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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
July 14, 2011


Tongass Narrows Sunset
This photograph was taken from Pennock Island, in the background is Revilla Island.


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Legislation Repealing Roadless Rule Introduced; Conservationists Say Bill Seeks to Gut Roadless-Rule Protections - United States Senator Mark Begich (D-AK) and Congressman Don Young (R-AK) introduced legislation yesterday to repeal the 2001 Roadless Rule in Alaska’s National Forests.  Senator Lisa Murkowski co-sponsored the Senate measure.  Alaska’s two national forests are the nation’s largest.  The Tongass National Forest in Southeast Alaska, at 17 million acres, covers an area the size of West Virginia and the Chugach National Forest, stretching from the eastern Kenai Peninsula to most of Prince William Sound is 5.4 million acres. 

As the latest step in a complex history of litigation, a March 2011 Federal District Court ruling set aside the Tongass Exemption and reinstated the application of the 2001 Roadless Area Conservation Rule in the Tongass National Forest.  A 2003 administrative ruling had previously blocked the rule’s implementation in the Tongass.  The legislation introduced today would prevent use of the rule in planning and decision making for Alaska’s Chugach and Tongass National Forests. 

As implemented, the rule prohibits new roads in inventoried roadless areas and prohibits most timber harvest in these areas.  The March court decision reinstating the rule effectively places 300,000 acres of inventoried roadless area in which logging would have been allowed under the Tongass Land Management Plan off limits to development.

Referring to the Roadless Rule, “This cookie-cutter rule is a bad fit for Alaska,” U.S. Senator Begich said.  “With high unemployment and high energy costs in Southeast Alaska, the Forest Service needs greater flexibility to address these issues.  Repealing the rule will help keep the few existing mills alive and allow for the development of hydro projects throughout the region as well as two promising mining projects on Prince of Wales Island.  Instead of adding options, the roadless rule takes them away.”

Conservationist groups say the Roadless Rule currently protects 9.3 million acres in the Tongass and 5.6 million acres in the Chugach – areas that include vital watersheds, critical salmon habitat, and old-growth trees – from logging and other road-building activities.  This legislation is a departure from the March 2011 federal court decision that called the past

“This bill makes absolutely no sense for Americans.  It threatens vital habitat for salmon, bears, and other wildlife, which southeast Alaskans rely upon for their living,” said Carol Cairnes, President of the Tongass Conservation Society.  “These are our public lands and we should have a say in how they are managed. The American taxpayer will not only lose a national treasure, but will have to foot the bill for timber subsidies.  It’s ridiculous.” exemption of the Tongass from the Roadless Rule “arbitrary and capricious.”

Cindy Shogan, Executive Director of the Alaska Wilderness League, said, "The Roadless Rule is one of the most important public lands policies that protects vital watersheds, critical habitat for salmon and wildlife, and supports the top economic drivers of the region – tourism and commercial fishing industries. The Tongass and Chugach National Forests in Alaska represents our largest remaining temperate rainforest in the world.”

Shogan said,  “We call upon Congress to stop this attack on one of America’s greatest national treasures.”

Congressman Don Young said, "The Roadless Rule was ill-conceived and based on a one-size-fits-all theory." He said, "As we have seen time and time again, the one-size-fits-all approach rarely ever applies to Alaska.  The economic well-being and way of life for many Alaskans relies on responsible resource development and this legislation will ensure that this rule doesn't harm Alaska more than it already has.  Over the last few decades I have watched the timber industry go from thousands of jobs to nothing; we cannot allow the government to decimate this area more than they already have.  This legislation is an economic necessity so that Alaskans may start to responsibly develop our resources in these areas again." 

“The roadless rule never made sense for Alaska since 96 percent of the Tongass and 99 percent of the Chugach are already protected by ANILCA and forest management plans,” said U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski. “Exempting the Tongass from the roadless rule will help make certain that what little remains of the timber industry in Southeast can survive long enough for the Forest Service to implement its second-growth harvest policy. The exemption will also ensure that hydropower and other affordable energy projects in Southeast can move forward.” - More...
Thursday - July 14, 2011 

Ketchikan: Fire leaves 10 homelessThe Ketchikan Fire Department was dispatched to a house fire at 3518 Alaska Avenue Tuesday at 6:03 pm. According to Fire Chief Frank Share, the first crews arrived at 6:05 PM and reported heavy smoke and flames showing from a two-story triplex.  Fire crews were informed all 10 residents were out of the house.

Chief Share said a total of 19 Ketchikan Fire Department personnel responded to the call assisted by crews from the North and South Tongass Fire Departments. Fire crews quickly brought the blaze under control. There were smoke detectors in the house.  - More...
Thursday - July 14, 2011

Alaska: Murkowski “Shines A Light” on Native Sex Trafficking; Indian Affairs Committee Hearing Also Touches on Abuse, Youth Suicide Rates –United States Senator Lisa Murkowski today seized the opportunity of a U.S. Senate Committee on Indian Affairs hearing to call attention to the “staggering” and “unacceptable” epidemic of domestic violence, sexual assault and sex trafficking among Alaska Natives and American Indians nationwide – and to get answers from federal officials about efforts underway to address the problems.

“The statistics on violence and assault are staggering, and whether it’s one in three or one in four, any act of violence is unacceptable,” Murkowski said, opening the hearing. “I meet with far too many Alaskans who tell me things may be worse – there is so much whispered and silenced into the shadows, which damages not just the victims, but also their families.”

Senator Murkowski’s first question was to the Department of Justice, asking an Associate Attorney General, “Young women are being hunted. You’ve got predators waiting outside homeless teen shelters, going to events like the Alaska Federation of Natives conference. What is the Department of Justice doing to target these sex traffickers?” - More...
Thursday - July 14, 2011

Alaska: ALASKA POLLOCK COOPERATIVES AGREE TO 5,000 SQUARE MILE SALMON BYCATCH AVOIDANCE AREA IN BERING SEA;  “Catch Share” Program Makes Cooperative Response Possible - This week, the Bering Sea pollock industry took action to reduce chum salmon bycatch.  Through the use of the Inter-cooperative Salmon Agreement, the pollock fishery has agreed to allow SeaState to close an additional 1,000 square nautical miles of fishing grounds to reduce encounters with chum salmon, bringing the total area allowed for closure to 5,000 square nautical miles.  This is an area larger than the state of Connecticut, and twenty times larger than the Prudhoe Bay oil fields.

Chum salmon are proving to be more abundant so far this year.  This is reflected on the pollock grounds and in river escapements.  The Alaska Department of Fish & Game (“ADFG”) recently increased Yukon River run size projections to 2.0 million fish, up from 1.3 to 1.6 million chum salmon. - More...
Thursday - July 14, 2011

Southeast Alaska: Alaska Arts Southeast receives NEA "Our Town" grant - Today, Alaska Arts Southeast announced that it will receive an Our Town grant from the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), one of only 51 grants awarded nationwide. Alaska Arts Southeast will receive $100,000 to make the Sheldon Jackson campus a multidisciplinary arts education campus and site of the Sitka Festival of Arts, Humanities and Natural Sciences in the summer of 2012.

Our Town is the NEA’s new leadership initiative focused on creative placemaking projects. In creative placemaking, partners from both public and private sectors come together to strategically shape the physical and social character of a neighborhood, town, city, or region around arts and cultural activities.

The NEA Our Town grant will provide the focus for developing the National Historic Landmark Site of the Sheldon Jackson Campus into a year round community arts campus that the adjacent nonprofit organizations will share. Partner groups and Alaska Arts Southeast will celebrate this community effort by holding the Sitka Festival of Arts, Humanities and Natural Sciences next summer. This is a ten-week festival that will showcase each of the partners and celebrate collaboration among disciplines. - More...
Thursday - July 14, 2011

Alaska Science: Buzzed by the same bird? By NED ROZELL - As I drifted with my family past a rocky cliff on the Yukon River, a gull cruised at us like an F-15, diving just over our heads to show its apparent displeasure.

As the gull looped to buzz us again, I felt a strong sense of déjà vu. When I floated by this same cliff 18 summers earlier, a gull did the same thing (the experience sticks in my mind because canoe-bound dogs, one of which accompanied me on each trip, get so excited at a close bird that you have to employ immediate corrective leaning to avoid swimming). We canoed 200 miles of the Yukon the past few summers, some of it with similar cliffs. This river bend was the only place where a gull came after us, which begs a question. Could it have been the same bird that was nesting on that cliff in 1993? - More...
Thursday - July 14, 2011



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letter Thank you, Don Thornlow By T.J. Wilson - A recent severe house fire in Ketchikan displaced many individuals, mostly children. In an effort to assist these people, my daughter called the hotels in town for a room for one night since the fire completely destroyed their home and contents, and it happened in the afternoon. With the exception of Don Thornlow of The Narrows, every other hotel in town declined to donate a room for the night, and a couple of these owners, managers were rude about it. Don Thornlow did not have an empty room as they were fully booked, but he did say "If one was available it would yours." No one else did. - More...
Thursday - July 14, 2011

letter Building a Barn at a Local Gravel Pit By Robert D. Warner - Recently a citizen wrote to SITNEWS that the design for the new library looks like a "barn."  Ketchikan cannot solve its public library problems by simply building a "barn" at a semi isolated local gravel pit and dump site.  That's the easy part.  It is more of a challenge to build quality collections and assemble a library staff that knows what they are doing.  This important challenge reminds me of the definition of a library inscribed on a coffee cup in my collection. - More...
Thursday - July 14, 2011

letter Tongass Road Work By Laurie Sivertsen - Good grief, are we all immature?!? I'm talking about the cones for the road construction on Tongass Avenue, and the idiot(s) who find it fun to knock them over and run over them. - More...
Thursday - July 14, 2011

letter Home Rule By Ed Fry - Having followed a disappointed taxpayer threads, the checks that are going out for consulting economic development, it points to the direction of "stalemate" in innovative thinking.  So it makes me think of "the five ape theory." - More...
Thursday - July 14, 2011

letter Another tour incident By Christina Bush - We have enough tour vehicles on the road during the tour season, it seems to me that the popular land and sea tour bus/boat is a bit much considering drivers have proved difficulty seeing around their own vehicle. I have personally witnessed this specific tour bus/boat make mulitple close calls with parked cars and pedestrians in cross walks.
I have decided to post this letter because of a recent incident where a bus/boat bumped or cliped a child riding a bike causing minor injury. - More...
Thursday - July 14, 2011

letter"Home-Ruin" Government By A. M. Johnson - Regarding the move to Unify (cancel) consolidate (cancel) Home Rule the Ketchikan Gateway Borough: If you voted for Unification or Consolidation, then you will really want Home Rule. This is an end run to achieve the goal of Unification/ Consolidation. If you were opposed to Unification or Consolidation and voted against, you will not be happy with a Home Rule Borough. Even with the assurances that there no authority to propose a move towards the two offerings. Bet me!! - More...
Monday - July 11, 2011

letter Just Imagine By Tara Jollie - The nation’s June jobs report listed national unemployment at 9.2% with an estimate of 16.2% as the more realistic rate measure of American joblessness.  It went on to say the private sector created 18,000 new jobs in June; not nearly enough to claim a viable recovery from the recent recession.  I hate to be insensitive to the nation’s unemployed, but imagine a 9%, or even 16%, unemployment rate in rural Alaska.  We would be dancing in the streets. - More...
Monday - July 11, 2011

letter Ketchikan & Chloramine Disinfection By Susan K. Pickford - It is my understanding that Ketchikan will be converting to a chloramine disinfection system in the public drinking water.  I am the director of The Chloramine Information Center in Pennsylvania. I have been corresponding with Thomas and Kristine Bellanich, customers in your water district and submit this letter together with them.  I would ask that you consider this letter and the information attached to this email in educating your readers as to whether it is prudent to proceed with Chloramine in your water system.  I sent a similar letter to the mayor, council and water company manager prior to the July 7th meeting. - More...
Monday - July 11, 2011

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