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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
July 19, 2010

Front Page Photo By JIM LEWIS

Rufous Hummingbird
Front Page Photo By JIM LEWIS


Fish Factor: Two-year time out allows fishermen & boaters to rest easier By LAINE WELCH - Fishermen and other boaters can rest easier knowing they won't need a federal permit to hose off their decks. A bill that just passed the Senate extends the moratoria on discharge permit requirements for commercial and charter fishing vessels beyond the July 31 deadline.

"Say you're a sport fishing guide and you've taken your clients out, gotten a few halibut and you come in and hose off the deck. That would be a reportable discharge. They are talking about deck run off, bilge water, gray water and it would affect 9,700 vessels in the state of Alaska alone," said Sen. Lisa Murkowski in a phone conversation from Washington, D.C.

In 2008 the Environmental Protection Agency came out with regulations that would require discharges by vessels of any size to be reportable to the EPA under the Clean Water Act.

Murkowski and Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) succeeded in getting a two-year time out for working boats and other vessels under 79 feet. At the same time, the EPA was given 15 months to study the types and effects of discharges from boats of varying sizes, and if the exemptions should be permanent. The study has not been completed, according to Sen. Murkowski.

"It's estimated that if the moratoria were not put in place, the EPA would be subject to issuing up to 140,000 permits by July 31. The EPA is not poised to do this and it is not necessary," Murkowski said. "Let's clear the decks and allow fishing people to be out working, and not worry if they are violating some reporting requirement."

The measure to extend the moratoria passed the Senate unanimously and Murkowski said it should be wrapped up before Congress adjourns for its August recess.

Also moving through the lawmaking process is an $8 million Bering Sea crab loan program aimed at helping new entrants buy into the fisheries. It has taken five years for that loan opportunity to move up the 'priority' of federal policy wonks.

"The money is there and it must go out the door in the 2010 budget appropriations. We are working aggressively to make that happen and the loan program should be finalized by this fall," she said.

Murkowski spoke candidly about her 'gut feelings' regarding the proposed Pebble Mine, and went beyond the typical response by politicians that "the project must be allowed to go through the process."

"My gut says we don't balance one resource off another. It can't be an either or proposition. I do have concerns as to whether or not the project would impact the water, and therefore the salmon. I am not going to prejudge the project, but I put out the very precautionary note that you cannot trade one for the other," she said.

Murkowski said she has had several conversations with Cynthia Carroll, the CEO of Anglo-American, developer of the Pebble Mine project.

"She was very up front in saying that she also agrees that if they can't do the mine in a manner that ensures the sustainability of the fisheries, then it is not a project that they would pursue," Murkowski said. "I do believe they are studying this very carefully and intently, and we need to err on the side of caution when it comes to the extent of all the studies on the land, and in the watersheds and out in Bristol Bay." - More...
Monday - July 19, 2010

Alaska Science: New energy device to power oceanographic equipment - After two years of design and development, oceanographers at the University of Alaska Fairbanks are installing a new alternative energy device along the arctic coast of Alaska.

New energy device to power oceanographic equipment

The remote power module stands in its testing location in Barrow, Alaska.
Photo by Hank Statscewich

The device will provide power to scientific instruments in remote areas, where sources of electricity are often scarce.

"In principle, the device means that we can deploy the radar systems anywhere along Alaska's coast," said Tom Weingartner, professor of physical oceanography and the principal investigator for the project.

The device, called a remote power module, is equipped with four wind turbines, a solar array and a backup generator. The wind and solar energy provide five days' worth of battery charge. If the batteries get low, the module recharges using a biodiesel generator.

Scientists will install the module in Barrow this month and test it from July to November. It will power high-frequency radars that map sea surface currents along the coast of the Beaufort Sea. The radars send signals over the water's surface, where they are reflected off the top of the waves. The radar signals are bounced back to the antennae and the data is transmitted to scientists in Fairbanks in real-time.

"The radar and remote power module allows us to better understand marine ecosystems processes, inform engineering designs for offshore activities, assist in search and rescue operations, and, in the event of a marine spill, assist in clean-up response," added Weingartner.

The radars typically are powered by shore-based power sources, such as those available in homes or commercial buildings, he said. "Power sources are few and far between in Alaska and, where available, are not necessarily ideally suited for sampling." - More...
Monday - July 19, 2010


Alaska Science: Did mammoth hunters warm the world? By NED ROZELL - Could ancient mammoth hunters have warmed the planet? A trio of scientists presents the idea in a new study.

 Did mammoth hunters warm the world?

A paper birch in springtime featuring beads of bitter resin on the twig.
Ned Rozell photo.

The far north landscape was changing about 15,000 years ago. Trees and shrubs were invading the great grasslands that hosted woolly mammoths and horses. Around that time, the mammoths, horses and other grass-eating animals disappeared.

In a recent study published in the Geophysical Research Letters, three scientists wrote that a great increase in birch shrubs at the time was because of a lack of mammoths to browse them down, caused by hunters that wiped out the mammoth. This increase in woody plants changed the color of the landscape, darkening it to absorb more heat.

"The basic idea is that a small number of humans with primitive technology could have had a detectable impact on climate," said Chris Field, head of the Department of Global Ecology at the Carnegie Institution for Science in Stanford, California. Field is one of the authors of the paper.

Chris Doughty, formerly a graduate student at the Carnegie Institution, was the lead author on the paper. It was Doughty's idea to propose the notion that - despite the fact that some people today believe that 6 billion of us have no effect on climate - even a small group of hunters could have made the planet warmer. Since writing the paper, Doughty has moved on to Oxford University in England.

"When elephants are removed from African ecosystems, there is a large increase in tree cover," Doughty said via email. "We wondered if the same was true when mammoths were removed from Siberia and further wondered what impact on climate this might have had."

Doughty noted how modern-day elephants clear out trees by both stripping them of leaves and knocking them over to get at leaves they can't reach. The fall of the mammoths and their possible destructive effect on trees may have led to the spread of birch, Doughty said. He and his colleagues looked at ancient records of pollen from far-north lakes and saw that birch pollen seemed to rise around the time mammoth populations dropped off.

A researcher who disagrees with the theory of ancient hunters causing a spiral toward global warming is Dale Guthrie, a professor emeritus at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. He is an expert on mammoths and the author of several books, including "Frozen Fauna of the Mammoth Steppe: The Story of Blue Babe." - More...
Monday - July 19, 2010


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Questions, please contact the editor at or call 617-9696.

letter Wrong one fired! By Hugh T. Wilson Jr. - I was a State Certified Police Officer for the town of Metlakatla for approximately 5 years. I served the people of the community of Metlakatla to the best of my ability and I never complained. I was fired June 9, 2010 by Chief of Police Nick Yliniemi in the driveway of my home for reasons I'm still trying to figure out. Now after overcoming adversity, working hard and putting the people that deserved it behind bars, I now have to figure out how I'm supposed to support and take care of my family of 4 with one (maybe 2) on the way. - More...
Monday - July 19, 2010

letterGlad for our black bears By Judith Green - OK Ketchikan, aren't we glad for our black bear population? Gives us lots of opportunity for photos and stories, along with eye to eye viewing. I never get tired of yet another picture of these grand creatures with whom we share a love for local-wild salmon and fresh off the bush vitamin packed berries. - More...
Monday - July 19, 2010

letterSkate park By Vicky Campo - I want to know when our kids are going to get their skate park. Everything I hear is that there is always a reason why it isn't being pursued. My son is a skate boarder and he is also involved in a lot of Ketchikan's activities including High School. He is involved in basketball, football, and baseball. These kids are always being told that can't skateboard anywhere in Ketchikan besides the rec center, with the talent they have the rec center only allows so much for them. - More...
Monday - July 19, 2010

letterCape Fox Corp. Lack of Respect for Shareholders By Marilyn Blair - Once again the Cape Fox Board of Directors are showing their total lack of respect for the shareholders! They reschedule our annual shareholder meeting two days before its scheduled time and the only notification we get is a sign on the Saxman Community Hall and don't even get a reason why! Last year they rescheduled all the way into October and that was because of the audited finacial statements. - More...
Monday - July 12, 2010

letterLibrary By Peter Bolling - My wife and I are completing our one-year hiatus from Ketchikan while I took a sabbatical to attend school.  There are two Ketchikan institutions that we have missed the most:  the public library and KRBD. - More...
Monday - July 12, 2010

letterFarewell By Sean Powell - Without taking precious reader time, I wanted to say a fond farewell to my friend Don Kralis. As most of you probably know, Don and his wife Lois were killed in late June outside of Terrace, BC. There was a memorial service for him on July 2nd but I was unable to attend. I thought that a few kind words in a public forum might speed him happily on his way to the Great Beyond. - More...
Monday - July 12, 2010

letterTo those opposed to S 881 By Jean Bland - To Johnnie Laird and who ever else is and has taken money provided by SEALASKA; how many of you from these communities (Thorne Bay; Coffman Cove; Port Protection; Naukati; Whale Pass; Hollis) are still working for companies who are contracted by SEALASKA and being paid by them? - More...
Monday - July 12, 2010

letterLibrary Tax By Ed Marksheffel - For those outside of the City of Ketchikan please note on your Property Tax Statement, and I quote, "Nonareawide (Library)" and an amount you pay for it. I seem to recall a history lesson about a war and the statement 'Taxation without representation" was one of the causes. - More...
Thursday PM - July 08, 2010

letterS 881 Bill Still Misses Mark; Ignores Community and Small Business Concerns By Johnnie Laird - After many months of participation in the S 881 process, I continue to be disappointed in Senator's Murkowski's legislation that will go up before the Senate Natural Resources Committee by the end of this month. - More...
Thursday PM - July 08, 2010

letterMORE FUN AND GAMES AT UAS KETCHIKAN CAMPUS By Robert D. Warner - A recent announcement that the position of UAS Ketchikan Campus Director will be filled for the next year by a temporary troika of people is yet another blunder by the UAS Juneau based administration. This administration has dictated Ketchikan campus policy since 1987 when Ketchikan Community College was eliminated. When the local Campus Director announced her departure in early May, a search for a replacement could have promptly started. Such a search could be conducted efficiently and fairly in about three to four months. This schedule would have allowed one month for advertising, one month for screening applications, and a third month for interviews and hiring. Now we have a needless delay that will drag this process out for another year, perhaps longer! When the long overdue retirement of a UAS provost was finally announced in 2003, pending a replacement being hired, it took 7 years for UAS to hire that replacement. - More...
Thursday PM - July 08, 2010

letterTongass Tribe Land - Ketchikan By Aan Kadax Tseen aka Don Hoff Jr. - We are the lineal descendants of the Taan ta Kwaan means Sealion People or known as Tongass Tribe (hereinafter the "Tongass Tribe" or "Tribe"), a traditional and historical Alaskan Native Tribe in Ketchikan indisputably recognized by all Tlingit, Haida and Tsimshian tribes in Southeast Alaska. - More...
Tuesday PM - July 06, 2010

letterKetchikan's Rock Pit Library By Robert D. Warner - Some of us are rather tired of hearing about "Ketchikan's harassed public librarians." The last time I checked, many of them have been feeding quite heartily at the public trough. We are also tired of the continuing effort to hide our public library in an unsightly rock pit removed from the center of Ketchikan. This is both frustrating and discouraging. Why doesn't Ketchikan Public Library have professional leadership and courage to stop this misguided effort? It is fortunate that several folks like Mr. Bergeron are willing to speak out on this important issue. Shouldn't we be pleased that the public library would remain at the hub of a city center as it has for over 100 years? Why would we want to hide it at a unsightly rock pit? - More...
Tuesday PM - July 06, 2010

letterThe Ten Top Reasons to Put the Library in the Rock Pit at Copper Ridge By Patrick Jirschele - Number Ten: The librarians won't have to waste time waking up the bums because the drilling and blasting will make it impossible to sleep. That's right, it is an active rock pit! Look out for flying rocks. - More...
Tuesday PM - July 06, 2010

letterLibrary By Tom LeCompte - As much as I would've liked to see a gorgeous new library sitting on top of the hill downtown, it has been explained to me by KJ Harris that one of the main reasons to not have it there is the limited access and maneuvering room for fire trucks and other emergency vehicles. That is the best explanation for not using that spot. - More...
Tuesday PM - July 06, 2010

letterRotary Beach By MJ Cadle - I was at Rotary Beach yesterday and noticed what I believe is Japanese knotweed beginning to take hold. For those of you who know knotweed, you know what a terrible thing this will be. For those of you who don t, think plants with large leaves that grow 15 feet high in one year and are so densely packed even grass finds it hard to grow between. There is an excellent example of what they are capable of doing as you go north around the sharp corner just before the first Sunset Drive turnoff. That dense growth on the right side is knotweed and only knotweed. - More...
Tuesday PM - July 06, 2010

letter I Oughta Be In Pictures By Daylene Currier - I just finished Dave Kiffer's article. Thanks! I really needed that laugh! I think I need to go back through my pictures now to see how many have been graced by your presence! - More...
Tuesday PM - July 06, 2010

letterLibrary Location By Suzan Thompson - An inaccessible rock pit? Would that be the one with the broad paved two-lane road sweeping past it? As opposed to an inaccessible cliff top requiring construction of an extremely expensive elevator, the realigning of two steep, narrow streets, and the elimination of the parking which local jurors depend on to keep from being loaded with overtime parking tickets as they do their civic duty down at the bottom of the hill? And that so that we can provide tourists with access to our library? - More...
Wednesday - June 30, 2010

letterPlace it here, or place it there! By Joseph T. Craig - Everyone has their idea of where the new library, fire station, museum , or other buildings should be placed. I would like to inject my thoughts as well. - More...
Wednesday - June 30, 2010

letterBorough loans By Angelo L. Martin - No , No , No. Have you not learned from past history? I was a Borough Assembly member when the mill closed and when we got the 25 million dollars as the economic disaster fund. I voted to give loans to the bowel factory, Veneer plant, etc. Only one word describes it -- DISASTER!! - More...
Wednesday - June 30, 2010

letterThank You By Ben Hastings - I am the father of a handicapped young lady that every one in Ketchikan knows - Lizzy. We just came from the dedication of Opportunity House on Caralina and I was totally impressed. - More...
Wednesday - June 30, 2010

letterNo Friend of the Taxpayers By Sam Bergeron - The City Council is no friend of Ketchikan's taxpayers. - More...
Monday PM - jUne 28, 2010

letterBill Walker for Governor By Andy Rauwolf - Bill Walker is the only candidate with a plan and the know how to bring low cost energy to every corner of the state. This is the crucial element that will allow our businesses to grow and develop. With a thriving economy and continued revenues from an in-state gas pipeline flowing into the state coffers Alaska will be a model for the rest of the nation, and our children will finally have a future right here instead of being forced to seek jobs elsewhere. - More...
Monday PM - June 28, 2010

letterS. 881: Sealaska Bill By Bob Claus - Last week, the U.S. Senate Energy Committee passed 26 bills out of the committee. Senate Bill 881, the Sealaska Bill, was not in this big group of lands bills. - More...
Monday PM - JUne 28, 2010

letterOil Spill Compensation Act of 2010 By U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski - We're entering the third month of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill and the 22nd year since the Exxon Valdez hit Bligh Reef. In the Gulf of Mexico, as much as 3 million barrels of crude have already spilled from the blown-out well, and in Prince William Sound there is still oil hiding under rocky beaches. - More...
Thursday - June 24, 2010

letterKetchikan Gateway Borough economic loan proposal. By A.M.Johnson - After reading the economic loan proposal on an Economical Development Loan program on the borough website, I am convinced that the concept of the borough staff and Assembly being in a decision position to loan money is not a healthy concept. - More...
Thursday - JUne 24, 2010

letterThe Case for Burying S 881 By Alan Stein - Two of America's most open and transparent Senators are on a campaign to keep legislation they wrote and cosponsered behind closed doors. - More...
Thursday - June 24, 2010

letterBill Walker has the plan By Ann Graham Radford - We recently attended the funeral of Governor Wally Hickel. It was a wonderful tribute to a great Alaskan. Wally loved Ketchikan and we returned the affection - we were the only District in Alaska where Wally won every election he ever entered, even the write-in! - More...
Thursday - June 24, 2010

letterProposal to purchase property for Fire Station 7 By Ed Fry - In response to both Chief Hull and Mr. Dial, the questions that were asked were on target and appropriate; thank you Mr. Dial for calling the questions. - More...
Monday - June 21, 2010

letterBill Walker has an Alaskan Plan! By Barb Lander - Bill Walker, Republican gubernatorial candidate deserves your consideration. He is a lifelong Alaskan that like most real Alaskans has a broad and varied background. Most recently he has worked as a lawyer focusing primarily on oil and gas issues, but he has also done construction, worked as a laborer building the pipeline and had a stint commercial fishing. - More...
Monday - June 21, 2010

letterCity improvements By Casey Eberle - First of all let me say, that yes I am a new resident of Ketchikan. It seems that many in this town feel that unless you have been here for an extended period of time you aren't a "local", but I am here for the long haul, and there are several things about this town that I have noticed. - More...
Monday - June 21, 2010

letterS 881 By Judy Magnuson - We are still waiting to see the new revised S 881 bill, hopefully we will have enough time to adequately assess the new impacts of this legislation on the communities of Southeast. From what we have heard so far I feel that the new bill will not be any different than the last one, places will have been moved around effecting different communities more and others less, but the main objections to this bill will remain the same. Sealaska will still be given millions of dollars of infrastructure paid for at the taxpayers expense, in essence a bail -out of a private corporation by the taxpayers because of their own failure to properly utilize the land they were originally given. The second growth alone cost the taxpayers $10 million in thinning on the 20,721 acres of young growth, plus costs of roads, log transfer facilities, bridges, decades of maintenance, costs of planning, studies, loss of 184 acres with established long term research plots, and loss of 7,359 Geological Special Areas. - More...
Monday - June 21, 2010

letterProposal to purchase property for Fire Station 7 By Dave Hull - In reference to Mr. Rodney Dial's questions regarding the proposal to purchase property for Fire Station 7, he asks that I answer questions he poses in his letter to the editor. For the record, these are excellent questions that I am sure are being asked by many. I encourage others to call, write or stop by and talk. - More...
Thursday PM - June 17, 2010

letterLet Everyone Vote By Penny Hamlin Connelly - I have been a townie pretty much my whole life, taking for granted being able to vote on all issues concerning the city and the borough. Imagine my surprise when I moved out North a few years ago, went to vote, and discovered part of my election ballot was missing. I went into total Ketchikan Culture Shock. "What do you mean I don't get to vote on city issues?" Took me awhile to get over it, but I did. - More...
Thursday PM - June 17, 2010

letterLibrary By Mark Johnson - The Library has served us very well since it started way back when in 1901 now it's time for us to serve it well and build the new building. Now we'll get much of it paid for with matching funds that we will lose at the rate we are going and that is not going to get us anything. The current building is too small so moving to a new site is the only real option. The downtown site that was the main street school has been rejected twice already. There are problems with all the sites we could have a library on, not one of them is perfect and no place we choose to build can be, but we have a site picked and money in the bank as well as plans in the works. - More...
Thursday PM - June 17, 2010

letterS.881: Same Pig, Different Sunglasses and Wig By Sandy Powers - The proposed revisions of the rehashed Sealaska bill S.881 reflect but little difference from previous versions. Some of the selections of the high-value roaded timber got switched with other selections of high-value roaded timber. Parts of north POW were spared immediate impact but Edna Bay, Hollis, Thorne Bay and other areas were hit as hard or harder in return. Some brand new areas were added, such as two tidal energy sites and two geothermal sites. A hydroelectric site is still proposed for Josephine Lake. 190,000 acres of additional LUD-II style lockups on Kuiu, Prince of Wales, Kosciusko, Kupreanof and a couple other islands recommended by staffers, and no doubt SEACC are thrown in for good measure. How ironic - the very groups and politicians who call for transparency and public involvement now eagerly override those guiding principles when it serves their own personal interests. The revision claims new protection for karst, but the Forest Plan already identifies and protects karst. This politically motivated bill hatched up behind closed doors only panders to the special interests of a private corporation and foundation-funded green groups. - More...
Thursday PM - June 17, 2010

letter Re: Tax Payers Revelation By Peggy Green - I think Don Borders makes perfect sense in his article regarding the Library, and other Government offices. I too think that the Borough offices should utilize the Ward Cove property. - More...
Thursday PM - June 17, 2010

letter Federal Government Unprepared for Disasters By Donald A. Moskowitz - Our federal government under two administrations has dropped the ball with a major regional problem and unfortunately the Gulf oil spill debacle succeeded the hurricane Katrina debacle in the same region of the country. Where are FEMA and other government agencies when these problems occur? - More...
Thursday PM - June 17, 2010

letter Re: A letter to North Tongass residents By Daylene Currier - I applaud Rodney Dial's ambition and his open-mindedness to this issue. So many people argue about what is right and wrong, and of course, theirs is the only opinion that ever matters. - More...
Thursday PM - June 17, 2010

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