Archipelago wolf, and impacts to sport and subsistence hunters as well as recreational use of the forest.

“Economic prosperity in Southeast Alaska depends on vibrant, healthy old growth forests to support the economic drivers of our region—world-class fishing, hunting, recreation, and tourism,” said Holly Harris, Staff Attorney with Earthjustice. “While Southeast Alaska loses thousands of acres of irreplaceable old growth habitat in sales like Big Thorne, taxpayers are paying tens of millions of dollars a year to prop up the old growth timber industry. The Forest Service’s tired reliance on these kinds of massive, subsidized old growth sales devastates the environment and jeopardizes the future of our region.” - More...
Friday PM - March 27, 2015



FISH FACTOR: Alternative Safety Compliance Program Looking For Volunteers By LAINE WELCH - Volunteers are needed to help craft new safety rules that are being written for older boats – which includes the bulk of Alaska’s fishing vessels.

Called the Alternate Compliance Safety Program (ACSP), it is part of the 2010 US Coast Guard Authorization Act and is aimed at vessels that will be 25 years old by 2020, are greater than 50 feet in length, and operate beyond three nautical miles.
The program will include most of Alaska’s fishing fleet -- a 2014 maritime study by the Juneau-based McDowell Group shows that the majority of Alaska’s boats were built between 1970 and 1989.

“The requirements won’t become mandatory until January 1 of 2010 for most vessels. However the Coast Guard needs to prescribe the program by January 1 of 2017,” explained Troy Rentz, Alternate Safety Compliance Coordinator for the USCG13th District.

Right now safety teams are compiling data on losses from fishing fatalities, injuries and vessel sinkings, Rentz said, and from that they will evaluate the risks based on the various regions and fisheries.

“That is going to have a big influence on these programs because we know that each fishery has different gear and risks in different operating environments specific to what they are doing,” Rentz said. - More...
Friday PM - March 27, 2015

ALASKA: ANCHORAGE LEGISLATORS DISAPPOINTED WITH IRRESPONSIBLE SCHOOL DISTRICT BUDGET - Anchorage House Majority Caucus members expressed their disappointment today in response to the Anchorage Assembly’s passage of the Anchorage School District’s $784 million 2015-16 budget on Tuesday evening. The School District’s budget includes dozens of new full-time positions as well as state dollars that were cut within the Governor’s proposed budget in January.

“For months, Alaskans have heard about the effect of declining oil prices on our state’s revenue. We as legislators have begun to make incredibly tough cuts to our budget, which the governor already reduced significantly,” said Rep. Gabrielle LeDoux. “To see the Anchorage School District so flagrantly ignore the reality of the state of our budget is unacceptable and sets our schools up for failure.”

“The Anchorage School District appears to be blind to our fiscal reality,” said Rep. Craig Johnson. “Alaskans can see the need for tightening our belts, and have tasked leaders at all levels of government to spend responsibly and within our means.” - More...
Friday PM - March 27, 2015



Alaska: Did EPA Act Fairly In Its Evaluation Of Potential Mining In The Bristol Bay Watershed? - Former Defense Secretary William S. Cohen announced this week that he and his firm, The Cohen Group, assisted by law firm DLA Piper, will conduct an independent review of whether the US Environmental Protection Agency acted fairly in connection with its evaluation of potential mining in the Bristol Bay, Alaska watershed.

Bristol Bay Salmon
Photograph courtesy EPA

Secretary Cohen has been retained by the Pebble Limited Partnership, which holds mineral claims to State of Alaska lands in this area. Secretary Cohen will evaluate the fairness of EPA's actions and decisions in this matter based upon a thorough assessment of the facts and informed by his experience as Secretary of Defense as well as his 24 years as a member of the US House of Representatives and Senate. He will have full discretion as to the means and manner of carrying out this review to ensure that it is thorough and unbiased.

"An investigation being conducted by the EPA's Office of Inspector General; inquiries and hearings into EPA actions by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform; and, more recently, an inquiry by the Senate Environment and Public Works Committee, as well as documents produced in response to Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests, have each raised questions as to whether the EPA proceeded fairly in its activities surrounding potential mining in the Bristol Bay watershed," Secretary Cohen stated. "Our review will focus on the fairness of the EPA's actions. We are not evaluating and will not express an opinion as to whether the Pebble Limited Partnership ultimately should be granted permission to mine the Pebble deposit. And, as was well documented during my years in public service, I have been a strong supporter of the EPA's mandate to protect the environment and keep our nation's waterways safe for human health as well as fish and wildlife," Secretary Cohen explained. - More...
Friday PM - March 27, 2015



Alaska Science: Catching a lake as it became land By NED ROZELL - If a lake drains on top of the world, will anyone hear it?

Chris Arp, left, and Ben Jones on the North Slope during a snowmachine journey to study lakes in spring 2014. Guido Grosse of Potsdam, Germany, is in the background.
Photo by Ned Rozell

Ben Jones and Chris Arp did. The Anchorage- and Fairbanks-based scientists placed sensors in a bathtub-shaped lake on Alaska's northern coast a few years ago. From what they can tell, the lake topped its rim and eroded/thawed a channel to the Beaufort Sea on July 5, 2014. With a flow greater than some northern rivers, the lake's water spilled into the ocean.

Northern lakes have formed, filled and emptied for thousands of years, but this is the first time scientists have observed it with instruments. Jones, of the USGS Science Center and Arp, of UAF, were intrigued by the lake on their first trip to the Arctic together in 2007. About 100 miles southeast of Barrow, part of the lake’s shore was a bluff over the Beaufort Sea. They guessed the lake would drain by 2020, and wouldn't it be interesting to see what happens?

The pair know a lot about the ubiquitous bodies of water that stain the map blue in northern Alaska. Each of the past four springs, they have snowmachined a 900-mile loop over the heart of the North Slope. They pause at dozens of lakes, shovel away snow and drill holes in ice. If the lakes are not frozen to the bottom, they bottle water samples for analysis later in a warm lab.

From traveling with them last spring, I know their work is cold, windy and not instantly rewarding. But all those samples and instruments installed in a shotgun pattern sometimes pay off in dramatic ways. - More...
Friday PM - March 27, 2015

jpg Political Cartoon: Mental Health of Pilots

Political Cartoon: Mental Health of Pilots
By Adam Zyglis, The Buffalo News
Distributed to subscribers for publication by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.


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letter No "Young Growth Management" on the Tongass By Robert W Pickrell - I have a garden. Whoa... even if you re not into gardens keep reading. I'm going to tell you about something that will change the farming industry and S.E. Alaska! Actually my garden is a mini-park with paths where you walk under the rodys. There are other flowers, rare bushes, inanimate critters,and a unique village. The only edible (my farm) is my raspberry patch. The Secretary of Agriculture of the U.S.A. has proposed a program guaranteeing increased value to my patch and also to the huge crop of timber in S.E. Alaska's Tongass National Forest. So I'm going to transition. After all he is the top farmer in the U.S.A.! Why I didn't think of it before. Actually we must give credit to Washington DC's Environmentalist Think Tanks. - More...
Wednesday PM - March 25, 2015

letter Obama's Alaska Wilderness Head Fake By U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan - President Obama’s plan to designate 12 million acres as wilderness in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge did not fool Alaskans. The announcement in January revealed his goal of starving the trans-Alaska pipeline by stranding tens of billions of barrels of American oil permanently under the Arctic tundra, and turning the state into a giant national park. - More...
Wednesday PM - March 25, 2015

letter BUY (AND GROW) LOCAL, LET’S CRUNCH THE NUMBERS By David G Hanger, EA, MBA - Mr. Timmerman, let me make note in the first instance that I do not put my initials behind my name unless I am writing a professional document; and that is what this is. Before I get into that detail, though, let me duly note that while I think it is great that you don’t drink and another committee member smokes dope I do not think you and your little group are capable of anything but a really, really stupid result. And what you didn’t tell us about yourself is actually more interesting than what you did. I cannot forget that this is the town that elected Jack Shay every time he ran for office, nor that the system of government of which you are a part is specifically designed to ensure one-way, one-dimensional results. - More...
Wednesday PM - March 25, 2015

letter High School Suppresses Americanism By Donald A. Moskowitz - According to WHDH, a Lexington High School, Lexington, MA school administrator buckled to objections by some students on the theme of a dance event, and in essence, suppressed Americanism. - More...
Wednesday PM - March 25

letter KETCHIKAN CHOOSES RESPECT 2015 By Evelyn Erbele - What began as a statewide campaign against domestic violence and sexual assault is continuing in Ketchikan and has expanded to include everyone from all walks of life. - More...
Monday PM - March 23, 2015

letter Re: Marijuana Committee Rant By Dave Timmerman - In response to Mr. Hanger's recent letter concerning the Marijuana Advisory committee... - More...
Monday PM - March 23, 2015

letter Mary Jane's Lies By Janalee Minnich Gage - How do we come to terms with the vast what ifs? We can sit and argue, fight over what is right and what is wrong, you can verbally personally attack me, call me crazy, and call me names because that is all you have to use, I will state now, that we all have mud, and we all have a past, but we all have experiences worth respect. - More...
Monday PM - March 23, 2015

letter Stockhausen Coach of the Year By Diane Gubatayao - I was very pleased to learn that the Alaska Association of Basketball Coaches bestowed the well-deserved honor of Coach of the Year 4A boys’ basketball upon Coach Eric Stockhausen. - More...
Thursday PM - March 19, 2015

letter THE LOCAL MARIJUANA COMMITTEE By David G Hanger  - Looking at the names on this so-called local marijuana committee I detect a strong whiff of alcohol but no tokers or smokers. And what can one expect from such a one-dimensional, one-sided bunch of liquid refreshers? A result that is really, really stupid! - More...
Thursday PM - March 19, 2015

letter Thank-You Coach Jodi Williams By John and Kathy Flora- It is with deep gratitude that I send Jodi Williams coach of the K-Highlites our heartfelt thanks for being such a wonderful role model, inspiration and mentor. This is a Huge sacrifice of time and commitment by you and completely enhanced our daughters experience in growing to be her highest and best. The lessons she learned on Drill Team for four years involve working with each other, good sportsmanship, teamwork, and a bigger understanding that it takes more than one person to achieve great success. - More...
Tuesday PM - March 17, 2015

letter Alaska Marine Highway woes By James Schenk - I use the Ferry system from Ketchikan to Bellingham a lot. Most of my travel has been directly associated with health issues, but a lot of my trips before 2009 were, mostly for work travel. For most of my adult life I traveled for work as a I.B.E.W. Union electrician. - More...
Tuesday PM - March 17, 2015

letter Open Letter: Budget Reductions By A. M. Johnson - The issue of compensation for deputy commissioners and directors has been brought to both of you in prior public submissions and or post to your office. Seemingly there is lack of enthusiasm to consider the suggestion. This lack of action or consideration then takes on the vision of Don t rock the Boat with the insiders of Alaska Government. Tragic as it was felt that Everything in the Budget is on the Table mentality was given in a serious vain. - More...
Tuesday PM - March 17, 2015

letter Russia in the Arctic By Michael Mccolley - I talked with Congressmen Don Young several years ago about Russia setting up troops in the Arctic. Now I want to know whose property is the Arctic? Is it part of Alaska? Why would we let the Russians take over the Arctic with 4 brigades? Why so many soldiers? - More...
Tuesday PM - March 17, 2015

letter Daylight Savings Time By Ken Lewis - Mr Bethel questioned how "We" lose 2 hours. Here's how. Read this 1983 article that took all Southeast Alaska (except Metlakatla ) out of the Pacific time zone. Then subtract another hour once this politician from a town with a true midnight sun kicks our once active families in the gnards again. - More...
Tuesday PM - March 17, 2015

letter Open Letter: Closing Cocktail Lounges on AMHS By Donald Bodda - This letter is in reference to the Alaska Marine Hiway System closing the adult’s lounges and bars. We as Alaskans that ride and depend on the service spent our time visiting old friends and making new acquaints in the cocktail lounges and we are very disappointed in the decision to close these lounges. - More...
Tuesday PM - March 17, 2015

letter Recorder's Office Closure By Chris Elliott - I just wanted to publicly thank Rep. Dan Ortiz for calling me today to talk about my concerns with the closure of the Ketchikan Recorder's Office. - More...
Tuesday PM - March 17, 2015

letter Name-calling By Mike Harpold - I"ve read the two articles cited by Al Johnson, but nowhere in them does John McCain refer or imply that Barrack Obama is a Muslin as you did in your letters to our congressional delegation. True, Senator McCain is exasperated with the President's policies in Ukraine, calling him naïve, but he doesn't call him the names you do. There is a line. - More...
Tuesday PM - March 17, 2015

letter Hollis students and HB 53 By Richard Trojan - During public comments on March 10th, there were 4 Hollis students that did an excellent job on HB 53. It's about putting public comment back into the discussion about herbicides. - More...
Tuesday PM - March 17, 2015

letter Citizens as a commodity By Garrett Collins - How can a system of criminal citation or taxation be supported by the First Amendment if we lose our rights to civil life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness in the process? - More...
Tuesday PM - March 17, 2015

letter Arctic Sea Ice Fraud? By Paul Mason - The sudden plunge in reported "Arctic Sea Ice Extent" defies logic. After all, North America had its coldest winter in about 100 years, yet the supposed Arctic Sea Ice Extent has reportedly SUDDENLY dropped to its lowest level in many, many years. - More...
Tuesday PM - March 17, 2015

letter Ageism and Its End By Brendan Hare - Until I turned sixty-six, retired, and officially joined the ranks of “the olds,” I lived for decades as an unreflecting and unapologetic ageist. I’m not a mean-spirited person. I pride myself on being open-minded and progressive. I’ve always tried to guard against bias in my thoughts and actions, and to fight bigotry wherever it cast its sulphurous gloom. But somehow, my prejudices about old people seemed to be natural, to reflect the facts of life, to share in the universal consensus. Being old was simply bad, wasn’t it? This felt like a solid fact, an incontrovertible position and, in the U.S. of A., also a basically uncontroversial one. In America - youth-worshipping, plastic-surgery-tweaked America - ageism stands as one of the last widely acceptable social prejudices. - More...
Tuesday PM - March 17, 2015

letter World Is At War By Donald A. Moskowitz - President Obama refuses to refer to ISIL, Al Qaeda, Hamas, Hezbollah, the Quds Force, and others as Islamic terrorists. He tends to mischaracterize the attacks by the radical Islamic terrorists on Christians, Jews, and other non-Muslims, and he seems hesitant to vigorously take the fight to the terrorists. Why is that? - More...
Tuesday PM - March 17, 2015

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