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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska

April 23, 2016

Front Page Feature Photo By ALLISON MITCHELL

Carlanna Lake Rainbow
Front Page Feature Photo By ALLISON MITCHELL

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Fish Factor:
Fisheries budget cuts projected across all regions By LAINE WELCH - Cuts affecting Alaska’s fisheries will be spread across all regions and species, depending on the final budget that is approved by state legislators.

As it stands now, the total commercial fisheries budget for FY 2017 from all state and federal funding sources is about $64 million, a drop of $10 million over two years.

“With cuts of that magnitude, everything is on the table,” said Scott Kelley, director of the Commercial Fisheries Division at the Dept. of Fish and Game.

Last year 109 fishery projects were axed, and another 65 are on the cut list for the upcoming fiscal year that begins on July 1, Kelley said. They include a golden king crab observer project and coho salmon evaluation plans in the Southeast region, a major salmon stock assessment program near Nome, numerous salmon enhancement pilot projects, crab research at Chignik, reduced time on the Nushagak River and loss of counting towers at Bristol Bay, cut backs at the genetics lab and positions left unfilled at fish headquarters in Juneau, to name a few.

“That’s just a flavor of what we are talking about. Once the governor signs off on a budget and the dust settles, we will know our allocations from all funding sources,” Kelley said.

Some relief has come from funds generated by fees on purchases of limited entry permits and crew licenses, and Kelley credits industry members for stepping up to the plate.

That was clearly the case at Togiak in Bristol Bay, where the state’s largest herring fishery is underway. When swarms of fish arrived on April 17, the earliest date ever, everyone was caught off guard. But with all herring management budgets zeroed out last year (except for Sitka Sound), there was little money for fly overs to assess the run.

“We have a threshold biomass we are supposed to document before we open the fishery, and that requires flying and looking at the area,” said Tim Sands, area management biologist at Dillingham.

The processors “immediately shook the bushes,” to come up with money to fly herring surveys, Sands said, with Silver Bay, Trident, North Pacific and Icicle Seafoods each contributing $2,500. That will provide for about 10 flights during the fishery, down by more than half.

The lack of flying time has meant missed opportunities for fishermen further west at Good News Bay and Security Cove, as no surveys mean the fishery cannot be opened.

Sands is worried that the zeroed herring budget means managers won’t be able to produce a forecast for next year’s herring run at Togiak, due to a lack of flying and fish sampling.

“In order to forecast we need two things: biomass estimates from aerial surveys, and samples to run our age structure analysis models.” Sands explained. “This year’s data gap will cycle through our whole population estimate for at least eight years. It’s very problematic.” - More...
Saturday PM - April 23, 2016

Bill Approving Royalty Oil Sale to Tesoro Signed by Governor

Governor signs bill allowing Tesoro to purchase up to 25,000 barrels of oil per day
Photo courtesy Office of the Governor

Bill Approving Royalty Oil Sale to Tesoro Signed by Governor - Alaska Governor Bill Walker signed into law House Bill 373, a multi-million dollar revenue bill that passed the legislature unanimously. It formalizes the state’s contract with Tesoro, a refining company.

The five-year contract allows for Tesoro to purchase from the state up to 25,000 barrels of oil per day. It will circulate $127 million in the economy as Tesoro produces up to 59,000 barrels per day at its Nikiski refinery, which employs more than 200 Alaskans.

“As we grapple with low oil prices and declining production, I’m pleased we pulled together to pass this common-sense legislation,” Governor Walker said. “This monetizes our natural resources and provides an economic boost to the Southcentral region. I thank Senator Peter Micciche and Representative Dan Saddler for carrying this bill.” - More...
Saturday PM - April 23, 2016

Alaska: Legislature Reforms Alcohol Laws - Friday, the Alaska State Legislature passed SB 165 which rewrites penalties for minor alcohol consumption and restructures the state Alcohol Beverage Control (ABC) Board as part of a broader effort to overhaul the state’s alcohol laws. SB 165 also matches background check requirements for cannabis license applicants (similar to those required by alcohol licensees) and adjusts the composition of the Board of Barbers and Hairdressers.

“One of the main reasons I agreed to become involved with the review and reform of our alcohol laws was to address the counterproductive consequences suffered by young people from a mistake of possessing or consuming alcohol before they are 21 years old,” said Senator Peter Micciche (R-Soldotna) who sponsored the bill. “To lose your driver’s license for a non-driving offense, and have an alcohol conviction permanently on your record places a significant obstacle on a young person’s future, some of whom just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. When you’re trying to help a young person who’s made a mistake to succeed, throwing multiple obstacles in their way further complicates their potential for success.” - More..
Saturday PM - April 23, 2016

Alaska: Missile Defense Agency examining the Pacific Spaceport Complex in Kodiak for missions and testing - Alaska's Congressional Delegation welcomed the announcement yesterday by the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) that it is examining the Pacific Spaceport Complex (PSCA) in Kodiak as a potential site for missile defense flight testing for regional missile defense systems, such as the Theatre High Altitude Air Defense (THAAD) system.

Missile Defense Agency examining the Pacific Spaceport Complex in Kodiak for missions and testing

The Missile Defense Agency on Friday released a Notice of Intent for a Sole Source Contract for the Alaska Aerospace Corporation in Federal Business Opportunities, the federal government’s online acquisition information system, to help test components of the nation’s ballistic missile defense systems. The announcement follows Navy Vice Admiral James Syring’s inspection visit to the Pacific Spaceport Complex in February.

The announcement continues a year of positive developments for the military’s future in Alaska. The Missile Defense Agency has separately announced plans to construct a $300 million Long Range Discrimination Radar at Clear Air Force Station near Anderson, and the Air Force has announced that it will base the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter at Eielson Air Force Base.

The Pacific Spaceport Complex is a launch range owned and operated by the Alaska Aerospace Corporation (AAC), an agency of the State of Alaska with its corporate offices based in Anchorage. The Pacific Spaceport Complex is located at Narrow Cape on Kodiak Island and occupies over 3,700 acres.

The complex provides integration, checkout, and launch facilities to Government and commercial customers desiring to launch suitably sized vehicles.

"[Friday's] announcement is great news for Kodiak and for Alaska. The Missile Defense Agency continues to recognize Alaska's geographic advantage in the execution of its mission. Testing regional missile defense systems in Kodiak is the latest chapter in a longstanding relationship between the Missile Defense Agency and our state,” U.S. Senator LisaMurkowski (R-AK) said. “Along with the Air Force’s plans to base the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter at Eielson, this is yet another tangible demonstration of the military’s growing interest in Alaska and will further solidify our state’s long-term status as a strategic asset to the nation’s defense.” - More...
Saturday PM - April 23, 2016

ExxonMobil Starts Production at Point Thomson

Point Thomson facility. Point Thomson is located on state acreage along the Beaufort Sea, 60 miles east of Prudhoe Bay and 60 miles west of the village of Kaktovik.
Photo courtesy ExxonMobil

Alaska: ExxonMobil Starts Production at Point Thomson - ExxonMobil said Friday it has started production at its Point Thomson project, the first company-operated project on Alaska’s North Slope.

Central pad facilities are designed to initially produce about 5,000 barrels per day of condensate and 100 million standard cubic feet per day of recycled gas. The recycled gas is re-injected for future recovery. At full rate production, the facility is designed to produce up to 10,000 barrels per day of natural gas condensate and 200 million cubic feet of recycled gas. It is anticipated to reach that level when the west pad well is online in a few months.

The Point Thomson reservoir holds an estimated 8 trillion cubic feet of natural gas and associated condensate – a high-quality hydrocarbon similar to kerosene or diesel. The resource represents 25 percent of the known gas on the North Slope. Potential future development will depend on a range of factors such as business considerations, investment climate, and the fiscal and regulatory environment.

U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan (R-AK) congratulated the state of Alaska and ExxonMobil Friday for beginning production at the Point Thomson project on Alaska’s North Slope, Exxon’s first operated project in Alaska. The challenging field, which over the decades had numerous plans for development, contains a quarter of the North Slope’s massive natural gas reserves. Development of the field is a foundational element in a project that will commercialize Alaska’s North Slope natural gas. - More...
Saturday PM - April 23, 2016


Alaska Science: Carpeting the Denali Fault with earthquake sensors By NED ROZELL - Crouching amid scratchy spruce branches and surrounded by feet of snow, Amir Allam jabs half-frozen soil with the spikey base of a white cylinder. The seismologist twists the 6-pound seismometer to orient it northward. Then he clicks a cable to a magnetic connection on top.

Carpeting the Denali Fault with earthquake sensors

Amir Allam of the University of Utah and UAF installs a temporary seismometer near the Denali Fault between Delta Junction and Glennallen.
Photo by Ned Rozell

"Starting operation," says a tinny voice that sounds like a woman from London. The words come from a thick tablet attached to the cable. In less than 10 minutes, Allam has deployed another shake-detection instrument on one of Alaska's greatest earthquake producers, the Denali Fault.

Allam, assisted during this season of bear emergence by shotgun-toting UAF student Nick Lock, will install dozens more seismometers in a dense grid straddling the fault. A weak point in Earth's crust ruptured here in 2002, slicing the highway and shoving the nearby Trans-Alaska Pipeline on its extra-long rails.

A team of five including seismologist Carl Tape of the Geophysical Institute installed almost 200 of the instruments during three sunny days in mid-April. They favored shoving the seismometers into ground at the base of spruce trees, where there was less snow to shovel and ample soil to receive the spikes.

The fading snowpack was still about four feet deep. Cold nighttime temperatures formed a crust that could support the scientists' weight until early afternoon.

"Conditions are pretty good right now," Lock said at noon, "But once everything starts melting they're the worst."

"We've sunk in chest deep," says Allam, who, like Lock, is big as a bear. - More...
Saturday PM - April 23, 2016

Alaska's first "wild" wood bison calves spotted

First Wood Bison calf of 2016 spotted
Photo courtesy the Alaska Department of Fish & Game

Alaska: Alaska's first "wild" wood bison calves spotted - After vanishing from their wild habitats over a century ago, Alaska Department of Fish & Game biologists spotted the first wild-bred, wild-born, wood bison calf this week in Alaska's Lower Yukon/Innoko area. The animals were reintroduced into the Lower Innoko/Yukon Rivers area on April 3, 2015 to restore the species to its historic range in Alaska.

This calving season, two wild-born calves have been spotted and the ADF&G expects about 30 new calves this year. Calving season for the species runs from late April through mid-June.

The ADF&G reported this monumental event is a milestone that marks the beginning of a viable, wild, and growing population of wood bison in Alaska, the only place in the United States where the species is currently found. The stock used to reintroduce wood bison to Alaska had been in captivity over many generations (since 1957) in order to save this unique northern subspecies from extinction. Some people had doubts that the bison would become wild again and prosper in their old homelands after such a long time behind fences with supplemental food, water, and shelter. - More...
Saturday PM - April 23, 2016


Columns - Commentary

jpg Glenn Mollette

GLENN MOLLETTE: Prince: Musicians Die but Never the Music - Prince Rogers Nelson is gone but will be forever remembered by his music. We are always struck hard when an icon suddenly departs from this life. Regardless of how and why Prince left us so suddenly, his fans mourn.

Musicians leave a print on the earth. Elvis fans remember the moment and the very place they were when they first heard his death announced. Many of us will never forget the chilling news of John Lennon's assassination. Only recently we mourned the death of David Bowie and Merle Haggard.

We expect old people to die. George Beverly Shea was a 104 when he died. He recorded 70 albums and sang to millions around the world. Our natural reasoning is that our favorite musicians will live past 100 and sing a few departing songs then ease off to an eternal sleep. However, some musicians it seems are eternal as Chuck Berry almost 90 and Jerry Lee Lewis who is 80, both entertained forever it seems. I saw Jerry Lee in Owensboro, Kentucky well into his seventies. He could actually still play the piano very well. The hip gyration move had lost some of it gravitas but hey he was still entertaining 4000 people that night. And then of course there is Tony Bennett who is approaching 90 and still performing. Some of us wonder if The Rolling Stones will be touring when they hit 80. Paul McCartney is still rocking at age 73. All of these people will die but their music never will.

Life is great when people are able to still participate and enjoy life. Prince leaving us at age 57 makes it all the more shocking. Reports are that Prince recently presented great concerts in Georgia. Over the weekend he entertained a small gathering in Minnesota. As always, he presented his music with passion, genius and celebration. Such musical celebration mystifies us even more. It is hard for us to fathom something being wrong when an artist is seemingly hitting all the right keys. - More...
Saturday PM - April 23, 2016

jpg Editorial Cartoon: Goldman Sachs Settlement

Editorial Cartoon: Goldman Sachs Settlement
By Adam Zyglis ©2016, The Buffalo News
Distributed to subscribers for publication by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.


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letter An Open Letter to the Members of the Alaska House and Senate By Jerry Cegelske - Recently I heard one of you on the radio talk about dealing with the Alaska Permanent Fund in solving the State budget crisis. What was said was "I don't think the Alaskan people are going to accept us using the Permanent Fund to fix this." - More...
Saturday PM - April 23, 2016

letter Oil Tax Credits By Dan Ortiz - Aaskans are the beneficiaries of the state’s investment. Our constitution requires the State of Alaska to manage our resources to the maximum benefit of the people. Government’s fiduciary duty to its citizens is to make prudent investments and establish a sustainable budget. The State of Alaska must make responsible and wise business decisions, as we are an owner state. The current oil and gas tax credit system, with its many layered and net operating loss credits, does not do that. - More...
Wednesday PM - April 20, 2016

letter Part 5: “OIL COMPANY” WALKER, “OIL CAN” ORTIZ, AND OIL COMPANY SOCIALISM By David G Hanger - At this moment all Alaskans are being victimized by a massive propaganda blitz designed to deceive you in to believing two out-and-out lies: 1) That low oil prices are causing the State of Alaska’s financial disaster, and the massive depression that is in process of developing; and 2) That the only solution to our dilemma is to spend down the Permanent Fund as quickly as possible. - More...
Wednesday PM - April 20, 2016

letter Guns on UA campus By Pat Bethel - John Suter and others opposed to guns on U of A campus need to change the Alaska constitution. Article 1; section 1.19 "...The individual right to keep and bear arms shall not be infringed by the state or political subdivision of the state...". article 7; section 7.2 "The U of A is hereby established...". - More...
Wednesday PM - April 20, 2016

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

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