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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
June 20, 2019

Front Page Feature Photo By SUSAN HOYT

Rufous Hummingbird
One of the feistiest hummingbird in North America and a frequent visitor to Southeast Alaska. The male is a brilliant orange and the female is green-and-orange in color.
Front Page Feature Photo By SUSAN HOYT ©2019

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Ketchikan: New book celebrates Southeast Canneries; Pat Roppel's friends publish her last book By DAVE KIFFER - When longtime Southeast resident and historian Pat Roppel died in 2015, it was the end of the career of the person most responsible for putting Southeast history into print over the last four decades.

New book celebrations Southeast Canneries; Pat Roppel's friends publish her last book

Pat Roppel
April 05, 1938 - Jan. 06, 2015
SitNews File Photo

Roppel published 13 books and hundreds of historical articles, including a region-wide historical column that appeared in a variety of formants for nearly two decades. She was also well known for the help she gave to other historians over the decades, encouraging their projects as is they were her own, pushing them to further tell Southeast Alaska's story.

In addition to stories about the people of Southeast, Roppel focused on the industries such as mining and fishing that helped Southeast grow. She also wrote extensively about the mercantile businesses that supported the area and wrote historical guides to Revillagigedo and Gravina Islands and Misty Fjords.  She was twice named Alaska Historian of the Year.

But her true historical love was the salmon canneries of the region, the often self-contained little "villages" that sprouted up in the region from the 1900s to the 1950s, sometimes vanishing within months but also sometimes also forming the backbone of more permanent communities from Metlakatla to Yakutat.

In addition to gathering all the historical information she could on those canneries, Roppel and her husband Frank used their boat to visit many of the cannery sites over the decades, often documenting the only physical evidence that the canneries existed.

Roppel left one last historical gift to the residents of Southeast. Four years after her death, her research is the basis of a new book,  "Tin Can Country," the brainchild of longtime Roppel friend Karen Hofstad of Petersburg and Petersburg's Clausen Memorial Museum. Juneau based writer/historian Anjuli Grantham was the editor/coordinator of the project which features contributions from half a dozen other regional historians supplementing Roppel's work.

Hofstad's work on the historic salmon can labels of the region ties the book together. But there are also chapters on several prominent canneries (More than 130 canneries operated at different times in the region), in addition to stories about the fish traps that supplied them and the sometimes controversial labor histories of the industry.

The story of Southeast's canneries goes back to the late 1870s, a decade after the United States purchased Alaska from Russia. The Russians had been more interested in Alaska's fur trade than the potential riches in the salmon industry, but proponents of the sale, like US Senator Charles Sumner were very aware of the potential riches and spoke glowingly about it on the floor of the Senate. - More...
Thursday PM - June 20, 2019

Ketchikan: Court Affirms State's Property Rights Across Tongass National Forest - In a June 11, 2019 Federal District Court of Alaska decision, the State of Alaska won a major victory against the U.S. Forest Service, allowing the State to implement the 2004 Southeast Transportation Plan which provided for construction of roads on the twenty easements granted to Alaska under SAFETEA-LU, Congressman Don Young’s legislation signed into law by President George W. Bush.

This dispute stemmed from a Forest Service announcement in March 2014 changing its interpretation of Section 4407. According to the Alaska Department of Law, the Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities suffered serious project delays from the Forest Service’s withholding easements to construct and operate roads across federal lands.

In 2015, Alaska’s congressional delegation passed a clarifying amendment to Section 4407 in 2015 intended to remove all obstacles being raised by the Forest Service and have the easements issued.

After the 2015 amendment to the law, all pending Section 4407 easements were released by the Forest Service except the easement for the State’s Shelter Cove Road project in Ketchikan, which resulted in this lawsuit.

Judge Beistline’s June 11, 2019 order declares the property rights held by the State of Alaska in what have come to be known as Section 4407 easements. These easements were created pursuant to a land exchange ratified by Congress in Section 4407 of a 2005 federal transportation funding bill.

“This decision is a great win for the State and for Southeast Alaska in particular," said Attorney General Kevin Clarkson. "This allows the State to connect the communities of Southeast Alaska without unnecessary Forest Service restrictions such as the Roadless Rule.”

The court clarified that the Forest Service has no legal authority to withhold or deny the State’s request for an easement to accommodate a transportation or utility project under the Section 4407 easements.

The State and federal governments’ easement exchange in 2005 was designed to preserve the State’s infrastructure development rights, if the Roadless Rule were to become applicable to the Tongass National Forest, by establishing easements for transportation and utility corridors to connect the communities of Southeast Alaska. In exchange, the Forest Service received easements over state-owned tidelands for hundreds of federal-owned facilities—docks, floats, boat ramps, breakwaters, log transfer facilities. - More...
Thursday PM - June 20,2019


Ketchikan: Brandon Castle Awarded $5,000 Tongass Historical Society Pat Roppel Scholarship - Brandon Castle, a recent Fort Lewis College graduate from Ketchikan, is this year’s recipient of the annual Tongass Historical Society’s Pat Roppel $5,000 scholarship.

Brandon Castle Awarded $5,000 Tongass Historical Society Pat Roppel Scholarship

Brandon Castle and Tongass Historical Society member, Rosie Roppel
Photo Courtesy Tongass Historical Society

Castle was recently accepted into the University of Washington’s Museology Graduate program. After working as a tour guide at the Totem Heritage Center, he stated that he was inspired to “bring underrepresented voices to the forefront of the museum field and center my education on Alaskan history. As I reflect on my experiences thus far, I look ahead to my goals of being part of a fulfilling and challenging future in museums.”

Those experiences included internships at the Field Museum, The Center of Southwest Studies and the American Museum of Natural History, where Castle had the opportunity to learn from museum curators and Native advisors in addition to assisting conservators with the preservation of Tsimshian totem poles.

Castle states that “the decisions we make today will have a lasting effect on future generations, which is why I want to do this work. The opportunity for me to learn my language, connect with my family, and preserve our traditions has come from the perseverance of my ancestors. It has come with the cost of losing parts of our tradition. But these losses have not hindered our ability to find clarity and to find strength. I am passionate about preserving Alaska’s history because I believe we all deserve the ability to make connections with each other and celebrate who we are.” - More...
Thursday PM - June 20, 2019

Ketchikan: Ketchikan Community Foundation Awards $20,000 to Eight Nonprofit Organizations - The Ketchikan Community Foundation (KCF) awarded approximately $20,000 in 2019 grant funding to eight Ketchikan nonprofit organizations.

This is the fourth year the Community Foundation has awarded nonprofit grant funding in Ketchikan. Including this year’s recipients, KCF has now awarded about $82,000 to 29 organizations. The awards were presented to the groups at the Southeast Alaska Discovery Center in April.

The 2019 recipients are: - More...
Thursday PM - June 20, 2019

Ketchikan: Shrimp Boil Raises $2,000 For Local Organizations - Ragnar Myking Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4352 has donated $1,000 to the First City Homeless Shelter and $1,000 to the North Tongass Fire Department as a result of the Flag Day Shrimp Boil held at the Post on June 14, 2019. 

More than 100 community members attended the event, sponsored by Madison Lumber & Hardware, helping raise the $2,000 being donated. The pots and jet cookers used were donated by Re/Max of Ketchikan and all of the shrimp was donated by VFW member George Houck. The generosity of local businesses, and volunteer work of numerous VFW and Auxiliary members made the event a resounding success.  - More...
Thursday PM - June 20, 2019


Southeast Alaska: Another Three Gray Whales are Found Dead, Bringing the Total in Alaska to Ten - NOAA Fisheries Alaska Region has received reports of three additional dead gray whales, bringing the number of gray whale mortalities in Alaska to ten. Currently, there are 81 gray whale mortalities in the United States, with a total of 167 dead gray whales when Mexico and Canada are included.

The confirmed gray whale reports all came from Southeast Alaska. On Monday, a fisherman reported a dead floating gray whale near Wrangell. Thanks to assistance from the U.S. Forest Service, the whale was secured to a beach. A team led by NOAA Fisheries veterinarian Kate Savage scheduled a necropsy for today.

Late Tuesday, NOAA received two more gray whale reports. One gray whale was beached on the outer coast of Kruzof Island, west of Sitka. There are no plans to conduct a necropsy on this whale because of its advanced state of decomposition and remote location.

The third gray whale is a fresh carcass floating near Point Davis and Annette Island, south of Ketchikan. If this gray whale is secured, NOAA plans to assemble a team to perform a necropsy. - More...
Thursday PM - June 20, 2019

Alaska: U.S. House Votes To Suspend Pebble Funding By MARY KAUFFMAN - Tuesday, the U.S. House of Representatives passed amendment 90, called the “Huffman Amendment,” to the Energy and Water Appropriations Act (H.R. 2740) bill that would suspend funding for permitting of the proposed Pebble mine in federal fiscal year 2020.

Pebble Mine is a mineral exploration project investigating a very large porphyry copper, gold, and molybdenum mineral deposit in the Bristol Bay region of Southwest Alaska, near Lake Iliamna and Lake Clark.

The proposal to mine the ore deposit using large-scale operations and infrastructure has been controversial.

Proponents argue that the mine will create jobs, provide tax revenue to the state of Alaska, and reduce American dependence on foreign sources of raw materials.

Opponents argue that the mine would adversely affect the entire Bristol Bay watershed; and that the possible consequences to fish populations, when mining effluents escape planned containments, are simply too great of a risk. Much of this debate concerns the tentative plan to impound large amounts of water, waste rock, and mine tailings behind several earthen dams at the mine site.

Cook Inletkeeper Executive Director, Carly Wier, praised the decision saying, “Alaska's Bristol Bay is a global treasure, holding the world's largest wild sockeye salmon fishery that sustains our local communities and economies in the region.  The Army Corps of Engineers should be embarrassed by the sloppy analysis we were given in their EIS. We deserve better, and we are grateful to Congress for hearing our voices when our own delegation seems to be ignoring us. We hope that Lisa Murkowski can do the right thing and stand with Tribes, commercial fisherman, scientists and citizens of Alaska to protect Bristol Bay. The whole world is watching.”

During a House Session Tuesday, Rep. Don Young (R-Alaska) admonished his colleagues, demanding that they "let the process go through", and finished by saying, "Let's look at the science.''   - More...
Thursday PM - June 20, 2019



DAVE KIFFER: Just When You Thought It Was Safe To Go Out In The Woods - Several years ago, a Forest Service employee was quoted as saying the Ketchikan area was one of the few places  he had ever been that he had to be careful when he went to work that "something didn't eat him."

Well, that's just great.

With all the other stuff that we have to be worried about in these here parts,  (death by state budget constriction, drowning in Facebook posts about the drought, a giant road construction sink hole opening up and depositing the entire island into China ) we also need to be concerned about some animal killing us, and then maybe even eating us.

That just sucks.

I was gonna say that just bites, but well, given the subject that would be in poor taste.

But I digress.

Anyway, apparently we have more to worry about than hardened arteries and slipping to death on the bathroom floor. Especially here, where hypothermia and dry-land drowning are also two of the biggest causes of death.

But really, how likely is it we would could be killed by an animal?

So glad you asked. The percentage likelihood is really low. Like something like 3 in 600,000 in Alaska. You have a much greater likelihood of being killed by another Homo Sapien, 11 in 100,000, in Alaska than by a wild creature. But we don't want to think about that. We - being modern humans - would much rather worry about things that are just never gonna happen, like being hit by an asteroid or being sucked up into a sharknado.

Now, you are probably wondering why I even brought up this random topic - one I can guarantee wasn't even within your realm of possibility 10 broken paragraphs ago.

Realm of possibility. I have always liked that phrase. It sounds so all encompassing. Although perhaps being in the realm of impossibilities would be a lot more interesting.

But I digress, again.

So, getting back to the topic of being killed by some wild creature, we must ponder what creature indeed is most likely to do us in. - More...
Thursday PM - June 20, 2019

jpg Political Cartoon: Perpetual Politics

Political Cartoon: Perpetual Politics
By Jeff Koterba ©2019, Omaha World Herald, NE
Distributed to paid subscribers for publication by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.


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Old Dairy Road Service Area By Agnes Moran - On May 7, 2019, WISH received by email the Old Dairy Road service area petition and a bid for road repairs. The way the documents were presented, it appeared that WISH would be responsible for $4000 in road repairs if the service area went forward. The description in the bid indicated that the only section of the road that was to be repaired was the portion adjacent to the properties of the individuals that had signed off on the petition. The repairs did not seem to address the issues with the road adjacent to the WISH property. WISH asked for additional information on the petition and the road repair bid and received no response. 

At the onset of the June 17th Borough Assembly meeting, WISH was still under the impression that if the service area went forward, we would be on the hook for $4000 in road repairs of dubious value to WISH. Hence our request that the petition be rejected. It was only later in the public comment portion of the meeting that Mr. Hiatt indicated that he had abandoned the road repair scheme. 

WISH has dutifully paid their property taxes on the parcels to date. We will continue to pay the base taxes and the approximately $400 (not $4000) in additional taxes levied if the service area is approved until we are utilizing the property in support of our mission.  - More...
Thursday PM - June 20, 2019

jpg Opinion

Protecting Tribal Lands and Waterways for Future Generations By Rob Sanderson Jr. - Indigenous peoples of British Columbia and Alaska, Washington, Idaho, and Montana are disproportionately affected by past, present, and proposed mines in Transboundary watersheds.

We have long voiced concern.  All too often, actions such as mining benefit the up-stream country but create irreparable harm to the downstream country. International problems require international solutions. Some mechanisms are in place to resolve these disputes, such as the Boundary Waters Treaty of 1909 between Canada and the US.  These mechanisms are being ignored.

British Columbia has allowed widespread pollution from mines to cross the border into Montana and are now proposing even larger mines in the headwaters above Alaska, threatening the last remaining wild salmon rivers in North America. Across the entire US border with BC, vital rivers and waters are being polluted or threatened by irresponsible mining practices in Canada. As the indigenous peoples who rely on these waters for our cultural identity and food security, we are both the experts and the first impacted.

Indigenous Nations are sovereign Nations predating and presaging many of the institutions of the US government. We have 1000’s of years of knowledge managing these watersheds as an intact whole.

To solve international problems requires Indigenous perspective and solutions.  US Tribes/Clans and Canadian First Nations/Bands/Inuit/Metis must have seats at the decision table when it comes to huge industrial projects in the headwaters of vital watersheds that have the potential to devastate our communities. - More...
Thursday PM - June 20, 2019  

jpg Opinion

Legislature Transfers Funds to the Permanent Fund Corpus By Rep. Dan Ortiz - The Alaska State Legislature adjourned last week, but before adjourning, the most significant accomplishment was the agreement to transfer $10.5 billion from the Earnings Reserve Account (ERA) to the Corpus of the Permanent Fund. For the majority of legislators, including Senator Stedman and myself, it is a top priority to protect and enhance opportunities for the Permanent Fund to grow so that there will continue to be PFDs for Alaskans well into the future.

The Permanent Fund is comprised of the Corpus (also known as the Principal) and the ERA. The Corpus is non-spendable principal portion of the Permanent Fund; it can only be used for income-producing investments. The ERA is spendable, meaning it is available for appropriations as determined by the Legislature.  

As of April 30th, the total value the Permanent Fund was 65.3 billion, with $19 billion in the ERA and $46.3 billion in the Corpus. The transfer of $10.5 billion from the ERA to the “permanent” portion of the fund will make it more likely that the Fund’s total value may reach $100 billion within the next 15 years. There will be a 5.25% draw on the total value of the Permanent Fund itself (based on statute SB26) to pay for the distribution of the PFD and pay for a portion of state services, which will bring the ERA value to approximately $16 billion, not including the agreed upon transfer.

In order to preserve the long-term value of the Permanent Fund, the non-partisan Legislative Finance Division and the Permanent Fund Corporation both recommend that the ERA draw is not larger than the 5.25% called for in statute. Larger unplanned draws would force the Permanent Fund Corporation to change the investment strategies for a significant portion of the fund away from long term high yield investments to short term cash flow-based investments. That would mean less growth potential for the fund itself. - More...
Thursday PM - June 20, 2019

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