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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
December 27, 2015

Front Page Photograph By CINDY BALZER

Blue Heron
This Alaska Great Blue Heron is paused to plunged its dagger-like bill underwater and pull out a wriggling fish. While many birds leave Alaska in the fall, some great blue herons stick around, wintering in Southeast and fishing the wetlands and shorelines.
Front Page Photograph By CINDY BALZER

Select your favorite Photo of the Month. The photographer with the most likes for the month will receive $100. Only LIKES on the SitNews' Facebook page will be counted. If you don't use FB, email your choice to the editor.
(Submit your photograph to be featured on the SitNews' front page. Email photo to editor@sitnews.us include your name and a brief photo description.)

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Fish Factor: New Year promises even bigger Alaska fish catches By LAINE WELCH - “Tis the season" for even bigger Alaska fish catches when groundfish seasons open at the start of the New Year.

New Year promises even bigger Alaska fish catches

A 70 ton catch of Alaska pollock
Courtesy NOAA FishWatch

Catches of pollock, cod, flounders and other groundfish account for nearly 85 percent of Alaska’s harvest poundage, and 67 percent of the nation’s total groundfish harvests. Those numbers could increase due to boosts in several catch quotas in both the Gulf of Alaska and the Bering Sea for the next two year.

For pollock, the nation’s largest fishery, the catch is up slightly to 1.3 million metric tons, or just under three billion pounds.

The Pacific cod quota is down a bit to 525 million pounds, not because of stock declines, but to accommodate the catches of competing gears and fleets, said Diana Stram, Bering Sea groundfish plan coordinator for the North Pacific Fishery Management Council (NPFMC), which oversees fisheries from three to 200 miles offshore. Flatfish stocks also are very healthy, Stram said, but catches were lowered due to halibut bycatch concerns from trawl and longline vessels.

“The fisheries worked voluntarily last year to reduce their halibut bycatch and they did a good job, but it still remains a concern,” she said. - More...
Sunday PM - December 27, 2015

Alaska: Congress Changes the Market Name of the Nation’s Largest Fishery - Seafood consumers across the nation gained more certainty about the source of the seafood they buy as part of the federal omnibus spending bill that Congress passed and the President signed on December 18, 2015. The law changes the market name of the nation’s largest fishery from “Alaska pollock” to “pollock,” and also requires that the geographic descriptor “Alaska” be used only on pollock harvested from that state.

The new law corrects decades of consumer and market confusion over the use of the market name “Alaska pollock” on the species Gadus chalcogrammus regardless of its origin. Before the law was enacted, pollock from both Russia and Alaska were sold in the United States under the name “Alaska pollock,” making it impossible for consumers to determine product origin and to make a choice between the two sources.

The provision in the omnibus spending package was pushed by U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler (D-WA) and U.S. Senator Maria Cantwell (D-WA), who introduced stand-alone bills to change the law, bills co-sponsored by all members of the Washington and Alaska Congressional delegations. U.S. Senators Patty Murray (D-WA) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), who serve on the Senate Appropriations Committee, played key roles in securing inclusion of the pollock nomenclature provision in the end of year catch-all spending bill.

Alaska pollock is the fifth most consumed fish in the United States. “In 2013, 152 million pounds of Russian pollock, which is less sustainable and lower quality than pollock from Alaska fisheries, was sold to U.S. consumers as “Alaska pollock,” said Pat Shanahan, Program Director for the Genuine Alaska Pollock Producers, the industry trade association that initiated the name change. “Our research showed that the vast majority of consumers thought products labeled “Alaska pollock” came from Alaska, and they felt the name was very misleading when applied to Russian pollock,” she added. - More...
Sunday PM - December 27, 2015

Alaska: Detecting Landslides from a Few Seismic Wiggles - The rumbling started across Icy Bay at around 8:19 p.m. on Oct. 17, 2015. In the span of about 60 seconds, 200 million tons of rock roared down the side of Alaska’s Taan Fiord valley and crashed onto the toe of Tyndall Glacier and into the water, setting off a local tsunami big enough to register at the nearest tidal gauge 96 miles (155 kilometers) away.

jpg Detecting Landslides from a Few Seismic Wiggles

A 200 million ton landslide landed on the toe of Tyndall Glacier and in the water of Taan Fiord on Oct. 17 local time in Icy Bay, Alaska. It was detected by seismologists on the other side of the country.
Courtesy: NSF Polar Geospatial Center

No one was near the glacier to witness the massive landslide — the largest detected in North America since the collapse at Mount St. Helens — and it almost went unnoticed. Almost. Its signature appeared almost simultaneously in seismograms monitored by the Global CMT Project at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory on the other side of the country.

Over the last six years, Lamont seismologists Göran Ekström and Colin Stark have been perfecting a technique for picking out the seismic signature of large landslides from the stream of seismic data from earthquakes and other activity around the world. The details they are able to extract could one day help governments sound tsunami warnings, help rescuers find landslide-struck villages faster, and warn of risks such as landslide-dammed rivers that could soon burst through.

When computers detect earthquakes, they look for an abrupt start to seismic activity, typically a sharp, high-frequency burst. Landslides have a different signature that often goes undetected.

“Landslides start very gradually. They grow and they decay over the time period it takes for the mass to go all the way down, so this would be a minute or maybe two,” Ekström said. To pick out landslides, the scientists look for long-period seismic waves — seismic wiggles with a period of 50 seconds or so. - More...
Sunday PM - December 27, 2015

Measuring the highest peaks in the Brooks Range

Kit Deslauriers, the only person to climb and ski down the tallest mountains on seven continents, ascends the highest peak in the Brooks Range, Mount Isto, in 2014. Photo by Andy Bardon

Alaska Science: Measuring the highest peaks in the Brooks Range By NED ROZELL - U.S. Geological Survey topographic maps give you a choice on the height of Mount Isto. Depending on what map scale you choose, the mountain in the Brooks Range is either higher or lower than 9,000 feet.

Using a new combination of techniques, an Alaska researcher has crowned Mt. Isto the highest peak in America's arctic, unseating longtime presumed champion Mt. Chamberlain, listed at 9,020 feet.

That scientist, UAF's Matt Nolan, spoke Dec. 16 at the 2015 Fall Meeting of the American Geophysical Union in San Francisco. The Fairbanks resident is one of about 25,000 researchers gathering at the Moscone Center from Dec. 14-18.

Nolan has spent many hours in the Brooks Range staring at white pyramid peaks from his camps on McCall Glacier, which he has studied since 2003. About five years ago, adventurer Kit Deslauriers was waiting at the Coyote Air compound in Coldfoot for a trip in to ski the highest peak in America's arctic. She bumped into Nolan there and informed him of a discrepancy in the USGS maps: Depending on what scale map she used, either Mt. Chamberlin or Isto was the highest peak.

Their meeting led to the precise measurement of the peaks. Deslauriers, the only person who has climbed the tallest peaks on seven continents and skied down them, got a sponsorship from the National Geographic Expeditions Council for the Brooks Range project.

She climbed the high mountains there and parked a GPS receiver at the summits before shouldering it in her backpack and skiing down. Nolan fitted his aircraft with a system he calls fodar and confirmed the GPS readings to within a few centimeters. - More...
Sunday PM - December 27, 2015


Melting sea ice increases Arctic precipitation, complicates climate predictions - The melting of sea ice will significantly increase Arctic precipitation, creating a climate feedback comparable to doubling global carbon dioxide, a Dartmouth College-led study finds.

Melting sea ice increases Arctic precipitation, complicates climate predictions

Ben Kopec, a Ph.D. candidate in Dartmouth College's Department of Earth Sciences, and his colleagues find that the melting of sea ice will significantly increase Arctic precipitation, creating a climate feedback comparable to doubling global carbon dioxide.
By Derek Keats via Foter.com

"The increases of precipitation and changes in the energy balance may create significant uncertainty in climate predictions," says lead author Ben Kopec, a PhD candidate in Dartmouth's Department of Earth Sciences. - More...
Sunday PM - December 27, 2015

Social: Are you Facebook-dependent? - What drives you to Facebook? News? Games? Feedback on your posts? The chance to meet new friends?

If any of these hit home, you might have a Facebook dependency. But that's not necessarily a bad thing, says Amber Ferris, an assistant professor of communication at The University of Akron's Wayne College.

Ferris, who studies Facebook user trends, says the more people use Facebook to fulfill their goals, the more dependent on it the become. She is quick to explain this dependency is not equivalent to an addiction. Rather, the reason why people use Facebook determines the level of dependency they have on the social network. The study found those who use Facebook to meet new people were the most dependent on Facebook overall.

To identify dependency factors, Ferris and Erin Hollenbaugh, an associate professor of communication studies at Kent State University at Stark, studied 301 Facebook users between the ages of 18 and 68 who post on the site at least once a month. They found that people who perceive Facebook as helpful in gaining a better understanding of themselves go to the site to meet new people and to get attention from others. Also, people who use Facebook to gain a deeper understanding of themselves tend to have agreeable personalities, but lower self-esteem than others. - More..
Sunday PM - December 27, 2015


Columns - Commentary

jpg Jeff Lund

JEFF LUND: 2015's Top Pizzas in Ketchikan and Prince of Wales - Few things stimulate ravenous tendencies like a good pizza. Last night I picked up a wedge of crust sturdy enough to hold sauce, king salmon, olives, squash, onion, peppers, mozzarella cheese and even part of a lightly fried egg. It sounds a little out of control, and it was, but in a ridiculously delicious sort of way. Of course I had no part in the cooking process but that’s okay. One of the most important decisions you will ever make in life is who you choose to spend your time with, and spending your time with friends, one of whom likes to cook gourmet pizzas from scratch, will make your life better.

I love pizza, but I don’t love all pizzas. Back east, Sbarro franchises are everywhere but I really don’t like the pizza. It looks good, smells good, it just doesn’t taste very good. I think people eat there because they are expected to – out of some strange obligation rather than heartfelt choice. I have talked to others who say they don’t like it, but they don’t mind. Why slum it when it comes to a slice?

So anyway, if you’re not lucky enough to have a friend like mine, here are the best places to get your fix – just in time to ruin your New Year’s Resolution. - Read more...
Sunday PM - December 27, 2015

jpg Peter Funt

PETER FUNT: #MediaResolutions - My personal New Year's resolutions are usually epic fails, so this year I'm making a dozen resolutions for the media, starting with...

1. No more "Breaking News." This resolution is especially important if you work at a cable news channel where the term has lost whatever smidgen of relevance it once had, and is now indistinguishable from what used to be called, simply, "News."

2. Tweets are not news. If Trump tweets that Bush is "Dumb as a rock," don't rush to make a story out of it. If you must, remember, it's not Breaking and it's not News.

3. Skip social media questions at debates. We get it: news organizations are enamored with social media, but you don't need to prove it by interrupting a presidential debate with a random Facebook question from "Joe in Michigan." - More...
Sunday PM - December 27, 2015

jpg Editorial Cartoon: Anecdotal Evidence Detective

Editorial Cartoon: Anecdotal Evidence Detective
By Adam Zyglis ©2015, The Buffalo News
Distributed to subscribers for publication by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.


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Update in Progress

letter U.S. Capitol Christmas Tree By U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski - Alaskans came together in a year-long effort to provide the first tree from Alaska to stand tall as the “People’s Tree”. The U.S. Capitol Christmas tree currently gracing the West Lawn of our nation’s Capitol traveled over 4,400 miles from the Chugach National Forest by land and sea by the generosity of Alaskans who provided everything from ornaments to cranes to trucks, and many months of their time and care. You can see the labor of love Alaskans shared in the thousands of ornaments on the tree that were made out of recyclable materials and creative flair from people across the state. - More...
Tuesday AM - December 22, 2015

letter RE: Smoke and Mirrors By Michelle O'Brien - In response to the recent letter by Agnes Moran, my question would be: If you are so keenly interested in education, as you seem to have been in the last five years, why have you not run for the Board of Education? - More...
Tuesday AM - December 22, 2015

letter Fear and loathing in the USA By Norbert Chaudhary - When I last dared to turn on my TV, talking heads were shouting in apocalyptic language that our leaders were destroying our country by wasting time and money on climate change rather than doing everything possible to make us "safe from the terrorists." - More...
Tuesday AM - December 22, 2015

letter Scorched earth logging By Joseph Sebastian - Last November in Petersburg, Alaska's newest environmental group, "The Greater Southeast Alaska Conservation Community " [gsacc.net] gave a slide show on the latest industrial clearcut logging now taking place on Sealaska land, state forest land and other land grant interests. The show consisted of images from a recent overflight and Google-Earth satellite overviews of Sealaska lands on the Cleveland Peninsula and P.O.W.'s Election Creek, and other examples .Needless to say, the push by Senator Lisa Murkowski to privatize land from the Tongass National Forest in order to rapidly clearcut and export round logs as fast as possible, was shocking, upsetting and holds dire consequences into the future. - More...
Tuesday AM - December 22, 2015

letter DOI IG to audit possible use of federal funds by State for predator control By Rick Steiner = The U.S, Department of the Interior’s (DOI) Inspector General (IG) announced Monday (attached) that in its upcoming 5-year audit of annual funding provided by DOI to the Alaska Department of Fish & Game (ADFG), it will address issues raised in a complaint filed last year that Alaska is using federal funds to support its controversial predator control program, in direct violation of federal policy. - More...
Tuesday AM - December 22, 2015

letter Get a Healthy Start to the New Year By Susan Johnson - Every year, millions of Americans make New Year’s Resolutions. Do a Google search, and you’ll find health related resolutions are among the most common: lose weight, exercise more, eat healthier, stop smoking, drink less, watch less TV, reduce stress. - More...
Tuesday AM - December 22, 2015

letter Smoke and Mirrors By Agnes Moran - The administration and school board of the Ketchikan Gateway Borough School District (KGBSD) have been creating discord with the Borough Assembly over “in-kind contributions” to draw the community’s attention away from what it should be focused on, student achievement. Under this administration and school board our children are failing to thrive. - More...
Friday PM - December 18, 2015

letter Boundary Waters Treaty By Frederick Olsen, Jr. - The United Tribal Transboundary Mining Work Group (UTTMWG) issued a letter to Alaska Governor Walker requesting that the Governor stop the process of developing a Statement of Cooperation with British Columbia on the SE Alaska Transboundary Rivers until his office formally requests the involvement of the US Department of State under the Boundary Waters Treaty of 1909 to help protect the rivers vital to our economy and traditional cultures and way of life. - More...
Friday PM - December 28, 2015

letter State Budget By Lance Clark - Maybe I'm doing the math wrong, I hope, but there's approximately 750 thousand people in Alaska and our state budget is around $11 billion a year. That turns out to be $14,667 per person. I have no idea how we can even pretend we can afford that. - More...
Wednesday AM - December 16, 2015

letter Alaska is Cold By John Suter - President Obama is going to send Alaska its share of refugees. Now is not the time to increase cost in the state budget that will incur by bringing in these refugees to the state when the state must do all that it can do to cut cost to balance the budget. A way the state can cut cost is to offer these refugees a free one way airplane ticket with a hand full of cash to fly to another state like California where they have hot dry deserts that is a similar type of country to where they came from and they will feel more at home. They need to know that Alaska is cold by their standards year around and they would not be happy here when they could live in sunny California that welcomes them with open arms of welfare, health care and everything else that they may need. - More...
Wednesday AM - December 16, 2015

letter Dave Kiffer Truckin' By Melissa Muller - Dave Kiffer hit all the high points with his recent column "Ktown Economy just keeps on Truckin'. With the state's economy going up in smoke, it's time to do more than straight thinking. There is a new high tide mark being set and Ketchikan needs to roll with it. - More...
Wednesday AM - December 16, 2015

letter Hillary Clinton Plans a Corporate "Exit Tax" By Wiley Brooks - This is Mrs. Clintons answer to stop American Companies from re-incorporating overseas. For too many politicians the answer is always the same - “we’ll punish those “expletives” for making a profit. An “exit tax” will just be added to the cost of the products we buy and make it more difficult for American companies to compete in the global market. - More...
Wednesday AM - December 16, 2015

letter Revenue options: Thanks for participating By Dan Ortiz - To me, government by the people and for the people is more than just a theoretical concept. I believe this famous phrase from President Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address must be put into practice for government to work. That’s why I’ve been going door to door, mailing out surveys and holding meetings in the communities I represent. At our town meeting on December 1st, I shared my revenue survey results and asked attendees to fill out a questionnaire on Governor Walker’s proposed endowment fund model. - More...
Friday AM - December 11, 2015

letter Open Letter: ADF&G Commissioner Cotten By Rick Steiner - You may have seen the Fall update released last week by NPS on the Denali wolf population, which showed a slight increase in numbers, but a continued decrease in viewing success. This year, only 5% of the park visitors were able to see wolves, thus some 500,000 paying visitors were deprived this opportunity. - More...
Friday AM - December 11, 2015

letter REDDI report followup By Shawn Kimberley - Almost immediately after posting my letter, I was contacted by the Captain of the Alaska State Troopers. The gentleman I spoke with was the commander of the entire southeast region. After a fairly long conversation, I would honestly say that I believe that he is a good man and a good leader. After our conversation I feel like he is here to help improve all aspects of our community. We discussed the situation thoroughly. What came out of that conversation was a complete surprise to me. Not only was the outcome something positive, But it restored my faith in the Alaska State troopers organization. He did not try to make excuses, He did not try to dance around the subject. Instead he owned up the actions, or in my opinion the lack of action. And was very polite and thankful to me for my part in trying to help correct a dangerous situation. - More...
Friday AM - December 11, 2015

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