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SitNews - Stories In The News - Ketchikan, Alaska
December 11, 2016

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President Announces Actions to Protect Natural and Cultural Resources in Alaskan Arctic Ocean; Alaska Officials Express Concerns With Latest Executive Order By MARY KAUFFMAN - Friday, President Barack Obama announced new steps to enhance the resilience of the Alaskan Arctic environment and the sustainability of Alaskan native communities with the creation of the Northern Bering Sea Climate Resilience Area.

President Announces Actions to Protect Natural and Cultural Resources in Alaskan Arctic Ocean

Satellite photo of the Bering Sea
Russia is visible on the left and Alaska is visable on the right.
Courtesy NASA

According to the White House, the coastal tribes along the northern Bering Sea and the Bering Strait requested that the Federal Government take action to protect the health of the marine ecosystems of the Northern Bering Sea and Bering Strait while maintaining opportunities for sustainable fishing and sustainable economic development. Native villages in the northern Bering Sea region of Alaska largely practice a subsistence-based lifestyle that is inextricably tied to the rich marine ecosystem of the Bering Sea. Warming ocean temperatures, sea ice loss, and increasing ship traffic can all impact the subsistence practices and food security of these communities.

In direct response to these requests, President Obama signed an Executive Order creating the Northern Bering Sea Climate Resilience Area. This area, encompassing 112,300 square miles, represents a hugely productive, high-latitude ocean ecosystem and supports one of the largest seasonal marine mammal migrations in the world, including thousands of bowhead and beluga whales, hundreds of thousands of walruses and ice seals, and millions of migratory birds. It is home to more than 40 tribes of coastal Yup’ik and Inupiaq peoples whose way of life has been linked with the marine environment for thousands of years.

Alaska Governor Bill Walker (I) responded to the announcement saying, “We support Tribal leaders in the Bering Straits region who worked diligently to provide economic opportunities for their community while protecting valuable resources."

"However," said the Governor, "the State of Alaska is concerned about any further erosion of our ability to support much needed resource development at a time when the state is grappling with declining oil prices and production. We are concerned about the timing and lack of clarity on how this executive order will be implemented in the coming years.”

The Northern Bering Sea Climate Resilience Area announced by the President is delineated for the purpose of focusing a locally-tailored collection of protections related to oil and gas, shipping, and fishing. The order also establishes a Task Force charged with coordinating Federal activities in this area to enhance ecosystem and community resilience, conserve natural resources, and protect the cultural and subsistence values this ecosystem provides for Alaskan native communities. Further, agencies are directed to consider traditional knowledge in decision making and establish a formal consultative mechanism for engaging with regional tribal governments to seek their input on Federal activities. This action advances science-based decision-making and engagement with Alaska Native peoples in addressing the changing Arctic consistent with the Joint Statement signed at the White House Arctic Science Ministerial and consultation with Alaska Natives in preparation for the Ministerial.

In addition to Friday’s protections, the Obama Administration announced approximately $30 million in philanthropic commitments for projects in rural northern Alaska and Canada. These projects include investments over the next three years related to shipping, ecosystem science, community and ecological resilience, and tribal engagement. Earlier in the week, the U.S. Department of Commerce deployed an Economic Development Assessment Team to Nome, Alaska to help the region diversify, grow its economy, and address challenges related to climate change and community resilience.

Friday’s actions are also supportive of the March 2016 U.S.-Canada Joint Statement on Climate, Energy, and Arctic Leadership and make substantial progress on its objectives of conserving Arctic biodiversity through science-based decision-making, incorporating indigenous science and traditional knowledge into decision-making, and supporting strong Arctic communities. These actions employ science-based leadership to improve marine and coastal resilience and sustain our Nation’s precious natural resources.

Kawerak, Inc., the Bering Sea Elders Group, and the Association of Village Council Presidents, which together represent more than 70 federally recognized tribes, were instrumental in achieving this landmark decision to create the Northern Bering Sea Climate Resilience Area. - More...
Sunday AM - December 11, 2016

Southeast Alaska:
Amended Tongass Forest Plan Focuses on Transition to Young Growth Harvest and Renewable Energy Development - Friday, the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) issued a Final Record of Decision for an amendment to the Tongass Land Management Plan (TLMP), marking the final step of a two-year process. M. Earl Stewart, the Forest Supervisor for the Tongass National Forest, Alaska Region, signed the final Record of Decision (ROD). The Final ROD documents the Forest Supervisor’s rationale for approving the Tongass Forest Plan Amendment. The Tongass Forest Plan Amendment will become effective in 30 days.

A summer-time glimpse of a very small part of the Tongass National Forest
Photo: Alan Wu/Flickr Creative Commons

The Tongass Forest Plan Amendment focuses on accelerating the transition from old-growth timber harvest to young-growth while maintaining opportunities for a viable timber industry in Southeast Alaska. The amended plan will support more sustainable and diverse local economies by stabilizing timber supply, minimizing social conflict about the harvest of old growth trees, and maintaining wildlife habitat. The amended plan also contributes to sustainable and diverse local economies by promoting renewable energy development.

“Through years of community collaboration efforts, the Tongass has sought a resolution to long-standing conflicts regarding timber management,” said Earl Stewart, Tongass Forest Supervisor. “This amendment is the culmination of those collaborative efforts, and it is aligned with the unanimous recommendations of the Tongass Advisory Committee (TAC).” - More...
Sunday AM - December 11, 2016

Fish Factor: Boosting quality at Bristol Bay benefits all Alaska salmon fishermen; 44% of Bay boats don’t chill By LAINE WELCH - With so many salmon fisheries occurring across Alaska each year, why is there always so much hoopla about Bristol Bay?

It can be summed up in a single word: sockeye.

“The sockeye resource at Bristol bay is unique because of its size,” said Andy Wink, Senior Seafood Analyst at the Juneau-based McDowell Group. “Typically, it’s 35 to 40 percent of the global sockeye supply, and it is a huge chunk of Alaska’s overall salmon value. Preliminary data for 2016 show about 38 percent of Alaska’s total salmon value came out of Bristol Bay, and even more if you add in the Alaska Peninsula.”

The size of the Bay harvest also means it has a big impact on salmon prices elsewhere.

“In 2015, when the base price was 50 cents at Bristol Bay and they had a large harvest, coho prices come way down and sockeye in other areas came down quite a bit too,” Wink explained. “It’s a market moving fishery is the best way to describe it, and that is why it affects so many other Alaska fishermen even if they don’t fish in the Bay.”

But that is where a problem arises.

About 44 percent of Bristol Bay’s roughly 1,600 active driftnet permit holders don’t chill their fish. - More...
Sunday AM - December 11, 2016


Despite evolutionary inexperience, northern sockeye manage heat stress - Sockeye salmon that evolved in the generally colder waters of the far north still know how to cool off if necessary, an important factor in the species' potential for dealing with global climate change.

Despite evolutionary inexperience, northern sockeye manage heat stress

Sockeyes, which spawn in fresh water and spend two to three years in the Pacific Ocean, range from southern Alaska south to the Columbia River.

Research by Oregon State University revealed that sockeyes at the northern edge of that range, despite lacking their southern counterparts' evolutionary history of dealing with heat stress, nevertheless have an innate ability to "thermoregulate." - More...
Sunday AM - December 11, 2016

Alaska: Vessel Captain Convicted of Assaulting Crew Member - On December 8, 2016, a Kodiak jury found 39 year old Kyle Mead guilty of assaulting a member of his crew. Mead was convicted of Assault in the Second Degree, two counts of Assault in the Third Degree and two counts of Assault in the Fourth Degree.

The convictions stem from an August 26, 2016 incident involving a report that Mead strangled a crew member and pushed him overboard. The victim reported to police repeated threats by Mead during the summer while working as a crewmember on Mead’s seiner F/V Miss Destinee. On August 26th, the victim reported Mead had become upset with him while deploying the vessel’s seine. The victim said Mead pushed him down, stepped over him and slapped him in the head before kicking him in his side.

Mead told the victim to stay in his bunk. Later, the victim reported that Mead came inside to his bunk and without warning punched him on the right side of his face and then put him in a choke hold causing him to become dizzy and preventing him from breathing. After that, the victim reported attempting to wave down another vessel for help when Mead pushed him forcefully over the rail of the boat. The victim reported catching himself on the rail but ended up waist deep in the ocean before being able to pull himself back up on the deck. - More...
Sunday AM - December 11, 2016


Alaska Science:
Copper Valley couple caught a lynx that wandered all the way from Canada By NED ROZELL - A lynx that roamed more than 200 miles from Kluane Lake in the Yukon Territory to near Chitina is still being tracked across the Alaska landscape, thanks to a curious couple living off the Edgerton Highway.

Copper Valley couple caught a lynx that wandered all the way from Canada

A lynx that a couple in Kenny Lake captured in their chicken house.
Photo courtesy Linda Lohse


Ralph and Linda Lohse first met the animal Canadian researchers call Max on an October night in the Copper River Valley.

"My wife saw a lynx out there, sitting next to the chicken coop like a lion, twitching its tail and looking at the chickens and ducks," said Ralph Lohse, who lives with his wife, Linda, on property between the Edgerton and the Tonsina River. They watched the lynx for 40 minutes, until it leapt to webbing on top of a chicken coop.

They went outside to prevent it from getting a chicken. The startled wild cat ran off with a group of their sheep, as if all the animals were in the same herd.

In a few days, the Lohses noticed a few chickens were gone. Then two ducks disappeared.

They knew the culprit, seeing its round-as-a-cheeseburger tracks in the snow. The couple installed a motion detector on their chicken/duck pen. Every time they heard a buzz, they knew the lynx had returned.

Picking up a rifle was Ralph Lohse's first thought. But the fur trapper and his wife had seen a collar around the lynx's neck and knew someone was studying it.

"I've taken probably 400 lynx over the years," Ralph said. "It's not like he would be a good trophy or anything. We were much more interested in where it came from." - More...
Sunday AM - December 11, 2016

jpg Editorial Cartoon: John Glenn tribute

Editorial Cartoon: John Glenn tribute
By Dave Granlund ©2016,
Distributed to subscribers for publication by Cagle Cartoons, Inc.


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letter Shrinking Budgets and the Drug Epidemic Create the Perfect Storm… Not SB 91 By Alaska Attorney General Jahna Lindemuth - Change is hard but it can also provide opportunities. Last spring, an opportunity presented itself when our legislature and Governor Walker enacted Senate Bill 91, broadly reforming our criminal justice system. Before this happened, the legislature asked the Alaska Criminal Justice Commission to study our system and recommend changes. The Commission did this and came up with recommendations based on evidence of what worked in other states. This became the foundation for SB 91. The Commission – including Department of Public Safety Commissioner Monegan, Department of Corrections Commissioner Williams, and me as head of the Department of Law, all agree that SB 91 is the right path for our State. But it will improve public safety in the long run only if the State sees the reform efforts through. Tweaks will be needed to the new law, and the Commission will monitor implementation and recommend changes where needed. - More...
Sunday AM - December 11, 2016

letter Autopsy of Clinton's Loss By Donald Moskowitz - I am perturbed that Hillary Clinton and her campaign staff are blaming FBI Director James Comey for Clinton’s election defeat. Director Comey sent out a letter to Congress 11 days prior to the election reopening the investigation into Clinton’s emails. Two days prior to the election he stated there was nothing incriminating in the emails, and he was closing out the investigation. They claim he adversely impacted her momentum a week before the election, which is probably true. However, Director Comey should not be scapegoated for Clinton’s loss, because there are many reasons she lost the election. - More...
Sunday AM - December 11, 2016

letter RE: Making an Enrollment List and Checking It Twice By Laura Plenert - Just checking - this kind of 'information' should also be provided to be able to vote in an elections, right???? - More...
Sunday AM - December 11, 2016

letter Making an Enrollment List and Checking It Twice By Susan Johnson - Applications usually require supporting information and documents. Job applications, school applications, car insurance applications, scholarship applications, loan applications, and of course health insurance applications, require you to have certain information available to complete the process. While no one likes completing applications, it tends to go much more smoothly if you’re prepared. - More...
Thursday AM - December 08, 2016

letter How to Put Building Permits on a Fast Track By U.S. Senator Dan Sullivan - President-elect Donald Trump has made investing in U.S. infrastructure a priority. This country urgently needs to build and repair roads, bridges, airports, pipelines and rail lines. But a huge roadblock is the federal permitting system. Even with a more business-friendly administration, a trillion-dollar infrastructure plan won’t accomplish much unless Congress reforms the way public-works projects are approved. - More...
Tuesday AM - December 06, 2016

letter Giving Thanks By Nina Kemppel - As we approach the season for giving thanks and the time when we reflect on how grateful we are for the blessings in our daily lives, I want to acknowledge all of the individuals, community members, organizations, and visionaries whose generosity and service has made Alaska a place we are proud to call home. Despite the challenges our state has undergone this year, I find that we at The Alaska Community Foundation (ACF) are in a fortunate vantage point to see how Alaskans have come together to weather the storm and have supported their communities now more than ever. At ACF, we witness your generosity every single day. - More...
Tuesday AM - December 06, 2016

letter KCCB in the Plaza Mall By Judith Green - QUESTION: What is a great way to utilize the open space in the Plaza Mall during the month of December? YES, filled with Chrismas music from the Ketchikan Community Concert Band. Many of us were thrilled to hear the sounds of music coming from that space Saturday. The KCCB gave us heart warming sounds as we went about visiting the local artisans and their creative, hand made items. - More...
Tuesday AM - December 06, 2016

letter Public Lands By Joe Ashcraft - It is interesting that the letter from Fielder is in a Ketchikan on line forum, soliciting for state control of federally administered lands in a different state. Maybe it had to do with corporations in Alaska wanting to trade for lands with uncut timber; lands now belonging to others. - More...
Tuesday AM - December 06, 2016

letter KCC's Historic Christmas program By Judith Green - Ketchikan Community Chorus has put together a program that is fun, interesting, informative, and professional. There is the musical director and conductor and the chorus, of course: all local people who gather together to practice together because (?) they enjoy music. Once again we are not disappointed in the wonderful program they present for the community to enjoy. - More...
Tuesday AM - December 06, 2016

letter RE: President Elect must Divest By Laura Plenert - Just wondering - does this include Presidents that come into office with literally nothing and walk away millionaires??? - More
Tuesday AM - December 06, 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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