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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
April 26, 2013

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Ketchikan Sunrise
Front Page Photo by Ryan Budde ©2013
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Southeast Alaska: Senate Subcommittee Advances Sealaska Lands Bill By MARY KAUFFMAN – U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), testified Thursday before the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Public Lands Subcommittee in support of legislation to complete the aboriginal land claims promised to shareholders of the Sealaska Native Regional Corp. more than 40 years ago under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA).

The Energy Public Lands Subcommittee hearing held in Washington, D.C. Thursday advanced the Sealaska Lands Bill and it is now eligible for markup by the full U.S. Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, of which Murkowski is the Ranking Member. If advanced, it would then go next to the full Senate.

S. 340 is the product of collaborative work of a varied group of stakeholders interested in the Tongass National Forest. According to Murkowski, more than 175 amendments have been made since the last Congress to address myriad concerns, and the result is a bill that has gained support from a diverse array of conservation, business, tribal and local community interests. 

“The primary purpose of the Sealaska legislation is simple: it settles the outstanding aboriginal land claims under the ANCSA,” Murkowski said. “We have made more than 175 changes to the bill over the last two years to address the majority of the concerns raised by local communities and interested stakeholders. I think these changes have vastly improved the bill from the 2008 original. I know this latest version won’t make everyone happy, but it is a fair, equitable and workable solution to the complicated land patterns in Alaska’s Panhandle.”

The revised Southeast Alaska Native Land Entitlement Finalization and Jobs Protection Act (S.340) establishes where and how Sealaska may select 70,075 acres of land owed to it under ANCSA. S. 340 was introduced by Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and co-sponsored by Senator Mark Begich (D-AK).

The bill steers Sealaska’s timber harvesting activities toward second-growth timber, areas where roads and other infrastructure already exists, to minimize any potential impact on old-growth timber in the Tongass.

Under the proposal, Sealaska would receive about 68,400 acres of land for timber development, and an additional 1,099 acres for other economic development projects, such as hydroelectric generation and marine hydrokinetic activity, and tourism near the communities of Yakutat, Kake and Hydaburg.

The bill also places 152,000 acres into conservation areas to further protect old-growth timber and important aquatic resources.

“This legislation will finally deliver on the promise the federal government made to Southeast Alaska Natives in 1971. At the same time, it ensures continued public access to the lands Sealaska selects,” Murkowski said.

James M. Peña, associate deputy chief of the National Forest System of the U.S. Forest Service, said this bill does not set a precedent for other Native corporations in Alaska due to the unique circumstances. in his testimony he said, “We believe the circumstances around this bill are unique, and no such precedent would be created." As Pena said this, a satisfied Murkowski nodded in agreement. - More...
Friday PM - April 26, 2013

Referendum certified to repeal oil giveaway; Group organizing to gather 30,050 signatures - Thursday, Alaska Lt. Governor Mead Treadwell certified 13SB21, the referendum application to reject Senate Bill 21 on Alaska’s oil taxes passed during the legislative session that adjourned April 14, 2013.

The lieutenant governor signed the certificate after consultation with the Division of Elections, which determined the application included a sufficient number of sponsor signatures, and the Department of Law, which concluded that the proposed bill is in the proper form under Article XI of the Alaska Constitution and AS 15.45.

The lieutenant governor notified the primary sponsors of the petition, Victor Fischer, Bella Hammond, and N. Jim Whitaker, Jr.

The referendum petition was filed last week by Vote Yes – Repeal the Giveaway, which is a grassroots Alaskan group formed to challenge the controversial new law known as Senate Bill 21.  The group said in a prepared statement, the certification by Lt. Governor Treadwell now allows a signature drive to move forward to put this oil wealth giveaway to a vote of the people in 2014.  The group is now waiting for petition booklets from the state.

Quoting a news release from the group, "SB 21 dramatically lowers Alaskans’ oil income, transferring billions of dollars from resource owners to the multinational oil companies.  It eliminates incentives for oil exploration and does not include requirements for new production."

“Since statehood we have been fighting for control of our resources and our destiny,” said Vic Fischer, a framer of Alaska’s Constitution and a prime sponsor of SB 21.  “By repealing SB 21, we will protect the constitutional guarantee that Alaskans derive the ‘maximum benefit’ from resource production.” - More...
Friday PM - April 26, 2013

Alaska: Bill Walker Announces Run for Governor - Bill Walker announced Thursday that he will run for governor in the 2014 Republican primary. Walker said he is entering the race because Alaska needs a strong, aggressive leader with a proven track record of putting Alaska's interests first. "The only side of the boardroom table I have ever sat on is the Alaska side, and the only interests I have ever advanced are those of Alaskans," Walker stated.

Walker is the son of Alaskan pioneers, Ed and Frances Walker, who came to Alaska in the 1940's where Ed served in the Alaskan Scouts in the Aleutian Islands during WWII and Frances worked on the building of the AlCan Highway. Walker was born in Fairbanks and grew up in Delta Junction and Valdez where he worked alongside his dad and brother in their construction business starting at the age of eight, helping later to relocate and rebuild the town of Valdez after the devastating 1964 earthquake that took the lives of many of their friends and neighbors.

To finance his college education, Walker worked summers on the oil pipeline construction as a laborer, teamster and carpenter. After earning his business degree, Walker owned his own construction company, travel agency, hotel, restaurant/bar and gift shop while serving as a transportation commissioner and city councilmember. At the age of 28, he was selected as the Mayor of Valdez. He and his wife, Donna, graduated from Seattle University School of Law in 1983 and relocated to Anchorage where they practiced law for several years with the Hughes Thorness law firm before they started their own practice, Walker Richards LLC, which focuses primarily on Alaska's oil and gas law and municipal law. The Walkers have four children, all West Anchorage High School graduates, who continued their education and have returned or will return to Alaska to establish their careers and raise their families. - More...
Friday PM - April 26, 2013

Alaska: EPA Releases Revised Bristol Bay Assessment; Agency asks for Additional Peer Review and Public Comment - The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has released a revised version of the Bristol Bay Assessment for peer review follow-up and public comment. The assessment released today includes updates following an initial peer review and public comment period of the draft Bristol Bay Assessment released in May, 2012. EPA is arranging for the original independent, scientific peer reviewers to evaluate the revisions made following their feedback. EPA is also inviting the public to submit comments until May 31, 2013.

The peer review follow-up and comment period are meant to ensure that EPA is using the best available science for its assessment, and that information from a range of stakeholders is considered, including industry, conservation groups, and Tribes. The revised assessment reflects feedback from the initial peer review report and 233,000 public comments EPA received when it released the original assessment.

Key changes to the assessment include: - More...
Friday PM - Aprl 26, 2013

Alaska:BLM-Alaska Patents over 700,000 Acres to State of Alaska - The Bureau of Land Management held a signing ceremony today patenting a large block of land near Sleetmute to the State of Alaska. BLM-Alaska State Director Bud Cribley signed the patent and presented the final documents to Alaska Department of Natural Resources Deputy Commissioner Ed Fogels.

“Getting to today’s signing ceremony is the result of a lot of cooperation and collaboration with the State of Alaska,” Cribley said.

The 729,000 acres patented today were previously conveyed to the State in Tentative Approval (TA) status, subject to survey. The BLM completed survey in 2011, leading to final patent. The lands are located along the Kuskokwim River about 100 miles downriver from McGrath. About 5 million acres of the State’s 105-million-acre total allotment remain to be conveyed under the Statehood Act. About 37 million of that 105 million acres have been conveyed with Tentative Approval and are just awaiting survey for final patent. - More...
Friday PM - April 26, 2013


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Update in Progress

letter Thanks!!! By Doreen Caffrey - Thank you very much to the high school young people who were picking up trash along Ketchikan's Stedman Street on Tuesday, April 23rd, in the morning. - More...
Thursday AM - April 25, 2013

letter GSACC unequivocally opposes S.340, the “Southeast Alaska Native Lands Finalization and Jobs Protection Act By David Beebe - The Greater Southeast Alaska Conservation Community (GSACC) is a regional grassroots conservation organization dedicated to the protection of healthy, fully functioning forests, lands and waters of Southeast Alaska. As such, GSACC unequivocally opposes S.340, the “Southeast Alaska Native Lands Finalization and Jobs Protection Act.” Our opposition is based in that S. 340, (1) sets an unnecessary and far reaching precedent throughout our State; (2) was never vetted through an open public process; (3) results in further sacrifice of vulnerable but productive fragmented watersheds; and, (4) yields little socioeconomic benefit beyond Sealaska Corporation’s coffers. - More...
Thursday AM - April 25, 2013

letter Pinwheels for Prevention By Diane Gubatayao - Perhaps you are curious about the silver and blue pinwheels spinning around at various locations around Ketchikan. Pinwheels, always a favorite toy with children, have become the new national symbol for child abuse prevention. April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month. Pinwheels reflect the innocence and playfulness of childhood, and yet they represent the fragility and vulnerability of children. Just as you hold a pinwheel in your hands, you hold the protection of children in your hands. - More...
Monday PM - April 22, 2013

letter Major Environmental Groups Support Tongass Jewel as Wilderness; S.340 - The Sealaska Bill Destroys it By Davey Lubin - The Sealaska lands bill has been re-introduced in Congress as S. 340, and alarmingly, this misguided, highly controversial bill is scheduled for a hearing in Senate Natural Resources on April 25th. - More...
Monday PM - April 22, 2013

letter Transition to 2nd Growth Reality or Folly By Joe Mehrkens - Back in the heydays taxpayers paid a subsidy of $12,000-$36,000 per Tongass timber job. Based on more recent Forest Service accounting information, this subsidy has grown during the last decade to a staggering $224,000-$510,000/job a nearly 1,400% increase. How can this be? Simply, the Forest Service kept spending like the industry was in its heyday while the industry was in a persistent long-term decline. - More...
Monday PM - April 22, 2013

letter Herring a Forage Fish By Lawrence Snapper Carson - Spring brings the end of the winter doldrums and the interaction of the blooms of the ocean and the land. Mankind has survived and taken part in Southeast Alaska’s bounty for millenniums of time. The survival and the use of these resources has changed as mankind has moved from a subsistence life style to a greedy, politically managed, and commercially based utilization of herring. - More...
Monday PM - April 22, 2013

letter Sitka’s Herring Population is Stronger than Ever by Jake Ingman - Last week, Andy Rauwolf sent a letter to Sitnews full of panic and misinformation.  The first of many things that need to be corrected is his assumption that the closure of the herring fishery was because of a lack of herring in the area.  That is false; we didn’t catch our quota because of our responsible and sensible approach to this fishery, but first, let’s talk about herring spawn.  58 nm of spawn has been recorded for 2013.  Compare that to the first recorded year, 1964 and 19 nm, then ten years later, 1974 and 10 nm, and 1984 had 65 nm, and then 1994 and 58.1 nm of spawn.  The amount of spawn in the area is much stronger than 40 years ago when the sac roe fishery started.  All the locals who think that the herring run was so much stronger in their childhood because of what they remember seeing from their house window; the data proves that notion wrong.  It is stronger now, but the amount of sea traffic in Sitka is a factor, the population growth, sewage, and pollution has made other shorelines more attractive to the herring than the Sitka beaches.  Herring don’t spawn on the same spot, they aren’t like salmon returning to the same stream.  Mr. Rauwolf goes on to claim that the state management has failed to maintain the population since the sac roe fishery began in 1976.  Let’s check actual facts and numbers, instead of baseless fear tactics and see what the truth is…. - More...
Monday PM - April 22, 2013

letter The QUESTION IS WHY? By Bobbie McCreary - Thanks Marvin Hill, for coming out to take away the TWO vandalized Port-A-Potties out at the paintball field on Revilla Road.   WHY? when a well-meaning non-profit like Ketchikan Youth Initiatives places port-a-potties at the paintball field for ANYONE to use that comes to the paintball field or drives on to other beautiful recreational areas,  DOES SOMEONE BREAK THEM APART SO THEY ARE UNUSABLE? - More...
Thursday PM - April 18, 2013

letter RE: Warning! Is your money really going to the septic system or is it going downhill? By Mike Carney - First of all I would like to say I normally would not respond but this is so far off base I felt it needed a response. Mr. Plute needs to do his homework. The 6.2 to 7.2 is the City tax not the Borough. As for the $35,000 I dont know where he gets his information, but I run a department that sends people for travel and training every year and you could take my department and two others and never total $35,000 let alone for one person. - More...
Thursday PM - April 18, 2013

letter The Sealaska Bill Should Die By Rebecca Knight - Most SE Alaskans are united in opposition to S. 340 (formerly S. 881 & S. 730), the Southeast Alaska Native Land Entitlement Finalization and Jobs Protection Act. These are real folks whose lives will be directly impacted including sport, commercial and subsistence fishermen as well as hunters, recreationists and the hundreds of residents of nine communities that will suffer the direct hit of this horrible, forest high-grading bill. - More...
Thursday PM - April 18, 2013

letter The Truth About the Herring By Terri Wenger Anderson - Please disregard the propaganda about the herring. I believe the gentleman that wrote this letter to get every environmentalist's panties in an uproar must be related to Al Gore. Maybe he is trying to get a federally funded grant to study herring, well being in Ketchikan is not going to help him. - More...
Thursday PM - April 18, 2013

letter China Hacking Into U.S. Computers* By Donald A. Moskowitz - Based on the activities of Chinese Army Unit 61398 Communist China continues to wage cyber warfare against the U.S. by hacking into the computers of U.S. corporations. - More...
Thursday PM - April 18, 2013

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