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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
March 03, 2017

Front Page Feature Photo By CINDY MOODY

Blue Heron
Great blue herons are waders, typically seen along coastlines, in marshes, or near the shores of ponds or streams; however, this one was photographed perched in a tree.
Front Page Feature Photo By CINDY MOODY

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Southeast Alaska: Two rescued from downed aircraft near Ketchikan - Friday morning at approximately 8:26 am, Ketchikan Flight Services of the Federal Aviation Administration, notified the Alaska State Troopers of an aircraft that was reported to be making an emergency landing and then lost radio contact.

Investigation by the Troopers revealed that the aircraft, a wheeled Beech G18S, twin engine, was traveling from Klawock to Ketchikan during a winter weather advisory. It was piloted by Steven Hewitt, age 68 of Seattle, Washington with passenger, Grant Hasting, age 23 of Auburn, Washington.

The aircraft missed the Ketchikan runaway due to weather and was circling back when it lost power to an engine. A short time later, Hewitt broadcast that he was going to attempt to make a beach landing at an unknown location and no further radio contact was made.

The Alaska Wildlife Troopers, United States Coast Guard, Ketchikan Volunteer Rescue Squad, Metlakatla Police Department, and Annette Island Search and Rescue were all notified and began searching. Tribal and local partners joined in the search.

Further investigation revealed that after they lost an engine, they lost altitude and the aircraft went into the water near Smugglers Cove, located south of Metlakatla just off Annette Island and sank. The Metlakatla Police and Fire Rescue boat crews were first to arrive on scene. At 9:45 am Friday, both Hewitt and Hasting swam approximately 200 yards to shore where they were found by Annette Island Search and Rescue and transported to the Metlakatla Clinic. and transported the two survivors to Metlakatla Clinic for medical care. - More...
Friday PM - March 03, 2017

Southeast Alaska: Coast Guard rescues 5 from tug aground near Sumner Strait, Alaska - The Ocean Eagle tug that ran aground in March 2016 off northeastern Vancouver Island, again ran aground Wednesday on the Mariposa Reef on the south side of Strait Island in Sumner Strait in Southeast Alaska.

According to a news release, Coast Guard Air Station Sitka MH-60T Jayhawk crew rescued and hoisted the tug's five people from the barge that was attached to the 102-foot tug Ocean Eagle and transported them to Sitka after the tug began taking on water Wednesday night.

"The aircrew faced harsh weather conditions early Thursday morning when they saved five crew members off the barge," said Cmdr. Gina Freeman, search and rescue mission coordinator for Sector Juneau. "Fortunately, there was no loss of life. [Thursday], Coast Guard Sector Juneau and Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation continued to work with the tug's owner to remove the tug and barge and minimize any pollution to the environment."

Watchstanders at Coast Guard Sector Juneau received a report at 7:15 p.m., Wednesday, from the crew of the Ocean Eagle that the tug and barge ran aground on Mariposa Reef and began taking on water in the engine room.

The crew of the Ocean Eagle reported the tug carrying a total of 58,000 gallons of diesel fuel divided among several tanks. The barge carried a mixed dry cargo and 52,000 gallons of diesel. Any discharge of product is unknown, and Sector Juneau is in consultation with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration for oil trajectory calculations.

The Ocean Eagle and barge refloated and drifted to Alvin Cove at approximately 3 a.m. Thursday. The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Liberty arrived on scene to the Ocean Eagle at approximately 7:30 a.m. with pollution response equipment. The crew of the Coast Guard Cutter Maple arrived shortly thereafter. Both Coast Guard cutters remain on scene assessing the situation, looking for signs of pollution and verifying nearby aids to navigation. - More...
Friday PM - March 03, 2017

Ketchikan: Federal subsistence fishery for eulachon closed in Federal waters within District 1 - Ketchikan-Misty Fiords District Ranger Jeff DeFreest, under authority delegated by the Federal Subsistence Board, is closing the Federal public waters that flow into District 1 to the taking of eulachon from 12:01 a.m., Monday, March 6, 2017 until May 4, 2017, 11:59 p.m. due to anticipated low eulachon returns. Any eulachon caught in this area must be immediately returned into the water unharmed. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADF&G) closed the State managed eulachon fisheries in District 1 on February 24.

Few eulachon have returned to the Burroughs Bay area since 2005. Similar closures have been issued by the USDA Forest Service for eulachon within the Burroughs Bay area from 2005 through 2016. - More...
Friday PM - March 03, 207

Southeast Alaska:
The Silent City of Alaska: Was it hoax? Or a mirage? By DAVE KIFFER - One hundred and thirty years ago, the residents of the Outside world knew very little about Alaska. They knew it had glaciers and giant polar bears and not much else. America's purchase of Alaska in 1867 was derided in some quarters as $7.2 million for a giant icebox, or Seward's Ice Box, after the US Secretary of State who had made the deal.

The Silent City of Alaska: Was it hoax? Or a mirage?

R. G. Willoughby's mirage, the Silent City, Alaska.
Winter and Pond. Photographs, 1893-1943. ASL-PCA-87
Photo courtesy Alaska State Library

Some people even believed Alaska to be a mysterious, magical land. A land where giant cities appeared, hovering like mirages over the frozen glaciers.

This is the story of one such mirage, which came to be called "The Silent City of Alaska."

The story begins, as do many in Alaska's early years, with a prospector.

Richard "Dick" Willoughby was born in Missouri some time in the early 1830s. What he did for the first 20 years of his life is lost to history, but in 1854 he married in Missouri and then almost immediately headed for California, still booming from the Gold Rush of 1849.

He spent three years in California and did not strike it rich, so he returned to Missouri in 1857. He didn't stay long and by 1858 he was taking part in the Fraser River Gold Rush in British Columbia. He stayed there and took part in the Cariboo Gold Rush in the 1860s and the Cassiar Gold Rush in the 1870s.

He then headed to Juneau where he would allegedly rendezvous with Alaska's Silent City.

He was in Juneau in 1880 when it was founded and stayed there for several years, building a home in 1881. He became well known as a photographer and raconteur.
"He was a master story-teller and entertainer,," Alaska Historian R. N. DeArmond wrote in 1975. "One of his most famous exploits was the Silent City hoax in which he peddled hundreds of photographs from a glass plate negative which had allegedly been made at Glacier Bay and showed a ghost city."

The "ghost city," a large collection of buildings that was reported to have be seen hovering over glaciers and ice fields before suddenly disappearing had been reported numerous times over the preceding decade. Willoughby, who also had scientific pretentions and was occasionally known as Professor Willoughby, decided to try to capture the apparitition on film.

On July 21, 1888, near Muir Glacier in Glacier Bay, he succeeded. Or so he claimed. - More...
Friday PM - March 03, 2017


Fish Factor:
Alaska red king crab, snow crab fetch record prices; Crab updates from Southeast AK to Bering Sea By LAINE WELCH - Alaska crabbers are hauling back pots from the Panhandle to the Bering Sea, and reduced catches are resulting in record prices for their efforts.

Alaska red king crab, snow crab fetch record prices; Crab updates from Southeast AK to Bering Sea

Golden King Crab; Lithodes aequispinus
Photo courtesy Alaska Fisheries Science Center

The year’s first red king crab fishery at Norton Sound has yielded 17,000 pounds so far of its nearly 40,000 pound winter quota for more than 50 local fishermen. The crab, which are taken through the ice near Nome, are paying out at a record $7.75 a pound. A summer opener will produce a combined catch of nearly half a million pounds for the region.

Red king crab from Bristol Bay also yielded the highest price ever for fishermen, averaging $10.89 per pound. That catch quota of eight million pounds was down 15 percent from the previous season.

The Bering Sea snow crab fleet has taken 80 percent of its 19 million pound quota, down by nearly half from last year. That’s pushed market prices through the roof, topping $8.30 a pound at wholesale in both the US and Japan, compared to over $5.50 per pound a year ago.

Alaska produces only about 10 percent of the world’s snow crab, with most of the pack by far coming from Eastern Canada, followed by Russia. On the snow crab menu front - McDonald's has begun testing a new snow crab sandwich in several San Francisco Bay locations. If it’s a hit, the sandwich could advance to nearly 250 outlets this year.

Since mid-February, about 100 small boat crabbers in Southeast Alaska have been hauling pots for 105,000 pounds of golden king crab, which can reach as high as $10 a pound at the docks. A local Tanner crab fishery just wrapped up, with a catch that will likely come in at around one million pounds. - More...
Friday PM - March 03, 2017

Alaska: Age Migration Data Show More Young Adults Moving In, More 35+ Leaving - The state’s first-ever release of migration data by age and sex shows that from 2010 to 2015, Alaska had a net gain of adults in their 20s each year and a net loss of teens and older adults.

People in their 20s, who made up about 15 percent of the state’s population over that period, represented 27 percent of those who came to Alaska and 24 percent of those who left. This age group is the most mobile, both in Alaska and nationwide.

Alaska consistently loses more 15-to-19-year-olds than it gains, usually through high school graduates leaving for college.

The state also lost more people 35 and older than it gained between 2010 and 2015. The difference between in-migration and out-migration was largest among people in their 60s, with an average of nearly twice the number leaving as arriving each year. - More...
Friday PM - March 03, 2017

Far-north lake trout living in mystery

Kurt Heim shows a lake trout he caught in the Fish Creek watershed on the Arctic Coastal Plain.
Photo by Lydia Smith

Alaska Science: Far-north lake trout living in mystery By NED ROZELL - In early March up on the frozen Arctic Coastal Plain, as the wind sculpts snow into drifts, it’s hard to tell northern lakes from surrounding tundra. But lurking deep beneath that flat white world are toothy predators as long as your arm.

In pools 60 feet down, lake trout are somehow passing the long winter. A graduate student has sharpened the focus on a familiar species that lives as far south as Colorado but seems so mysterious at the top of its range.

Eric Torvinen spent an entire summer and part of another pursuing lake trout on Alaska’s treeless North Slope. The lack of trees, in fact, was part of the reason he wanted to study the fish for his master’s degree.

He gathered ear bones from lake trout that show growth rings. His goal was to see if he could use otoliths from the long-lived fish to show past climate trends. Thick yearly rings might indicate warmer summers with more food.

In an inflatable kayak, Torvinen floated in 2015 down Fish Creek, a Rhode Island-size watershed pocked with 4,000 lakes. He and his field partner would stop at water-filled depressions between ancient sand dunes. There, they fished for trout with a rod and reel, sometimes nets. After the float, to reach a few nearby lakes deep enough for lake trout, they contracted a helicopter pilot. - More...
Friday PM - March 03, 2017



jgp Jeff Lund

JEFF LUND: Tis the season to tie - I finally got the yarn out yesterday.

It felt good. Really good. I’ve needed to restock the fly-fishing box for months but just haven’t. I’ve had basketball practices and games and travel and work and everything else, but those are just excuses. My fly-tying vice is all set up and everything is on the fly-tying desk, but the problem is the fly-tying desk is in a different room. Out of sight, out of mind, right? It really can’t be for much longer because fishing season is almost here and when it starts it doesn’t stop until basketball starts again.

I have some left overs from last summer’s trips steelhead and salmon fishing, then some cool little bugs from the random August trip to California but my stocks are depleted.

I needed to get busy. My flies are never particularly pretty. My buddy Kurt is meticulous and makes beautiful flies. Super model flies. My flies are awkward and clumsy. They look like they’ve already been mouthed by a dozen or so trout. I usually stay within my boundaries and let Kurt tie the more complex nymphs and dries and have him tie a few extra for me. - More...
Friday PM - March 03, 2017


DAVE KIFFER: Well, well, well - It's that time of the year when no news is pretty much no news.

Especially up here in No Where, where we are all just sitting around and waiting for the weather to decide what it is gonna do. Is it going to snow? Is it going to freeze? Is the sun going to hang just over the horizon and blind us as we drive through town? Is it going to rain?

That last question was rhetorical.

Of course, it is going to rain. It is always going to rain.

It is going to rain in Our Fair Salmon City, even when it is simultaneously snowing, freezing and sun-blinding us. Guaranteed.

Fortunately, news does occasionally happen in these (sled)dog days of February.

For example, the annual Gallup-Healthways Well Being Index has been released and, guess what? We're pretty danged pleased with ourselves up here in Alaska. - More...
Friday PM - March 03, 2017

jpg Editorial Cartoon: Crafting a Replacement for Obamacare

Editorial Cartoon: Crafting a Replacement for Obamacare
By Daryl Cagle ©2017,
Distributed to subscribers for publication by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.


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letter New regulations concerning common outfalls By Bill Elberson - Ketchikan residents that have septic tanks connected to an ocean outfall should check out the State DEC new regulations concerning common outfalls. - More...
Wednesday PM - March 01, 2017

letter Resolution to Investigate Possible Downstream Impacts to Water and Fish By Gavin C. Dirom - As an association representing responsible mineral explorers and developers, we read with interest a February 6 story published in SitNews from Ketchikan, Alaska, regarding House Joint Resolution 9 as introduced by Representative Dan Ortiz about mine development in British Columbia. Canadians respect the rights of citizens and legislative processes in other jurisdictions, including the recent American resolution calling “to investigate long-term, region-wide downstream effects of proposed and existing industrial development”. We do, however, find the resolution puzzling given that as long-term good neighbours, the State of Alaska and Province of British Columbia, have already signed a Memorandum of Understanding that was further entrenched by a Statement of Cooperation agreement, to do essentially what Rep. Ortiz’s resolution appears to be asking for. The agreement is already being implemented by Alaska and British Columbia to ensure that water quality and aquatic life will be monitored and studied in a comprehensive, bilateral approach between the two neighbouring jurisdictions on an ongoing basis. This is good. - More...
Sunday AM - February 26, 2017

letter Trump Jeopardizing National Security By Donald Moskowitz - As a former Naval Intelligence officer, I am concerned with the Administration's adverse impact on our national security. - More...
Sunday AM - February 26, 2017

letter Hiking Trails By Caden Mattson - I would like to share some information about hiking trails, specifically about good ones for dogs. Connell lake is a good trail because it isn't sloped and you could let the dog(s) off the leash an it is usually not crowded. Carlanna lake is a good inclined trail with a beautiful view of the mountains and the lake, however it is usually crowded on weekends. Ward creek trail is good because it is good for a quick walk that dogs would enjoy to play at. Salvage trail is good for getting dogs tired after the walk it's also sloped a lot of the trail. Rainbird trail is good because you can see the city from a distance, it's also very sloped and is very muddy sometimes. - More...
Sunday AM - February 26, 2017

letter Chaffetz and Murkowski By Ghert Abbott - Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah) is the chairman of the House Oversight Committee. The President's ongoing refusal to divest himself of the Trump Organization, along with the massive potential for corruption which has resulted from this decision, thus falls right within Chaffetz' purview. The Oversight Chairman has however steadfastly refused to hold any hearings on this issue, despite it often being front page news for the past three months. Instead, Chaffetz has decided that the best use of the Oversight Committee's time and resources is threatening to investigate the Office of Government Ethics for the office's public criticisms of the President. - More...
Friday PM - February 17, 2017

letter Roe v Wade By Mike Sallee - In the spirit of the recent women’s marches around the world I offer a couple of citations. In one simple quote, Sister Joan Chittister, O.S.B. sums up the hypocrisy of many in the 'pro-life' movement: - More...
Friday PM - February 17, 2017

letter JUST CURIOUS: IS THERE A SOLUTION BESIDES MOVING OUT OF KETCHIKAN? By David G Hanger - I have recommended Rodney Dial's recent Sitnews commentary to a number of individuals as more or less required reading. I am a little bothered by the fact Rodney that put this stuff out there and have a disconnected telephone. So tell me, Rodney, you got a solution to this mess, or is it time to just get the hell out of here? - More...
Tuesday PM - February 14, 2017

letter Strong and effective schools By Rep. Dan Ortiz - This session, I am honored to be serving as Chair of the House Finance Department of Education and Early Learning Budget Subcommittee, which reviews Alaska’s education budget. In this capacity I will closely examine Alaska’s school funding, and the unique programs and services that support effective learning. - More...
Saturday AM - February 11, 2017

letter Meeting Alaska’s Education Challenge By Dr. Michael Johnson - The most pressing issue for Alaska’s public education system is the lack of a fiscal plan. Our state savings accounts are almost depleted due to the lack of agreement on a sustainable fiscal plan that will address the new economic normal for Alaska. Oil will not provide the income we have enjoyed in the past. We have to make some difficult choices. - More...
Saturday AM - February 11, 2017

letter Don’t ‘tear up’ the Iran deal. Let it fail on its own. By U.S. Sen. Dan Sullivan - As a candidate, Donald Trump said he would “tear up” the Iran nuclear deal once elected. Many of us in the Senate strongly opposed this deal on substance — it provides the world’s largest state sponsor of terrorism a pathway toward to nuclear weapons inside of a decade — and also on process. The Obama administration sought the approval of the U.N. Security Council, but essentially ignored the constitutional role of the Senate in seeking to finalize the deal as an executive agreement, not a treaty. As a result, President Trump would be within his rights and authority to undo the deal through executive action, particularly as Iran continued to show that it has no intention of abiding by the deal by launching yet another ballistic missile on Sunday (January 29th). - More...
Saturday AM - February 11, 2017

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“Hundreds of Alaskans have reached out to my administration saying health care costs are increasingly unaffordable,” Governor Walker said. “This law will provide relief from large premium hikes for

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