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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
November 20, 2015

Front Page Photograph By DEREK WEISS

Deer Mountain
Early morning near the summit of Deer Mountain looking down at Ketchikan.
Front Page Photograph By DEREK WEISS

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Southeast Alaska: Forest Service Cancels Mitkof Island Timber Sale By MARY KAUFFMAN - The U.S. Forest Service has formally withdrawn its March authorization of the Mitkof Island Project's large 35-million-board-foot timber sale. Documents were made available to the public on its website November 17th.

Forest Service Cancels Mitkof Island Timber Sale

Mitkof Island, and Petersburg, Alaska
Photo courtesy muskegman Google Maps

Five environmental organizations sued the Forest Service in May 2015 to stop the sale. Those organizations - the Greater Southeast Alaska Conservation Community, Cascadia Wildlands, the Center for Biological Diversity, Greenpeace and the Alaska Wildlife Alliance - are represented by attorneys with Crag Law Center in Portland and Cascadia Wildlands in Cordova.

These conservation groups says the formal withdrawal notice provides hope to those who depend on Mitkof for a variety uses, including hunting, recreation, fishing and wildlife viewing, that destructive old-growth timber sales like the Mitkof project will indeed be a thing of the past.

Owen Graham, Executive Director of the Alaska Forest Association, provided a response to the announcement by email to SitNews, "We hope the sale is revised, improved and advertised by early spring so we don't lose another logging season." Graham said, "We were really looking forward to this timber sale, because our timber supply is far short of where we think it should be."

Graham explained, the Mitkof project was done as an Environmental Assessment (EA) instead of an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) in order to save money and time. Graham said one of the purposes of the project was to improve deer browse -"Removing up to 50 percent of the basal area1 of the stand would improve growth of the remaining trees and allow additional light to reach the forest floor, encouraging the growth of wildlife browse." (Pg 5 of the EA)

The Forest Service also designed the timber sale for helicopter logging to minimize the amount of road construction said Graham.

Graham said, "The Forest Service used a non-typical method to estimate the amount of timber that could be economically recovered by helicopter logging and we believe the volume estimate and the appraised minimum rates are much too high. It didn't help that some of the markets have declined some while the sale was being prepared."

"With the apparent error in the volume and appraised rates, it makes sense for the agency to take another look at their cruise and appraisal and this also give the agency time to address the concerns that the appellant raised," said Graham.

Tongass National Forest Supervisor M. Earl Stewart notified the Petersburg District Ranger on November 6th, that after considering the local industry's concerns with the proposed sale and reviewing certain aspects of the project's implementation, an opportunity exists for improving the project's scope of work to both provide a supply of timber that facilitates the transition to an industry based primarily on young-growth, as well as support the transition of the existing local industry. Stewart directed the Petersburg District Ranger to withdraw the Decision Notice of Finding of No Significant Impact for the Mitkof Island Project Environmental Assessment.

“The agency was forced to walk away from this timber sale because it failed to listen to serious environmental concerns raised by the local community,” said Gabe Scott with Cascadia Wildlands. “If the agency simply intends to redraw the project’s scope, it will still be faced with the same realities about the needs of subsistence hunters and the precarious state of old-growth dependent species on Mitkof Island." - More...
Friday PM - November 20, 2015


FDA Approves 1st Genetically Engineered Salmon for Human Consumption By MARY KAUFFMAN - The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced Thursday it is taking several important steps regarding food from genetically engineered (GE) plants and animals, including the first approval for a genetically engineered animal intended for food, AquAdvantage Salmon.

FDA Approves 1st Genetically Engineered Salmon for Human Consumption

Atlantic Salmon
Graphic courtesy

The agency is also issuing two guidances for manufacturers who wish to voluntarily label their products as containing ingredients from GE or non-GE sources: a draft guidance on labeling foods derived from Atlantic salmon, and a final guidance on foods derived from genetically engineered plants.

The FDA approved AquaBounty Technologies’ application for AquAdvantage Salmon, an Atlantic salmon that reaches market size more quickly than non-GE farm-raised Atlantic salmon. The FDA regulates GE animals under the new animal drug provisions of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, because the recombinant DNA (rDNA) construct introduced into the animal meets the definition of a drug. In this case, the rDNA construct introduces a trait that makes the AquAdvantage Salmon grow faster.

“The FDA has thoroughly analyzed and evaluated the data and information submitted by AquaBounty Technologies regarding AquAdvantage Salmon and determined that they have met the regulatory requirements for approval, including that food from the fish is safe to eat,” said Bernadette Dunham, D.V.M., Ph.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Veterinary Medicine.

In addition to approving AquaBounty Technologies’ application for GE salmon, the FDA issued draft guidance for manufacturers wanting to voluntarily label their products as containing GE or non-GE ingredients. Under this guidance, additional labeling of AquAdvantage Salmon would not be required because the FDA says it found no material difference from its natural counterpart. Manufacturers could voluntarily label their food products as “not genetically engineered” or other variations under the FDA’s guidance.

“We recognize that some consumers are interested in knowing whether food ingredients are derived from GE sources,” said Susan Mayne, Ph.D., director of the FDA’s Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition. “The FDA is issuing two guidance documents that explain how food companies that want to voluntarily label their products can provide this information to consumers.”

After years of pushback from consumers, scientific experts and fishing interests, the Alaska Congressional Delegation, who has consistently fought to keep genetically engineered (GE) fish off the nation’s dinner plates and away from our nation’s oceans, shared their disappointment in the FDA’s ill-advised decision.

“I am livid at the FDA’s announcement to approve genetically engineered ‘salmon’ - what seems to be more science experiment than fish or food,” said Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK). “I have adamantly opposed the approval of GE salmon, both for the health of Americans and the sustainability of our fisheries, but now that the decision has been made, the next step must be to ensure that Americans know what they are consuming. I have introduced both a bill and provision in the appropriations process to mandate the labeling of Frankenfish, and it is more imperative than ever, after this potentially disastrous decision, to make sure they become law.” - More...
Friday PM - November 20, 2015


Tongass National Forest Draft Land Management Plan Amendment
Available for Public Comment
- The U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service today released the Proposed Amended Land and Resource Management Plan (Draft Amendment) and Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) for the Tongass National Forest for public review and comment. The Tongass National Forest is the nation's largest national forest at 17 million acres, covering most of Southeast Alaska.

Tongass National Forest Draft Land Management Plan Amendment 
Available for Public Comment

A tiny glimpse of the Tongass National Forest
Photo courtesy USFS

The Tongass Land Management Plan is being amended to support a transition from old growth harvest to a young growth-based timber program for the Tongass, recognizing the importance of preserving Southeast Alaska’s exceptional natural resources while also preserving a viable timber industry that provides jobs and opportunities for Southeast Alaska residents. The amendment is also needed to support the development of renewable energy resources in Southeast Alaska.

The Forest Service’s Preferred Alternative - Alternative 5 - is based on the unanimous recommendation of the Tongass Advisory Committee that was established to provide input and advice on the transition to a young growth timber program to the Secretary of Agriculture and the Chief of the Forest Service. Members of the committee represent a broad range of viewpoints, expertise and geographically diverse communities in and outside of Alaska including representatives of local and state government, Alaska Native Corporations, the timber industry, the environmental community, and the public.

The amendment process has a narrow focus and does not include changes to the Tongass conservation strategy, Wilderness or Wild and Scenic River designations, or changes to most land use designations.

Jim Adams, Policy Director for Audubon Alaska, said in a prepared statement, "Audubon Alaska is glad to see that the Forest Service’s preferred alternative protects some of the highest-value conservation lands on the Tongass from the impacts of old-growth clearcutting. Setting aside T77, Audubon/TNC conservation lands, and roadless areas (map) was a unanimous recommendation of the Tongass Advisory Council and would be a step in the right direction for forest management. - More...
Friday PM - November 20, 2015


Southeast Alaska: AMHS to Host 6 Community Meetings - The Alaska Department of Transportation and Public Facilities, Alaska Marine Highway System (AMHS), is inviting Alaskans to participate in six community engagement meetings scheduled across coastal Alaska. The goal of the public meetings is to lead a constructive dialogue around the fiscal challenges that face AMHS.

All state agencies are working with reduced operating budgets due to low oil prices. This will impact all modes of transportation. For Alaskans who rely on the ferry system, current budget reductions will directly impact AMHS operations.

These meetings are an opportunity for Alaskans to hear from department officials, ask questions and present potential solutions regarding short and long-term operating possibilities for AMHS. - More...
Friday PM - November 20, 2015

Fish Factor: Alaskans Asked for Input on Budgets & Halibut Bycatch By LAINE WELCH - Alaskans are being asked to weigh in on two tough issues: budgets and halibut bycatch.

First off, the state Boards of Fish and Game are asking for ideas on cutting costs within their annual meeting cycles, as well as for the state agencies involved with providing all of the backup information to the boards.

Both boards include seven members which are appointed by the governor and approved by the Alaska legislature for three year terms.

The Fish Board’s role is to conserve and develop the fishery resources for the state’s subsistence, commercial, sport, guided sport and personal use fisheries. It includes setting policy for managers, as well as fishing seasons, bag limits, fishing methods, and allocative decisions.

Similarly, the Game Board’s role includes establishing hunting seasons, areas for taking game, bag limits, and regulating hunting methods. The Alaska Department of Fish and Game (ADFG) is responsible for management based on those decisions.

A day-long meeting is set for Dec. 9 at the Egan Center in Anchorage to get cost-cutting input from the public.

“Just based on the normal meeting schedules that the boards have, we don’t even have enough at status quo in terms of a budget to meet their needs,” said Glenn Haight, Executive Director of Fish and Game Board Support, adding that the meeting focus is on fiscal year 2017, which starts in July 2016.

The combined meeting costs vary each year, Haight said, but are roughly $500,000. That includes travel expenses of $200,000 to $230,000 for members of 60 to 70 active Board advisory committees. - More...
Friday PM - November 20, 2015

jpg Editorial Cartoon: Genetically Modified Salmon

Editorial Cartoon: Genetically Modified Salmon
By Cameron Cardow ©, Cagle Cartoons
Distributed to subscribers for publication by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.

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Questions, please contact the editor at or call 617-9696
Sitnews reserves the right to edit.

letter Patient Experience Improvement Efforts By Ken Tonjes - Thank you Mr. Plamondon for taking time to let me know your thoughts on how we can improve our organization and facility, both through your SitNews letter and through the surveys you completed. Patient feedback is essential to ensure the continuation of high-quality health care in our community. I'm sorry the patient experience survey process has been frustrating for you. Your comments provide me an opportunity to clarify the survey's purpose and let our community know what we're doing to help address your frustrations. - More...
Friday PM - November 20, 2015

letter Directions for Syrian Refugees By Ed Talik - Just wanted to share my thoughts on the current state of global affairs. - More...
Friday PM - November 20, 2015

letter Freedom of Religion, Our First Amendment Right By Norbert Chaudhary - There are many talking of banning Syrian refugees because they are Moslem... Am a bit shocked at another Fox fueled state of hysteria that so many are buying into. What part of "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof" are our elected leaders forgetting? I truly believed after the Ebola thing and countless other episodes of phony fear based lies - the American people would have learned the difference between Facts and Fox. - More...
Friday PM - November 20, 2015

letter Investing in Your Community By Nina Kemppel - In Dillingham, a single nonprofit provides help for domestic violence and sexual assault victims from 33 villages and tribes across the Bristol Bay region. By September, Safe and Fear-Free Environment (SAFE), had already served 607 women, men and children and was in need of financial support. The Alaska Community Foundation awarded a $10,000 grant to SAFE so they could provide meals for shelter clients and assist clients outside of the shelter cover food and other essentials. - More...
Friday PM - November 20, 2015

letter Community Connections By Judith Green - I would like to say a THANK YOU to Community Connections - an organization that is local through and through. Tonight was their staff appreciation dinner held at the Ted Ferry Center for staff and their families. It was a wonderful outpouring of what makes Community Connections the very special program it is. - More...
Friday PM - November 20,2015

letter KGBSD Budget Restraint By Agnes Moran - The Ketchikan Daily News editorial of November 13, 2015, took note of the fiscal difficulties facing the State of Alaska and the federal government. It cautioned the City and Borough governments to reach balanced and sustainable budgets. The editorial pleads, "We should take this opportunity to ensure that we can live within our municipal means next year and in the foreseeable future." The Ketchikan Gateway Borough School District (KGBSD) must heed that excellent advice also. - More...
Monday AM - November 16, 2015

letter Great ER in Ketchikan By Walt Hoefer - I lived in Ketchikan for 33 years. I have 3 kids and several grand kids living there. I had the chance to experience an eight hour stay in your ER back in June. - More...
Monday AM - November 16, 2015

letter Cost of Obama's visit By Margaret Cloud - It was recently stated in a letter published on November 11 that the cost of Obama's visit to Alaska was $600 million dollars. That number is very wrong. The cost was just under $600,000 and was for Anchorage police overtime and other expenses. - More...
Monday AM - November 16, 2015

letter 2D Bar Code & Privacy By John Suter - In regards to the 2D bar code on the back of the Alaska State driver’s license, the State of Alaska adding this 2D bar code is opening the door for Alaska State residents to be victimized. Many people have iPhones and you can go to the Apple Store to down load an App to scan the 2D bar code. Once someone uses this App to scan the 2D bar code, everything from birthdate, weight, hair color, address etc. is now stored into this person's iPhone. - More...
Wednesday PM - November 11, 2015

letter RE: Pesticides in our state By Jan Trojan - Excellent letter by the Wyatts! I raised the same issue here in Craig. I still have not received a letter back from the Governor. I do feel comforted that SEALASKA said not on SEALASKA Lands. I have also written both of our senators about the HB 1599 and not received a response from either if they would vote against. - More...
Wednesday PM - November 11, 2015

letter MARY POPPINS By Laura Plenert - Thank you First City Players, the magnificent cast and the behind the scenes folks of this weekend's production of 'Mary Poppins'. It was delightful from beginning to end. - More...
Wednesday PM - November 11, 2015

letter Open Letter To: Chief Admin. Officer and Chief Financial Officer PeaceHealth Ketchikan Medical Center By Clement Plamondon - Dear Mr. Tonjes, You recently mailed me yet another survey & form letter (two actually) requesting my time to help you improve your organization & facility. In the past I have completed & returned these forms. I now realize that, not only are such surveys Not in any way improving the services you offer, they are detrimental in that they waste time, money & resources generating reams of unread reports, tons of wasted paper & terabits of less than useless data to be correlated & analyzed. - More...
Wednesday PM - November 11, 2015

letter The bees all died in sprayed areas By Rudy McGillvray - So starts my latest rant, and it goes like this. If we as a community allow our town , Borough, and state to spray all the wild bushes in our beautiful state we will have NO BEES. Most likely because the sprays contains nicotinic acid or a similar type that kills bees. In fact, if one bee comes into contact with nicotine, goes back to the hive, one bee can poison the whole hive, and kill it out of existence; which is why this is not my first letter to Sitnews about Bees, and why they aren't around anymore. - More...
Wednesday PM - November 11, 2015

letter RE: Permanent Fund By Norma Lankerd - Like I stated, it was my opinion (and) I'm sure the Alaskan Government probably used part of the dividend to pay for the president's visit to Alaska, where else would they get the ¢600 million to pay for the president to be in Alaska for 4 days and 3 nights? I know Alaska doesn't have that kind of $$ to squander. - More...
Wednesday PM - November 11, 2015

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