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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
July 25, 2012

Front Page Photo By MIKE SMITH

Herring Cove: Bears & People
You can't outrun a bear. They have been clocked at speeds up to 35 mph.
Front Page Photo By MIKE SMITH ©2012
ADF&G: Wildlife Viewing Ethics
ADF&G: Safety in Bear Country
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Ketchikan: Ketchikan hosts Coastal Zone program hearing by Leila Kheiry, KRBD - The hearing was run by Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell, who started the proceedings with an overview, including an analysis of the bill and an estimate of what the resulting coastal zone program would cost the state. - Read or listen to this KRBD story...


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COASTAL TRIBES CONVENE TO TACKLE CLIMATE CHANGE; Indigenous people from all coasts of U.S. come together (SitNews) - Hundreds of native leaders, witnesses and climate scientists joined policy-makers and non-government organizations last week for groundbreaking dialogue at a first-of-its-kind national event at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian in Washington, D.C.

COASTAL TRIBES CONVENE TO TACKLE CLIMATE CHANGE; Indigenous people from all coasts of U.S. come together

A crew in a traditional Northwest Canoe approaches the Hoh River on the Olympic Peninsula in Washington.
Credit: NOAA

How climate change affects U.S. indigenous coastal cultures was the focus of the First Stewards symposium with the coastal treaty tribes of Washington state – the Hoh, Makah, Quileute tribes and the Quinault Indian Nation – hosting the event and collaborating with NOAA and other partners.

Native leaders, including American Indians, Alaska Natives and Pacific Islanders, joined climate scientists, policy-makers, and representatives of non-government organizations to discuss ways indigenous peoples and cultures may be able to increase their ability to adapt to predicted climate change. Participants discussed how to include indigenous traditional knowledge in U.S. climate change science, education, and governance.

In Alaska, there are native villages pulling up stakes and moving to new ground as the permafrost beneath them melts and erodes due to warming global temperatures.

Mike Williams is an Iditarod racer, a subsistence hunter, a veteran of the US Army and chief of the Yupiit Nation. He’s also a wellness counselor in the rural village of Akiak, where he lives. The village, like many in Alaska, is losing ground to erosion as the permafrost melts and storms surge due to climate change.

Williams was the moderator for the panel of Alaskans who came to testify last week at First Stewards climate symposium. They represented rural villages from the coasts and interior of Alaska, all of which are under threat.

Akiak lost the regional hospital and staff housing that dates back to the 1900s, Williams said. Even more devastating was the loss of the cemetery. Workers from the village spent a whole summer relocating the remains of ancestors to higher ground. Williams said he spent a lot of time talking with people from his village about their anxiety and grief as they worked with the remains.

Symposium attendees also heard from United States Senator Mark Begich (D-AK) who said he has first-hand experience with climate change. He told about a photo of himself as a child, sitting in front of a big glacier calving behind him. Recently he took his young son to the same place, and took the same picture – but there was no glacier, only snow-capped mountains in the distance.

Other members of the Alaska panel were: Erin Dougherty, an attorney for the Native American Rights Fund; Stanley Tom, from Newtok, a village that is in the process of relocating at higher ground; Stanley Tocktoo, from Shishmare; and Pat Plentikoff, from St. George. - More...
Wednesday - July 25, 2012

Alaska Science: Standing in the middle of the Ice Age By NED ROZELL - Bison have not thundered through this neighborhood for thousands of years. But there’s one now, Matthew Sturm said, as he pointed to a horn cemented in a cold, dark wall 30 feet beneath the boreal forest.

Standing in the middle of the Ice Age

Matthew Sturm points out the horn of a steppe bison.
Photo by Ned Rozell

“We’re standing in the middle of the ice age,” Sturm, an expert on snow, ice and other frozen things said from inside the famous Permafrost Tunnel, bored into a hillside north of Fairbanks. “This was the savanna of the north, with bison, saber-toothed cats, mammoths and horses. This is one of the great Pleistocene bonebeds in the world. Hundreds of boxes of bones came from Engineer and Goldstream creeks.”

Sturm and Margaret Cysewski, both of the U.S. Army Cold Regions Research and Engineering Laboratory on Fort Wainwright recently gave me a private tour of the emerging new permafrost tunnel in Fox, along with a walk through the old one. Their goal is to alert people to a community meeting regarding the new and old tunnels in late July regarding how best to allow school-age kids and others a chance to step back in time just a few hundred yards from the Steese Highway.

With the original Permafrost Tunnel, the Army wanted to investigate the feasibility of building usable spaces within — and lasting foundations above — ground as hard as granite. Bored into the hillside by Army soldiers in the 1960s, the old tunnel extends into the hillside more than 350 feet.

Inside, the air smells bittersweet, like something half rotten. The air is 40 degrees colder than the summer day just outside the freezer door. Fine dust wafts from the floor, a reminder of the violent winds that carried the powder of glacier-ground silt from river valleys, constructing the hills around Fairbanks. The dirt froze into place here, along with bison horns, ponds, ancient tree stems and pond microbes that have danced with life when thawed on glass slides after a slumber of 30,000 years.

Within a few steps, the tunnel allows a journey back to the Pleistocene, a time when New York City, Chicago, and almost all of Canada was beneath the blue ice of glaciers, while this spot was paradoxically a rich grassland teeming with animals. Like nowhere else, the tunnel shows that ground that froze during a colder time and has remained that way through the heat of at least two summers is in great supply in Alaska. - More...
Wednesday - July 25, 2012

Columns - Commentary

jpg Dave KifferDAVE KIFFER: Bye, bye Smithers, Hello Waterslides! - Liam and I had one last splash around Mike Smithers’ Pool before it closed a couple of weeks ago.

Right off, I need to note that we are not one those “swimming” families that has spent every waking – above water – breath there!

I know some people who now have gills because they started in “guppy” swim, graduated to “bullhead” swim, moved on to “smolts” and eventually were absorbed into the endless lap swim-a-thon that is Killer Whales. Their children followed them and now they have grand “guppies.”

Good for them!

That is exactly why we built the community pools back in the early 1970s.

It’s hard to believe that there was a time – when I was a “bullhead” – in which Ketchikan had no community pools. That was back in the 1960s. Even though just about everyone in Ketchikan spent some time on the water at some point, we didn’t have any real pools because, well, just because.

Part of it was that old cussed Ketchikan nature. The old “well, I learned to swim in Tongass Narrows or Ward Lake or at Bugge Beach and that was good enough…….”

Yadda, yadda, yadda.

Of course, the 1960s were the not so good old days when it was not unusual for someone to drown in Tongass Narrows or other nearby waters. Usually happened several times a year.  Didn’t even make the front page of the newspaper, like it would today.

If fact, I know of 10 children who died in a variety of water based catastrophes between 1960 and 1973. I would hazard a guess that we have not have had a TOTAL of 10 youth or child drownings in Ketchikan waters in the last 40 years. At any rate, years go by now with a drowning.

Of course, it could be argued that we have been more “rock centric” in recent decades. We don’t fish or head out on boats the way we used to. Kids today are more inclined to play a “whitewater” video game than they are to take a rowboat out in the harbor like we did.

Yadda, yadda, yadda. - More....
Wednesday - July 25, 2012


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letter Drinking Burned Garbage By Shelley Stallings - Thank you Kathy Doyle. I continue to be amazed when I see people burning garbage. This form of air pollution is bad enough by itself, but when you add the fact that almost all of us outside of the city limits drink water which is collected from our roofs, it becomes really scary. As you noted there are many synthetic chemicals in much of the garbage that is burned. This ends up on our roofs, then into our cisterns. - More...
Monday - July 23, 2012

letter Voter Turn out By Ken Lewis - 7% turn out is sad, so here is my dumb solution. Alaskans get oil revenue money. If you want your Permanent Fund check, Vote. - More...
Monday - July 23, 2012

letter RE: Too Many Lifeguards By Kevin Gadsey - I am responding to Ms. Teal's question about having too many lifeguards at the pool. She must have come to the old Smithers Pool when the newly-hired lifeguards were training side-by-side with the experienced lifeguards. At the Smithers Pool, they usually had 3-4 guards for both pools combined. - More...
Monday - July 23, 2012

letter RE: "Too Many Lifeguards" By Larissa Otness - I am in shock that someone would question the amount of lifeguards and they're importance to the safety of our children. - More...
Monday - July 23, 2012

letter Ketchikan Gas Prices By Mike Wilson - Just a friendly note to let people know that the gas prices at Lighthouse Tesoro are 30 cents cheaper per gallon than what I observed yesterday in town. - More...
Monday - July 23, 2012

letter Mail-borne Ballots By Hunter Davis - As long as the elections office can verify that the ballot was filled out and mailed by the registered voter it was addressed to, fine. But there is a reason I do not use my street address for mailings. I've watched people walk by my steps and look in the box. - More...
Tuesday - July 17, 2012

letter Peace & Tranquility? By Richard Rold - I live in an area in the Ketchikan Borough that is very beautiful, and once was peaceful, and quiet; that is why I moved here from town in the first place. Over the years the peacefulness, & the quiet, has gradually subsided; now it can be anything but peaceful. - More...
Tuesday - July 17, 2012

letter Burning Garbage By Kathy Doyle - To the people of Mile 10-11 North Tongass: Here it is a lovely warm summer night when it is so nice to open the windows and have a nice breath of fresh air. Instead you start to cough, cough, choke, gag on some one's disgusting trash smoke coming into your home. - More...
Tuesday - July 17, 2012

letter 19th Nervous Breakdown By Chris Elliott - I'm not an expert on the healthcare law. Who is? After reading Mr. Spence's letter, I did a tiny bit of research. When the House passed the legislation sent to them by the Senate, the vote was 219 for and 212 against. 34 Democrats voted with all the Republicans. That's a pretty darn close vote for legislation that affects so many Americans and is such a big percentage of our economy. A recent Rasmussen poll (July 13-14) indicates that 52% of Americans favor repeal of the law and 42% oppose repeal. Again, pretty close. This is a VERY controversial issue. - More...
Tuesday - July 17, 2012

letter Mail In Ballots By Connie Williams - It is with a smile that I read the letters regarding the recent Ketchikan bond vote, and a whooping 7% return. How sad that such a small portion of the population was interested in what was being voted on, it should be in everyone's interest when it's going to cost you come property tax time. - More...
Tuesday - July 17, 2012

letter Too Many Life Guards? By Charlotte Tanner - I just had to respond to the letter asking if 4 life guards is too many at the small pool. - More...
Tuesday - July 17, 2012

letter Election Chaos Puts Ketchikan in Political Peril By John Harrington - The on-again, off-again State election district boundaries have created disarray and political danger particularly for Ketchikan. - More...
Saturday - July 14, 2012

letter Congress' Nineteenth Nervous Breakdown By Michael Spence - The most recent action of our US House of Representatives to repeal the Health Care Act reminds me of that Rolling Stones song about a spoiled adolescent who cannot reason: - More...
Saturday - July 14, 2012

letter Too many lifeguards? By Audiene Teal - I recently made a trip to our Ketchikan swimming pool with my family. We have children so we spent a lot of time in the kiddie pool so they could play and splash around. Now I know it is for our own safety to have lifeguards at the pool but there were four lifeguards that day at our little swimming pool. I felt it was in excess. - More...
Saturday - July 14, 2012

letter MAIL BALLOT THE ONLY CORRECT VOTING SOLUTION By Pete Ellis - Michael Spence has certainly "hit the nail on the head" in terms of local election needs and results.  The mail ballot is the only solution in terms of determining what the local voting residents really want. - More...
Monday - July 09, 2012

letter 4th of July Fireworks By Catherine Brown - Thank you to all those who put together the festivities for the 4th and especially the fireworks display. - More...
Monday - July 09, 2012

letter “Oh, you’re so negative” By David G. Hanger - There is something particularly juvenile about the attitude that you can judge some other person, “Oh, you’re so negative,” and thereby invalidate anything that person might say. In the article that you were criticizing so harshly I actually discussed that local inclination briefly. Thus my simple observation that your ignorance has precluded the possibility that you begin to comprehend the fact that everything you said is far more negative than anything I have said. It even has a word or label by which it is called: nullification. It’s the old slay the messenger game because you don’t have the guts to deal with the message. - More...
Monday - July 09, 2012

letter Thank You By Sandy James- The Ketchikan Seventh-day Adventist Church would like to thank the community for supporting our Fund Raiser for a Sound System.  Shamburgers (veggie burgers) and Homemade Pies were a HUGE success. - More...
Monday - July 09, 2012 

letter Thank You & Before the fireworks start By Ken Parks - I was at the fireworks display this fourth and was suitably impressed by the display, not so much from the locals shooting off roman candles as it was over my kids and almost at them a couple of times. This ironically enthused my kids and they still had a great time... I wanted to thank the City of Ketchikan and their workers for a great display, making it a fun and enjoyable as well as memorable event for my family. - More...
Monday - July 09, 2012

letter Whale watching By HelgaOhmer Ohmer - On Saturday morning (June 30), I enjoyed watching a big pod of killer whales going down the channel. I counted at least 12. All the boaters got out of the way, enjoying them from the distance. But not so for the two tourist outfits who turned around to get closer than comfort just for the sake of picture taking clients! - More...
Monday - July 09, 2012

letter Spins & Facts By Paul Jarvie - Charley, thank you for your information. As a concerned voter you have taught me to check the facts for myself. - More...
Monday - July 09, 2012

letter A patch to grind??? By Joey Garcia - Bill Meck "Road" caption in the Jun 25 issue sure has something to reckon with. I think you should not go far inside the hillsides of Ketchikan to wrangle up enough spirits of something like what Bill was pointing about. - More...
Monday - July 09, 2012

letter Comeuppances By A. M. Johnson - Hummm, It would appear that I have been corrected by readers. I accept the comeuppances. Yet, there is good from this. The fact that these executive orders produce the wrong sided intent is made apparent. Kennedy, Bush, Obama whom ever. The bottom line is many of these executive orders affects the Constitution's intent of guarding against over bearing government intrusion or violation of our freedoms and rights under the Bill of Rights and the Constitution itself. - More...
Monday - July 09, 2012

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