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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
April 16, 2016

Front Page Feature Photo By ALANNAH FARLOW

Murphy's Landing
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Lawsuit Challenges Road Project From Ketchikan to Shelter Cove By MARY KAUFFMAN - Almost a month after the announcement the long-awaited for Shelter Cove Road project was put out to bid, five environmental groups sued the U.S. Forest Service and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Thursday afternoon in the federal district court at Anchorage.

Lawsuit Challenges Road Project From Ketchikan to Shelter Cove

Map courtesy the Alaska Department of Transportation

The lawsuit is to force supplemental analysis on the environmental consequences of the Ketchikan-to-Shelter-Cove road project on Revillagigedo Island in southeastern Alaska.

The project's bids were due Thursday. The project would provide a public surface transportation link that would extend the existing Ketchikan road system to the Shelter Cove road system.

In making the announcement the project was out for bid last month, Senator Bert Stedman (R-Sitka) said the new road system will allow Ketchikan residents, as well as visitors, to be able to pursue economic, recreational, and subsistence opportunities on state, federal, and private lands.

Stedman said, "The access created by the road will also benefit potential timber sales and the jobs that come with the sales. Given our huge deficits and downturn in the oil and gas industry, the State needs to focus on other ways to create jobs and economic development so Alaskan families can survive."

The lawsuit challenges the Forest Service's recent approval of a right-of-way easement for a one-mile segment of the road that would cross national forest land, and the Army Corps of Engineers' issuance of a wetland fill permit, which allows seven miles of road (including the national forest segment) to be built. The rest of the construction would be on state land.

The road construction would connect Ketchikan to about 53 miles of existing logging roads in the Saddle Lakes area. According to the five environmental groups, this region already has a very high road density of nearly two miles of road per square mile; local wildlife populations are already stressed from about 14,000 acres of clearcut logging over the past two decades.

"At issue is the connection of Ketchikan to the presently isolated area beyond George Inlet, which has an existing high density of logging roads," said Sitka-based Larry Edwards of Greenpeace. "Making road connections from communities to areas that have a high road density is known to pose a threat to the sustainability of populations of Alexander Archipelago wolves, marten and other sensitive wildlife species due to increased hunting and trapping pressure, including poaching."

The 7.3-mile, one-lane gravel road link would be built by the State of Alaska, which put it out for bids March 15. The expected cost is $19 million, and $21 million is budgeted. The construction would extend eastward from the existing White River Road, which now ends at Leask Creek. It would proceed to Salt Lagoon, at the head of George Inlet, and then northward. The north end would connect to an existing logging road that goes eastward to Shelter Cove, on Carroll Inlet.

"The federal agencies did not follow federal law to consider hunting and trapping pressure, wildlife disturbance and user conflicts that the road connection will cause," said Gabe Scott of Cascadia Wildlands. "It is important that the agencies go back to the drawing board to ensure that wildlife, hunters and recreational users are fully considered."

The suit has no effect on road access from Ketchikan to upper George Inlet or on the potential for a boat launch ramp and dock somewhere along the inlet's shore between the White River and Leask Creek. - More...
Saturday AM - April 16, 2016

Bering Sea crab stocks show impacts of acidic oceans By LAINE WELCH - Increasingly corrosive oceans are raising more red flags for Bering Sea crab stocks.

Bering Sea crab stocks show impacts of acidic oceans

Bob Foy, Director of the NOAA Fisheries laboratory at Kodiak.
Photo courtesy NOAA Fisheries

Results from a first ever, two year project on baby Tanner crabs show that higher ocean acidity (pH) affects both their shell production and the immune systems. Bairdi Tanner crab, the larger cousins of snow crab, are growing into one of Alaska’s largest crab fisheries with a nearly 20 million pound harvest this season.

“We put mom crabs from the Bering Sea in a tank, and allowed her embryos to grow and hatch in an acidified treatment,” explained project leader Bob Foy, director of the NOAA Fisheries laboratory at Kodiak. “We took the tiny crab and put them in different levels of pH to represent acidification and let them grow. We then took the moms and mated them and ran them again for another year. What that means is the full reproductive development of those females occurred in acidified conditions.”

The first year of exposure didn’t show many effects, he said, but the second year really had an impact on the tiny crabs’ ability to molt, which they do weekly or monthly depending on their growth stage. It takes five to seven years for a bairdi Tanner to reach its mature, two pound size.

“Those larval and juvenile animals are constantly going through physiologically stressful times to build a shell,” Foy said. “And that’s where we are seeing the effects.”

Researchers also studied the baby crab blood cells, which bring calcium to the shell and also help fight off illnesses. Those functions went down as well.

“The bottom line is long term exposure to acidified sea water negatively impacts Tanner crabs’ ability to grow and survive, and likely impacts their ability to defend against disease,” Foy said. - More...
Saturday AM - April 16, 2016


Alaska: Gilbert shares indigenous knowledge, wisdom By LEONA LONG - As he prays for his people, the Rev. Trimble Gilbert looks out the window of his log cabin at the majestic wooded mountains surrounding Vashraii K’oo (Arctic Village), a remote Alaska Native community of about 175 people where Gwich’in have thrived for thousands of years.

Gilbert shares indigenous knowledge, wisdom

Trimble Gilbert, an Episcopal priest and tribal leader, will be awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Alaska Fairbanks in May.
Chris Arend photo courtesy of Doyon, Limited

“All people, non-Native people and Alaska Natives, they are all my people,” says Gilbert, an Episcopal priest. “I talk to them everywhere I go. Because the love I have, I want to help whoever wants help. I want everyone to be one people. In my heart, I love all the people in Alaska.”

Gilbert is an authority on Alaska Native indigenous ways of knowing. He is the Second Traditional Chief and spiritual leader for Tanana Chiefs Conference and the 52 Athabascan tribes the nonprofit consortium serves. He is an honored guest and wisdom bearer at the Council of Athabascan Tribal Governments’ Early Head Start Program’s Elder’s Academy. Gilbert is also a traditional chief and elder advisor for the Alaska Federation of Natives, Tanana Chiefs Conference annual meeting and Doyon annual shareholders meeting.

This May, the University of Alaska Fairbanks will recognize Gilbert’s lasting contributions to students and Alaska with an honorary Doctor of Laws degree. At UAF, he serves as an elder and mentor in intensive university courses through the College of Rural and Community Development education and indigenous programs, where his traditional wisdom bridges Western knowledge taught in the classroom with everyday life in rural communities. - More ...
Saturday AM - April 2016

Chukchi Sea plankton communities thrive in warmer water

This is a Calanus glacialis copepod, one of the zooplankton that Elizaveta Ershova studies. Copepods are tiny, and this photo was taken through a microscope.
Photo by Russell Hopcroft

Alaska: Chukchi Sea plankton communities thrive in warmer water By LAUREN FRISCH - Zooplankton, the tiny animals at the bottom of the food chain, are thriving in the Chukchi Sea, according to research by University of Alaska Fairbanks scientists. This is likely due to warming ocean temperatures and longer ice-free seasons.

Elizaveta Ershova, a PhD student at the UAF School of Fisheries and Ocean Sciences, is working with SFOS biological oceanography professor Russell Hopcroft to understand distribution and change in zooplankton communities in the Chukchi Sea, and how zooplankton respond to changes in ocean temperature.

Zooplankton organisms are an important source of food for animals higher up in the food chain, including fish, birds and marine mammals. They drift in the ocean currents and feed on phytoplankton, the tiny algae that photosynthesize to make their own food. “Zooplankton are abundant in the Chukchi, and connect the lowest tropic levels of phytoplankton to the fish, birds and mammals that’ll eventually eat the zooplankton,” Ershova explained.

Ershova is part of the Russian American Long-Term Census of the Arctic, or RUSALCA program, one of the only comprehensive studies looking at the oceanography of both Russian and US Chukchi waters. “There are no borders for the currents or communities in the Chukchi, so it’s important to sample the whole area,” she said.

Originally from Moscow, Russia, Ershova has lived in both Russia and the United States. Now, she works jointly with SFOS and the Shirshov Institute of Oceanology in Moscow. She thrives on a project that requires understanding and working in both countries and cultures. - More...
Saturday AM - April 16, 2016


Columns - Commentary

jpg Tom Purcell

TOM PURCELL: Why I Snapped at a Bernie Supporter - I'm crabby this time of year — absolutely miserable, if you want to know the truth.

My taxes are due.

Every year at this time, I worry that I'll owe more than I think I will, and I will. No matter what I do, I generally owe our government $5,000 more than I thought I would.

This is because stupid, corrupt people (members of Congress) designed the unfathomable (our complex tax code) so that powerful special interests (campaign donors) receive tax breaks while a powerful bureaucracy (the IRS) can demand the unimaginable (the amount I owe) from otherwise productive citizens (the self-employed) all in the name of good fun.

I snapped at a Bernie Sanders supporter the other day. The skinny, frumpy 20-something held up a sign that said, "Honk if you support Bernie."

You have to understand I have zero empathy for young, able-bodied people who want the government to give them "free" things — things paid for by self-employed people like me.

Sure, I chose my path. But I have no social safety net — I get no unemployment if my clients stop hiring me.

So I work hard. I'm sometimes up all night working to keep up with deadlines that sometimes hit all at once.

This is because I must keep my clients happy if I want to keep receiving the revenue that I need to light my house when it is dark and feed myself when I am hungry.

If I get hurt and cannot work, I get no disability insurance. I canceled it because the high costs were killing me. - More...
Saturday AM - April 16, 2016

jpg Editorial Cartoon: Tax Day 2016

Editorial Cartoon: Tax Day 2016
By Rick McKee ©2016, The Augusta Chronicle
Distributed to subscribers for publication by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.


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letter RE: Time for timber to face the harsh realities of their own making By Owen Graham - I'd like to offer a few corrections to the Boat Company letter that was posted on Sitnews on Friday, April 8, 2016.

The Boat Company letter says Viking Lumber is threatening to close down unless they can continue cutting down old growth trees What the Boat Company does not seem to understand is that sawmills cannot physically manufacture lumber without a log supply. It is just a reality, not a threat. - More...
Saturday AM - April 16, 2016

letter RE: Time for timber to face the harsh realities of their own making By Brian Brown - Hunter MacIntosh, who is obviously an angry and misinformed ideologue, in addition to peddling falsehoods in his April 8, letter (Time for timber to face the harsh realities of their own making) accuses we in the timber industry as engaging in distortion and receiving subsidies among other things. - More...
Saturday AM - April 16, 2016

letter JUNE ALLEN By Bill Tatsuda - Great story on June Allen by Dave Kiffer. She contributed greatly to telling Ketchikan's history. I hope her work is preserved and revisited often. She herself was also a real Alaskan character and will be sorely missed for her colorful writing and great sense of humor. - More...
Monday PM - April 11, 2016

letter Guns on UA campuses By John Suter - Our legislature will be allowing concealed guns on UA campuses soon. Everything that can help Alaska’s students to get A’s in college needs to be done right now. In our down turned economy jobs are going to get harder and harder to get. Students that get A’s will be able to get the last remaining jobs in our state. A student that has a concealed gun is in a much better position to negotiate with the teacher to get the needed A in class than the student that does not have a concealed gun. The legislature understands that if that is what the student needs in order to get that an A in class, then so be it. - More...
Monday PM - April 11, 2016

letter Part 4: “OIL COMPANY” WALKER, “OIL CAN” ORTIZ, AND OIL COMPANY SOCIALISM By David G Hanger - Before Sean Parnell was appointed, then elected Governor of the State of Alaska he was an oil company lawyer; just another staffer in a law firm doing oil company business. He is also very much a provincial hick who actually believes that people living off the “road network,” by which he means the Anchorage-Fairbanks corridor and the Kenai Peninsula, should not expect anything at all in the way of state government funding. - More...
Friday AM - April 08, 2016

letter Time for timber to face the harsh realities of their own making By Hunter McIntosh - Viking Lumber and other southeast Alaska timber companies are threatening to close down unless they can continue cutting down old growth trees in the Tongass National Forest and other nearby forests. To which I say: Good riddance. - More...
Friday AM - April 08, 2016

letter Abortion By Robert Holston - I agree with this argument. Do you? 'The irony is that people who imagine themselves to be "enlightened" are actually making a pro-slavery argument with their pro-abortion position. The argument used to sustain slavery is the same argument used by pro-abortionists. - More...
Friday AM - April 08, 2016

letter Rep. Young blames "bunch of idiots" for Trump phenomenon By A.M.Johnson - Thank you Congressman Young for characterizing a high number of Alaskans, many who have in the past, I say past as Young has surely established the present with his observations of the mental state of many, supported his elections. Were Young to demonstrate a similar level of tirade on Hillary and her long list of corrupt dealings, or Sen. Sanders and his relationship to being a socialist or worst, Communist one would give some credence to Young being a Republican. - More...
Friday AM - April 08, 2016

letter Senior Citizen Property Tax By Ed Zastrow - Ketchikan's senior citizens are disappointed that some in the State Legislature are seeking to balance the State budget on the backs of the Alaska's most vulnerable citizens. A total of 985 senior citizen and disabled veteran households in the Ketchikan Gateway Borough stand to lose nearly $1.3 million annually if a last-minute bill to eliminate the mandatory State senior citizen and disabled veteran property tax exemption is adopted by the State Legislature. - More...
Tuesday AM - April 05, 2016

letter Alaska’s Senior Citizens By Dan Ortiz - Is oil, or any commodity, really Alaska’s most valuable resource? I, for one, would say no. Our most valuable resource, the resource that most contributes to Alaska, is our people. If we were to make a ranking list of the most valuable populations, senior citizens would be at the top. As we in the Legislature attempt to deal with our significant fiscal challenges, it’s important for us to protect our seniors. Our seniors are a treasured asset to our communities and our economy. The Alaska Legislature shouldn’t adopt policies or cuts that put undue burdens on our senior population. - More...
Tuesday AM - April 05, 2016

letter Climate Change By Norbert Chaudhary - It is beyond my understanding how anyone, especially those in leadership roles, can question the fact that humans burning fossil fuel have pushed the planets CO2 levels beyond anything the earth has seen in at least 650,000 years and that this is already having a profound impact on our planets climate. - More...
Tuesday AM - April 05, 2016

letter To better understand federal tax problems and solutions By Paul Livingston - There is much confusion, misrepresentation and lack of understanding about the federal tax problems and solutions. The root cause of taxation problems is the 16th Amendment (enables direct taxation) passed in 1913. This Amendment gives government huge new taxing power for the first legal income tax, the IRS, payroll taxes and tax withholding. We lost Freedom, Liberty and Civil Rights. The 16th Amendment enables a graduated income tax, the second requirement for a communist state per the Communist Manifesto by Karl Mark. - More...
Tuesday AM - April 05, 2016

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