Alaska News

Appeals Court To Rehear Tongass Exemption Case

APRN Alaska News - Fri, 2014-08-29 16:41

The U.S. District Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit released an announcement today (Friday) that it would rehear the Tongass Roadless Rule exemption case.

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The Roadless Rule was established more than a decade ago, but the Tongass was granted an exemption. A lawsuit challenging that exemption was filed in 2009 by a coalition of conservation groups and the Organized Village of Kake. A U.S. District Court judge agreed with the petitioners, but the State of Alaska appealed that decision to the Ninth Circuit.

In March, a three-judge panel of the appeals court issued an opinion that the Roadless Rule should not apply to Alaska’s Tongass National Forest. But, Friday’s announcement states that the full 11-judge panel will review the case.

Categories: Alaska News

Comment Period on FEMA Disaster Declaration To Close

APRN Alaska News - Fri, 2014-08-29 16:41

Sunday, Aug. 31, is the deadline for comments to FEMA, or the Federal Emergency Management Agency, on a policy carrying out a law that would allow tribes to request emergency and major disaster declarations.

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As it is now, only state governors can request a federal disaster declaration. Tribes had requested the change saying it would save time if they didn’t have to wait for state action when they’re often the only governmental entity in the area.

Ken Murphy, director of FEMA region ten, which includes Alaska, Washington, Oregon and Idaho, says requests for disaster declarations do have strings attached:

“hazard mitigation plan.”

FEMA in most cases only pays for 75 percent of the disaster and the government, in this case the tribal government, would be responsible for 25% of the cost. And then, some of the paperwork that’s required, such as having an emergency operations plan, or a hazard mitigation plan, are a part of the disaster declaration process.

Some tribes have already suggested that the criteria be changed to accommodate smaller tribes.

A summary of comments received as of August 8th is available at the FEMA website. The agency is accepting comments electronically at its website through Sunday.

Categories: Alaska News

Cold, Wet Front Drops 3 Inches of Snow On Deadhorse

APRN Alaska News - Fri, 2014-08-29 16:40

A cold front is ushering in wet, chilly conditions across much of the state. The Alaska Department of Transportation reported three inches of snow in Deadhorse earlier this afternoon.

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National Weather Service meteorologist Scott Berg in Fairbanks is tracking the system sweeping in from the northwest.

Snow is expected in the northern Brooks Range and North Slope through today (Friday). It will remain rain to the south, but a seasonal wakeup call, the first widespread frost is expected across the interior as skies clear tonight and early tomorrow (Saturday).

For much of Southcentral Alaska, temperatures on Sunday morning are expected to be in the 30′s. In the northern Susitna valley, temps could dip into the 20′s.

Berg expects the cool down to continue into next week.

Decreasing daylight contributes to the cooling. Fairbanks is losing more than six minutes of light per day, and Anchorage is losing more than five minutes per day.

Categories: Alaska News

‘You’ve Got To Defend It’ – Denali Celebrates Wilderness Act 50th

APRN Alaska News - Fri, 2014-08-29 16:39

Denali National Park is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the 1964 Wilderness Act in the next weeks. A series of events marking the historic conservation legislation is planned.

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Denali Park spokeswoman Kris Fister says the park’s been hosting events throughout the summer about the Wilderness Act. She says tonight’s talk by Keim at the Murie Science and Learning Center talk will outline the history of the landmark environmental legislation – and the challenges that lie ahead.

Frank Keim treks through fall foliage last month during the Northern Alaska Environmental Center’s 18th annual Run for the Refuge. This year, Keim led the center’s annual celebration of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.
Credit Northern Alaska Environmental Center

“He will be taking an in-depth look at the Wilderness Act,” Fister said, “exploring the intent of its founders and their aspirations for the future.”

Keim says he’ll talk about his personal connection to wild places, which he’s chronicled over the years through his writings and photos, and share some thoughts about why it’s essential to preserve those places.

“I do this with photos that I’ve taken over the last 40 years in these wildernesses, in these wild places that I’ve been in, that I’ve traveled in. By canoe, trekking, rafting, et cetera,” he said.

Keim has seen a lot of that backcountry since coming to Alaska in 1961, both as an explorer and guide. He graduated from the University of Alaska-Fairbanks and taught there before heading out west to work as a schoolteacher for 21 years in the Yukon River delta.

He’s a writer, poet, photographer and longtime environmentalist. He helped commemorate the first Earth Day at UAF, and helped found the Northern Alaska Environmental Center. And he’s served on its board and in leadership positions with the Audubon Society.

Keim says he’s gained a deep appreciation for wild places after a lifetime of tramping about in them. And he’s come to understand the importance of preserving them.

In an interview at his home in the Goldstream Valley, Keim says protecting wild places is an ongoing challenge that wilderness advocates must be prepared to meet in the coming years.

“Just because you’ve got the wilderness doesn’t mean it’s going to stay forever,” he said. “You’ve got to defend it, you know, you’ve got to protect it.”

Keim says that’s why he looks forward to presentations like tonight’s, so he can pass along that message – especially to young people, to prepare them to take up the challenge and take over leadership of the environmental movement.

Categories: Alaska News

Alaska News Nightly: August 29, 2014

APRN Alaska News - Fri, 2014-08-29 16:38

Individual news 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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State Ferry Union Averts Strike

Casey Kelly, KTOO – Juneau

Alaska Marine Highway System captains and deck officers have avoided a strike that could have shut down ferry service across the state this weekend.

Juneau Police Reach Community One Cup Of Coffee At A Time

Casey Kelly, KTOO – Juneau

With the recent unrest in Ferguson, Mo., police departments across the country are under a lot of scrutiny. Questions are being raised about use of force, police militarization and racial profiling.

Comment Period on FEMA Disaster Declaration To Close

Joaqlin Estus, KNBA – Anchorage

Sunday, Aug. 31, is the deadline for comments to FEMA, or the Federal Emergency Management Agency, on a policy carrying out a law that would allow tribes to request emergency and major disaster declarations.

Cold, Wet Front Drops 3 Inches of Snow On Deadhorse

Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks

A cold front is ushering in wet, chilly conditions across much of the state. The Alaska Department of Transportation reported three inches of snow in Deadhorse earlier this afternoon.

‘You’ve Got To Defend It’ – Denali Celebrates Wilderness Act 50th

Tim Ellis, KUAC – Fairbanks

Denali National Park is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the 1964 Wilderness Act in the next weeks. A series of events marking the historic conservation legislation is planned.

NSF Earmarks $1.5M for Native Students Studying STEM Subjects

Joaqlin Estus, KNBA – Anchorage

A $1.5 million dollar grant from the National Science Foundation will fund a five-year pilot project to help American Indian and Alaska Native college students achieve advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM subjects.

AK: Haines Songwriter Dreams Big, Courts Her Inspiration’s Ear

Margaret Friedenauer, KHNS – Haines

It’s hard not to dream big among the tall mountains and wild sea in Southeast Alaska – especially in Haines where Christy Tengs serves dreamers and misfits alike in her family’s downtown institution, the Pioneer Bar and Bamboo Room. Even she has a dream – to meet the famous person who has inspired her and propelled her to become a star in her hometown.

300 Villages: Anvik

This week we’re heading to the Yukon River community of Anvik. William Koso is the mayor of Anvik.

Categories: Alaska News

NSF Earmarks $1.5M for Native Students Studying STEM Subjects

APRN Alaska News - Fri, 2014-08-29 16:38

A $1.5 million dollar grant from the National Science Foundation will fund a five-year pilot project to help American Indian and Alaska Native college students achieve advanced degrees in science, technology, engineering and math, or STEM subjects.

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National Science Foundation program officer Sally O’Connor says the “Lighting the Pathway” project is aimed at full-time college students, undergraduate or graduate, majoring in science, math, computer science, or engineering. She says NSF wants to encourage Native Americans with an aptitude for STEM subjects to reach their full potential. “There is so much talent in the Native community,” says O’Connor, “and it’s mainly untapped. And hopefully this project will make a little dent into that and bring out the talent so that they can become leaders in our country.”

O’Connor says several factors contribute to the low number of Native Americans with advanced degrees and tenured faculty positions:  a lack of role models in STEM, and inadequate academic training, which she says is related to inadequate funding of schools on reservations and in rural areas. “I mean if we provide them with the same resources we give the best schools in the cities, those students would be well prepared,” said O’Connor. “But the sad fact is, that is not happening.”

Participants will receive a stipend of $2,500 dollars over two years, plus funding to travel to meetings and program events. Each student will be teamed up with a mentor, an expert in the field they’re studying, to set goals and get some training and support to achieve them. The project itself will be evaluated to find out what works and what doesn’t, to help in the design of future programs.

Herb Schroeder is Vice Provost and Founder of the Alaska Native Science and Engineering Program, or ANSEP, at University of Alaska Anchorage. He says the mentoring is important to get students socially and academically prepared for college. But he says ANSEP starts at an earlier age. This year, it’s working with 868 kids in middle school. “In our mid school, 83% of the kids finish algebra 1 before they graduate from 8th grade. And the national average for that is 26%,” says Schroeder. “So, then they’re on track in their freshman and high school. They can immediately take math and science courses from university professors that count for university credit and high school credit. And that’s how we’re getting the students hyper prepared.”

Schroeder says students can also apply for scholarships through ANSEP. “The students, once they arrive at the university, are eligible for scholarship funds. It’s merit based scholarships that are five thousand dollars a year. Plus we connect the students with internships with all of our partner organizations so they can make up the difference that they need to go to school.

And for the students who go to graduate school, ANSEP kicks up the financial support. “Once they’re in graduate school, we offer stipends for students for masters and PhD students of $30,000 total over the course of their graduate studies,” says Schroeder. “Plus we pay their tuition and connect them with research projects so that they can complete their degree programs.”

To provide that level of support, ANSEP has 70 partners who help support the $7.5 million dollar program.  Still, Schroeder hopes ANSEP students will be able to take advantage of the national program. “I’ll certainly encourage my students to apply for some of that funding,” says Schroeder. “Every dollar helps.”

For more information, visit the American Indian Science and Engineering Society’s webpage.

Categories: Alaska News

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