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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
June 22, 2009

Front Page Photo by JACY PIERSON

POW: Sitka Black-tailed Deer & Fawns
Front Page Photo by JACY PIERSON
Contact: ugotgod[at]gmail.com


Alaska: High Court rules in favor of gold mining project - The U.S. Supreme Court ruled today that the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has authority to permit Kensington mine, a gold mining project near Juneau, to deposit rock waste into Lower Slate Lake in the Tongass National Forest.

Conservation groups had sued Coeur Alaska, claiming the mine's owners should have applied for a permit from the Environmental Protection Agency. The court found that the law places the proper responsibility for the permits under the Corps, not the EPA.

Today's ruling reversed a decision of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals and confirmed the validity of a previously issued permit from the Corps of Engineers for disposal of tailings. The project is being developed by Coeur d'Alene Mines Corporation.

The state supported Coeur's legal efforts to move the project ahead at every level of court review, including intervening in the lawsuit at the outset, litigating the case in the Ninth Circuit, filing a petition asking for review by the Supreme Court, and briefing the case in the Supreme Court on the merits.

Even securing Supreme Court review was an uphill battle, because the federal government itself, whose permit the Ninth Circuit had invalidated, did not seek review. Only the State of Alaska and Coeur filed petitions.

In addition, the case involved complex issues of how to interpret and apply the federal Clean Water Act, issues which led the Supreme Court to take the unusual step of ordering the parties to file supplemental briefs a few weeks ago.

Voting in favor of Coeur Alaska in the 6-3 decision were Justices Kennedy, John Roberts, Clarence Thomas, Samuel Alito, Stephen Breyer and Antonin Scalia. Dissenting were Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg, David Souter and John Stevens.

The high court's decision will allow work to resume at Kensington. The state will continue to provide support through the Department of Labor's workforce training and apprenticeship programs.

The Kensington mine is located 45 miles northwest of Juneau. Couer estimates the mine will be brought into production by the second half of 2010. The mine is expected to produce as many as 150,000 ounces of gold per year during its early stages of operation. Over the life of the mine, Kensington is expected to yield more than 1 million ounces of gold. 

Governor Sarah Palin today welcomed the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in favor of the Kensington mine. "This is great news for Alaska," Governor Palin said. "Today's ruling is a green light for responsible resource development. Kensington will produce as many as 370 well-paying jobs. We truly appreciate Coeur's tenacity in pursuing the project and its dedication to hiring Alaskans to work at the mine."

U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) also welcomed the U.S. Supreme Court's decision reaffirming the validity of Coeur Alaska's permit to dispose of mine tailings at the Kensington gold mine near Juneau. - More...
Monday - June 22, 2009

Alaska: Biologists use deer pellet DNA to estimate deer population size - Scientists have successfully refined a noninvasive technique that extracts DNA from deer droppings and enables wildlife managers to accurately estimate deer and other ungulate population numbers in areas where visual counting of animals isn't feasible.

Scientist Todd Brinkman, a University of Alaska Fairbanks Ph.D. candidate, will present his research during the American Society of Mammalogists 89th Annual Meeting June 24-28 at UAF.

"This study is groundbreaking in the sense that it finally gives managers a firm estimate of abundance for a very important game species," said Kris Hundertmark, a wildlife geneticist at the UAF Institute of Arctic Biology, who serves as one of Brinkman's academic advisors.

The technique refined by Brinkman and Hundertmark extracts DNA from skin cells attached to the outer surface of the fecal pellets and identifies DNA fragments in each pellet. Every deer has a unique combination of fragments and this technique can tell one deer from another, which allows Brinkman to tell how many different deer are present in a sampled area.

In the 1990s, hunters on Alaska's Prince of Wales Island began saying that they were having trouble harvesting enough deer to meet their needs, says Brinkman. The rainforest environment of Southeast Alaska makes direct visual and aerial counting impossible. For years, wildlife management agencies have counted deer pellets to estimate population size. - More...
Monday - June 22, 2009

Alaska: Two Alaskans rescued after 22 hour search in remote Aleutian Islands - A Coast Guard MH-60 Jayhawk crew hoisted two men from a skiff drifting approximately 14 miles south of Amchitka Island at about 9:30 p.m. in the Aleutian Islands Sunday following a 22 hour search by Coast Guard aircrafts.

Rod Whitehead, 50, resident of Adak, and Bill Osterback, 35, resident of Sand Point, were returning to Amatignak Island Saturday aboard a 15-foot fiberglass skiff, described as an old Navy landing craft, to pick up four surveyors when their vessel's engine seized leaving them adrift in 28 mph winds and 12 foot seas without survival gear or extra supplies aboard.

The four surveyors on the island witnessed the skiff become disabled and made a makeshift boat, paddled to the research vessel Larisa M and called the Coast Guard at about 10:30 p.m. Saturday.

An HC-130 Hercules aircraft from Coast Guard Air Station Kodiak was launched and arrived on scene at about 6 a.m. Sunday. The crew completed an initial search by 7:30 a.m. with no sign of the two men and returned to base for refueling. Reduced visibility and a low ceiling forced the crew to search with radar only.

Another Coast Guard HC-130 aircraft launched, located the two men at about 2:30 p.m. and dropped supplies including a radio. The Hercules remained on scene until the Jayhawk crew arrived at 7:40 p.m. to hoist the men aboard. - More...
Monday - June 22, 2009


Columns - Commentary

DAVE KIFFER: Got Keys? That Depends. - One of the neat-o advantages of turning 50 - other than the 50 percent off coupons for incontinence products - is the fact that I finally have an excuse for misplacing things.

It's not my fault, of course, that things are not where I am sure that I left them.

For example, there is that nasty little thing called continental drift.

You've heard of it. It's the thing that's behind the predictions that in 75 million years or so Los Angeles will be in the Gulf of Alaska. So I know for a fact that sometimes if I leave something in one place long enough it eventually migrates out of my house and across the street.

And there are also intergalactic worm holes. They make it possible for my sunglasses to suddenly jump into hyperspace from the kitchen counter only to reappear weeks later under a sofa cushion.

Finally, there is the fact that I live with a VOP, a very organized person. Usually, my lack of organization cancels her organization out. Kind that matter and anti-matter thing. But every now and then she succumbs to the desire to put something of mine somewhere that makes perfect sense to her. Unfortunately then it ends up in the last place that I would look

I understand these displacement anomalies because they have been happening throughout my life. - More...
Monday - June 22, 2009

TOM PURCELL: A Real Clunker - I'm torn, if you want to know the truth.

Last week, the United States Senate passed the "Cash for Clunkers" bill ­ they tucked it into an emergency war-funding bill ­ and President Obama will soon sign it into law.

Here's how the clunker bill works:

If your current car averages 18 or fewer miles per gallon, you'll qualify for a $3,500 voucher toward the cost of a new car -- so long as the new car averages at least 4 mpg more.

Better: If you buy a new car that averages 10 mpg better than your current car, the government will give you a $4,500 voucher. - More...
Monday - June 22, 2009

DALE MCFEATTERS: Tough talk and then what? - President Obama is again being pounded in certain Republican circles for not talking tough on Iran. They accuse him of insufficient table-pounding and finger-pointing.

Sen. Lindsey Graham called Obama "timid and passive." Sen. John McCain wants him to be stronger, "to lead."

Said Sen. Charles Grassley, "If America stands for democracy and all of these demonstrations are going on in Tehran and other cities over there, and people don't think that we really care, then obviously they're going to question, 'Do we really believe in our principles?' " - More...
Monday - June 22, 2009


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Basic Rules

letterKetchikan Pool Bond Vote By Doug Barry - Recent letters about K-town's bond proposal for a new pool caught my eye. Mr. Bylund's view seems extremely shortsided given the maritime location, industries and recreational activities that define the region. Dave Kiffer's letter has a more pragmatic angle and reminded me of my early years growing up in Ketchikan. - More...
Monday - June 22, 2009

letterThe Mayor and Pool By Rodney Dial - I wasn't going to get into the pool drama until the Mayor (Kiffer) lambasted Mr. Bylund in the matter of what is important to this community. - More...
Monday - June 22, 2009

letter Out of sight By Laurie Price - I arrived at Ketchikan airport on the afternoon flight with my twenty month old grandson. Dropped my carry on bag with a friend who was also waiting for the luggage to arrive, and went to get my car which was parked in long term parking. - More...
Monday - June 22, 2009

letter From Bias to Adoration. By Tina Terry - Thanks for the Browns' excellent article, "From Bias to Adoration..." I, too, continue to marvel at the continuing breathtaking idiocy of the media's "useful idiots," which relentlessly keeps expanding instead of contracting. - More...
Monday - June 22, 2009

letterGas For The U.S. By Donald A. Moskowitz - I want to commend Governor Palin and her fellow Alaskans for passing The Alaska Gasline Inducement Act (AGIA), which set the stage for Trans Canada and ExxonMobil to enter into an agreement for the construction of a natural gas pipeline. - More...
Monday - June 22, 2009

letter DNA Testing By Peter Bolling - Today the U.S. Supreme Court upheld the Alaska's policy of not granting post-conviction DNA testing to inmates even if they are willing to pay for the tests. This is not a victory for Alaska or Alaskans.- More...
Friday - June 19, 2009

letter Re: Ketchikan Pool Bond Vote by Ken Bylund - Damage control? Obfuscation and angry mud slinging instead of apologizing for poor ethics when you discussed hiding the truth about how the pool bond would be paid, you actually considered telling the residents, it will be covered by a 1/2 cent recreational sales tax. Want the borough attorney to run for Mayor! Okay, how much, and for how long... no more dodging the truth, provide detailed numbers to the voters on this capital issue. - More...
Friday - June 19, 2009

letter Re: Ketchikan Pool Bond Vote By Dave Kiffer - I'm glad that Mr. Bylund considers himself an expert on the "general welfare" of this community. But either he wasn't here in the 1960s when I was growing up or he wasn't paying attention. - More...
Thursday - June 18, 2009

letterKake: Have your forest and eat it too? By Sarah Campen - Whether it's fish, game, serenity, or jobs, properly managed forests in Southeast Alaska can provide us what we need on many levels. In communities like Kake, struggling against high unemployment and high costs of living, meeting local needs with local resources just makes sense. That's exactly what Kake residents and the Southeast Alaska Conservation Council proposed through the Kake Community Alternative to the upcoming Central Kupreanof timer sale. - More...
Thursday - June 18, 2009

letter KETCHIKAN POOL BOND VOTE by Ken Bylund - Thanking Mr. Damstedt, for Wednesday's, June 17th article in the Ketchikan Daily News titled, 'Pool bond vote moves forward'. If anyone missed it, more recommended reading! In the end, it appears everyone in the borough will be paying for a $23.5 million bond [loan] for the next thirty years. The cost [for us] will be $23,500,000 [23.5 million] + 15% contingency [~$3,500,000] -- double this in interest, ~ fifty million USD [$50,000,000] for a swimming pool that roughly 500 people out of the entire population of our borough... will enjoy. How does this meet any standard of providing for the general welfare of the community? - More...
Wednesday - June 17, 2009

letterLetting the public know By Eileen Small - I realize that the last Tea Party event came up rather suddenly and thus it was difficult to get any advance news coverage. Those of us involved in the Tea Party Patriot Move didn't want to be guilty of this error a second time. - More...
Wednesday - June 17, 2009

letterBoys & Girls Club By Chris Corrao - The Boys & Girls Club is now open with its new summer hours. The Club is open Monday - Thursday 1:00 PM - 6:00 PM at 645 Jackson Street (the National Guard Armory). - More...
Wednesday - June 17, 2009

letter THANK YOU TO THOSE WHO COME FORWARD TO SUPPORT OUR YOUTH. By Roberta "Bobbie" McCreary - A very BIG thank you to the following people WITHOUT WHICH we would not have had a really cool YOUTH ART AUCTION that earned nearly $1000 for our young artists. - More...
Monday PM - June 15, 2009

letterTHANK YOU! TO OUR COMMUNITY FROM THE HOT SHOTS PAINTBALL GROUP By Roberta "Bobbie" McCreary - WE cannot say enough to thank those who come forward to help our youth programs succeed. Last month, we benefitted from over a $1,000 of product and services donated to provide wood chips to make the paintball field safe for players. Thank you to Mike Stewart (First City Wood Haulers) and Wade King Trucking who showed up at 7am on a Sunday morning to deliver 14 loads of wood chips to the field. And to Merril Stulkin who brought his equipment out to the field and spread the chips. - More...
Monday PM - June 15, 2009

letterRegarding More AK Airlines Fees By LeiLani Lake - It may sound good Ms. Steiner to say that another airline coming to Ketchikan would resolve our airfare and additional luggage fee problems but it won't. Alaska Airlines is only one of many airlines that now charge to your first bag. Actually I believe it was American Airlines that started this trend. - More...
Monday PM - June 12, 2009

letterAn Educated and Experienced Description of the Life cycle of a Dungeness Crab* or Why They Should Not Be Fished in the Summer By Larry Painter - When I first came to S. E. Alaska in the late 60's we pot fished Dungeness Crab and Spot Prawns all year 'round. There was no closed season for either like there was for Salmon that I seined only in the summer and fall with openings regulated by Fish and Game. As I gained experience I noticed that Dungeness Crab started showing soft shells around late February. Through the summer they all go through a soft shell stage. Around September to October they are hard shelled and full of meat. At this time they are in prime condition! That's the time to start fishing! - More...
Friday - June 12, 2009

letterLogjam By Elaine Price - You need to hear and understand the story of two little boys in Coffman Cove. These two little boys are supported by a logger, a "faller" to be exact. His paychecks earned from the timber industry work he does provides for these two little boys and their mother.

These two little boys are vitally important to the future of Coffman Cove, to the future of the school here, and to the infrastructure, other jobs, and many businesses across Prince of Wales Island. How can two little boys from Coffman Cove be that important to a regional economy? - More...
Friday - June 12, 2009

letterSuislaw Forest By Michael Moyer - My comment is directed to Don Borders and all that may believe that just because the forests of Washington and Oregon have vegetation on the hills that all is well in the woods there. Not so. When my Great Grandfather worked in the woods of Washington they didn't use trucks to haul the logs out, they built railroads. They cut everything. They choked the creeks and dredged the rivers, dammed them up and then blew the dams so the logs would flood downstream. They messed up the hills and rivers so bad that even today the fish haven't come back and the original river channels are far from what they used to be. - More...
Friday - June 12, 2009

letterMore AK Airlines Fees By Julie Steiner - It's not bad enough that Alaska Airlines increases their fares for flying to an astronomical price, that they now have to charge each person a fee to take their bags with them? Effective July 15th, they are going to charge EVERYONE a fee of $15 for the first checked bag. And the fee for each additional bag keeps increasing. - More...
Friday - June 12, 2009

letter Akasofu's predictions By John Ziraldo - Thank you for publishing the article about Syun-Ichi Akasofu's predictions. The continuing lies by the IPCC about climate change, and the political will of the far left to use these lies to impoverish us makes it very critical that articles like these get published. - More...
Friday - June 12, 2009

letterTraffic, Ferries and Bridges, Oh My! By Marshall H. Massengale - I have been a regular SitNews visitor and Ketchikan watcher for the past nearly two years and have read any number of articles, comments, editorials, opinions, letters, and official documents concerning many of the borough's frequently discussed and debated transportation issues. These issues have included the infamous "Bridge to Nowhere" debacle, vehicle traffic congestion, slow drivers, fast drivers, parking, ferry boats in and out of repair, and now the latest rant about a paddle wheel boat that kicks up a wake in the Narrows. - More...
Friday - June 12, 2009

letterCreate Jobs for Americans By Donald A. Moskowitz - A while ago I read that Bill Gates and Mayor Michael Bloomberg were planning on donating a total of $500 million to reduce the incidence of smoking in developing countries, especially China. I haven't seen any recent information on this subject, but I believe they made a commitment to this ridiculous project. - More...
Friday - June 12, 2009

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