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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
October 23, 2016

Front Page Feature Photo By CHARLES HABERBUSH

Deer Mountain: Barred Owl
Editor's Note: This owl was originally identified as a Boreal Owl. Thank you to the ADF&G for providing the correct identification. It is a Barred Owl.
Front Page Feature Photo By CHARLES HABERBUSH

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Southeast Alaska: Uncharted: Exploring one of America’s fastest faults; A team of USGS scientists spent 10 days in the wilderness investigating the Fairweather Fault By DONYELLE K. DAVIS - Nearly 60 years after a magnitude 7.7 earthquake struck Lituya Bay, Alaska - leading to a tsunami that devastated the area - six U.S. Geological Survey geologists revisited the isolated region of Alaska, to pick up where their scientific predecessors left off.

Uncharted: Exploring one of America’s fastest faults; A team of USGS scientists spent 10 days in the wilderness investigating the Fairweather Fault

The team’s work included excavating trenches across the Fairweather fault to examine layers of sediment.
Photo by Rob Witter, USGS Public domain

Immediately after the 1958 earthquake, USGS geologist Don Miller along with University of California, Berkeley geologist Don Tocher surveyed parts of the ground rupture accessible by helicopter. Up until now, their observations were virtually all that was known about the seismic potential of the southern Fairweather Fault on which the 1958 quake occurred.

To learn more about this hazardous fault using modern techniques, in June 2016, USGS geologist and project leader Rob Witter led a team on a 10-day expedition to the Fairweather Fault, only accessible by float plane, with the group camping outdoors along Crillon Lake during their field work.

“We hope our research will shed light on how often the fault has produced large earthquakes like in 1958,” Witter said. “We’re also learning more about how tectonic deformation along the plate boundary has contributed to building the Fairweather mountains, which have the highest relief among coastal mountain ranges worldwide.”

Witter’s field team included USGS geologists Adrian Bender, Chris DuRoss, Peter Haeussler, Richard Lease and Kate Scharer. Each wielded their own scientific specialities, ranging from lidar imaging and understanding mountain building, to trenching across the fault for prehistoric quakes.

The largely uninhabited area around the Bay is a part of the Glacier Bay National Park and Preserve and sits on top the Fairweather fault. The land blocks on either side of the Fairweather fault move past each other nearly twice as fast as the San Andreas Fault, at about five centimeters a year (2 inches/year), making it one of the fastest-moving faults in the country.

San Andreas-fault expert Kate Scharer noted that while there are not large communities on the fault, a rupture on the Fairweather Fault could still negatively impact southeast Alaska. For example, earthquake-produced landslides can affect infrastructure and lifelines that connect the state capitol, Juneau, to the rest of the globe.

New Technologies Pave The Way

Earthquake technology has come a long way with the evolution of satellite imaging and lidar mapping. Lidar, which stands for Light Detection and Ranging is a technology similar to radar and is used to create high-resolution digital elevation models. Lidar equipment includes a laser scanner, GPS and an Inertial Navigation System and is generally mounted on a small aircraft. Recent advancements with lidar allow more accurate measurements and information than before.

“With lidar, we were now able to see through the thick forest, whereas in the past Don Tocher and Don Miller could only use air photos,” Scharer said. “ Lidar ‘strips away the trees,’ so now the ground surface is visible and we’re able to see traces of fault movement.”

The team’s work also involved mapping the fault scarp in the field with GPS surveying instruments and excavating trenches across the fault to examine layers of sediment offset by the 1958 and other past earthquakes.

“Closer examination of the fault entailed mapping fault-related landforms—the geomorphic expression of past earthquake ruptures on the fault—with the aid of detailed topographic maps derived from new lidar data acquired for this project in September 2015,” Witter said. “ Our field investigation involved verifying the lidar-based mapping, and trenching across active traces of the fault to explore the history of past earthquakes.” - More...
Sunday PM - October 23, 2016

Fish Factor:
Climate Change Affecting Southeast Alaska's Waters Salmon Call Home By LAINE WELCH - A changing climate is altering rain and snowfall patterns that affect the waters Alaska salmon call home, for better or worse. A first of its kind study now details the potential changes for Southeast Alaska, and how people can plan ahead to protect the fish.

One third of Alaska’s salmon harvest each year comes from fish produced in the 17,000 miles of streams in the Tongass rainforest. More than 50 species of animals feed on spawning salmon there, and one in 10 jobs is supported by salmon throughout the region.

“Global climate change may become one of the most pressing challenges to Pacific Salmon conservation and management for Southeast Alaska in the 21st Century” begins a report called “Climate Change Sensitivity Index for Pacific Salmon Habitat in Southeast Alaska” by Colin Shanley and David Albert of The Nature Conservancy.

“In general, the global climate models are saying the wetter places in the world are likely to get wetter and the dryer places are going to get dryer,” said Shanley, who works as a conservation planner and GIS analyst in Juneau.

“This is not a doom-and-gloom outlook,” Shanley stressed. “This is really just getting smarter about how climate change may play out and how it might affect resources that are valuable to us.”

Shanley studied nearly a half century’s records of 41 water gauge stations at Southeast watersheds to model future projections on how flow patterns might change. He said watersheds fed by snow packs will likely experience the biggest impacts.

“Some of the watersheds that are super steep and fed by snow driven catchments are going to see some of the biggest changes. They might not all be bad, but those are the ones that showed some of the largest changes in flow,” he said.

On the other hand, glacial fed waters could provide new and better salmon systems.

“In Southeast, South-central and Prince William Sound there are a lot of glacial fed systems that salmon use and some that salmon haven’t colonized yet. As glaciers shrink and melt, there is some opportunity to create new, and in some cases, better habitat,” he explained. “Some of those glacial systems are really big rivers, so there are definitely opportunities for some shifts in productivity.”

Watersheds that are in good shape should be fairly resilient, Shanley said. For waters adjacent to roads and culverts that have changed historically, the Conservancy plans to do restoration projects, such as making sure there is adequate drainages and adding trees and stumps.

“The wood slows down the water so that can help with higher water levels, and it also provides pools and shade and protection from predators,” Shanley said. - More...
Sunday PM - October 23, 2016


Southeast Alaska: State Completes Emergency Cleanup of Contaminated Wrangell Junkyard Site - The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and emergency response contractor, NRC Alaska, excavated, treated, and stabilized more than 18,000 yards of lead contaminated soil at the former Byford Junkyard site this summer. The Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) began the cleanup of the abandoned Byford junkyard in February 2016. The emergency cleanup was needed because of elevated and dangerous concentrations of lead and petroleum contamination found in soil and surface water at the site, posing an imminent and substantial health risk. People harvesting shellfish from the popular Zimovia Strait and property owners adjacent to the site were at the greatest risk of adverse health effects if the junkyard was not cleaned up. The DEC announced in September that the risk has now been eliminated.

“NRC Alaska did an outstanding job successfully completing this challenging project in just five months,” said Bruce Wanstall, DEC’s project manager. “Nearly the entire four-acre site was excavated of contaminated soil. This soil was treated with EcoBond, a proprietary and non-toxic compound that reduces the lead solubility, thus stopping migration and protecting groundwater and surface water. Post-treatment tests show the soil, currently stockpiled onsite, is now non- hazardous and can be safely disposed of in a local monofill.”

Because the former junkyard owners and operators are deceased, DEC accessed the Oil and Hazardous Substance Release Prevention and Response Fund for $6.5 million to fund the cleanup and address the significant risks posed by lead at the site.

“The good news is this site is no longer a threat to human health or the environment. Fortunately, we were able to access the emergency fund in order to protect Wrangell residents. However, it is unfortunate that public funds had to be used for a cleanup that was the responsibility of a private polluter,” said Kristin Ryan, director of DEC’s Division of Spill Prevention and Response. “This site is an excellent case study for local and state agencies to recognize the need for prioritizing pollution prevention and holding polluters accountable,” said Ryan. “It is far cheaper to prevent contamination than clean it up or mitigate its impacts on the environment.” - More...
Sunday PM - October 23, 2016

Southeast Alaska: State geologists to map landslide hazards in Sitka - The Alaska Division of Geological & Geophysical Surveys will receive a $110,000 grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to conduct a comprehensive landslide hazard assessment of the Sitka area. This project was spurred by the Kramer landslide, which claimed three lives in Sitka on August 18, 2015.

The two-year Risk MAP grant will allow Alaska Division of Geological & Geophysical Surveys' geologists to combine field observations with new high-resolution elevation data and computer-aided modeling to produce maps of existing landslides, shallow landslide susceptibility, and hypothetical landslide runouts.

The maps will be used by community planners, emergency managers and residents to develop action plans for mitigating the risk from potential landslides. - More...
Sunday PM - October 23, 2016

An arctic fox on St. Paul Island.

Alaska Science: Rabies endures in Alaska with help of the arctic fox By NED ROZELL - Rabies is a death sentence for any animal. Experts have wondered how a virus survives when it kills all the creatures it infects.

"We don't have a really good answer to that," said UAF's Karsten Hueffer. "It probably has to do with the long incubation time of the virus, which can be months."

Hueffer and his colleagues, including four university undergraduate students, wrote a paper on how Alaska's arctic foxes might be the carrier that keeps the disease present all the time in the western part of the state. Red foxes also get infected with rabies and pass it on, but the virus may not endure in their populations. In a future with less arctic foxes and more of the dominant reds, rabies might be on the wane in Alaska.

Scientists noted a constant presence of rabies virus in the coastal tundra home of the arctic fox. Interior forests inhabited by only the red fox seem to only have sporadic outbreaks of rabies. The researchers did their genetic testing of arctic and red foxes across Alaska using hundreds of flesh samples from biologists, trappers and museum collectors. They found the genetic makeup of arctic foxes followed the genetics of the virus. Red foxes showed a weaker connection.

Foxes spread rabies by biting. The virus rides in their saliva and invades other animals through wounds or mucous membranes. After incubation periods that last from eight days to six months, foxes can lose their natural timidity, sometimes attacking dogs and infecting them. Dogs with the virus can spread it to people. - More...
Sunday PM - October 23, 2016


Columns - Commentary

jpg Dave Kiffer

DAVE KIFFER: I'll vote for these Candy-dates! - Argh-tober is the bestest, most wonderfulest time of the year!

No, not because the rainsheets of autumn crash down upon us and sweep away all the tourist debris and eau de dead fish smell of summer. Although that is how I always value the roaring output of Ketchikan Creek in the fall; washing away that which needs to be washed away.

And no, not because everything imaginable is "pumpkin spiced." I hate "pumpkin spiced" anything. When I was growing up, we didn't have "pumpkin spiced" smoked salmon or "pumpkin spiced" Spam or "pumpkin spiced" Viagra or any of those "pumpkin spiced, gluten free" items that are rammed down our throats (literally) this time of year.

No, this is the one time of year when it is okay for adults to gorge on candy. - More...
Sunday PM - October 23, 2016

jpg Jeff Lund

JEFF LUND: The point of being out - For some reason, I get in a hurry.

In a hurry to get to the river to fish. In a hurry to get back from fishing.

In a hurry to get up the mountain. In a hurry to get off the mountain.

It’s not that I want the experience to end, but sometimes I don’t drag my feet like I should. It’s like once the goal becomes going home, I try to do so efficiently. Maybe it’s the need to be prepared for some disaster on the way home.

I remember a trapping expedition a few years into my family’s Alaskan adventure that turned into an unnecessary adventure and we ended up trekking through the snowy woods in the dark to find our rig. Then there was the time the keys were left inside and a window had to be broken. There was the time, after college, a buddy and I had to follow a creek to a river that intersected with the highway at which point we were able to hike back in on the logging road to my truck. Added four hours to the hike. - More...
Sunday PM - October 23, 2016

jgp Editorial Cartoon: Russian water torture

Editorial Cartoon: Russian water torture
By John Cole, The Scranton Times-Tribune
Distributed to subscribers for publication by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.


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letter Negative PAC Mailer By Bob Sivertsen - I would like to correct the statement that the mailer was from one candidate to the other. I, Bob Sivertsen, did not and would not produce such a mailer. It was not sent from my campaign and I don't support it. - More...
Monday PM - October 24, 2016

letter Response to Sivertsen By Dan Ortiz - In a recent letter to the editor, my opponent, Bob Sivertsen, wanted to 'clear the air' about negative advertising. He stated that he has non connection to PACs or any control over what an outside PAC may do. In fact, Bob does have the ability to denounce their misleading and negative attacks, but he has chosen not to do this. His argument for keeping silent is 'this is politics as usual' and uses the current presidential campaign as an example. I would hope that Southeast Alaska can set the bar higher than this year's presidential race! - More...
Monday PM - October 24, 2016

letter Why I Support Dan Ortiz By Eric Muench - I support Dan Ortiz as District 36 representative for three good reasons. First and foremost, he has been doing a good job representing local interests. He responds to local needs and to his constituents, and is reported to have good relations with other legislators of both parties. As an Independent, he is not bound to the bigwigs of either party and can make the best choices for his district. We need more independent politicians. - More...
Monday PM - October 24, 2016

letter Clinton calls Trump a "sore loser" By Jim Dornblaser - I think this the most dirty, mud slinging campaign I can remember in my 75 years. I wish our media in general was as interested in facts as they are: 1) name calling, 2) mud slinging and, 3) trying to get so much press from a loaded question (the reason for 'sore loser'). - More...
Monday PM - October 24, 2016

letter PACs' Negative Campaigning By Bob Sivertsen - I have read and heard a number of concerning comments regarding the negative advertising that is being used in this race for State House. I don’t personally believe in negative campaigning and I do not engage in negative campaigning. - More...
Sunday PM - October 23, 2016

letter Donald Trump By Betty Constuble - I would like to proclaim my full support of Donald Trump. I believe he is the warrior president this country needs now. He will stand up for us. He will make the decisions that our country so much must have. The current politicians have put us in the mess we are in. We need someone who will stand up and get us out of this and make America great again. - More...
Sunday PM - October 23, 2016

letter Very Little Style over Even Less Substance By Rod Landis - Dan Ortiz's opponent in the State House race this fall missed an opportunity to distance himself from the miserable (yet laughable) antics of those involved with the Accountability Project. This big-money political action committee is behind a series of smear ads that have recently flooded Ketchikan residents mail and P.O. boxes. Some significant cash seems to have been spent designing, producing, and distributing these ads, yet the result cannot be taken seriously. - More...
Sunday PM - October 23, 2016

letter Vote Stedman & Finkenbinder By Gary Paxton - Bert Stedman, not unlike Dick Eliason and Ben Grussendorf for Sitka, has been a statesman for our great state. He has always put the state, SE Regoin, and Ketchikan ahead of any political concerns. At this time, when our state has such complex and difficult decisions to make, Bert is exactly the kind of legislator we need and he needs all the help he can get. - More...
Sunday PM - October 23, 2016

letter What I learned from the Democrats By A. M. Johnson - I first wish to thank you and your publication for using Reuters and FOX news as your online National/ World news source over the Associated Press (AP). In part your publication, in conjunction with reliable online sources, presents news and opinions based on the more reliable news stories allowing me to express what the Democrats have taught me about politics and life particularly in this election: - More...
Sunday PM - October 23, 2016

letter House District 36 By Jan Jorgensen - I am not someone who is outspoken about anything political, in fact lately I have been less than eager to read, talk or listen to what politicians have to say but I do because I will be voting on November 8th. Recently I received a flyer where one Ketchikan candidate chose to speak negatively about another candidate. No where on this flyer did he tell me anything about himself, just two sides of negative words about someone else. - More...
Sunday PM - October 23, 2016

letter Thank You By Susan Coady - Thank you to the many people and businesses for supporting my friend Wendy Goyette and her son Johnathon Washburn. It's truly amazing how the people of this community come together in times of need. - More...
Sunday PM - October 23, 2016

letter Re: Two Untrustworthy Candidates By Joe O'Hara - In reference to Mr. Moskowitz' October 18th letter, I certainly agree with him that one must verify those facts before committing to them. - More...
Sunday PM - October 23, 2016

letter Dan Ortiz and The Accountability Project By Paul Seaton - I am the District 31 State House Representative for the lower Kenai Peninsula and have served in the legislature for 14 years. This year I was targeted by The Accountability Project(TAP) in the Republican Primary election with distortion ads and robocalls. Although 'independent expenditure groups' are legal - they are definitely not accountable. In fact, one of their chief donors wrote me an apology and sent a campaign contribution because the industry supported distortions were so unaccountable. - More...
Wednesday PM - October 19, 2016

letter No to Sivertsen By Douglas Thompson - If I got it wrong I would sure like to hear Bob Sivertsen tell me how he is going to protect the Permanent Fund Dividend. In his previous Sitnews announcement he stated that he wanted to join the Republicans in Juneau. The Republicans are headed by Governor Walker. They want to take our PFD and have already grabbed half of this year's. The plan as it stands is to take it all and give it to the oil companies. In short to pay them back every cent they have paid in taxes since the sixties and then some. You will get to pay taxes to make this happen. - More...
Wednesday PM - October 19, 2016

letter Disappointed - again By A. M. Johnson - With the continued barrage of Wikileaks data flooding the landscape via creditable blog sites it is becoming obvious why Establishment Republicans are struggling with Donald Trump's candidacy. Were he elected, then the Establishment members, who in my opinion include our own Senator Murkowski, personal friend with Senator Mitch McConnell, leader of the Establishment, and others will find their political terf at risk of exposures as the quite majority address RINO voting. - More...
Wednesday PM - October 19, 2016

letter I support Dan Ortiz By Janice Jackson - I support Dan Ortiz in his bid for re-election as our legislative representative for District 36. Representative Ortiz has demonstrated to me his willingness to meet with and listen to our concerns on important issues in our state. - More...
Wednesday PM - October 19, 2016

letter RE: THANK YOU By Judith Green - Kolby Elliot's THANK YOU note deserves in return a thank you. is a great place for the positive happenings in, on and about our Island Community and you have added a bright spot. - More...
Wednesday PM - October 19, 2016

letter Thank you, Ketchikan! By Michelle O'Brien - Once again, Ketchikan never ceases to amaze as a vibrant and welcoming community. The recent Open World Program delegation from Russia was greeted with open arms; from informative visits with local organizations, to a generosity that is unique to cemented the fact that Ketchikan is far and away a community unlike others. - More...
Tuesday AM - October 18, 2016

letter Bob Sivertson for State House By Tuckerman Babcock - The Alaska Republican Party stands in support of the positive change offered by Bob Sivertson for State House.- More...
Tuesday AM - October 18, 2016

letter Vote Dan Ortiz By Susan Bachant - I am writing to share my reasons why I support Dan Ortiz. Throughout the years there have been many people representing us in various political avenues. Only one has ever asked me how I wanted him to represent my voice and that is Dan Ortiz. I have seen him go from door to door, talked with him in the mall, and even filled out an online survey from him wanting to know what I and all of the other folks that he represents think on a particular subject. I find this absolutely refreshing. Ask yourself, how any of our representatives actually do this? How many want to know what the people they represent want? Usually they get in there and pitch their own personal agendas. - More...
Tuesday AM - October 18, 2016

letter Two Untrustworthy Candidates By Donald Moskowitz - We know that many politicians make promises they cannot keep and they typically use manipulative and ambiguous language to hide their true ideas and feelings. They hope the public will forget their false statements. - More...
Tuesday AM - October 18, 2016

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. - 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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