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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
June 20, 2011

Front Page Photo By A. J. MORAN

Clover Pass: Elephant Seal
Front Page Photo By A. J. MORAN

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Southeast Alaska:
Alaska Challenges USFS 2001 Roadless Rule - Alaska Governor Sean Parnell and Attorney General John Burns have directed the Alaska Department of Law to file a legal challenge to the Roadless Rule adopted in 2001 by the United States Forest Service. The Roadless Rule prohibited local and regional control over decisions about road construction, reconstruction and timber harvest on roughly 58.5 million acres of national forest lands and grasslands.

Until a recent Alaska Federal District Court ruling, the state’s largest national forest, the Tongass National Forest, was exempt from the Roadless Rule under a 2003 settlement agreement with the federal government and Alaska.

In a recent court decision, a federal judge sided with the village of Kake and reinstated the Clinton-era roadless rule in southeast Alaska's Tongass National Forest. U.S. District Judge John W. Sedwick in Anchorage issued his final decision in May 2011, making a March ruling official.

Sedwick found that a Bush administration decision in 2003 to exempt the Tongass from the roadless rule was arbitrary and capricious. The rule protects roadless areas in national forests from commercial logging and road building.

Sedwick's May 2011 final judgment reinstated the roadless rule in the Tongass while making clear that certain projects and activities could proceed. Those projects included hydropower, transmission lines, mining, and tourism projects.

“Applying the Roadless Rule to national forest lands in Alaska diminishes jobs and hurts families, and removes local and regional management of the forests from the state, communities, residents, and foresters,” Governor Parnell said. “This is the wrong time for the Forest Service to further restrict timber supply, new mining jobs and development, and impose higher energy costs on communities. Our forests are best managed for multiple uses including mining or logging, which require construction of roads. A one-size-fits-all forest mandate from Washington D.C. is the wrong approach.”

In a news release, the Governor said, if allowed to stand, the Roadless Rule will increase costs for developing hydroelectric projects by prohibiting roads along transmission line routes for construction and maintenance. Those increased costs would be passed along to consumers.

The lawsuit comes as the roadless rule faces a separate legal challenge from Wyoming under review in the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, where a decision could come any day. - More...
Monday - June 20, 2011

Southeast Alaska: State Seeks to Reverse Juneau Access Decision - The Alaska Department of Law is appealing a federal court ruling as flawed that ended a plan to extend a road north of Juneau. The Department of Law has filed a request for the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals to reverse a previous decision, and uphold the lengthy process and analysis used by the Federal Highway Administration and the Alaska Department of Transportation to develop and permit the Juneau Access road project. The proposed project would provide a significantly better transportation link between the capital of Juneau and the intercontinental highway system while at the same time reducing state costs and traveler costs.

A three judge panel of the Ninth Circuit ruled by a 2-1 majority that the 14-year process of studying and analyzing the project was flawed because it did not adequately review a “non-construction” or “no build” alternative. The alternative urged by environmental organizations would have removed ferry service from other Alaska communities and residents to add to the existing ferry service in Lynn Canal.

“The Federal Highway Administration explained during the study process that there were many non-construction alternatives and that taking ferry service away from other Alaskans and communities to serve Lynn Canal was unreasonable,” Governor Parnell said. “It’s time to move from expensive endless studies to building roads and putting Alaskans to work.” - More...
Monday - June 20, 2011

Alaska Science: Climate change and the people of the Mesa By NED ROZELL - People tend to think of climate change as a recent phenomenon, but Alaska was once the setting for an environmental shift so dramatic it forced people to evacuate the entire North Slope, according to Michael Kunz, an archaeologist with the Bureau of Land Management.

About 10,000 years ago, a group of hunting people lived on Alaska’s north slope, the broad band of treeless tundra that extends north from the Brooks Range to the sea. These people, known as Paleoindians, used a thick backbone of rock west of the Colville River as a hunting lookout. Michael Kunz first discovered stone spear tips at the site, known as the Mesa, in 1978.

The people of the Mesa lived at a time when the Arctic was undergoing a change not unlike the changes some scientists are documenting today. As the world emerged from the last ice age about 15,000 years ago, grasslands covered much of the Bering Land Bridge, a chunk of land as wide as the distance from Barrow to Homer that mated Siberia with Alaska.

To survive in a place like the North Slope, where life is dicey in the best of times, humans needed a few things, Kunz said. One was technology, which the Mesa people had in the form of bone needles they used to sew weather-tight clothing. Another vital element was a large, plentiful source of food. Caribou were scarce during the time of the Mesa people, but bison roamed the grasslands in good numbers. Those bison are the key to how climate change affected these ancient Alaskans, Kunz said. - More...
Monday - June 20, 2011

Columns - Commentary

jpg Dave KifferDAVE KIFFER: Be Prepared - My Dad always thought of Boy Scouts as "amateur hour."

Sure, he was the great outdoors guy, hunting, fishing, trapping pretty much all year round. And I got to go with, much to my general dislike.

Even today, men often get wistful when I talk about my life to age 15, which was a seemingly continuous miserable slog through the muskeg or the woods. And of course, there were those summers spent commercial fishing from 4 am to nearly midnight.

If that sounds like heaven to you, great.

I understand that we often feel a need to get back to our frontier roots. And I understand that many people really do cherish their time hunting and fishing and etc. But it is a hard life and there is a big difference between doing it when you want to and doing it when you have to. Especially when you are seven or eight years old.

Most days I would have just preferred to curl up with a good book and enjoyed the civilized comfort of "town."

But now, I find myself yearning - not to reclaim my wilderness youth - but to at least provide a sliver of it for my son. I want Liam to have outdoor experiences. Just not the brutal, forced marches that I went through.

So that brings us back to boy scouts.

For three years running, Liam and I have attended cub scout camp at Orton Ranch right around Memorial Day.

Despite my personal aversion to most things "outdoorsy," heading off to Orton Ranch - about 12 miles from the end of the road - always reminds how lucky we are to be surrounded by the great outdoors.

When we spend most of our days in "town" we tend to forget just how spectacular life is all around us, as we grumble our way through traffic and deal with all the little irritations of getting by.

Besides there is nothing like camp food and sleeping on an uncomfortable bunk to remind me how much I like civilization, like indoor plumbing and baseboard heat. - More...
Monday - June 20, 2011



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letter There is still time to save Coastal Management - Reps. Beth Kerttula and Berta Gardner - We were disappointed when the House adjourned the recent Special Session three days early, failing by one vote to accept compromise language saving the Alaska Coastal Management Program (ACMP).  Sadly, the program was caught up in the larger House-Senate fight over the capital budget, and instead of taking the extra time to resolve it, the House simply gaveled out. - More...
Monday - June 20, 2011 

letter Governor Palin Email Extravaganza; What Was Old is New Again By Tara Jollie - The infamous Sarah Palin emails have come and gone.  There was no exciting fodder for scandal like the Corrupt Bastards Club of years the past, no juicy gossip like last year’s love caucus affair.  It was a rather anticlimactic event; big news day though!  How weird is that? - More...
Monday - June 20, 2011

letter RE: the 400 By Richard Easbey - Oh goodie... another unhinged rant from David Hanger! It's such a target-rich environment one hardly knows where to begin. - More...
Monday - June 20, 2011

letter Rebuild the fish count By Kami Myles - As a child Clay and I fished the rocks around Clover pass resort. We were fishing buddies and never was there a day when we didn't cast our line into the water and catch some kind of fish. Those are some of my fondest memories as of my childhood. - More...
Monday - June 20, 2011

letter PROPAGANDA By Florian Sever - In the June 15th SitNews commentary by Sealaska’s Rosita Worl, she raised many interesting points about the proposed Sealaska Lands Bill, and what it means. - More...
Monday - June 20, 2011

letter ANCSA resolution By Vernon Grant - I support the views of Rosita Worls plight for resolution on the ANCSA,that what was promised be settled on the premesis of respect for the native peoples of Alaska.After all we the native people have been a role model for the founding fathers of our country to adopt as a way in which too govern our country.Now isnt making promises too any one given body an act of Cruel And Unusual Punishment? That of which was said too be one of the main 10 amendments made to the constitution in 1791..... More...
Monday - June 20, 2011

letter Southeast Alaska’s Native people wait 40 years for return of their land By Rosita Worl - Over-regulation and anti-Native bias seem to touch every aspect of life for Native peoples in Southeast Alaska, from how our people make teddy bears to whether the U.S. will keep its promise to restore 85,000 acres of our homelands to us. - More...
Wednesday - June 15, 2011

letter Fisheries science is more complex than opponents of Sealaska land bill say By Douglas Martin - Restoring nearly 85,000 acres of Tongass National Forest land to the Sealaska Corporation, in accordance with the 40-year-old Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, won’t damage salmon runs. - More...
Wednesday - June 15, 2011

letter Sealaska Bill a Can of Worms By Rebecca Knight - Jaeleen Araujo, Sealaska vice-president and general counsel recently denied in a Juneau Empire op-ed piece that the other 11 regional corporations could use their proposed legislation as precedent to reopen land claims in Alaska. Sealaska is “perplexed” that this remains an issue. However, her comments in various public forums tell a different story. - More...
Wednesday - June 15, 2011

letter Pellet Boilers? Pellet Heat? Public Buildings? Your Home? You Betcha By Samuel Bergeron - The design team on the public library wanted about $80,000 to do a feasibility study on the viability of biomass wood pellet heat. That's like doing feasibility study on using propane heat or electricity. Biomass wood pellet heat is an established technology that has been in use in major metropolitan cities throughout the world for over 30 years with a stellar track record of clean burning emissions, low cost fuel, and great systems reliability. You don't need a feasibility study to see if this is a proven technology, just do the math. - More...
Monday - June 13, 2011

letter Section 17(b) of ANCSA & Public Access By Florian Sever - I want to clear up a claim that Sealaska representatives always make when they address the issue of public acess, regarding public the 3,600 acres of prime anchorages, sockeye streams, cabin sites, and camping areas they want to make under the guise of Cultural, Sacred, Enterprise and other classifications, under the terms of Senator Lisa Murkowski’s, S. 730 “The Sealsaka Lands Bill”.- More...
Monday - June 13, 2011

letter Property Tax increase amount By Marty West - The Ketchikan Daily News was wrong. The increase was 0.1 mills ($10 per $100,000 of assessed property Value) not 1.0 mills ($100 per $100,000 as reported). - More...
Monday - June 13, 2011

letter KPU By Joey Garcia - I admire KPU's repair technicians in our verbal calls, mostly from residents of the Tongass Towers Condominium, because of tilling, loss of power if you subscribe to three services like telephone, Internet and cable. - More...
Monday - June 13, 2011

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