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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
May 29, 2018

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Ketchikan's Thomas Basin
Front Page Feature Photo By MEGHAN RICHARDSON ©2018

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Southeast Alaska: New Rule Adds 25 Tongass National Forest Submerged Lands Under Federal Subsistence Management By MARY KAUFFMAN - The Secretaries of the U.S. Departments of Agriculture and the Interior published the final rule for the Federal Subsistence Management Regulations for the Tongass National Forest Submerged Lands on May 23, 2018.

The U.S. District Court for Alaska, in its October 17, 2011 order in Peratrovich et al. v. United States and the State of Alaska, enjoined the United States “to promptly initiate regulatory proceedings for the purpose of implementing the subsistence provisions in Title VIII of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act (ANILCA) with respect to submerged public lands within Tongass National Forest” and directed entry of judgment.

The Court stated previously in a May 2011 order that the petition process was not sufficient and found that “concerns about costs and management problems simply cannot trump the congressional policy that the subsistence lifestyle of rural Alaskans be preserved as to public lands.” The Court acknowledged in its order that inventorying all these lands could be an expensive undertaking, but that it is a burden “necessitated by the `complicated regulatory scheme' which has resulted from the inability of the State of Alaska to implement Title VIII of ANILCA.”

To comply with the order, the Federal Subsistence Board was directed to initiate a regulatory proceeding to identify those submerged lands within the Tongass National Forest that did not pass to the State of Alaska at statehood and, therefore, remain Federal public lands subject to the subsistence provisions of ANILCA.

Following the U.S. District Court's decision, the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) and USDA-FS started a time- and resource-consuming review of hundreds of potential pre-statehood (January 3, 1959) withdrawals in the marine waters of the Tongass National Forest. Both agencies reviewed their records to identify dock sites, log transfer sites, and other areas that may not have passed to the State at statehood. The review process is ongoing and expected to take quite some time.

The Peratrovich case dates back to 1992 and has a long and involved procedural history. The plaintiffs in that litigation raised the question of which marine waters in the Tongass National Forest, if any, are subject to the jurisdiction of the Federal Subsistence Management Program. In its May 31, 2011, order, the U.S. District Court for Alaska stated that “it is the duty of the Secretaries [Agriculture & Interior] to identify any submerged lands (and the marine waters overlying them) within the Tongass National Forest to which the United States holds title.” It also stated that, if such title exists, it “creates an interest in [the overlying] waters sufficient to make those marine waters public lands for purposes of [the subsistence provisions] of ANILCA.”

Most of the marine waters within the Tongass National Forest were not initially identified in the regulations as public lands subject to the subsistence priority based upon a determination that the submerged lands were State lands, and later through reliance upon a disclaimer of interest filed by the United States in Alaska v. United States, No. 128 Orig., 546 U.S. 413 (2006). In that case, the State of Alaska had sought to quiet title to all lands underlying marine waters in southeast Alaska, which includes most of the Tongass National Forest. Ultimately, the United States disclaimed ownership to most of the submerged lands in the Tongass National Forest. The Supreme Court accepted the disclaimer by the United States to title to the marine waters within the Tongass National Forest, excepting from that disclaimer several classes of submerged public lands that generally involve small tracts. Alaska v. United States, 546 U.S. at 415.

When the United States took over the subsistence program in Alaska in 1990, the Departments of the Interior and Agriculture stated in response to comments on the scope of the program when announcing the interim regulations that “the United States generally does not hold title to navigable waters and thus navigable waters generally are not included within the definition of public lands” (55 FR 27115; June 29, 1990).

That position was changed in 1999 when the subsistence priority was extended to waters subject to a Federal reserved water right following the Katie John  litigation. The Board identified certain submerged marine lands that did not pass to the State and, therefore, where the subsistence priority applied. However, the Board did not attempt to identify each and every small parcel of submerged public lands and thereby marine water possibly subject to the Federal Subsistence Management Program because of the potentially overwhelming administrative burden. Instead the Board invited the public to petition to have submerged marine lands included. Over the years, several small areas of submerged marine lands in the Tongass National Forest have been identified as public lands subject to the subsistence priority.

In April and October of 2015, the Bureau of Land Management submitted initial lists of submerged public lands to the Board. The May 23, 2018 final rule now adds those submerged parcels to the subsistence regulations to ensure compliance with the Court order.

The Southeast Alaska Regional Advisory Council had no objections to these lands coming under Federal subsistence jurisdiction. According to the federal register, they did comment that they felt they could not offer constructive discussion or provide a valuable recommendation; they addressed the desire for maps to be produced on each of these parcels, asked if the lands were aids to navigation, were the lands fully or partially submerged, and if there was a Federal interest in these lands. Responses will have to be researched since it was not provided in the listings provided by BLM. The North Slope and Yukon-Kuskokwim Regional Advisory Councils deferred to the Southeast Council. The Northwest Arctic Regional Advisory Council approved as written in the proposed rule. The Kodiak, Southcentral Alaska, Eastern Interior Alaska, Seward Peninsula, and Bristol Bay Regional Advisory Councils had no comments and took no action.


The Departments of Agriculture and the Interior published a proposed rule on June 8, 2016. The proposed rule opened a comment period, which closed on August 8, 2016, and also announced public meetings to be held in several different locations throughout the state between September 28 and November 2, 2016.

The Federal Subsistence Board decided in a May 25, 2017 teleconference, which was open to the public, to recommend to the Secretaries of the Departments of Interior and Agriculture that the lands listed in a proposed rule of June 8, 2016 be included in the Subsistence Management Regulations for Public Lands in Alaska for the purpose of implementing the subsistence provisions in Title VIII of the Alaska National Interest Lands Conservation Act.

According to the US Department of Interior, tribal consultation was offered statewide and no tribal entity requested specific consultation and no comments were offered through correspondence, during public hearings, or during consultations on different issues. - More...
Tuesday PM - May 29, 2018

Ketchikan: ‘Brave Beginnings’ Grant Will Aid Premature Babies - In Southern Southeast Alaska, babies born prematurely, which is more than three weeks before the estimated due date, sometimes must be medevaced for life-saving care to hospitals with a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU). The nearest NICU is in Seattle, 680 miles away.

By early summer, premature babies born at Ketchikan Medical Center will have better chance to stay home for care with the addition of technology funded by a grant from Brave Beginnings, a program developed out of the Will Rogers Institute.

In April, Brave Beginnings awarded $27,457.00 to New Beginnings for two Neonatal Cardiac Monitors and a Vein Viewer.

The Ketchikan Medical Center (KMC) New Beginnings Birthing Center cared for 177 births last year. Twelve of those babies were medevaced for additional medical support.

Sarah Cook RN is the Manager of New Beginnings, “As a result of this funding, we will be able to locate one cardiac monitor in the nursery and one monitor in the operating room for C-section births. These machines allow providers to accurately monitor the baby's heart rate and rhythm and help providers visualize and identify possible blood flow and cardiac related problems or issues.

“The vein finder will help nurses when placing an IV or drawing labs in babies. The Vein Viewer illuminates the tiny veins so they are easily visualized. This will decrease the amount of sticks or pokes the baby will receive.”

Ketchikan Medical Center has the only OB/GYN physicians in the region it serves - a catchment area that includes Prince of Wales Island, Wrangell, Petersburg, Metlakatla, and other villages in Southern Southeast. The closest same level of care is in Juneau, 300 miles away.

Matt Eisenhower is the Director of the Ketchikan Medical Center Foundation, “we are grateful for the Will Roger’s Institute investment in our community. Providing medical care for some of the most fragile and vulnerable patients in rural Alaska is at the core of our mission.

“These vital pieces of medical equipment will go a long way to increasing the level of care offered to babies being born in Southeast AK.” - More...
Tuesday PM - May 29, 2018


Finding fish in Alaska’s fossil record By THERESA BAKKER - There are about 1.5 million named organisms on the planet. However, biologists estimate there are millions more yet to be named. And that doesn’t include the ones that have gone extinct.

All of the plants and animals on the planet are genetically related, and we can map the pattern of those relationships on a family tree. This “tree of life” helps us understand the history of major groups and how they changed through time.

Scientists have long grouped animals into similar categories by identifying their anatomical similarities, such as the colors of birds and the shape of fish jaws. Today we increasingly use evidence from molecular biology, especially in the form of DNA sequences, to estimate those relationships.

At a recent presentation at the University of Alaska Museum of the North, fishes curator Andrés López talked about northern pike. He touched on their geographic distribution across northern Alaska, North America and Europe. He described their long snouts and fierce jaws. He talked about their predatory nature and diet. And then he explained their relationship to other fish.

For more than 100 years, scientists relied on the science of observation to understand how fish were related. Using those methods, most scientists understood pike to be closely related to a group of fish known as mudminnows. These animals were thought to be distant relatives to salmon and other fish.

Then came DNA evidence. Suddenly there was a much more accurate way to measure and compare the similarities between species.

“We completed the first DNA sequence-based analysis of the mudminnow/pike relationship,” López said. “And through a series of follow up studies, we found strong evidence for a closer relationship to the salmon group than what anatomical evidence suggested. We also produced estimates of the timing of how the group diversified, when pike, mudminnows, salmon and whitefishes split from a series of common ancestors. “

In fact, the group including salmon and pike diverged from other fishes about 110 million years ago. And then 85 million years ago, the lineage including pike and mudminnows split from the salmon group. But López said he did not know what the fossil record showed about when pike relatives arrived in Alaska.

Then the museum’s earth sciences curator spoke up. “I’ve got esocoid fossils!” Patrick Druckenmiller said. “You should come look at them.” - More...
Tuesday PM - May 29, 2018



jpg Dave Kiffer

DAVE KIFFER: Potholing Our Way to Down Underville - I have been wracking my brain (yes, I have one) for some time now trying to come up with a way that Ketchikan can profit from its most renewable resource, its pot holes.

First, I thought that maybe we could change our town motto.

I mean, after all it looks like we'll never be able to catch a salmon again in these here parts so maybe "Salmon Capital of the World" is outdated. So I came up with "Ketchikan: Land of Pot holes and Potheads." But that just didn't seem to set the right tone.

Then I thought that we could market our streets to car manufacturers as a ready made test track. Especially since our roads are so bad they are more "off road" than "on."

But having concept cars busting over the bumps at high speeds with dramatic car commercial music in the background would probably be too much of a hazard with the million plus confused pedestrians out and about each summer.

Sure, you could market it as the height in "urban combat driving" but I guess that doesn't quite set the proper tone either.

Then the other night, I was tossing and turning and it came to me. Coober Pedy.

What is a "Coober Pedy" you say?

I'm so glad you asked.

For one thing, I think it is one of the funniest names for a city I have ever heard. The only thing better would be "Goober Pedy" which must be the name of its Appalachian Sister City.

"Coober Pedy" is the most well-known Australian city that you have probably never heard of.

And just what does the name mean?

Well, the local promoters say it is a Anglo mishearing of an aboriginal term meaning "boys' watering hole." I'm sure that it really means something else. Something that can't be repeated on a PG-rated website. - More...
Tuesday PM - May 29, 2018

jpg Political Cartoon: Dodd Frank Repeal

Political Cartoon: Dodd Frank Repeal
By RJ Matson ©2018, CQ Roll Call
Distributed to paid subscribers for publication by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.


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jpg Letter / Opinion

For all we have, we owe thanks By Rep. Dan Ortiz - Last week I had the honor and privilege of attending the Kayhi Scholarship Awards assembly at the Ketchikan High School Auditorium.  More than 6 million dollars in scholarships were offered to the Kayhi graduating class of 2018 and more than 3 million dollars were accepted. This is evidence of the hard work put forth by the students who were able to qualify for these scholarships and educational opportunities. It is also evidence of the ready support of their families, teachers, counselors, coaches, and the entire community of Ketchikan.

What struck me even more however, was that last Wednesday night’s scholarship assembly was just another of the countless examples that are before us each day, reminding us of how blessed we are to live in the community, state and country we call home.  I’m guilty of taking for granted the amazing freedoms that we enjoy in this country - from the freedom of religion, to the freedom of speech and all the other freedoms that come with living in the United States of America.  And, as the saying goes, it’s important to remember that, “freedom isn’t free.”  - More...
Tuesday PM - May 29, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

Let’s make Alaska home of the next big idea By Sen. Lisa Murkowski and Energy Secretary Rick Perry - Over the next few days, the University of Alaska will host a unique event that brings dozens of the world’s best and brightest scientists to Fairbanks. Known as National Lab Day, this forum will provide an incredible opportunity for Alaskans to form new partnerships with the individuals who run our nation’s premier research institutions.

If national parks were America’s best idea, National Labs were our smartest. From their founding more than 70 years ago, the laboratories now affiliated with the U.S. Department of Energy have been engines of remarkable scientific achievement. Breakthroughs in renewable energy, the worldwide web, satellite technologies and safe drinking water are just a few of the many innovations to emerge from the likes of the National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Oak Ridge and Sandia over the years. - More...
Tuesday PM - May 29, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

The Stand for Salmon Deception By Curtis Thayer - The Alaska Chamber has long been an outspoken voice for pro-business policies that grow our economy and create economic opportunities for Alaskans. For several years, especially during the recent economic slump, we’ve advocated for a state fiscal plan that limits government spending and supports private sector growth.

Our annual public opinion survey found that 60 percent of Alaskans rate the state’s economy as poor. It’s a shocking number, and an indicator of how pessimistic Alaskans are about their ability to work and make a living here.

Alaska already has the unwanted distinction of having the highest unemployment rate in the country. Getting our economy and our state back on track requires some hard decisions and a vision for the future, but, in the short term, we have some serious obstacles right before us. - More...
Tuesday PM - May 29, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

Ketchikan Taxpayers & Assembly/School Board – or – The Ant and Grasshopper By Dan Bockhorst - In Delphi, Greece around 582 BC, Aesop narrated a fable of a grasshopper that spent the summer frolicking while an ant gathered food for the coming winter. When winter arrived, the grasshopper didn’t have enough to eat and begged the ant for food. The ant reminded the grasshopper of its failure to prepare for lean times and told it to frolic elsewhere.

2,600 years later and 5,775 miles away, the ant and grasshopper fable is playing out here in Ketchikan. The School Board asked the Borough Assembly to provide 12% more local discretionary funding for schools next year compared to this year. Unsatisfied with the requested 12% increase, four members of the Borough Assembly gave the School Board a 22% increase for next year, nearly double the Board’s request. - More...
Friday PM - May 25, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

More for less. By A. M. Johnson - Regarding the recent action of the Ketchikan assembly in funding actions, with the bent of the community fastly approaching the social levels of San Francisco, Seattle, and Portland, it is not surprising that fiscal responsibility has arrived at the point common sense has left the circus and the clowns now run the show. - More...
Friday PM - May 25, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

Open Letter RE Community Grants: KGB Mayor Landis By Glen Thompson - Dear Mayor Landis, At the Regular Assembly Meeting of May 7, 2018, the Ketchikan Gateway Borough Assembly (“Assembly”) introduced Ordinance 1859, adopting the FY2019 Borough Budget, and set that ordinance for public hearing at the Regular Assembly Meeting of May 21, 2018.

Draft Ordinance 1859, as presented to the Assembly for introduction, included $139,740 in community grant appropriations out of the General Fund to eleven non-profit entities that can be classified as Social Service agencies. Merriam-Webster defines Social Service as: - More...
Friday PM - May 18, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

2020 GO TO HELL, DOT By David G Hanger - While Juneau gets pristine roads without a pothole anywhere, Ketchikan gets a damned dog and pony show put on by DOT that includes toy trucks and hard hats for the kids. Plus the announcement that no improvements will be made to that hole in the road between the Coast Guard base and Saxman for at least three years. How much of this is racist????!!! Saxman is, of course, an Indian community.

In the meantime there are two sets of memorial wreaths, etc. set out to honor those who have been killed on that stretch of road in the past two or three years, which definitely makes this the most dangerous stretch of road on this rock. - More...
Friday AM - May 18, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

The Mysterious Jim Duncan By Tom Crosier - I worked with Jim Duncan's son, Rick on the F/V Margaret Ann, catching Dungeness crab in the areas around Bell Island. We sent 1500 pounds of live crab a week to Seattle by Alaska Airline. - More...
Friday AM - May 18, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

HB 312 strips away your rights By Andree McLeod - Lawmakers have again willfully and intentionally stripped away constitutionally protected rights of due process. House Bill 312 is, in part, an Act relating to arrest without a warrant for assault in the fourth degree at a health care facility. It impacts everyone, especially people who live with brain illness and cognitive impairments, such as autism, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, dementia, Alzheimer's disease, Traumatic Brain Injury, and mental illness, among other brain illness.

In their attempt to deal with an increased crime rate, lawmakers found the courage to strip away the rights of individuals who are at their most vulnerable, when they're brought to medical facilities experiencing confusion and severe bouts of psychosis, mania, disorientation, and other symptoms of brain and cognitive impairments unrelated to substance abuse. - More...
Friday PM - May 11, 2018

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