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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
May 24, 2017

Front Page Feature Photo By CARL THOMPSON

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Southeast Alaska: Ninth Circuit Court Clears Way for Big Thorne Timber Project; Environmental groups disappointed by ruling By MARY KAUFFMAN - In a majority decision yesterday, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decided in favor of the U.S. Forest Service in a lawsuit over the Big Thorne timber project on Prince of Wales Island in Alaska’s Tongass National Forest.

Ninth Circuit Court Clears Way for Big Thorne Timber Project; Environmental groups disappointed by ruling

Big Thorne Project
For a larger map click here or on the above image (pdf)
Map courtesy USFS

The federal appeals court has now cleared the way for logging in the Tongass National Forest, marking a major win for Alaska's timber industry and a significant defeat for environmentalists. Big Thorne is the largest project on the Tongass in over 20 years, and its 8,500 acres of logging will take 148.9 million board feet of timber. Prince of Wales Island, the third largest island in the country, is about the size of Delaware.

The Big Thorne sale was designed to be a ten year sale supplying timber at a rate of 15 to 20 million board feet per year. Although the final sale fell well short of the planned volume of timber, the sale is nevertheless one of the biggest federal timber sales from the Tongass in many years. As such, it allows the last remaining mill in Southeast Alaska, Viking, to continue to operate in the near term. However, the timber supply remains at a critically low level and the future of the industry remains in doubt.

“In a resource-centered state, we must be able to responsibly develop our resources,” said Alaska Attorney General Jahna Lindemuth. “I’m pleased the Big Thorne Timber Sale can continue to move forward and hope that we will see more sales in the future that properly balance conservation with economic need.”

In 2014, the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) authorized the harvest of 148.9 million board-feet of timber over 8,500 acres. Several environmental groups challenged the record of decision for the sale and the 2008 Amendment to the Tongass Land and Resource Management Plan. Most of the allegations related to wolf management in the harvest area, which is a joint function of the State and USFS. 

U.S. District Court in Alaska ruled in March 2015, the Forest Service complied with the law when it approved the Big Thorne timber sale and upheld the sale and the Forest Service's management plan. Plaintiffs appealed that ruling favoring th United States Forest Service, the State of Alaska, the Alaska Forest Association and many other intervening parties. Tuesday, the Ninth Circuit upheld that Forest Serive did not violate any laws in authorizing Big Thorne.

Environmental groups were disappointed with the decision saying the 6,000 acres of clear-cuts will destroy coastal old-growth forest habitat which supports rare and unique species of fish and wildlife, and is a mecca for outdoor recreation, eco-tourism, and commercial fishing. The groups say Prince of Wales Island supports rare and unique species of fish and wildlife, and is a mecca for outdoor recreation, eco-tourism, and commercial fishing.

“The majority opinion presented the question before the Forest Service as a binary choice between jobs and wolves,” said Hunter McIntosh of eco-tour operator The Boat Company. “That is a false premise. Thousands of Alaskans rely on jobs in the recreation, tourism, and commercial fishing sectors, jobs that are dependent on intact old-growth ecosystems.”

“We are disappointed that the court’s decision tipped to a setback in our effort to save the ecological integrity of Prince of Wales Island,” said Larry Edwards for Greenpeace. “The impacts of the Big Thorne logging combined with those of other intense clearcutting, on-going and over past decades, are huge.”

“This is a sad day for ancient old-growth forests,” said Gabriel Scott of Cascadia Wildlands. “Nearly all of the old-growth forests across the country have already been logged, and the Tongass represents our last chance to right the ship.”

Plaintiffs filed suit alleging that the 2008 Tongass Forest Plan unlawfully damages the habitat of the indigenous Alexander Archipelago wolf, and that the Forest Service violated the National Forest Management Act (NFMA) by approving either the Big Thorne project or the 2008 Tongass Forest Plan (Forest Plan) under which Big Thorne was authorized. - More...
Wednesday PM - May 24, 2017

Alaska - Nation:
President's Full FY18 Budget Released; Alaska Governor & Delegation Disagree With Some Elements By MARY KAUFFMAN - President Donald Trump's first proposed budget is showing respect for the people who pay the nation's bills. The administration's proposal reverses the damaging trends from previous administrations by putting our nation's budget back into balance and reducing our debt through fiscally conservative principles, all the while delivering on President Trump's campaign promise not to cut Social Security retirement, Medicare, national security, border security, law enforcement, veterans programs, school choice, or paid parental leave.  These programs were among the campaign promises that the President made while he was running for office.

President's Full FY18 Budget Released; Alaska Governor & Delegation Disagree With Some Elements

Pictured is the Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney during Tuesday's budget press briefing.

In taking these steps, President Trump is pushing back on the toxic Washington conventional wisdom that only Beltway bureaucrats hold the answers to every problem facing the nation.

When presenting the budget in the James S. Brady Press Briefing Room in Washington D.C., Office of Management and Budget Director Mick Mulvaney said, "The name on the cover is 'The New Foundation for American Greatness'."  Brady said it struck him that the title should have been different; that the title should have been, "A Taxpayer First Budget."  "Because that's what this is," said Mulvaney.

Mulvaney said, "I think for years and years we’ve simply looked at a budget in terms of the folks who are on the back end of the programs, the recipients of the taxpayer money, and we haven’t spent nearly enough time focusing our attention on the people who pay the taxes."

"Not a single thing in here [the budget] touches Social Security retirement or Medicare," said Mulvaney

Tuesday, Office of Management and Budget Director Mulvaney said, "We're no longer going to measure compassion by the number of programs or the number of people on those programs, but by the number of people we help get off of those programs.  We're not going to measure compassion by the amount of money that we spend, but by the number of people that we help.The budget's combination of regulatory, tax, and welfare reforms will provide opportunities for economic growth and creation."

Rep. Don Young (R-AK) said in a press release, “I’ve served with nine Presidents – that's 45 budget proposals – and none of them really went anywhere. It’s the President’s duty to submit a budget to Congress, but it’s our responsibility to implement one and to set spending. Largely, this budget is a vision document and people shouldn’t get overly excited. If I had to sum it up quickly, I’d say this proposal was dead in Congress before the ink was even dry."

“My team and I are closely examining President Trump’s proposed budget for impacts, both positive and negative, on Alaska" said Alaska Governor Bill Walker in a prepared statement.

Walker said, "We applaud members of the Trump Administration for their interest in responsible resource development on the North Slope. The National Petroleum Reserve, the Beaufort and Chukchi Seas and ANWR all hold significant promise for Alaska. We look forward to more positive news in the days and weeks to come."

"However," stated Walker, "we are concerned about what some of the deep cuts, if sustained, would mean for crucial services - like air travel for rural residents and infrastructure assistance to villages. We will continue to work with members of our Congressional delegation and the Trump administration to ensure Alaskans are protected.” - More...
Wednesday PM - May 24, 2017


Alaska: HAARP research attracts conspiracies, misunderstandings By ELLE FOURNIER - Even a casual Google search for the University of Alaska Fairbanks’ High-frequency Active Auroral Research Program, better known as HAARP, can get really strange, really fast.

HAARP research attracts conspiracies, misunderstandings

The High-frequency Active Auroral Research Program facility near Gakona features a 40-acre grid of towers to conduct research on the ionosphere. The facility was built and operated by the U.S. Air Force until 2015, when ownership was transferred to UAF’s Geophysical Institute.
UAF photo by Todd Paris

HAARP attracts more attention than the average scientific research facility, likely because of its focus on an obscure area of the atmosphere called the ionosphere. This has led to misunderstandings about the purpose of the HAARP facility, said Chris Fallen, UAF research assistant professor in space physics and aeronomy.

HAARP cannot control the weather, contrary to one conspiracy theory. It has too little power and affects a different part of the atmosphere, Fallen said.

Neither can it manipulate our brains, as alleged by another theory. Generally, space physicists focus on regions more than 60 miles above our heads, where HAARP’s radio waves are 100 times weaker than those from mobile phones, he said.

What HAARP can do is heat small regions of the ionosphere and observe the effects. Often HAARP research is conducted during campaigns, where scientists gather and operate the facility’s ionospheric heating instrument to conduct experiments for a few hours each over the course of several days.

During the recent HAARP campaign in February, Fallen learned that public interest in the facility is more broad and positive than previously thought.

“When you look on Google, the top 10 results are almost all conspiracy theories, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that that is most of the interest” in HAARP, Fallen said.

While Fallen’s main objective is to study HAARP’s artificial aurora, his secondary goal is to increase access to reliable information about the facility.

“Most of the real information about HAARP is contained in open academic literature that Google does not usually present in typical searches,” he said.

Fallen used social media earlier this year to alert the public to when the ionospheric heating instrument would be operating and at what frequency. During the four-day campaign, Fallen’s Twitter account and website had 10,000 unique visitors.

“I was surprised by the magnitude of the interest,” Fallen said. “My Twitter account went from an account with about zero traffic — my mom, maybe — to a large increase during the campaign.” - More...
Wednesday PM - May 24, 2017



jpg Jeff Lund

JEFF LUND: Checklist of Things to Do, Must Sees and Foods - So you have a few months, days or hours in Ketchikan? Here’s your checklist, well, a checklist. Of course you’re going to see Creek Street, get your picture taken with the happy bears and do one of the adventures recommended by the cruise line or the people you work your summer job with, but there’s a lot to Ketchikan. 

Bargain hike: Dude Mountain. You drive most of it and in 45 minutes you’re pretty much on top of the island. The views are spectacular (weather permitting of course) and there’s a strong chance there will be mountain goats. 

Bargain hike #2: The Rainbird Trail off the Third Avenue Bypass is pretty great and so easy you can’t even really call it a hike. With only maybe 100 steps of effort you have great views of Ketchikan and the Tongass Narrows. It’s a great place for sunrises and sunsets and since you’re so close to your car, there’s no reason to litter there, right? 

Must see: If you haven’t been to Ketchikan or understand how southeast Alaska works, you must go to the Totem Heritage Center, Tongass Historical Museum and Discovery Center. 

Learn about the Native people, rainforest ecosystem, the tidal flat baseball games and everything else Ketchikan.  

As for food, I have never claimed to be a food expert except in what I like. I don’t have a sophisticated palate, I just like what I like. So here are the places I like to frequent.  

Chowder: New York Café. The chowder isn’t thickened to make up for a lack of ingredients or watered down to make it last. Stay up to date with specials here because they really are special. 

Wings: Fat Stan’s. Southeast Alaska isn’t known for its chicken wings, but no one wants wings that taste like they were thawed and cooked all in one step. That said, it doesn’t mean you can’t get good ones around here. The sweet and spicy flavor is the best.  - More...
Wednesday PM - May 25, 2017

jpg Editorial Cartoon: Manchester attack

Editorial Cartoon: Manchester attack
By Adam Zyglis ©2017, The Buffalo News
Distributed to subscribers for publication by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.


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letter Beauty is Everywhere By Judith Green - This is a BIG thank you to Jillian Pollock for a fantastic school music program! Ms Jillian, as her students call her, is an exceptional music teacher and we are indeed fortunate to have her talent and positive upbeat person in our community and school district. As well, the support she receives from all the Houghtaling staff personnel including the principal Dave Jones, is so appreciated and does not go unnoticed. - More...
Wednesday PM - May 24, 2017

letter Alaska Forest Fund By Rep. Dan Ortiz - Southeast Alaska’s beautiful scenery, abundant recreation facilities and pristine wilderness make us proud to call this land our home. We know our lands need regular beach clean-ups, invasive species must be pulled, and trails should be maintained for maximum safety and enjoyment. We also know our vast public lands are a prime resource for wilderness skills training, seasonal employment, and youth education. - More...
Wednesday PM - May 24, 2017

letter Climate Change By Victoria McDonald - Climate change is an issue that directly involves Alaska. In Southeast, ocean acidification is increasing, so not only are crustaceans such as crab and shrimp less able to form shells, but pink salmon that rely on pteropods, a shelled mollusk, will lose an important food source. The lack of food for salmon has potentially disastrous effects on our fish-reliant lifestyle. Tongass Conservation Society, TCS, will be urging our borough to adopt a policy to decrease greenhouse gas emissions (GHG). We can align ourselves with Juneau’s Climate Change Policy of 2011, that advocates for reduced GHG. - More...
Sunday PM - May 21, 2007

letter Oil Tax Credits By Rep. Dan Ortiz - What are the priorities of Alaskans? Does our budget reflect those priorities? - More...
Thursday PM - May 18, 2017

letter Oil Tax Credits By John Suter - Kudos to the Alaska State Senate for holding out on the one billion dollars owed to oil firms in subsides.  The millionaires and billionaires in the lower 48 who own these oil firms are having hard times too and their need for this money outweighs any needs the state may have for this money.  Education and public safety could not possibly be as important as the needs of the millionaires and the billionaires.  - More...
Thursday PM - May 18, 2017

letter High time to do the right thing By Vince Beltrami - As the Executive President of the Alaska AFL-CIO, the state’s largest labor organization, I have watched our number of members drop by 3,000 in the last year and a half. In that same time frame, Alaska has lost around 9,000 jobs, so about a third of those jobs came from our ranks. They are evenly split between public sector and private sector workers, in nearly every field imaginable, all around the state. - More...
Friday PM - May 12, 2017

letter Land exchange By Rep. Dan Ortiz - I am pleased with the passage of SB 88 Wednesday morning on the House Floor. The bill, which authorizes a land exchange between the Alaska Mental Health Land Trust Authority and the United States Forest Service, passed the Senate 20-0 and the House 38-1. It parallels federal legislation that our congressional delegation was able to pass earlier this week, and I am proud that the state legislature stepped up to the plate and passed such an important piece of legislation. - More...
Thursday PM - May 11, 2017

letter Deer Mountain Land Exchange By A. M. Johnson - The moment has arrived that finds the need to announce a Mea Culpa.

Some time back when the issue of logging on Deer Mountain was raised, a local group headed by Bob Weinstein gathered a effort to have the issue ultimately addressed through a proposed land swap with the U.S.Forest Service. Believing that an effort such as that at the local level was doomed even with state input. The federal position and the then political party in control having a track record of saying 'No' I concocted a letter to this publication taking the effort to task with a sarcastic tone. - More...
Thursday PM - May 11, 2017

letter Cuts to People Experiencing Developmental Disabilities – Supported Time in the Community By Rita Menzies, Roxanne Abajian, Julie Dowling, Alonso Escalante, Ralph Mackie, Adam Thompson, & Bett Union-Jakubet - We write to you today on behalf of not only individuals with intellectual disabilities we serve, but also their families, our staff, and community. One of the budget cuts that is critical for this population is the Day Habilitation Services. With the current budgets proposed for Senior & Disabilities Services (SDS), Day Habilitation Services will be capped at 8-12 hours per week per individual. The number of hours of Day Habilitation currently is individualized according to the plan of care and the needs of the individual, averaging 40 hours/ week/ individual. - More...
Thursday PM - May 11, 2017

letter Firing of FBI Director James Comey By Rev. Larry Emery - Sen. Murkowski has expressed that the timing of the firing of FBI Director James Comey is a “serious cause for concern.”  This “concern” should be expressed in nothing less than the appointment of a special independent prosecutor to investigate the Trump campaign's alleged ties to Russia. - More...
Thursday PM - May 11, 2017

letter Russia Invades White House By Donald Moskowitz - LT GEN Flynn was fired from his position as National Security Advisor because he lied to Vice President Pence about his contact with Russian officials concerning the sanctions on Russia. - More...
Thursday PM - May 11, 2017

letter American government cannot be trusted By John Suter - The American government needs to subcontract out to the KGB or the GRU Russian Intelligence Agency to do the investigation on the connection of the White House with the Russians and the 2016 election interference.  They can do it much cheaper and faster.  They are the ones who have the most information on this in the first place.  - More...
Thursday PM - May 11, 2017

letter Searching for family and friends of the deceased Joel Mehall By Arve Robert Pisani - In October 1980 I got a letter signed Joseph Mehallic alias Joel Mehall. For some time we corresponded about the Normandy Campaign in 1944 in which he had taken part as a paratrooper in the famous 101st Airborne Division. Also called the Screaming Eagles. As years went by I lost contact with Joel. About 2008-2009 I started to try to find him and made a search on internet. Unfortunately, I found there an obituary for Joel. - More...
Thursday PM - May 11, 2017

letter Russians Didn’t Orchestrate Trump’s  Election – So Let’s Move On By Gary S. Miliefsky - Ever since Americans woke up on the morning of Nov. 9, 2016, to find out that Donald Trump had won the presidential election and would be the 45th President of the United States, many have been wondering how Trump pulled it off. - More...
Thursday PM - May 11, 2017

letter Alaskans Get the Short End of the Stick By Norma Lankerd - I'm writing to COMPLAIN on why Alaskans who live and reside in the State of Alaska year around ALWAYS get the short end of the stick?  As soon as the Tourist season comes around the price of everything in Alaska always increase.  I live in Metlakatla, i do my shopping in Ketchikan because i can get more for my $$, but now that its the beginning of the summer season the cost of the Alaska ferry system from Metlakatla to Ketchikan has discontinued the 1/2 price off for the driver and the price increased $5.00 more just for a 45 minute ride, IT WOULD BE DIFFERENT if our State would allow the Lituya to run 7 days a week instead of Thursday through Monday.  I believe the Lituya is practically the only Ferry that keeps the Ferries afloat.  Even the hotel prices have gone up in the Ketchikan area, more so that the Tourist season is here. - More...
Monday PM - May 08, 2017

letter Pleased With USCG Work Crew By A.M. Johnson - Recently in the past couple of days, working outside I noticed that the Pond Reef marker beacon was one-blinking during daylight hours and two very erratic in the blinking sequence. - More...
Monday PM - May 08, 2017

letter RE: House Majority Coalition's Bogus School Tax is Disappointing By Rep. Dan Ortiz - Mr. Bockhorst is correct. If the legislature implements the Education Funding Act, we can’t dedicate monies collected to any government spending, as the Legislature can’t adopt dedicated taxes. Our intent is to put the monies into the Public Education Fund to forward-fund education. The bill language says we “may” do this, because we cannot make a law saying we “will” do this. I have spoken with Dan Bockhorst about the inherent inequity in how property taxpayers in organized boroughs bear a greater burden to pay for education compared to those in unorganized areas. I have explored, and will continue to explore, legislative actions to mitigate this inequity. - More...
Wednesday PM - May 03, 2017

letter House Majority Coalition's Bogus School Tax is Disappointing By Dan Bockhorst - The Alaska State House passed the Education Funding Act (House Bill 115) on April 16 by a unanimous vote of all 22 House Coalition members. However, none of the other 18 members of the House voted for the bill. The measure is now under consideration in the Senate. - More...
Monday PM - May 01, 2017

letter Stop Corruption By Andrée McLeod - There’s a very important bill stuck in the Democrat-led House Majority Coalition that needs to be on the books in order to stop corruption in the Capitol.  SB 5 is sponsored by Senator Kevin Meyer (R, Anchorage) and has already passed the Senate unanimously. - More...
Monday PM - May 01, 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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