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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
August 20, 2018

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Southeast Alaska: Officials Continue to Press Canadian Government on Transboundary Mining By MARY KAUFFMAN - Following a trip to Ottawa, Canada earlier this year, U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan and Alaska Lieutenant Governor Byron Mallott announced today their follow up with senior officials in the Canadian government to continue to raise the issue of transboundary mining impacting Southeast Alaska. 

In a recent letter addressed to the Canadian Minister of Environment Catherine McKenna and Minister of International Trade James Carr, Sen. Sullivan and Lt. Governor Mallott thanked the Canadians for their attention to transboundary mining issues while also stressing several key areas of concern that require continued attention.

“While Alaska, British Columbia, the U.S. Department of State, and Global Affairs Canada have been working well together on a path forward, including conducting water quality surveys and exploring monitoring options, there is much progress that still needs to be made to address mutual concerns,” wrote Sen. Sullivan and Lt. Gov. Mallott.  

The Taku, Stikine and Unuk are world class transboundary rivers whose headwaters are located in British Columbia and flow into Southeast Alaska. These rivers harbor iconic salmon and other fish populations and the greater watersheds, nearly the size of Maine, have been center of culture, commerce and biodiversity for thousands of years.

The rivers are not only important for their wildlife, people, and history but today they are significant contributors to the regional economy. These rivers account for $48 million in economic activity each year and are also significant contributors to the commercial fishing and tourism industries drawing $1 billion annually. The United States already protects these waters under environmental laws.

For years the British Columbia government has authorized large scale, hard rock mining developments upstream of these watersheds. There are at least ten open-pit and underground metal mines in various stages of development with some of these legacy mines contribution to releases of hazardous material that could have impacts on the downstream ecosystem in Southeast Alaska. As an example, the letter mentioned the Mount Polley mine's tailing dam failure in 2014 releasing approximately 24 million cubic meters of waste.

Sullivan and Mallott wrote in their letter that these developments pose real concerns to communities downstream even as British Columbia is works through options to clean up legacy sites while at the same time permitting new developments.

Earlier, to address these issues, the State of Alaska and the Province of British Columbia entered into a Memorandum of Understanding aimed at increasing coordination and transparency as the governments work to protect these watersheds. Both governments have also developed a Statement of Cooperation. These agreements established a bilateral working group.

Sullivan and Mallott acknowledged in the letter that Alaska, British Columbia, the U.S. Department of State, and the Global Affairs Canada have been working well on a path forward, including water quality surveys and exploring monitoring option; however, they wrote there is much progress that still needs to be made to address mutual concerns. - More...
Monday PM - August 20, 2018

Upriver during a record year at Bristol Bay By MARY CATHARINE MARTIN

Upriver during a record year at Bristol Bay
Kulik Spire, reflected in Kulik Lake, a lake in the Bristol Bay
Photo By Mary Catharine Martin | SalmonState


The Salmon State:
Upriver during a record year at Bristol Bay By MARY CATHARINE MARTIN - As fishermen leave Dillingham and canneries shut down, the Wood River system in the Bristol Bay watershed brims with sockeye salmon.

The second week of August, I got to spend several days upriver. Sockeye schooled at the mouths of small streams off the lake system, their fins cutting through the water. They choked ankle to knee-deep streams more narrow than the width of your dining room table. Females dug redds in the same part of the streams they were born in, fighting off both other females and undesirable males. The bodies of those who arrived before them littered the banks, and as later fish dug redds, unearthed eggs floated downstream, snapped up by opportunistic rainbow trout and arctic char.

And just above the surface, scientists were there to study the fish as they have been each year since 1946, when the University of Washington’s Fisheries Research Institute — now known as the Alaska Salmon Program — was established at the request of several Bristol Bay canneries.

I was up at two of the camps — Lake Nerka, (“nerka,” fittingly, is the Russian name for and the second part of the scientific name for sockeye salmon) and Aleknagik (Nerka is known locally as Second Lake and Aleknagik as First Lake). Over the course of my week there, I helped take genetic samples of fish, went all the way up to Kulik Lake (Fifth Lake, the farthest lake salmon can reach in the system), and learned a lot. Every year, even those who have been coming for more than two decades learn something unexpected, said University of Washington Professor of Aquatic and Fisheries Sciences Daniel Schindler, the scientist who was nice enough to invite me along.

Regardless of how technology develops, there are things scientists see when they’re present in a watershed that would never come across if they studied, say, by drone.

A few recent surprises? The Wood River system has had some “massive caterpillar outbreaks” in recent years.

“Birds, bears, rainbow trout, grayling — all of them are just packed full of caterpillars,” said Schindler.

The caterpillars themselves are packed full of vegetation, which they “obliterate” along the system. By September, though, the alders have re-sprouted instead of turning bright and beginning to die off. To Schindler, that suggests there’s an environmental history of the caterpillars and their interplay on the landscape — something supported by local knowledge. - More...
Monday PM - August 20, 2018

jpg Part 4: Sikuliaq researchers find odd, abundant animal-plant plankton

Part 4: Sikuliaq researchers find odd, abundant animal-plant plankton
Researchers and crew deploy different kinds of nets off the side of Sikuliaq to collect plankton from the water.
Photo by Suzanne Strom


Alaska: Part 4: Sikuliaq researchers find odd, abundant animal-plant plankton By LAUREN FRISCH - Imagine you are on a rocking ship out in the Gulf of Alaska attempting to capture your ultimate research nemesis: the single-celled protist. Equipped with a microscope and a glass tube that is drawn out to a fine point at the end, you chase this cell around a small container of seawater. The motion from the boat is not working in your favor.

But eventually, you are able to capture the cell and transfer it to a well plate, a flat plate with lots of small holes that can hold tiny samples in a bit of filtered seawater. Since you really just want to study this one protist, you need to rinse it off, small as it is, to make sure it’s not surrounded by other organisms along for the ride. Then it’s back to square one: you need to capture your protist again before finally storing it in a small amount of water and fixative.

The ability to conduct this procedure on a ship like Sikuliaq, to isolate these cells and preserve them quickly after they have come out of the ocean, allows researchers like Western Washington University’s Suzanne Strom to make some pretty radical observations about life at the bottom of the food web in the Gulf of Alaska.

In planktonic communities, both the producers and the primary consumers are mainly single-celled protists. Strom was particularly interested in focusing on a group of protists that have figured out how to both make their own food and successfully eat and digest their friends and neighbors. Researchers are calling them mixotrophs. Because of this flexible eating structure, mixotrophs are likely to be more resilient when food is scarce or weather is dark or cloudy, which means that animals higher up in the food chain are likely to have a more stable food source, even if environmental conditions are fluctuating.

Phytoplankton are the protists that make up the base of the food chain. They use chloroplasts — specialized compartments containing high amounts of chlorophyll — to photosynthesize and make their food out of carbon dioxide.

Mixotrophic protists such as ciliates consume phytoplankton and then are able to retain the chloroplast of the phytoplankton for days to weeks. The mixotrophs use these stolen chloroplasts to photosynthesize on their own. Other mixotrophs such as dinoflagellates manufacture their own chloroplasts, but can also eat other cells. - More...
Monday PM - August 20, 2018



TOM PURCELL: Why Homeownership Pressure Is Good - Younger generations buying fewer homes than prior generations is not good for America. 

A recent Urban Institute study found home ownership among millennials, ages 25 to 34, is about 8 percent lower than it was for prior generations at the same age

Which means many millennials are missing out on the misery of home ownership.

The quaint cottage-style house I've owned for 22 years has given me grief from day one. The latest incident involved my pressure washer. 

I have a lot of grounds to maintain. A pressure washer is essential. A few years ago, I bought the best one I could find at a big-box store. 

It worked fine until this spring, when it went drier than the Mojave Desert at high noon.

I determined that the hose was the likely culprit - that something had collapsed inside, preventing water from flowing freely.

I drove to the big-box store, where I was greeted by a highly knowledgeable and enthusiastic pressure-washer expert - Ha, ha! That didn't happen. It took me several minutes to find anyone who worked there. One fellow told me which parts to buy. 

Back home, I immediately discovered he'd sold me the wrong parts. 

I drove back to the store, spent several minutes looking for someone who worked there, bought more parts and drove home. None of those parts worked. I repeated this exercise five times before calling it a night.  - More....
Monday PM - August 20, 2018


MICHAEL SHANNON: Time for the Rest of Us to Unfriend the Media - The news media has a shaky grasp of the Constitution. It's true the 1st Amendment promises freedom of the press, but the Constitution does not promise immunity to criticism. President Trump is free to voice his opinion of journalists.

The president has some justification for his anger. Over 90 percent of the coverage of his administration is negative. This ceaseless assault makes news coverage during the Bush administration look like the 'era of good feelings.'

One could certainly make a case that when the president called the opposition media "enemies of the people" he was going too far, even though the phrase originally came from leftist hero Maximilien Robespierre. 

What do we call a national institution that seeks to amplify, if not generate, discord? An institution that works overtime to delegitimize law enforcement? A collection of self-appointed cultural monitors that holds average citizens and, particularly those who are white, in utter contempt?

Ungrateful. Negative. Sneering. Haughty. Biased. All those words are accurate descriptions of the majority of the U.S. news media. If you think I'm exaggerating, look no farther than the news coverage of last weekend's "Torchlight Nazi Party Rally" in D.C. - More...
Monday PM - August 20, 2018

jpg Political Cartoon: PA sexual abuse report

Political Cartoon: PA sexual abuse report
By Adam Zyglis ©2018, The Buffalo News, NY
Distributed to paid subscribers for publication by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.


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jpg Letter / Opinion

Impressed with Treadwell By Michael Kingston - As an maritime and insurance legal expert who has worked on Arctic issues for many years, I've built ties with people around the ocean at the top of the world. Our common bond is this: we need to make sure fisheries, subsistence whaling, walrus and seal hunting and people who live off this ocean are protected while the ocean opens up to shipping.

Arctic shipping is growing quickly as many new Russian LNG tankers are coming through the Bering Strait soon 28 transits a month or more. Mead Treadwell is a candidate for Governor, and among leaders in the United States, he understands the need for food security, the need for safety, and the economic potential of the North. He has promoted Arctic shipping as an opportunity for port communities, from Ketchikan to Barrow, as a way to strengthen the Coast Guard presence based in Kodiak and the North, and as a way to put Alaskans from across the State to work. It can strengthen tourism and it can open new markets for Alaska resources. Arctic shipping services could total more than a billion dollars a year in the near term, and Alaskans should get some of those jobs. - More...
Monday PM - August 21, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

No On Craig Property Tax Ballot Measure By Bob Claus - There is a ballot measure to eliminate the property tax in Craig. No one likes paying taxes, but this is a bad idea. 

As a taxpayer in Craig and former president of the school board, I value the services that my taxes help support. A full local contribution to the Craig Schools lend a stability to the school budget that other districts lack. This has allowed the Craig Schools to excel and provide the services our kids deserve. 

As a former Alaska State Trooper and private citizen, I like the 24 hour police service that no other community on the island enjoys. I like the tax-funded support for the fire and EMS services we all will need at some point in our lives. It makes my investment in Craig more secure and gives me peace of mind for my family and property.  - More...
Saturday PM - August 18, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

Vote Tuesday By Mary L. Stephenson - On Tuesday, August 21st we have a Primary Election for House District 36. Dan Ortiz, Trevor Shaw and Ghert Abbott are vying for the Representative seat in Juneau.

If you are reading this letter in the news, it means you read the newspaper. It also means you track the opinions of others who submit their letters to the Editor. One being, Ghert Abbott.

I met Ghert in January 2017 at the Women’s March Rally at Pier 2. A speaker at the rally, I observed Ghert spoke with knowledge and was quite passionate about the direction the administration was taking Alaska. Poor fiscal responsibility of this and previous Governors along with senior Senators and Congress representatives in Washington DC has put Alaska over $4 billion in debt; with little-to-none accountability of what happened to it. Our diversity in air, land and sea economies should place Alaska high on every important list to preserve, protect and properly manage and yet we are losing ground, especially with the current Republican administration. - More...
Saturday PM - August 18, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

On August 21st Primary: Vote for a Full Permanent Fund Dividend and a Full Progressive Income Tax By Ghert Abbott - My name is Ghert Abbott, I am the Democratic candidate for state house in District 36: Ketchikan, Saxman, Metlakatla, Wrangell, and Hydaburg. The Democratic primary is August 21st.

I stand for a full Permanent Fund Dividend, a full progressive income tax, an increase in oil tax revenue, and an end to all the austerity measures that are strangling our state’s future.

For the last four years the political establishment has presented Alaskans with a false choice: consent to a tax on the PFD or watch as essential public services are utterly decimated. The results of this emaciated consensus are now plain to see: the creation of a regressive system of state taxation; cuts to education, healthcare, the pioneer homes, policing, infrastructure, and the Marine Highway System; and the endangerment of our Permanent Fund’s long term value through inadequate inflation proofing. The costs of resolving the fiscal crisis are thus being placed entirely on the backs of working and middle class Alaskans, while wealthy Alaskans pay practically nothing. - More...
Saturday PM - August 18, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

THE “MOTSOS” CAMPAIGN: AN OPEN LETTER TO MARK BEGICH By David G Hanger - You spent six years as a U.S. Senator, Mr. Begich, and it and you were a real yawner. Your replacement, Senator Conoco-Phillips, at least has someone periodically write something for him in an effort to communicate with his audience, albeit generally rife with lies. “Begich” is a name, and because “Begich” is a name, you have to date basically sat like a toad on a lily, croaking. As you can see, I am just thrilled and chilled at your candidacy for Governor of the State of Alaska. - More...
Tuesday PM - August 14, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

Property Tax Repeal Referendum in Craig By Andy Deering - Here is my response to Arthur Martin's article No Property Taxes in the City of Craig? A Referendum May Make this a Reality.

At the very outset of the article it should have been made very clear this referendum calls for a gradual elimination of property tax over a six year period. The basic idea is that when we have a balanced budget, revenue windfalls, or reductions in spending be GIVEN BACK TO TAXPAYERS and not simply spent elsewhere as has been done in the past. If this protocol is followed, a six mill reduction over six years is neither excessive nor impractical and gives plenty of time for all necessary discussion and debate. It should be noted that the City of Craig currently has over $10 million dollars in a reserve fund as well as over $3 million dollars in a school reserve fund. - More...
Tuesday PM - August 14, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

Fair vs Unfair Solutions By Ghert Abbott - Alaska’s political establishment wants to resolve our state’s fiscal crisis through the continued imposition of austerity, which is a combination of social spending cuts and regressive taxation. In practice this means massive cuts to essential state services and a confiscatory head tax on the Permanent Fund Dividend. The ultimate goal of such austerity measures is not to resolve the fiscal problems being used to justify them, but rather to protect the wealthy from taxation. - More...
Tuesday PM - August 14, 2018

jpg Letter / Opinion

Two Faced President By Donald Moskowitz - As a Conservative Independent I agree with some of Trump's domestic policies, but Trump is two faced concerning foreign trade.

President Trump harassed and threatened Harley Davidson because they are moving their foreign production overseas in response to the imposition of the Trump tariffs. He has railed against other U.S. companies who have moved facilities to foreign countries. - More...
Tuesday PM - August 14, 2018

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