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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
June 27, 2018

Front Page Feature Photo By CARL THOMPSON

Knudson Cove Morning
Knudson Cove is located approximately 15 miles north of downtown Ketchikan.
Photo: Wednesday AM, June 27, 2018
Front Page Feature Photo By CARL THOMPSON ©2018

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Fish Factor: Water changes in Southeast AK streams, fish protections outlined for first time By LAINE WELCH - One-third of Alaska’s salmon harvest each year comes from fish produced in the 17,000 miles of streams in Southeast’s Tongass rainforest.

One-third of Alaska’s salmon harvest each year comes from fish produced in the 17,000 miles of streams in Southeast’s Tongass rainforest.

A changing climate is altering rain and snowfall patterns that affect that habitat – for better or worse. Now, a first of its kind study details the potential changes and how people can plan ahead to protect the fish.

Colin Shanley a conservation planner and GIS analyst for The Nature Conservancy in Juneau and co-author of “Climate Change Sensitivity Index for Pacific Salmon Habitat in Southeast Alaska" said, "In general the global climate models are saying it’s going to get warmer and wetter. I’ve also heard another rule of thumb that the wetter places in the world are going to get wetter and the dryer places are going to get dryer. Obviously Southeast Alaska is one of those wet places." 

Shanley studied nearly half a century’s records of water flows, temperatures and precipitations in-stream sources to model future projections.

He said, "If we can build models based on historic patterns we can use these global climate models to sort of predict into the future how flows might change."  

Shanley says watersheds fed by snowpacks will likely experience the biggest impacts. "When we compiled data and models saw that some of the watersheds that are super steep and are fed by snow driven catchments are going to see some of the biggest changes. They might not all be bad but those are the ones that showed some of the largest changes in flow."  

On the other hand, glacial fed salmon systems could provide new and better systems.

Shanley said, "In Southeast, South-central and Prince William Sound there’s a lot of glacial fed systems that salmon use and some glacier fed systems that salmon haven’t colonized yet. So there is some opportunity as glaciers shrink and melt that it would create new habitat and in some cases better habitat." 

"Some of the glacial fed systems here are really cold and so they have slower growing conditions and less food, but if some of those warm up they might actually become better salmon habitat," said Shanley. 

He continued, "And some of those glacial systems are really big rivers so there is definitely some opportunities for some sort of shift in productivity where some of the smaller streams might have a harder time but some of these glacial fed systems might actually uptake in their production." 

Watersheds that are in good shape should be fairly resilient. For waters near roads and other developments, The Nature Conservancy hopes to begin restorations – "We’ve started to look at the places we think high salmon values intersect with areas of potential restoration, evaluating where those failing culverts are to make sure that there is adequate draining, that there is no run off on these roads dumping excessive sediment in streams." 

Shanley said, "We’ve looked at areas where before more stringent timber management regulations required riparian buffers – is there adequate large trees  along the rivers and if aren’t can we put some in there to build pools and provide shade as well as slow down the water in some of these high water events. So there are lots of things we can do."   - More...
Wednesday PM - June 27, 2018

Southeast Alaska: WRANGELL MEDICAL CENTER AND SEARHC FORMALLY AFFILIATE - The City and Borough of Wrangell (CBW) announced that SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) and Wrangell Medical Center (WMC) will officially move forward formalizing an affiliation to transfer the operations of the hospital to SEARHC creating sustainable, quality health services for Wrangell residents.

Initially, SEARHC will acquire Wrangell Medical Center assuming operational, financial and legal responsibility of WMC, including a lease with the CBW for the hospital facility. SEARHC will continue operating WMC while building a new healthcare campus adjacent to the Alaska Island Community Services Medical Clinic, which will include a critical access hospital and long-term care facility. The parties’ goal is to transfer the hospital to SEARHC on or after November 1, 2018; and the new campus completed within four years.

 “We have been working with SEARHC since the beginning of this year to develop creative options for a community healthcare solution, including construction of a new hospital, to address the ongoing challenges in the healthcare industry,” stated CBW Borough Manager Lisa Von Bargen. “Our collaboration has been highly productive, and we are fortunate to join hands with SEARHC in creating a viable, long-term healthcare solution for our community.”  - More...
Wednesday PM - June 27, 2018


Governor Declines Bipartisan Legislative Request for Executive Order to Secure Net Neutrality for Alaskans - Senator Bill Wielechowski (D-Anchorage) expressed disappointment in Governor Bill Walker's decision not to pursue net neutrality protections for Alaskans through an executive order.

In February Senator Wielechowski, along with a bipartisan group of 23 legislators including Dan Ortiz (I-Ketchikan), sent the governor a letter urging exercise of his constitutional authority to issue an executive order requiring the state's governmental departments to contract only with internet service providers (ISPs) who abide by the principles of net neutrality. The governors of New York, Montana, New Jersey, Vermont, Rhode Island, and Hawaii have all issued similar executive orders this year. So far the Federal Communications Commission (FCC), the body that repealed net neutrality last December, has not pursued any legal challenges to the executive orders.

Under net neutrality, ISPs (Internet Service Providers) must treat all data equally, cannot throttle speed or restrict access, and cannot discriminate against or charge differently among users, websites, content.

In his recent response on June 20th to the legislators' February request, Governor Walker declined to issue the executive order, suggesting he could not do so because the FCC's repeal "very likely preempts states' laws."  Governor Walker stated in his letter that he is taking some alternative steps to address this issue.

"I am disappointed that the governor would disregard a valid request to use his executive authority to put internet access protections in place for Alaskans, and I don't agree with his reasons," said Senator Wielechowski. "States have wide latitude to establish the qualifications and terms they expect from their contractors. A standard of non-discrimination toward the people-individual Alaskans and businesses using the internet-should be an appropriate requirement for ISPs seeking highly profitable contracts with the State of Alaska."

The FCC's repeal took effect on June 11.

"The impacts of the FCC's action are about to become apparent across the nation. Our residents who are so dependent on a free and open internet for work, education, telemedicine, and to communicate with family around the state and the Lower 48 are going to be without any protections," said Representative Scott Kawasaki (D-Fairbanks), who had signed the February letter. "If other states can do it, why can't we? Why don't we just assert our state's right to contract how we see fit? It's too important to Alaskans to do nothing."  - More...
Wednesday PM - June 27, 2018

Alaska: Challenges of Accurately Testing Marijuana Potency Highlighted in New Report - The data validation report recently released by the Alaska Alcohol and Marijuana Control Office and the Department of Environmental Conservation–Division of Environmental Health describes some of the challenges associated with accurately testing marijuana for potency. The report also offers recommendations for possible revisions to Alaska Administrative Code regulations to improve the oversight and quality assurance activities of licensed marijuana testing facilities.

“The comparative study conducted by the Environmental Health Laboratory provides additional information for the board-convened testing working group to consider,” said Erika McConnell, director of the Alcohol and Marijuana Control Office.

McConnell said, “We are encouraged by the work that has already been done by the industry and public health officials as part of the working group. I am confident this report will help the working group accomplish their mission to offer some solid recommendations to the Marijuana Control Board that will give consumers confidence in the system; protect public safety, health, and welfare; and allow the industry to move forward in a way that is also good for licensed establishments.”

The data validation compared the results of several sample tests of cannabis and cannabis products from two licensed marijuana testing facilities. The samples were analyzed using different extraction protocols for potency but similar analytical techniques. The report provides insight into how the two facilities could be testing the same product but come up with different results. - More...
Wednesday PM - June 27, 2018


Alaskans report uptick in potential shark-related injuries By PAULA DOBBYN - Something new is happening in the cold waters of northern and western Alaska. Unusual injuries such as bite marks and flipper amputations are showing up on seals in the Bering Strait, Chukchi Sea and Beaufort Sea regions.

Ice-associated seals and Steller sea lions in particular appear to be in contact with a typically uncommon predator in these waters, according to a group of scientists, hunters and subsistence managers who are watching the trend.

Who is the likely culprit? Sharks.

Several species are known to visit the western and northern coasts of Alaska, including sleeper sharks, dogfish shark, Greenland shark and salmon shark. A variety of northern shark species seem to be following the movements of prey species venturing farther north due to warmer ocean temperatures.

That’s according to a group of scientists and observers from Alaska Sea Grant, the North Slope Borough Department of Wildlife Management, Kawerak Inc. and Ocean Associates Inc. that have been recording injuries to or attacks on pinnipeds through stranding data, aerial survey sightings, marine mammal hunter observations and bycatch.

“People are providing information on harvested seals with amputated flippers because they don’t normally see that. These are not the marks of a killer whale. Killer whales have pegged teeth - the injury pattern would be different and community members are  noting these are novel injuries,” said Gay Sheffield, an Alaska Sea Grant Marine Advisory agent in Nome.

“In some injuries we’ve seen, bone has been sliced. There have been penetrating stab wounds and circular bite marks. The flesh is sometimes torn as if a sharp, triangular-shaped object has ripped the skin leaving an upside-down V pattern,” said Sheffield.

Sheffield has been sharing information with, among others, Raphaela Stimmelmayr, a wildlife veterinarian and research biologist with the North Slope Borough, who is also tracking  the unusual injuries.

“Some of the injuries reminded me of what I saw in sea turtles attacked by sharks when I worked in the tropics,” said the Utqiavik-based vet. “It’s very suggestive of shark bites.”

Both scientists are quick to point out that they don’t have enough evidence at this point to say with certainty what is going on but by working with coastal communities, Kawerak, and each other, they hope to collaboratively learn what may be attacking the pinnipeds. They presented a scientific poster about shark-pinniped interactions at the Alaska Marine Science Symposium in Anchorage last January. - More...
Wednesday PM - June 27, 2018



DAVE KIFFER: Ketchikan Takes Expedia's Breath Away! - I think we'd all agree that Ketchikan is one of the most breathtaking places in the world.

Just in the last week, my breath was taken away when I saw that gasoline prices had jumped something like 50 cents since the last time I filled up a couple of weeks ago.

Also in recent days, my breath was taken away by the smell of a "fresh" vegetable in the produce aisle of a local bodega.

Then my breath was completely taken away a week or so ago when I made the ill-advised choice to walk from Downtown up to my home, just a Himalayan half-mile away (uphill).

And, even though recent weather has been dry enough to generate a tiny forest fire (really!), on most days your breath will be positively inundated by the relentless rainfall that keeps our lakes full and our skin dewey fresh! Until we finally develop gills, it will always be a challenge breathing in Ketchikan.

So yes, Ketchikan is often a very breathtaking place to live!

And now we have the "survey" to prove it.

It comes from an outside source, Expedia (Woah, oh, ohhh!)

You all know about Expedia (Let me take you there!). It's one of those vacation consolidation sites that can find you an air fare, a hotel, a rental car, excursions etc. The kind of thing that we used to use a travel agent for. So we have replaced a living breathing, tax paying human who will buy all your kids raffle tickets with a computer! Doing something we could do ourselves if we weren't so danged lazy.

But I digress.

Expedia (This is why we travel!) just announced the "55 Most Breathtaking Destinations in the World."  And guess what, Our Fair Salmon City is Number 51 on the list. Even better, neither Sitka nor Homer even made the top 55!

Of course this raises all sorts of questions about methodology. Such a ranking has to be "in the eye of the beholder."

And cries of foul from other Alaskan locales who have always self-selected themselves as the "fairest of the fair."

But it is nice to be noticed for something besides the world class lines awaiting the visitors trying to get back on the "Egregiousdam" and the "Gargantuan of the Seas."

Anyway, let's look at the entire list, shall we?

We need to compare the company we are keeping.

Keep in mind that Expedia (Where you book matters!) says the order is "in no particular order" so if you feel like K-town should be higher on the list, maybe it is! - More...
Wednesday PM - June 27, 2018

jpg Political Cartoon: SCOTUS Union Ruling

Political Cartoon: SCOTUS Union Ruling
By Rick McKee ©2018, The Augusta Chronicle, GA
Distributed to paid subscribers for publication by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.


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jpg Letter / Opinion

Crying Children and Due Process of Law By Kary Love - Being a lawyer, I have long been interested in and have studied the question, where did law come from? It turns out to have been the result of a centuries long, hard struggle by people over generations as humans evolved to try to incorporate justice into their villages or tribes.  Generation built upon generation, honing and improving law.

One source has long been claimed to be “God’s Law.”  For example, the idea of “due process of law,” the right to a fair hearing before an impartial tribunal before judgment is found in not only in Roman law but in Christian law as well.  In John 7:51 Nicodemus defends Jesus to the Pharisees who are seeking Jesus’ condemnation and death without trial.  Nicodemus demands of the Pharisees:  "Does our law condemn a man without first hearing him to find out what he has been doing?" (John 7:51)

Whether you are a believer or not, the Bible is a source of much human law, at least in the West.  It was written over millennia probably derived from oral traditions before being reduced to writing by the Hebrews in the Torah.  As worldly experience and common sense teach, one ought to be careful about arrogantly overthrowing centuries of accumulated human wisdom, or God’s law, if you so believe.  Before law, my training was in science and I learned: “you may be smart, but you are not smarter than evolution.”  So, I seek wisdom where it can be found to have evolved and reject it only after careful consideration.  - More...
Saturday PM - June 23, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

Bad Arguments for Taxing the PFD By Ghert Abbott - A number of very bad arguments have been made by those who want to resolve our state’s fiscal crisis via a massive head tax on the Permanent Fund Dividend without any regard for the extremely regressive effects that this will have.

The most popular argument is that the PFD is merely being reduced to its historical average of $1,050. The purpose of this argument is to convince Alaskans that they won’t suffer too great a loss because they’ll still be getting an “average” PFD. But this average is simply the median between the highest and lowest returns. Making the median return the new high will naturally create a newer, lower average for PFD recipients. So for Alaskans to continue receiving an average PFD of $1,050, by definition the Permanent Fund needs to be left alone. - More...
Wednesday PM - June 20, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

BORDER FAMILY SEPARATIONS OPEN OLD WOUNDS; US practice recalls horrific policies used to eradicate Native cultures By Rosita Kaaháni Worl - I want to express my appreciation to U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska for opposing the separation of families at the U.S. border and demanding an immediate halt to this "cruel, tragic" practice. I also want to recognize U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan of Alaska for requesting a more deliberate bipartisan approach to this issue.

For me and for many, many other Alaska Natives, this issue is personal and resurrects old wounds. As Alaska Natives, we suffered the kidnapping of our children who were interned in boarding schools under the assimilationist policy of the United States. We as individuals and societies continue to suffer the intergenerational trauma from being separated from our families and raised in boarding schools. - More...
Wednesday PM - June 20, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

Separating immigrant children from their parents By Larry Emery - The Metlakatla Minister's Association sent a letter to Alaska's congressional delegation protesting the treatment of the children of asylum seekers at the United States border.  The letter calls states that the administrations policy "... not only rejects America's values, it also ignores biblical teachings about the value and dignity of all human beings as being in God's image, regardless of their immigration status..." The minister's go on to state, "...undocumented aliens and asylum seekers should be treated with respect as human beings while their cases are undergoing due process. This is not a partisan political issue but a moral one. The policy of family separation must be reversed."  The Metlakatla Minister's Association consists of the pastors of the Lakeside Church of God, Metlakatla Congregational Church, Metlakatla Presbyterian Church and the William Duncan Memorial Church.  The full text of the letter is as follows: - More...
Wednesday PM - June 20, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

Trump Voters Responsible By Hallie Engel - I just wanted to remind everyone that if you voted for Trump, you are in part responsible for the separation of children from their parents. Some of these children are babies. I would like you to think about how you would feel if you came to the US seeking asylum, and someone took your child from you. - More...
Wednesday PM - June 20, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

Separating children By Rob Holston, Jr - Trump is crazy for separating children from their illegal parents.  He should put them up in TRUMP hotels with catered meals and have the federal government pick up the tab.  He would become richer.  Of course more and more illegal immigrants would hear about this golden opportunity and soon TRUMP would be building more hotels just to house all the illegal immigrants and their kids.  More money for TRUMP….. and it would just cost hard working Americans a few dollars each A DAY to pay for it.

Soon South America, Mexico and all the countries in between would be nearly void of all population and TRUMP would be declared the wealthiest man on earth EVER. Sounds like a pretty honest business plan to me. - More...
Wednesday PM - June 20, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

Shrimp Permit By Lance Clark - Another permit, really? So now, besides a fishing license, King stamp, hunting license, hunting permits, locking tags, sealing requirements and harvest surveys for game and fish, we have to have a permit to throw in a shrimp pot. What's next, an environmental impact study before bug repellent can be put on?

We have so many rules and regulations that require government paperwork and oversight already it's ridiculous! Whose idea was this? And why are we paying them to make our life harder? - More...
Sunday AM - June 17, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

We must act to protect the health and future of our oceans By Reps. Suzanne Bonamici & Don Young - Oceans cover more than 70 percent of our planet and are home to more than a thousand species of marine life. Oceans generate the oxygen that we breathe. They regulate our climate and provide healthy meals for people daily. Coastal communities rely on healthy oceans—as do shellfish, fish, marine mammals, birds, and ecosystems around the world. June 8 was World Oceans Day which serves as a reminder that regardless of where we live or our political party, we must remain committed to protect, conserve, maintain, and rebuild our ocean resources.

Oceans are an economic force as well. Across the United States the ocean economy supports more than 3 million jobs and contributes at least $352 billion in economic activity annually. Changes in ocean chemistry pose a very real threat to those marine resources, industries, and jobs. Oceans are changing rapidly; if we do not act soon the consequences could be devastating.

The health of our oceans is a reflection of the health of our planet. We need to improve our understanding of the implications of environmental stressors, such as harmful algal blooms and hypoxia, marine debris, warming and more acidic ocean waters, overfishing, and rising sea levels. These problems are indicators of a changing climate, and they threaten our economy and the livelihood of millions of people. - More...
Sunday AM - June 17, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

Correction to UPRIVERS Documentary Misrepresentations By Brent Murphy - I am writing to correct the public record about misleading and inaccurate information regarding Seabridge Gold’s KSM Project presented in the UPRIVERS documentary currently being screened in Alaska and British Columbia. Seabridge Gold has also requested the producers and funders of the documentary to retract their misrepresentations.

The documentary’s suggestion that a failure at KSM would destroy the Unuk River and the way of life in Ketchikan is an extreme exaggeration and scare mongering.

The potential impacts to Alaskan waters were carefully evaluated during both the provincial and federal government environmental assessment reviews. In her final decision, the Canadian Minister of the Environment relied on an independent Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency scientific report which stated, “that no significant adverse impacts on water quality, water quantity, fish, or human health are expected on the Alaskan side of the Unuk River.”

The documentary also falsely states Alaskans were not consulted during the mine review process. Seabridge Gold, the British Columbia Environmental Assessment Office, and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency both worked extensively with US Federal and Alaskan State Agencies during the environmental review process. Both the Alaska Department of Natural Resources and the Canadian Environmental Assessment Agency concluded Seabridge Gold conducted significant, meaningful engagement with all concerned parties, including Alaskans. The Alaskan regulators concurred by stating: “The participating US federal and state agencies did not identify any outstanding transboundary concerns with the environmental assessment.” - More...
Saturday AM - June 09, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

Keep Out Potential Terrorists By Donald Moskowitz - Islamic terrorist bombings in Belgium; Islamic terrorist truck attacks in NYC, France, Germany, and Spain; and attacks in England and the U.S.are indicative of the violent Islamic extremism pervading the world. Muslim attacks on non-Muslims have proliferated in Europe over the years because Europe murdered 6 million Jews and replaced them with 50 million Muslims. European countries should stop absorbing immigrants from the Middle East and North Africa and deport potential terrorists.  

The U.S. should pay attention to the problems in Europe and keep out immigrants from countries that spawn terrorists. Some liberal religious organizations and individuals believe we should show compassion and open our borders to people from the Middle East and North Africa. Hopefully, the courts will uphold Trump's ban on immigrants from the countries which spawn Islamic terrorists. - More...
Saturday AM - June 09, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

BARR vs BEE: ABJECT RACISM vs ABJECT RUDENESS By David G Hanger - I have never watched either of these two programs, but there are very good reasons why the one should be instantly canceled and the other should not. Despite the brunette who went out of her way to glorify herself in explaining her reasons why she will no longer be watching Samantha Bee, there are two fundamental reasons why this is not in any sense justified or, for that matter, even rational.

Equating a successful black woman with a monkey is as repulsively racist as you can get, and there is no excuse for that deplorable behavior. Nor is there forgiveness. Roseanne Barr has been spewing racist crap for a long time on her time, and there is no question she is what she says. She is a white supremacist, and, yes, by definition she is an extreme racist. And she is not, and never has been, really funny at all. - More...
Saturday AM - June 09, 2018

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