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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
May 25, 2011

Front Page Photo By JIM LEWIS

Wood Duck
Wood Ducks are rare visitors to the area. This male Wood Duck was recently photographed in the Ward Lake area.
Front Page Photo By JIM LEWIS

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Southeast Alaska:
Sealaska Lands Exchange Hearings Start Today; Murkowski Supports Bill to Complete Sealaska Lands Exchange; Alaska Wilderness League says Sealaska Bill Still Unacceptable The House and Senate take up the ‘Southeast Alaska Native Land Entitlement Finalization and Jobs Protection Act,’ otherwise known as the ‘Sealaska bill,’ with the first of two hearings starting today. The Sealaska bill (S.730) was one of six lands bills the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee heard testimony on Wednesday and the second hearing occurs in the House this afternoon.

Congress approved Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) nearly four decades ago to settle the aboriginal land claims of Alaska Natives. Under a complicated land conveyance formula, Sealaska was entitled to roughly 375,000 acres of the 16.9-million acre Tongass National Forest to help improve the livelihoods of their 20,000 shareholders. That promise has never been fulfilled.

In contrast to every other Alaska Native corporation, Sealaska’s original selection areas were limited because much of Southeast Alaska was under contract to the pulp mills and unavailable when ANCSA passed. While there are 327,000 acres in those original areas still available for selection, 44 percent of that are water and much of the rest is in village watersheds.

Of the 112,000 acres of old-growth timber still available within those areas, 61,000 of those acres are in old-growth reserve areas – areas considered unacceptable for development on environmental grounds – and much of the land is located in the 277,000 acres currently designated as “roadless” areas by the U.S. Forest Service.

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) commented in favor of legislation that would allow Southeast Alaska’s Sealaska Native Regional Corp. to complete the land selection promised to its shareholders nearly 40 years ago under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA).

In a prepared statement Murkowski said, “This legislation is important not only to keep the legal promise the federal government made in ANCSA, but also to ensure the survival of the remaining timber operations in Southeast Alaska,” Murkowski said. “Without access to private timber, the remaining mills will disappear and an important part of the region’s economy will be forever lost.”

The Sealaska bill would complete the aboriginal land selections by Southeast Alaska Natives, while also protecting the rights of other Alaskans who depend on Southeast lands for their livelihoods said Murkowski. 

Under the bill, Sealaska would select from among 80,000 acres on Prince of Wales and Koscuisko islands to complete its land entitlement. While a large portion of Sealaska’s land selections will be designated for timber harvesting, some 4,000 acres will be set aside for tourism and other non-timber economic development. Another 3,600 acres of Sealaska’s selection will be preserved as sacred, cultural, historic and educational sites. - More...
Wednesday - May 25, 2011

Southeast Alaska: Court Ends Lawsuit Over Roadless Rule; Final judgment reinstates rule protecting intact forests while allowing hydropower, transmission lines, and mining to proceed – Tuesday the U.S. District Court for the District of Alaska entered a final judgment in a case involving intact, roadless areas of the Tongass National Forest.  The case was brought by a Native village, tourism businesses, and conservation groups.  The judgment reinstates the Roadless Area Conservation Rule in the Tongass.  The “roadless rule” blocks expensive and controversial new logging roads and clearcuts in intact forests while allowing other economic development—including hydropower, transmission lines, mining, and tourism projects—to proceed.

Plaintiffs in the case, the Organized Village of Kake, Alaska Wilderness Recreation & Tourism Association, The Boat Company, Sierra Club, Southeast Alaska Conservation Council, Tongass Conservation Society, Greenpeace, Wrangell Resource Council, Center for Biological Diversity, Defenders of Wildlife, and Cascadia Wildlands were represented by Earthjustice and the Natural Resources Defense Council in the case.

Commenting on the final rule, Mike Jackson with the Organized Village of Kake said, “The roadless rule strikes the right balance for our community and will help us move forward.  It protects our traditional uses while allowing new access to inexpensive, reliable hydropower." Jackson said, “The remaining intact forests around Kake are essential sources of food, medicine, clothing, and traditional items for artistic and spiritual use.  Our deer hunting and other customary uses of the forest have suffered too much already from past logging.  The roadless rule will limit further losses of intact forest while allowing construction of the Kake-Petersburg intertie and future hydro projects we need to foster economic development.” The Organized Village of Kake is the tribal government for Kake, Alaska.

“The roadless rule also helps with the transition toward more economically viable and sustainable management in the Tongass,” Jackson added.  “In Kake, we have been working with the Forest Service to plan for stewardship projects and small-scale timber sales from the existing road system that would actually benefit our community.  The Forest Service has figured out that roadless area timber sales don’t work any more, because the roads are way too expensive.  That money is much better spent to restore streams and forests from past damage, and to maintain the existing roads.” - More...
Wednesday - May 25, 2011

Ketchikan: Ketchikan man who ate Southeast clams develops symptoms of shellfish poisoning; State health officials again caution Alaskans about eating recreationally harvested shellfish - An adult man who ate clams from a beach near Ketchikan on Sunday, May 22, 2011, developed symptoms characteristic of paralytic shellfish poisoning (PSP).

The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation tested samples from this clam harvest, and the tests came back late Tuesday afternoon positive for a toxin that causes PSP, a potentially life-threatening illness in people who have eaten contaminated shellfish.

On Sunday, the man consumed steamed clams that were harvested the previous day from the South Point Higgins Beach, located about 11 miles north of Ketchikan. Within an hour of eating the clams, he began to feel tingling in his lips, fingers, and toes; dizziness; weakness; and decreased coordination — symptoms characteristic of PSP. The man was taken to a local hospital Sunday night and discharged Tuesday.

“This person’s illness is an unfortunate reminder that PSP is a serious public health concern,” said Dr. Joe McLaughlin, Alaska’s State Epidemiologist. “Shellfish that are recreationally harvested anywhere in Alaska can potentially have dangerous levels of PSP.” - More...
Wednesday - May 25, 2011

Alaska: Begich Warns Coastal Zone Program Expiration Has Serious Implications; Alaskans Could Lose Influence over Federal Decisions, Could Impair Arctic Oil and Gas Development - Expiration of the Alaska Coastal Management Program (ACMP) could have serious implications for numerous federal programs including oil and gas development in the Arctic, U.S. Senator Mark Begich (D-AK) said today. Legislation to reauthorize the ACMP failed to pass the recent session of the Alaska State Legislature and, without action, the program will cease to exist on July 1.

“Without an approved coastal zone management program, Alaskans will lose an important opportunity to influence federal decision-making in the oceans surrounding our state,” Begich said in a letter to Alaska Governor Sean Parnell, Senate President Gary Stevens and House Speaker Mike Chenault. “Federal authorities no longer would be required to ensure that their actions in areas such as aquaculture, oil spill response, forestry and mining are consistent with state policies, as the Coastal Zone Management Act (CZMA) currently requires.” - More...
Wednesday - May 25, 2011


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Questions, please contact the editor at or call 617-9696

letter School Budget By Laura Plenert - First of all, thank you Agnes Moran for caring and asking questions about OUR school budget. The first thing that struck me in your letter to Sitnews was the figure of $40,472,050.00 in the budget to educate 2100 students. Being a math lover, I immediately had to do the division. The answer to my question (how much per student) is $19,272.40. OVER $19,000.00 PER STUDENT PER YEAR. Does it strike anyone besides me that the cost per student exceeds what some of those student's parents make per year, more than many of our fellow citizens make per year. That alone is staggering. I would like someone to factor in the drop out rate and how much money per year is thrown down a rat hole because the school system can't seem to keep students until graduation. - More...
Wednesday - May 25, 2011

letter GIVE KETCHIKAN A CHANCE By Joey Garcia - The influx of tourists docking along Ketchikan ports is something to behold and the brisk revenues seemed to give Ketchikan something to reckon with. I have observed, in my opinion, that dock stores peddling tourist crafts are not Ketchikan owned. Rather, it is sad to note that when the cruise ship season ends, traffic along Ketchikan ports goes to school youths flying on their skateboards, and OT's (old timers) stroll the ports with their leased dogs, children strolling with their folks, and what is left for OT's, again is succumb to the norms of high prices from stores, if they are open. - More...
Wednesday - May 25, 2011

letter Sealaska bill and fisheries By Paul Olson - I am writing regarding the Sealaska bill and the misrepresentations about how it reduces impacts to fishery habitat. The legislation establishes “conservation areas” and adds a temporary increase in buffer size. These measures are superficial and do nothing to offset the prospective impacts of this bill on fishery habitat. - More...
Monday - May 23, 2011

letter Sealaska Bill Bad for Commercial Fishermen By Mickey Knight - One aspect of the Sealaska Lands Bill (S.730) that has garnered little attention on this website is a discussion regarding Senator Murkowski's hollow attempt to gain the support of commercial fishermen. - More...
Monday - May 23, 2011

letter Deja-Vu-Roadless Rule By A. M. Johnson - Well, Déjà-Vu on the "Roadless Rule" controversy. Nice to see Senator Murkowski voice her wonderment at the continued and long standing decline in the "Thread Hanging" timber industry. - More...
Monday - May 23, 2011

letterALASKA COAST GUARD IN TRANSITION By Rear Admiral Christopher C. Colvin - As I prepare to be relieved of command of the Seventeenth Coast Guard District I’d like to say “thank you” to all Alaskans for the outstanding support you provide to Coast Guardsmen throughout the State. - More...
Wednesday - May 18, 2011 

letter Class of 1981 By Kelli Carlin-Auger, Barry Christensen, Cheryl Elliott, Pat Enright & Cheryl Olsen - We are planning our Kayhi, Class of 1981 30 year class reunion festivities, July 1 thru the 4th and are searching for classmates that we have been unable to contact. - More...
Wednesday - May 18, 2011

letter Health and wellness needs survey By Karen Eakes - The Ketchikan Wellness Coalition’s (KWC) mission is to promote community wellness through action and assessment. We are currently seeking participation and information from community members concerning health and wellness issues in our community. The KWC was originally formed following the Compass II Community Assessment that was done by United Way of Southeast Alaska back in 2006. Our seven task forces and the steering committee were formed based on the major themes and needs that were identified in this assessment. - More...
Monday PM - May 16, 2011

letter Cherry picking By Jeff Sbonek - In regards to the “Southeast Alaska Native Land Entitlement Finalization and Job Protection Act", the fact remains that no legislation is or ever has been necessary for Sealaska to finalize its ANCSA land claims settlements. It’s had a designated land pool to make its settlement selections from for over 40 years.  They were principle participants in the establishment of the boundaries of those land pools.  For over 3 years they have had a final selection on file with the BLM,  but have requested BLM to hold off processing that claim while they try to negotiate a “sweeter deal” through attempted legislation the past several years, an attempt to cherry pick the best of the best. - More...
Monday PM - May 16, 2011

letter Public Relations? By Gretchen Goldstein - The PR approach may be new, but it’s the same worn-out product that Sealaska tried to sell us last fall. And despite their PR claims, there is not public support in Southeast Alaska for Sealaska’s land exchange proposal. - More...
Monday PM - May 16, 2011

letter Unconsitutional Roadless Rule By A.M. Johnson - The article regarding the "Roadless Rule" issued in the Ketchikan Daily News 5/12/11 reflects the egregious wrong of Federal over reach. In my opinion, this rule and many other Federal edicts are Unconstitutional. - More...
Monday PM - May 16, 2011

letter Loose Talk Aids Enemy By Donald A. Moskowitz - As a former naval officer who served a tour of duty as an intelligence officer, I am astonished at the covert information released to the media by the U.S. government.  The operation against Bin Laden is an example of this problem. - More...
Monday PM - May 16, 2011

letter Awareness By Joey Garcia - I wrote a letter to the Office of Gov. Sean Parnell in requesting his office on our Awareness of Drugs in the City of Ketchikan, which we considered the number 1 menace to our children, as well as the proliferation of drugs in any form and substance, which we believe is part of the citizenry concern to make Ketchikan a drug free city. - More...
Monday PM - May 16, 2011

letterEducation funding By Agnes Moran - I find it fascinating the controversy I've generated by simply asking the school district for detailed budget information in a consistent and comprehensive format. FY2011 funding for the Ketchikan Gateway Borough School District totaled $40,472,050 for 2,100 students. Everyone in this community has a right to question how their education dollars are being utilized and the school district has a legal responsibility to provide the information in a timely manner. - More...
Thursday - May 10, 2011

letter The rest of the story By Alan Bailey - I read with dismay a paraphrased sentence in the Ketchikan Daily News concerning my opposition to a line item 6045 in the Ketchikan Gateway budget which allocated $5750.00 for junk food, prepared food, soft drinks, hors d'erves,party goods, condiments, and a Christmas party for Borough employees with tax payer monies. It was reported by Mr. Miller that I was opposed to $2,000 food served to firefighters at meetings. That was not the whole story. - More...
Tuesday PM - May 10, 2011

letter Re: Inequities in the current system of funding our K-12 schools By Ed Brown - Love that these young people of Ketchikan are paying attention to the politics in our state. Giving away other people's money is a nation and world wide sport. On the backs of the blue collar folks these gold collared folks spend your tax money for you. This is only one of many reasons to throw these bums out of office from time to time. After awhile these smart folks think they are entitled to spend all your tax money on others needs. - More...
Tuesday PM - May 10, 2011

letter Concerned By Marcie Pungowiyi - I am writing because I am concerned that a Ketchikan trailer park may be possibly operating under questionable/ shady business practices. Earlier this year I was interested in purchasing a mobile home. I talked with several mobile home owners, who were selling. Both owners warned me that I would not get approved for parking space, that no one gets approved. I was concerned by the comments, but I like to give people the benefit of the doubt. With a good record, credit, & long term employment, I did not feel I had anything to worry about. I went to this local office 3-4 times during their office hours and there was no one there each time. When I did finally catch up to the manager, I filled out a credit check application & turned it in to the manager. I was informed that I had to fill out a separate credit check for each adult. These run $20 bucks each, which I did, but this bothered me because all of the information was on the application I had already filled out. The application asked for applicant & co-applicant. - More...
Tuesday PM - May 10, 2011

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