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Alaska and Yukon Headlines
The Department of Interior is reviewing its decision to block the road through the wilderness.
AVCP, a coalition of 56 Native villages in the Y-K Delta, has opposed the would-be road through the wilderness for years. President of AVCP Myron Naneng said the geese Western Alaska Natives rely on for food stop in the Izembek Refuge before heading to Baja California for the winter.
“We’re concerned that once they build the road it’s going to be an open access to those areas where the birds feed on their migration,” he said Wednesday in Washington, D.C.
Environmental groups, such as the Wilderness Society, oppose the road because of concerns for the bird habitat.
Officials say the road will be fenced with cable, preventing people from using the road as an access to hunting grounds.
“There’s something else underlying here,” said Aleutians East Borough Mayor Stanley Mack.
Mack said there’s been a long-simmering battle over the intercept fishery at False Pass, and he’s invited Naneng and others from AVCP to the region before to look at the issues – the road, the bird habitats – only to be ignored.
Naneng did not dispute he’s using the road as a negotiating tool.
“The Aleutians have more access to mixed stock salmon stocks, while the people on the river system are restricted from being able to harvest salmon for food,” he said. “If they’re willing to give in, maybe we’re willing to give in on the bird issue.”
Naneng spoke about the issue briefly with Interior Secretary Sally Jewell during a recess of a Capitol Hill hearing this week.
He said he wants the Department of Interior to conduct government to government consultations with the Western Alaska tribes about the road.
Another surge of high water is pushing down the Yukon River, the result of this year’s late spring.
Galena residents are returning to see what’s left of their flooded homes. And one thing they are finding is the rancid contents of freezers that stopped operating when the power plant went down. There’s a dump down the road, but the road is washed out.
Friday marks the hundred year anniversary of the first summit of Denali, known as Mt. McKinley to many outside of Alaska. This year, more than 1,000 climbers will attempt to summit North America’s highest peak. One group, however, has a particularly close link to the original 1913 party. KTNA’s Phillip Manning spoke with the members of that group as they finalize preparations in Talkeetna.
Special Olympics Alaska earlier this month hosted a ground breaking ceremony for a 20,000 square foot expansion for their Sports, Health and Wellness Center where Governor Sean Parnell also signed House Bill 88 into law.
This expansion will more more than triple the size of Special Olympics Alaska’s current facilities. Of course, there will be a lot more workout space for athletes, but the organization’s President and CEO Jim Balamaci says it will be much more than strictly a training facility.
“We’re finding out that once we get, we’ve got people on the playing field now, we can provide more support in the health and nutrition, which will just make our guys even better off the playing field when they’re in their work and in their community,” Balamaci said.
The new facility will give the athletes a chance to train more than once a week. It will help expand the school programs, and give the organization a chance to offer courses on nutrition and basic health and wellness that could also be offered to the athlete’s family and others.
State Senator Lesil McGuire took part in the groundbreaking. She first got involved in Special Olympics Alaska after her brother suffered a traumatic brain injury during a head-on collision on the Seward Highway in the 1990s.
She says the ground breaking ceremony was an emotional moment for her.
“That training center is going to bring so much joy to so many people’s live, and to their families’ lives,” McGuire said. “And that was another thing to see was the joy on the siblings’ faces and, who often are born without challenges, and so for them to go to the training center along-side their brother or sister, and for the parents that are there, it’s just wonderful.”
Governor Parnell signed House Bill 88 into law during the gathering. The legislation eliminates the terms “mentally retarded” and “mental retardation” from state statutes, replacing the references with “persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities.”
Jim Balamaci says many people and groups, including Special Olympics Alaska, have been fighting the use of those terms for many years, and says this is a very significant step.
“The slang word that came out of it was so hurtful for so many people for so many years, and there have been people who have been dedicating their lives for the last 30-40 years to have that word changed, and we were just, and Special Olympics, too, and we were just so honored to have that bill signed on our…not on our grounds…but it really was symbolic for people with disabilities in our state,” Balamaci said.
Balamaci is anticipating the building to be complete sometime in February.
Special Olympics Alaska serves over 2,000 athletes and involves over 1,000 volunteers annually.
An official groundbreaking ceremony for the Port MacKenzie railroad extension brought Governor Sean Parnell and other state officials to Big Lake on Tuesday. When completed, the railroad project is expected to help move minerals, and other products from the state’s Interior to tidewater in Southcentral Alaska.
In April, Gov. Sean Parnell traveled to Europe for what he described as a “fact-finding mission” on international oil tax structures. On Thursday, the governor shared his conclusions from that trip with the Juneau World Affairs Council.
In justifying the travel, Parnell said he wanted to see a place that had changed its tax regime five years out.
“And the North Sea turned out to be that place. Like Alaska, the North Sea is a harsh, unforgiving environment. It’s an offshore industry with platforms, supply ships, helicopters, sub-sea pipelines …”
Parnell also noted that the North Sea was an old prospect that had coped with declines in oil production.
“Any of this sounding vaguely familiar? It kind of sounds like home, actually.”
During his visit, Parnell spent time in Norway and Scotland. He spoke of Scotland favorably, comparing Alaska’s recently passed tax overhaul to Scotland’s own policy. He applauded the country for lowering its tax rate and for creating incentives for new production on legacy fields. Norway, he criticized for raising its taxes, which he said created uncertainty for producers.
This spring, critics of Parnell’s oil tax plan argued that Alaska shared much in common with Norway and should have a similarly high tax rate. And during his presentation, Parnell was asked if he was worried that Alaska taking part in a race to the bottom on oil taxes. The governor reframed that by answering that his top concern was keeping Alaska “competitive” on a global marketplace.
Video by Bob Kaufman, pilot.
Imagine getting up on Saturday morning, hopping in your plane, and going anywhere in Alaska. It’s the ultimate way of getting outdoors in a huge wilderness with unlimited opportunities. We’ll be talking with weekend pilots about their expensive and challenging hobby, and what makes it worthwhile. What would you like to know about learning to fly, or even owning your own plane? Where would you go if the sky was the limit?
HOST: Charles Wohlforth
- Rocky Capozzi, director, UAA Aviation Technology Division
- Bob Kaufman, private pilot
- Chris Hodel, private pilot
PARTICIPATE: Facebook: Outdoor Explorer (comments may be read on-air)
LIVE BROADCAST: Thursday June 13, 2013. 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm AKT
REPEAT BROADCAST: Thursday June 13, 2013. 7:00 – 8:00 pm AKT
OUTDOOR EXPLORER CALENDAR:
- Alaska 4 x 4 Meet and Greet (June 15 Wasilla, AK)
- Mayor’s Marathon (June 19 late registration close, June 22 race day in Anchorage, AK)
- Early Edible and Medicinal Plants 3-day workshop (June 21 – 23 Homer, AK)
- Trail of Blue Ice walk (June 15 Portage, AK)
SUBSCRIBE: Receive Outdoor Explorer automatically every week via
Go to OUTDOOREXPLORER.ORG
Audio will be posted following radio broadcast
I happened to be in Bethel May 26-27 when three vintage aircraft flew in to celebrate aviation history that opened remote Alaska to the world thanks to small planes. Event planners expected 300 people to show up to greet the visitors; instead, three times as many people turned out. “The whole town came!” exclaimed one man.
For a long sunny afternoon, kids and parents got to climb up and view vintage cockpits of World War II T-6 trainers and talk to the men and women who flew the planes to Bethel. Later at a community celebration, they described their aircraft, and told the story of the first plane to fly in Alaska, in 1913, in Fairbanks.
Pilot Jane Dale described how that plane was barged to Fairbanks in pieces, assembled and flown for several days while owners waited and hoped to find a buyer. When one failed to materialize, the owners had to break it down and barge it back out. It would be the 1920s before post World War I planes flew again in Alaska.
Join me, host Kathleen McCoy, and Alaska Aviation Centennial guests Jane Dale and Chuck Miller to hear the stories of Alaska’s earliest aviators. Both have been participating in summer-long fly-ins around the state to commemorate the centennial year. Events like the one in Bethel are taking place all summer long. Stops include Anchorage, Cordova, Valdez, Homer, Illiamna, King Salmon, Dillingham, Bethel, Aniak, McGrath, Galena, Unalakleet, Nome, Kotzebue, Barrow, Fairbanks, Talkeetna, and Wasilla. A final event is planned July 14 with a salmon bake at Lake Hood and special guest aviators Patty Wagstaff and Debby Geary. The centennial celebration is sponsored by the Alaska Air Show Association.
In the studio
- Jane Dale, pilot
- Chuck Miller, pilot, vice president Alaska Air Show Association
- Centennial Celebration, five statewide fly-in routes
- Centennial Fly-in photo albums
- Centennial Celebration participating aircraft
- Bush Pilot history panels
- Call 550-8433 (Anchorage) or 1-888-353-5752 (statewide) during the live broadcast (2:00 – 3:00pm)
- Send e-mail to email@example.com before, during or after the live broadcast (e-mails may be read on air)
- Post your comment or question below (comments may be read on air)
HOST: Kathleen McCoy
LIVE BROADCAST: Wednesday, June 12, 2013. 2:00 – 3:00 pm (Alaska time)
REPEAT BROADCAST: Wednesday, June 12, 2013. 7:00 – 8:00 pm (Alaska time)
Audio will be posted following live broadcast