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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
Sunday PM
October 16, 2016

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Southeast Alaska: Ketchikan, Saxman and Petersburg Residents Invited to Meet with Alaska Mental Health Trust Land Office - The Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority and Trust Land Office announced plans to host community meetings to engage with the residents of Petersburg, Saxman and Ketchikan on the status of the proposed land exchanges and potential timber sales.

Ketchikan, Saxman and Petersburg Residents Invited to Meet with Alaska Mental Health Trust Land Office

AMHT Proposed land exchange in Ketchikan area marked in red.
Courtesy Alaska Mental Health Trust

“When we announced the land sale deadline, our intention was to call attention to the urgency of the land exchange legislation, which is the best option for all,” said John Morrison, executive director of the Trust Land Office. “We appreciate the questions and concerns raised by some residents of Ketchikan and Petersburg following the announcement. We look forward to sharing information at our upcoming meetings to help clarify our past and future actions so that the public can be informed as they engage in the process.”

The trustees voted in August to concur with the sale of two parcels near Ketchikan and Petersburg for selective timber harvest by helicopter, should the land exchange legislation not pass. This concurrence is now up for reconsideration with the board of trustees. If the legislation fails, and the administrative decision process to conduct these sales moves forward, the public will be involved. The public process will be discussed at the upcoming meetings.

“We are committed to finalizing this exchange if it remains in the economic interest of the Trust. That is why we’ve been working for the last decade to do a land exchange,” said Russ Webb, chair of the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority. On September 22, 2016, testimony on the legislation was heard before the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources. “We remain optimistic the legislation will pass,” Webb said.

For nearly a decade, the Trust Land Office has been working to exchange lands with the United States Forest Service. Numerous meetings have been conducted with individuals, agencies, communities, environmental organizations and the USFS to identify and select the parcels that were included in the Agreement to Initiate that was signed June 30, 2015.

U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) introduced legislation this session to direct the Department of Agriculture to move forward with the exchange. On September 22, 2016, testimony on the legislation was heard before the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources.

In the land exchange:

  • 17,341 acres of Trust lands adjacent to the communities of Ketchikan, Wrangell, Petersburg, Sitka and Juneau would be transferred to the USFS
  • 20,580 acres of remote land on Prince of Wales Island and Shelter Cove would be transferred to the Trust for development and timber harvest

At the upcoming meetings, community members will have the opportunity to hear from and speak with representatives from both the Alaska Mental Health Trust Authority and Trust Land Office and ask questions. Plans are to share nformation on the: - More...
Sunday PM - October 16, 2016


Fish Factor: Sea Cucumber Harvest Impacted by Sea Otters By LAINE WELCH - Sea cucumbers are the most valuable of Alaska’s dive fisheries, especially in Southeast. Annual October harvests in Southeast Alaska hover around one million pounds and attract nearly 200 divers, who will fetch between $4 to $5 a pound for their pickings.

Sea Cucumber Harvest Impacted by Sea Otters

Red Sea Cucumber
Photo courtesy Alaska Department of Fish & Game

The harvest used to approach two million pounds but sea otters have cleaned out cukes in many areas over the past decade.

“None of the areas have recovered. It’s not like the otters come in and move on and the population rebounds. The otters stay. We’ve lost on an annual basis between 500,000 to 600,000 pounds of product and the trend is downward,” said Phil Doherty, director of the Southeast Alaska Regional Dive Fisheries Association (SARDFA) in Ketchikan.

Sea otters were wiped out by the fur trade at the turn of the 20th century and the state reintroduced about 400 animals to Southeast waters in the 1960s. Doherty pegs the otter population today at well over 30,000, based on U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service data, and added that they multiply at a rate of about 12 percent each year.

Kodiak is also seeing a big increase in sea otters but it’s not clear if they’re biting into the much smaller sea cucumber fishery. The harvest there is 140,000 pounds with 24 divers.

“We have a lot of talk by the fleet about the numbers of otters, even right here in the harbor, that no one remembers seeing years ago,” said Nat Nichols, area manager at the Dept. of Fish and Game in Kodiak. He added that there are reports of otters eating sea cucumbers, Dungeness and Tanner crabs, but nothing yet shows the animals are a cause of any stock declines.

The state’s otter management hands are tied as the animals are protected under the federal Marine Mammal Protection Act. Otters can be hunted by Alaska natives and Doherty said about 1,500 were taken last year.

“Provisions within the Act allow Alaska natives to harvest sea otters, but they can’t just sell the pelts on the fur market. They have to turn it into a native handicraft. So it’s one otter at a time,” he said.

Economists estimate otters have eaten more than $30 million of Southeast crab, cukes, urchins and clams since 1995. - More...
Sunday PM - October 16, 2016


Southeast Alaska: Alaska Island Community Services and SEARHC Announce Affiliation - Alaska Island Community Services (AICS) and SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) announced last week they are formally affiliating to enhance access to quality care for Wrangell residents and patients. As part of the affiliation, AICS will retain its name, and both organizations will be guided by a shared set of principles. AICS will continue to have a strong local voice and presence in Wrangell, and a local advisory council comprised of community members will be established to receive feedback and information regarding the community’s healthcare needs for planning purposes. Additionally, the council will oversee a community foundation, created with a portion of AICS’ financial reserves, to help support programs and services dedicated to improving the health of Wrangell’s residents. SEARHC will assume operational and management support roles while AICS continues operating out of all existing facilities and locations. The business transactions in support of the affiliation are expected to be completed by first quarter 2017.

“We are passionate about delivering dependable and sustainable healthcare services to Wrangell and the surrounding communities,” said AICS Executive Director Mark Walker. “Changes in the healthcare environment are creating tremendous fiscal pressures resulting in declining revenues and increasing expenses. By affiliating with SEARHC, we can continue providing quality services we can be proud of and that benefit our patients, residents and communities.” - More...
Sunday PM - October 16, 2016

Alaska: State of Alaska Receives Extension to REAL ID Requirements - Governor Bill Walker received notification from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) last week that Alaska received an extension to compliance with the REAL ID Act until June 6, 2017. Governor Walker requested the extension and informed DHS of his intention to introduce legislation that removes barriers to the REAL ID Act in January. For the duration of the extension, federal agencies may accept Alaska driver’s licenses and state-issued identification cards for official purposes.

“While I am pleased that we received an extension to compliance with the REAL ID Act, this is not a permanent solution,” said Governor Walker. “Thousands of Alaskans who work in federal facilities and on our military bases will be impacted when these rules are finally enforced. It is absolutely critical that the legislature take up this important issue and make the necessary changes to state statute this year.”

In 2008, the Alaska Legislature passed a law prohibiting the use of state funds to implement the REAL ID Act. While the Alaska Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) has implemented best practices to prevent driver’s license fraud and qualify the state agency for compliance extensions, federal officials have warned this will not continue in the future. In a letter sent to Governor Walker last week, DHS said further extension requests may be denied if the Legislature fails to act on Governor Walker’s legislation during the upcoming session. - More...
Sunday PM - October 16, 2016

Alaska Science: Earth's expanding crust swallowed beneath Aleutians By NED ROZELL - Sometimes, a great idea arrives ahead of its time. A person squints at a raw landscape, thinks about it in his bunk on a heaving ship, dreams of it. He scribbles a diagram. He remains quiet years later as others rediscover the same thing.

Such was the case of a rugged geologist who island-hopped in the Aleutians following World War II. Thinking about the age of rocks he found, the placement of a string of volcanoes and how they were linked with the depth of earthquakes, Bob Coats arrived at this notion: the sphere of Earth is constantly eating its own plates and regurgitating them back out. At those explosive boundaries, now called subduction zones, volcanoes often ooze to the surface.

Coats died in 1995, but his idea remains in a 1962 paper he wrote of his time in Alaska.

"He solved a major problem that wasn't known to be a problem - where'd the skin (of the Earth) go?" said the late scientist's friend, David Scholl. Scholl is a seasoned geologist who recently visited Fairbanks. At the end of Coats's career, Scholl had an office just down the hall at the USGS headquarters in Menlo Park, California.

Scholl, 82, thinks it important that his friend get credit for his prescient idea. It is a story of how an Alaska mystery shed light on tsunami-causing forces deep within the Earth.

At Menlo Park, the USGS had an "Alaska Branch" to which Coats was assigned. Coats was familiar with the state because he worked at the university in Fairbanks in 1937.

Just after World War II, Okmok Volcano on Umnak Island erupted, spitting ash in the air. Volcanic ash is abrasive and damaging to aircraft engines. Planes on a military base at Umnak were grounded. - More...
Sunday PM - October 16, 2016


Columns - Commentary

jpg Joe Guzzardi

JOE GUZZARDI: Since 1990, the Immigrant Population Has Doubled in the U.S. - The Center for Immigration Studies (CIS) just released an in-depth analysis of America's foreign-born residents titled "Immigrants in the United States,", which evaluates the progress immigrants have made during their residency. Since 1970, the foreign-born population has quadrupled; since 1980, it's tripled, and since 1990, it's more than doubled to its current 42.4 million total. With immigration front and center in the presidential race, the CIS report provides voters with a wealth of information that might help them evaluate recent White House policy decisions.

From a strictly population growth perspective, CIS offers sobering details. Within a relatively short time span, the four years from 2010 to 2014, new legal and illegal immigrants plus their U.S.-born children added 8.3 million residents, an unsustainable level of population increase.

Last year, the Pew Research Center published its independent study which found, that new immigrants and their descendants will, as they have for the last 50 years, drive most U.S. population growth. Among the projected 441 million Americans in 2065, up from today's 325 million, 78 million will be immigrants and 81 million will be children born in the U.S. to immigrant parents. California has been and will continue to be the state most affected by high immigration. During the 20th, century's last half, California's population nearly tripled. Eventually, it reached today's 39 million, and the State Department of Finance predicts that by 2050 more than 50 million people will live in California, a 25 percent increase over 2016. - More...
Sunday PM - October 16, 2016

jpg Editorial Cartoon: Kids and 2016 politics

Editorial Cartoon: Kids and 2016 politics
By Dave Granlund ©2016,
Distributed to subscribers for publication by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.


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jpg Arthur Martin

Arthur Martin: Book Review (Part I): The Essential Marcus Aurelius
Newly translated and introduced by Jacob Needleman & John P. Piazza
Pages: 110
- Emperor Marcus Annius Catitilius Verus was born in 121A.D., to the Roman aristocratic family Annia. Named after his grandfather who held the high office of consul (akin to that of a Prime Minister) a record of three times, Marcus was 'destined' for greatness. Coming from a wealthy and politically connected family, the future emperor was afforded a high quality and early education. Around age seven he was tutored in both Latin and Greek as well of being enrolled in a religious troupe dedicated to the war-god Mars called Salii where he quickly rose to fame and distinguished himself. At age 12, Marcus began his secondary education, during which, the current emperor Hadrian took notice of his solemn demeanor and nicknamed him Verissimus, which means "most truthful" or "most genuine."

Hand-picked by Hadrian to become his eventual successor, Marcus Aurelius finally assumed the title, only to be immediately faced with the prospect of defending the Empire's large territory from invading tribes. Between 167-180, Marcus spent most of his time directly overseeing the military campaigns on the Empire's northern borders (see: Opening scene of The Gladiator). During this period, while conducting his military campaigns, Marcus felt compelled to write down his philosophical inspirations and reminders that later became his famous Meditations which is what this book compiled. - More...
Sunday PM - October 16, 2016

jpg Rick Jensen

RICK JENSEN: Wikileaks Proves Clinton Chummy With National Media - Stunning.

Is there a more relevant word for describing the Wikileaks proof of collusion between members of the national media and the Hillary Clinton campaign?

There's no surprise that the Hillary campaign colluded with the Democratic National Committee (DNC) to demean, disgrace and defeat Bernie Sanders.

What may (or may not) surprise many Americans is that "journalists" in the national media also colluded with the Hillary campaign.

Hillary was given debate questions in advance.

Imagine a reporter investigating Hillary and the DNC's questionable campaign fundraising tactics and then asking that campaign if they would like to edit the story before the reporter's editor sees it. - More...
Sunday PM - October 16, 2016

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letter Response to Political Attack Ads By Rep. Dan Ortiz - It has come to my attention in recent days that groups from outside our district and outside Alaska have started to send out negative ads against me. Judging from where this effort is coming from, I take it in stride.

As your state representative, my only goal is to be your voice in the legislature. Residents of District 36 know that I actively request input from every side of every issue, and I listen to everyone. My goal has never been to appease big oil or the Railbelt, especially when their desires are in conflict with the needs of Southern Southeast. That being said, I am curious as to how these outside groups could possibly know what’s in the best interest for Southern Southeast Alaska. - More...
Sunday PM - October 16, 2016

letter Thank You By Kolby Elliot - On behalf of my teammates and myself, I would like to thank my family, coaches, community, and peers for all of their support contributing to a successful Schoenbar Middle School Cross Country season. Please publish this thank you as a token of gratitude to all those who participated. - More...
Sunday PM - October 16, 2016

letter School Board Replacement Pre-selected? By Carl Webb - I am embarrassed that we voters have failed to ask why School Board President Michelle O’Brien, who announced a long time ago that she would resign from the Board, chose to do it one week after the official election. She even announced the date. Because of that decision, the voters of Ketchikan were denied the right to select the new board member and the current Board will be making the choice. - More...
Sunday PM - October 16, 2016

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“Hundreds of Alaskans have reached out to my administration saying health care costs are increasingly unaffordable,” Governor Walker said. “This law will provide relief from large premium hikes for

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