Alaska News

UAF Chancellor Brian Rogers To Retire This Summer

APRN Alaska News - Fri, 2015-04-17 12:24

University of Alaska Fairbanks Chancellor Brian Rogers plans to step down this summer.

Rogers, who was a top candidate to replace retiring UA system President Pat Gamble, announced his intention to leave the university Thursday, citing health issues he attributes to stress including that brought on by the process of cutting UAF’s budget.

Rogers, a UAF graduate, has been chancellor for 7 years, and affiliated with the university system for decades, including 8 years as a regent. He plans to officially end his tenure in August.

Meanwhile President Gamble, who had planned to retire this spring, has agreed to stay on a little longer as regents consider candidates to replace him. A message from Regents chair Jo Heckman says Gamble agreed to remain on the job for a few extra months to allow more time to vet candidates to replace him. She also cites the importance of Gamble’s knowledge as the university undergoes downsizing.

Categories: Alaska News

Land Into Trust And The Future Of Tribal Sovereignty In Alaska

APRN Alaska News - Fri, 2015-04-17 12:00

Alaska tribes can now ask the Interior Secretary to take land into trust, a legal designation called Indian Country. What would this mean for the future of tribal sovereignty? How would Indian Country status affect Alaska Native Corporations and the relationship between tribes and the state?

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Categories: Alaska News

State’s New Child Adoption Rules Signal Thaw With Native Groups

APRN Alaska News - Thu, 2015-04-16 19:12

Since 2008, the state has been in litigation with the Native Village of Tununak over the fate of a young girl in a case where parental rights were terminated. The state has held that because the girl’s grandmother did not file formal adoption paperwork in time, she lost the preference she would have been granted under the Indian Child Welfare Act.

Now, Gov. Bill Walker has rolled out emergency regulations that seek to prevent situations like this in the future. As APRN’s Alexandra Gutierrez reports, Native groups have long fought for the change.

With Julie Kitka, the president of the Alaska Federation of Natives by his side, Walker announced at a press conference that the state would make it easier for Alaska Native children to remain with extended family or with tribal members in adoption cases.

“We are going as far as we can with the emergency regulations, up to the statutory limitations now.”

With the way the Indian Child Welfare Act works, those groups get preference in adoption cases. But as it stands now, they have to exercise that right through prescribed application notices and legal proceedings.

That’s not always easy in villages where there are often no attorneys. Health Commissioner Val Davidson tried to convey just how challenging the whole process is by asking reporters questions in Yup’ik.

“I asked you in Yup’ik, ‘If you’re a person who wants to step forward, come now. Now is the time. Now is the only time you can do that,'” Davidson said after two seconds of silence. “That’s what families face in Alaska every day.”

Under the new regulations, which are effective immediately, individuals who get custody preference would be able to express their intent to adopt a child in need of aid in less formal ways. They could do it in person, over the phone, by post, or even just by e-mail. The administration has also drafted a bill that would put those rules into statute. If the legislation passes next year, it would make the policy more likely to hold in future administrations.

Alaska Federation of Natives President Julie Kitka thanked the governor for the change, and said it signified a shift in relations between the state and tribes. She said the new rules would have a noticeable impact on families.

“It’s real. It impacts children in our state today,” said Kitka.

But it won’t affect one child — the now seven-year-old Baby Dawn in the Tununak case. At the same time the administration is changing its stance on adoption cases, it is staying firm in its position in that litigation — which was one of the reasons for the regulatory change in the first place. In that case, a non-Native foster family adopted Dawn before her grandmother asserted her position under the Indian Child Welfare Act. The state argued that the Office of Children’s Services behaved appropriately

On Wednesday, the same day that the regulations were signed, Attorney General Designee Craig Richards filed in a brief in the Tununak case that went against the village’s desires. While the brief acknowledged that the state was moving toward more flexible policies for child placement, it still held its position that a child’s grandmother lost her adoption preference when she did not give a formal notice that she wanted to take the girl in.

Walker does not think that’s inconsistent, saying that the regulations cannot be applied retroactively.

“We can’t change, we can’t rewrite what was in place at that time,” said Walker. “We can rewrite the future.”

Walker added that Richards was involved in the drafting of the new regulations, despite his position in the Tununak case.

The plaintiffs in the case remain committed to a rehearing.

Categories: Alaska News

Alaska News Nightly: April 16, 2015

APRN Alaska News - Thu, 2015-04-16 17:42

Stories are posted on the APRN news page. You can subscribe to APRN’s newsfeeds via emailpodcast and RSS. Follow us on Facebook at alaskapublic.org and on Twitter @aprn.

 

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Battle Over Medicaid Spills Onto Capital Steps

Zachariah Hughes, KSKA – Anchorage

Governor Bill Walker spoke at a rally today in favor of Medicaid expansion outside the capital in Juneau. The event is another strategy from the administration to get lawmakers to bring the issue to a vote in the Legislature.

 

As Deadline Looms, Gov. Walker Says Legislature Could Gavel Out On Time

Alexandra Gutierrez, APRN – Juneau

With the legislature scheduled to gavel out by midnight on Sunday, Governor Bill Walker has seen very few pieces of legislation make it to his desk. APRN’s Alexandra Gutierrez sat down with Walker yesterday afternoon to get his take on how the session is progressing. Walker said he thinks it’s still possible for lawmakers to get their work done on time.

 

Emergency Regulations Strengthen Indian Child Welfare Act

Alexandra Gutierrez, APRN – Juneau

Since 2008, the state has been in litigation with the Native Village of Tununak over the fate of a young girl whose parental rights were terminated. The state has held that because the girl’s grandmother did not file formal adoption paperwork, she lost the preference she would have been granted under the Indian Child Welfare Act. Now, Governor Walker has rolled out emergency regulations that seek to prevent situations like this in the future. The action is a win for Native groups in the state.

 

Petitioners ask Governor to Stop Supporting Same-Sex Marriage Bans

Anne Hillman, KSKA – Anchoraeg

More than 1,200 Alaskans have signed a petition asking Governor Walker to withdraw Alaska’s support for an amicus brief defending same-sex marriage bans.

 

Coast Guard Says Remains Of Missing Alaska Pilot Found

The Associated Press

Searchers have found the remains of the pilot of a plane that went missing in Alaska’s Prince William Sound.

 

FBI Looks Into Bethel Incident

Ben Matheson, KYUK – Bethel

FBI staff were in Bethel recently on a fact finding mission related to an incident in which a former Bethel police officer arrested a man in a parking lot of an AC store.

 

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell Defends Federal Land Management

Liz Ruskin, APRN – Washington DC

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell today defended the federal government’s land management and brushed off calls from legislators in Alaska, and other states, to seize federal lands.

 

Oil Price Likely To Dip Again After Brief Surge

Liz Ruskin, APRN – Washington DC

The price of Brent Crude hit above $63 a barrel today, the highest it’s been this year. That gives Alaskans something to cheer about. But the head of the U.S. Energy Information Administration told a Senate panel Thursday two political events on the horizon would likely bring the global price down.

 

Ninth Circuit Denies Big Thorne Injunction

Leila Kheiry, KRBD – Ketchikan

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has denied an emergency motion for an injunction that would have delayed the Big Thorne Timber Sale pending an appeal of a lower-court ruling.

 

Anchorage Students Rally Against Education Funding Cut

Anne Hillman, KSKA – Anchorage

More than 150 high school students walked out of class this afternoon to attend an impromptu rally in downtown Anchorage. They are protesting the legislature’s proposed $47.5 million cut to education.

 

Juneau School District Seeking Special Election For School Bonds

Lisa Phu, KTOO – Juneau

The Juneau School District wants a special June election asking voters to approve a bond for school renovations before a law stopping state reimbursements for school construction takes effect. The governor still hasn’t signed the bill, but if he does, the school district has 90 days before it becomes a law to hold an election. Even if all goes smoothly and the district beats the countdown, it’s still unclear if it will get reimbursed.

Categories: Alaska News

Anchorage Students Rally Against Education Funding Cuts

APRN Alaska News - Thu, 2015-04-16 17:27

Student protesters asking the legislature to increase education funding. Hillman/KSKA

More than 150 high school students walked out of class Thursday afternoon to attend an impromptu rally at the Anchorage Legislative Information Office. They are protesting the legislature’s proposed $47.5 million cut to education.

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West High Junior Charlie Lowell led the crowd, sending a message to Alaska’s state legislature.

“They’ve been encouraged to even cut education further,” he shouted into his bullhorn.

“Boo!!” responded the sign-toting crowd.

“So we’re here today to let them know they can’t cut away our future! They can’t take our education away from us! Save our schools!”

Lowell helped organize the protest through word of mouth and didn’t let parents or teachers know until the last minute.

Students at the protest say their teachers had mixed reactions — many supported the idea but others were skeptical that any students would actually show up.

Tenth graders Sonja Barnard, Salem Collins, and Tessa Meeno protest education budget cuts. Hillman/KSKA

“I think in general teenagers get a bad rap for being rebellious and like idiots,” said West High sophomore Tessa Meeno. “And we truly do know what’s going on, and we’re not oblivious to what’s happening.”

West High tenth grader Joseph Mazeck said they need to speak up to protect what they love. “I love going to school, and I love participating in school events. You know, I play baseball for West and I don’t want to see that go away because of money.”

The legislature needs to send their final budget to the governor by the end of session on Sunday.

Categories: Alaska News

Battle Over Medicaid Spills Onto Capital Steps

APRN Alaska News - Thu, 2015-04-16 17:26

Gov. Bill Walker, I-Alaska, during a Medicaid expansion rally at the State Capitol, April 16, 2015. (Photo by Skip Gray/360 North)

Governor Bill Walker spoke at a rally today in favor of Medicaid expansion outside the Capital Building in Juneau. The event is another strategy from the administration to get lawmakers to bring the issue to a vote in the Legislature.

Standing on the capital steps in sporadic drizzle, Anica Ord of Juneau said that as a recent college graduate she falls into the coverage “donut hole” for health insurance.

“Medicaid expansion would help young people like myself who want to getting their financial feet on the ground, and want to live and work here in Alaska,” Ord said, before issuing a very modern political call to arms: “Snap a picture, text it, tweet it, Facebook it—do the social media thing. And let’s get this bill to the floor for a vote.”

That prompted many of the hundred or so rally attendees, along with a handful of democratic lawmakers, to begin snapping selfies with their phones.

Governor Bill Walker told the crowd expanded healthcare coverage is both an economic and moral necessity for the state.

“Multiple polls show overwhelming support for expanded Medicaid. Healthcare is not a partisan issue, it’s an Alaskan issue, and we’re going to accept it,” Walker said over growing applause.

But Republicans lawmakers say the state isn’t ready, and that there is no use expanding Medicaid when the state’s current version of the healthcare system is not working.

“To throw another 20,000-plus people into a system that is already not functioning properly could really hurt the state a lot,” said Representative Steven Thompson, a Republican from Fairbanks, during a majority press briefing earlier in the day. “We need to be careful that we have things that are going to work before we start adding 20,000 to 40,000 people to a system that’s already broken.”

Thompson doesn’t believe the issue will not come to a vote this session. But Governor Walker says he will call back the Legislature if the expansion plan doesn’t come to pass.

Juneau resident Pat Sidmore attended the rally, and thinks the politics are obscuring the very real need to give health coverage to more low income Alaskans.

“My sign said that ‘when elephants fight it’s the grass that suffers,’” Sidmore said. “We have a unified government: a Republican governor, a Republican legislature, that’s the elephant symbol, and they’re fighting over this thing, and people are getting hurt.”

After his rally speech, the crowd of supporters started singing Walker “Happy Birthday.” He turned 64.

Alexandra Gutierrez contributed reporting to this article.

 

 

 

 

Categories: Alaska News

As Deadline Looms, Gov. Walker Says Legislature Could Gavel Out On Time

APRN Alaska News - Thu, 2015-04-16 17:25

Alaska Gov. Bill Walker speaks to reporters during a press conference Jan. 27, 2015. He was discussing a draft plan released earlier in the day by the U.S. Department of Interior that would block oil development in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas. (Photo by Skip Gray/360 North)

With the legislature scheduled to gavel out by midnight on Sunday, Governor Bill Walker has seen very few pieces of legislation make it to his desk. APRN’s Alexandra Gutierrez sat down with Walker yesterday afternoon to get his take on how the session is progressing.

Walker said he thinks it’s still possible for lawmakers to get their work done on time.

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Categories: Alaska News

Petitioners ask Governor to Stop Supporting Same-Sex Marriage Bans

APRN Alaska News - Thu, 2015-04-16 17:24

More than 1,200 Alaskans have signed a petition asking Governor Walker to withdraw Alaska’s support for an amicus brief defending same-sex marriage bans.

The attorney general signed the brief two weeks ago. The NAACP, Christians for Equality, and Alaskans Together for Equality all signed the petition.

Comments support equality for all citizens. The U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments about the constitutionality of such bans on April 28. They’ll issue a final decision by this summer.

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Categories: Alaska News

Coast Guard Says Remains Of Missing Alaska Pilot Found

APRN Alaska News - Thu, 2015-04-16 17:22

Searchers have found the remains of the pilot of a plane that went missing in Alaska’s Prince William Sound.

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The Coast Guard says the man’s remains were recovered after being found Wednesday evening.

Responders say the wreckage of the man’s Cessna 180 were partially submerged off the coast of Culross Island.

Anchorage station KTUU reports the pilot’s family identified him as 53-year-old Dale Carlson of Wasilla.

The search was launched after the pilot reported engine trouble Tuesday afternoon near Perry Island, 60 miles southwest of Valdez. The Coast Guard says the pilot stated he might have to set the plane down.

The Coast Guard says searchers included Alaska State Troopers and the National Guard. The Coast Guard says responders searched for 27 hours in rough weather.

Categories: Alaska News

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell Defends Federal Land Management

APRN Alaska News - Thu, 2015-04-16 17:20

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell today defended the federal government’s land management and brushed off calls from legislators in Alaska, and other states, to seize federal lands.

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Categories: Alaska News

Oil Price Likely To Dip Again After Brief Surge

APRN Alaska News - Thu, 2015-04-16 17:19

The price of Brent Crude hit above $63 a barrel today, the highest it’s been this year. That gives Alaskans something to cheer about, but the head of the U.S. Energy Information Administration told a Senate panel Thursday two political events on the horizon would likely bring the global price down.

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Adam Sieminski says if Iranian sanctions are removed, a lot of oil would come onto the market, and no one knows if that would be gradual or all at once. Sieminski says Iran has about 30 million barrels of oil in storage, and it would likely increase its production rate if it’s not facing sanctions.

“So the total amount would be about a million barrels a day of production coming onto the market, and it’s really hard to see right now senator, how that could be absorbed without causing other production to go down, or the price to go down,” Sieminski said.

Sieminski was answering a question posed by Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski. Senators from non-producing states tend to focus on gasoline prices. Sieminski refuted the claim that allowing crude oil exports would raise the price at the American pump.

“What that does suggest if more crude oil enters the global markets, whether it’s from U.S. Exports, or from Iran, or from production anywhere, it would tend to lower the global oil price, which would tend to lower the gasoline price in the U.S,” Sieminski said.

Lifting the oil export ban is one of Murkowski’s major initiatives as chairman of the Senate Energy Committee.

Categories: Alaska News

Ninth Circuit Denies Big Thorne Injunction

APRN Alaska News - Thu, 2015-04-16 17:18

The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals has denied an emergency motion for an injunction that would have delayed the Big Thorne Timber Sale pending an appeal of a lower-court ruling.

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Big Thorne Map

Thursday’s denial was the latest action related to the Big Thorne Timber Sale on Prince of Wales Island. The U.S. Forest Service last summer made a final decision to move forward with the project, which includes about 6,000 acres of old-growth rainforest.

Environmentalists, arguing that it’s critical habitat for deer and wolves, quickly sued to stop the timber sale. Lawsuits were filed in federal court by two separate coalitions of conservation groups.

This spring, U.S. District Court Judge Ralph Beistline rejected all the arguments brought forward by the environmental groups, and ruled in favor of the Forest Service.

That court had consolidated the two lawsuits, but each set appealed separately to the Ninth Circuit.

In its Thursday ruling, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals also agreed to consolidate the appeals into one case, and to expedite the appeals process.

Categories: Alaska News

FBI Looks Into Bethel Incident

APRN Alaska News - Thu, 2015-04-16 11:41

FBI staff were in Bethel recently on a fact finding mission related to an incident in which a former Bethel police officer arrested a man in a parking lot.

An FBI spokesperson says they are looking at a possible civil rights violation. It’s not an official investigation in the terms used by the FBI, but the spokesperson says they are looking into the incident after surveillance video surfaced earlier this month. The U.S. Attorney’s office can use information from the FBI to decide whether or not to press charges.

The Bethel police officer, Andrew Reid, was fired this spring. Following the release of the video, the attorney for Wassillie Gregory, the man who was arrested, has filed for post conviction relief on his guilty plea to a harassment charge.

City Manager Ann Capela referred questions Tuesday afternoon to an attorney working for the city, Bill Ingaldson. He declined to comment citing the ongoing investigation and a desire to not interfere in the due process of individuals.

The city council, Tuesday night, however, briefly heard from Ingaldson about the video tape in question.

There have been many questions about the events surrounding the hard drive. An account from an email from an attorney for the parent company indicated that the video was on a hard drive that went to the police department but was deleted when it was returned to the grocery store. When asked by council member Zach Fansler about the video, Ingaldson insisted there was no nefarious activity and that there were several copies made of the video.

“There is absolutely no evidence at all, it’s just not true that anything was destroyed. Copies were made of that, and in fact the attorney for the other person involved, not the attorney for the officer, but the attorney for the other person, that attorney looked at the video in my office and nothing was hidden from anyone,” said Ingaldson.

There appeared to be confusion about who actually owned the hard drive. Ingaldson says the police returned the hard drive to AC in the condition they received it, he says that’s without the video.

Categories: Alaska News

Walker Commands Lawmakers To Act On Appointments

APRN Alaska News - Wed, 2015-04-15 20:33

Gov. Bill Walker has issued a proclamation that would force legislators to act on his appointments.

The executive proclamation comes days after legislative leadership cancelled their confirmation session — and days after the governor sent a six-page letter reiterating that he would veto a contentious gasline bill and urging lawmakers not to override him. All of the governor’s cabinet members and board appointments require legislative approval before the end of the session, or else the appointments are voided. In February, legislative leadership requested a legal memo explaining the consequences of disregarding the confirmation vote.

In a press release, Walker stated he was “concerned” by the memo and the cancellation, adding that “the risk that these hardworking Alaskans will not have the opportunity of a confirmation vote is unacceptable.”

Members of Legislature have expressed reservations about some of Walker’s nominations, including his pick for attorney general and his appointments to the Alaska Gasline Development Corporation.

The joint session is scheduled for Friday at 10 a.m. While the legislators are obligated to convene at that time, they are not required to take an up-down vote on the individual appointments.

The last time a governor forced lawmakers into joint session over confirmations was in 1983, when then-Gov. Bill Sheffield sent state troopers after legislators to force them to appear on the floor.

Categories: Alaska News

State House Moves To Freeze Public Employee Salaries

APRN Alaska News - Wed, 2015-04-15 19:50

House Speaker Mike Chenault, R-Nikiski (left) confers with other members of the House leadership just before the vote on House Bill 176, April 15, 2015. The bill repeals a 2.5 percent pay raise for non-union state employees scheduled to take effect July 1, 2015. (Photo by Skip Gray/360 North)

The Alaska House has narrowly passed a bill that would claw back raises for many state workers. APRN’s Alexandra Gutierrez reports.

Rep. Steve Thompson, a Fairbanks Republican, made no effort to downplay matters when he offered the legislation on the House floor on Tuesday.

“House Bill 176 is a pretty short bill — but it’s a controversial bill,” said Thompson.

The five-line bill repeals a 2.5 percent cost-of-living adjustment for non-union public employees, which comprise about 2,000 members of the state workforce. Thompson noted the bill would save the state nearly $10 million — equivalent to 90 jobs.

“The question we must answer is: Would we rather cut more people’s jobs or keep salaries steady?” asked Thompson.

The bill was, indeed, controversial. When it came to a vote, it momentarily looked like it was going to fail on a 20-20 split, until Palmer Republican Jim Colver changed his vote.

Most of the opposition came from Democrats. Rep. Les Gara of Anchorage noted that public employee salaries have lagged behind inflation for the past few years. And Rep. Andy Josephson of Anchorage said it was inappropriate for the state to freeze wages when it already committed to a salary schedule with a raise included.

“Fundamentally I look at this and I say: Well, we made a promise. We’re breaching the promise. It doesn’t solve the fiscal crisis,” said Josephson. “And so, I have to be a no.”

But opposition was not limited to Democrats. Four — Mike Hawker of Anchorage, Wes Keller of Wasilla, Cathy Munoz of Juneau, and Gabrielle LeDoux of Anchorage — broke ranks with the majority to oppose the bill.

“I feel very uncomfortable with this bill. I was always brought up to believe a man’s word is his bond,” explained LeDoux in an eight-second floor speech.

But for many Republicans, like Tammie Wilson of North Pole, the fiscal argument won out.

“It is about a $3.5 billion deficit. That’s really what it’s about,” said Wilson. “When these agreements were made a couple years ago, I don’t think there was anybody who was sitting down on those contracts who thought we would be where we are today.”

The bill may still be reconsidered by the House for another vote before being sent to the Senate. In an interview, Gov. Bill Walker said he opposes the policy.

The Legislature is also advancing a similar move that would freeze salaries for unionized employees and back out of collective bargaining agreements. Shortly after the vote on the House bill, the Alaska State Employees Association issued a press release calling the move an “unprecedented assault on state employees.”

Categories: Alaska News

Federal Agency Reviewing Yellow Cedar For Protection

APRN Alaska News - Wed, 2015-04-15 17:29

Based on a petition submitted about a year ago by a coalition of conservation groups, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service announced last week that protection for the Alaska yellow cedar tree might be warranted under the federal Endangered Species Act.

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Yellow cedar is a popular commercial wood, and among the three tree species commonly harvested in the Tongass National Forest, it’s the most lucrative. If the tree becomes a protected species, though, all that would change.

The petitioners calling for federal protection of the Alaska Yellow Cedar are the Center for Biological Diversity, The Boat Company, Greater Southeast Alaska Conservation Community and Greenpeace. In their lengthy petition, they argue that yellow cedar has “precipitously declined” over the past 30 years due to global warming and climate change.

An aerial shot of a yellow cedar stand. (U.S. Forest Service photo)

The petition notes that the timing and frequency of freeze-thaw cycles in early spring, and reduced snow cover, cause injuries to the shallow root system of the yellow cedar, and those injuries can cause a tree’s death.

Owen Graham of the Ketchikan-based Alaska Forest Association disagrees with the petition’s arguments about global warming causing a decline in yellow cedar.

“It has affected a very small portion of the Tongass over the past 100 years,” he said. “And the bulk of the decline has occurred on the non-commercial timberland.”

The petition cites studies that show more than 70 percent of Southeast Alaska yellow cedar trees in affected stands have died.  Those affected stands are found on about 500,000 acres of forest, on sites from sea level to an elevation of about 300 meters, according to the petition.

The Tongass National Forest has about 17 million acres, including forest, wetlands and alpine.

The petition argues that the yellow cedar must be listed for protection to maintain existing stands from what petitioners call the overutilization of the species. Logging, in particular, is noted, because yellow cedar is targeted for its high value.

Graham said logging of any tree species on the Tongass will become complicated if yellow cedar is protected.

“Most of the stands, particularly at higher elevations, is where the yellow cedar occurs, and it’s scattered throughout the stands,” he said. “So, I guess you’d either have to partial-cut and leave the yellow cedar standing, in which case it would probably blow over, or not harvest at all where there is any yellow cedar, which is most of the higher elevation lands. The lower elevation is mostly red cedar, although there’s not a strict line between the two.”

The petitioners call for future forest planning that addresses climate change, and the effect of global warming on yellow cedar. Specifically, the petitioners call for forest management that favors yellow cedar. That would include planting and selective thinning in areas where yellow cedar has continued to thrive.

The petition notes that active management will not succeed unless there’s also a drastic reduction in global greenhouse gas emissions, to slow climate change; as well as an immediate end to all logging of yellow cedar.

Following the announcement that listing might be warranted, Fish and Wildlife will conduct its own status review of the petition’s claims regarding protection of the yellow cedar, with a finding expected by June 24. Additional information will be gathered for a year after that before a final decision is announced.

Categories: Alaska News

Search Continues In Prince William Sound For Missing Pilot

APRN Alaska News - Wed, 2015-04-15 17:26

Crews from the Coast Guard and Air Force are searching for a missing pilot that went down in Prince William Sound Tuesday afternoon.

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Categories: Alaska News

Breakup Forecast: Sparse Snow, Slowly Warming Weather Lessens Flood Concern

APRN Alaska News - Wed, 2015-04-15 17:25

Forecasters are anticipating a mellow break up over much of Alaska this spring.  Below normal snow and ice in some areas, and gradually warming spring temperatures are lessening flood concerns.

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Categories: Alaska News

Anchorage Announces Fiscal Surplus

APRN Alaska News - Wed, 2015-04-15 17:23

As law-makers battle over budgets in the closing days of the Legislature, the city of Anchorage is announcing a fiscal surplus.

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In a press conference Wednesday, Mayor Dan Sullivan announced the city has seven million dollars left over from the last fiscal year. Some of those savings will be applied to property taxes for the year ahead, leading to a dip of about 0.1 percent in the mill-rate for home-owners.

The surplus will also go to funding police and fire academies, covering overages from the SAP software upgrade, and a pilot program focused on addiction treatment. Critics of the mayor’s administration have said it has reduced budget costs by putting off or eliminating critical spending on staffing and social services.

Categories: Alaska News

House Passes Bill To Change Hunting And Fishing License Fees

APRN Alaska News - Wed, 2015-04-15 17:22

The state House has passed a bill that would increase the cost of hunting, fishing and trapping in Alaska.

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Lawmakers voted 33-7 on Wednesday to pass Rep. Dave Talerico’s bill that would increase sporting license and tag fees for residents and nonresidents.

The bill would also create a $20 fish and wildlife decal with the proceeds expected to go to conservation programs and change the minimum age for a license to 18 instead of 16.

Lawmakers also approved an amendment to allow individuals with developmental disabilities to have someone else hunt or fish for them.

Reasons given by the Democrats and independent voting against the bill included frustration that the state was raising user fees but not looking at other revenue.

The bill now goes to the Senate for consideration.

Categories: Alaska News

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