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Alaska and Yukon Headlines

Increased summertime flights means better prices for Alaskans

Mon, 2014-03-31 20:13
Increased summertime flights means better prices for Alaskans As more airlines migrate north for the summer, competitive pressure results in lower peak-season fares. And that's good news for the Alaskan traveler.March 31, 2014

Alaska Legislature should ignore Kelly's coal plant and focus on Cook Inlet gas

Mon, 2014-03-31 20:12
Alaska Legislature should ignore Kelly's coal plant and focus on Cook Inlet gas OPINION: Since the state’s strategy of financial incentives to find and develop new Cook Inlet gas fields has been a losing bet, the optimal bet to secure a long-term, secure, truly affordable gas supply would be for the state to develop the Cook Inlet gas resource it owns.March 31, 2014

IPCC report: Warming climate puts humans in Arctic, around the globe at risk

Mon, 2014-03-31 20:09
IPCC report: Warming climate puts humans in Arctic, around the globe at risk The most recent report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change warns that a warming climate could lead to deaths and injuries around the globe due to the increased likelihood of extreme climate-related events.March 31, 2014

Gas line construction could cut oil tax revenues by hundreds of millions

Mon, 2014-03-31 20:08
Gas line construction could cut oil tax revenues by hundreds of millions If a natural gas pipeline is built, state oil taxes could drop by more than $250 million per year during the four-year construction phase. That's because costs at Point Thomson would be deductible against oil taxes, legislative consultants say.  March 31, 2014

Sweden may face EU court over emissions

Mon, 2014-03-31 19:13
Sweden may face EU court over emissions The EU claims that Sweden has failed properly to regulate urban industrial waste. Swedish regulators also report that the country is missing many environmental targets.March 31, 2014

The Arctic Council’s Immunity to Crimean Flu

Mon, 2014-03-31 19:02
The Arctic Council’s Immunity to Crimean Flu Russian participation is vital to the Arctic Council's work, so the council is the wrong forum for meting out punishment for Crimea sins. March 31, 2014

Judge Overturns Dillingham’s Annexation Of Nushagak Bay

Mon, 2014-03-31 17:40

The 2012 annexation of Nushagak Bay into the City of Dillingham has been overturned by the local Superior Court Judge.

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Mat-Su Considers Ordinance Allowing Borough To Pay For Ballot Proposition Ads

Mon, 2014-03-31 17:40

An ordinance now before the Matanuska Susitna Borough Assembly would allow the Borough to pay for advertising to influence voters in the case of state ballot propositions. The ordinance comes at a time when an upcoming state ballot is expected to put a number of controversial issues before the voters.

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Herring Seiners Hit Target – And Then Some – In Quick Saturday Opener

Mon, 2014-03-31 17:40

The 2014 Sitka Sound sac roe herring fishery is over. The 48 permit holders caught the last remaining fish in this year’s harvest limit – and then some – in a wild 45-minute opener Saturday afternoon right in front of downtown Sitka.

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The preliminary estimate from the Alaska Department of Fish & Game for Saturday’s harvest is just shy of 4,000 tons, bringing this year’s total catch to 17,200 tons — about 900 tons more than the guideline harvest level.

The final harvest numbers will be known once processing is complete. In both 2012 and 2013 seiners undershot their harvest limit significantly, as widespread spawning occurred just as fishing started.

ADF&G will continue to conduct aerial surveys of the shoreline as the spawn progresses. At last word, there were 3.8 nautical miles of spawn. The herring typically continue spawning into late April, depositing eggs along 70-80 miles of beach.

The department’s research vessel, Kestrel, will also return to the Sound sometime after the first week in April to conduct dive surveys of egg deposition. These studies help determine the biomass forecast for future years, and the associated harvest level.

Meanwhile, the traditional subsistence harvest of roe-on-hemlock and roe-on-kelp is beginning in earnest in the areas around Middle Island. One subsistence fisherman at Sealing Cove Sunday morning reported making three large sets of hemlock branches, all of which had received a heavy coating of eggs.

Feeling Left Out: The Health Insurance Gap In Alaska

Mon, 2014-03-31 17:40

Monday is the deadline to sign up for health insurance and avoid a penalty under the Affordable Care Act. Insurance is available through multiple sources, from private carriers to publicly funded providers like Medicaid. But Alaska is among many states that have so far declined to expand Medicaid, and it’s created a coverage gap.

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Fairbanks Approves Credit Line For Interior Gas Utility

Mon, 2014-03-31 17:40

The Fairbanks North Star Borough Assembly has approved an up to $7.5 million line of credit for the Interior Gas Utility. The loan fund is for the borough created IGU to begin preliminary work on local gas distribution piping in anticipation of LNG being trucked to town from the North Slope via the state’s Interior Energy Project.

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Bills Addressing Alaska Native Issues Get Mixed Reception

Mon, 2014-03-31 17:40

Two bills dealing with Alaska Native issues got different receptions from members of the Legislature on Thursday.

At least three House lawmakers were skeptical of a bill that would make 20 Alaska Native languages official state languages. About an hour later, they joined the rest of their House colleagues in voting unanimously for a bill honoring the late Rev. Walter Soboleff.

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Landmark Subsistence Decision Stands

Mon, 2014-03-31 17:15

The Katie John lawsuit over subsistence fishing rights is finally over. The U.S. Supreme Court announced Monday it will not review a lower court’s decision to leave standing federal rules that provide a rural subsistence priority on 60% of Alaska’s inland waters.

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Alaska Federation of Natives President Julie Kitka says it’s a victory for Natives and rural residents, who Kitka says rely on the subsistence harvest for their physical and cultural existence.

“We’re pleased with the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision today. This should end 19 years of litigation,” Kitka said.

She says she hopes it marks the beginning of a better relationship with state government, which, in the eyes of subsistence advocates, has aggressively fought harvest rights guaranteed in federal law.

When he announced the appeal last year, state Attorney General Michael Geraghty said the rules erode the principle that Alaskans, not the federal government, should manage their own fish and game. It was the primary reason Alaska fought to become a state. The AG’s spokeswoman, Cori Mills, said today the decision leaves in place a muddled system of dual federal-state management.

“It’s just going to continue to lead to litigation and further uncertainty to what we believe is the detriment of all Alaskans because the lines just won’t be clear,” she said.

At the heart of the long-running subsistence conflict is a disagreement between federal and state law.  A 1980 federal law says rural subsistence users in Alaska have priority rights to fish and hunt on public lands, while the state Constitution forbids discriminating between urban and rural residents. To provide the rural preference, the federal government took over fisheries management on federal land in 1999.

Heather Kendall-Miller, who represented Katie John as senior staff attorney for the Native American Rights Fund, says winning the case isn’t the end of the story, because there’s still no rural subsistence priority in areas where the state has jurisdiction.

“It’s not a complete victory for Alaska Native rural subsistence rights. That work remains to be done and probably will only be accomplished through legislation,” she said.

Ideally, Kendall-Miller says, Alaskans would amend the state Constitution for add a subsistence priority.

“The other alternative is to adopt federal legislation that would make the priority extend through all lands in Alaska,” she says.

The case began in the 1980s, when Athabaskan elder Katie John wanted to fish at a traditional fish camp on the Copper River, a spot the state had closed to fishing. John died last year at age 97. Her granddaughter, Kathryn Martin, says she’s been hearing from supporters all day on Facebook. Martin says she can imagine her grandmother’s reaction.

“She probably would’ve just (said) , ‘Finally! I’m done! No more! Good!’ “ Martin said.

 

Alaska News Nightly: March 31, 2014

Mon, 2014-03-31 17:03

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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Landmark Subsistence Decision Stands

Liz Ruskin, APRN – Washington DC

The Katie John lawsuit over subsistence fishing rights is finally over. The U.S. Supreme Court announced Monday it will not review a lower court’s decision to leave standing federal rules that provide a rural subsistence priority on 60% of Alaska’s inland waters.

Judge Overturns Dillingham’s Annexation Of Nushagak Bay

Mike Mason, KDLG 0 Dillingham

The 2012 annexation of Nushagak Bay into the City of Dillingham has been overturned by the local Superior Court Judge.

Fish And Wildlife To Review Southeast Alaska Wolves

Joe Viechnicki, KFSK – Petersburg

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will review whether or not Southeast Alaska wolves should be listed for protection under the Endangered Species Act. The federal agency in March announced what’s called a “positive 90-day finding” on a petition to list the Alexander Archipelago wolf.

Mat-Su Considers Ordinance Allowing Borough To Pay For Ballot Proposition Ads

Ellen Lockyer, KSKA – Anchorage

An ordinance now before the Matanuska Susitna Borough Assembly would allow the Borough to pay for advertising to influence voters in the case of state ballot propositions.  The ordinance comes at a time when an upcoming state ballot is expected to put a number of controversial issues before the voters.

Herring Seiners Hit Target – And Then Some – In Quick Saturday Opener

Robert Woolsey, KCAW – Sitka

The 2014 Sitka Sound sac roe herring fishery is over. The 48 permit holders caught the last remaining fish in this year’s harvest limit – and then some – in a wild 45-minute opener Saturday afternoon right in front of downtown Sitka.

Feeling Left Out: The Health Insurance Gap In Alaska

Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks

Monday is the deadline to sign up for health insurance and avoid a penalty under the Affordable Care Act.  Insurance is available through multiple sources, from private carriers to publicly funded providers like Medicaid.  But Alaska is among many states that have so far declined to expand Medicaid, and it’s created a coverage gap.

Fairbanks Approves Credit Line For Interior Gas Utility

Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks

The Fairbanks North Star Borough Assembly has approved an up to $7.5 million line of credit for the Interior Gas Utility. The loan fund is for the borough created IGU to begin preliminary work on local gas distribution piping in anticipation of LNG being trucked to town from the North Slope via the state’s Interior Energy Project.

Bills Addressing Alaska Native Issues Get Mixed Reception

Casey Kelly, KTOO – Juneau

Two bills dealing with Alaska Native issues got different receptions from members of the Legislature on Thursday.

At least three House lawmakers were skeptical of a bill that would make 20 Alaska Native languages official state languages. About an hour later, they joined the rest of their House colleagues in voting unanimously for a bill honoring the late Rev. Walter Soboleff.

Excellent spring skiing in Fairbanks draws hundreds onto trails

Mon, 2014-03-31 14:37
Excellent spring skiing in Fairbanks draws hundreds onto trails After 7 hours, 32 minutes of skiing Saturday, Tetlin teacher Barb Baysinger wrapped up the springtime 50-kilometer ski marathon in Fairbanks—an adventure known as the Sonot Kkaazoot—as excited as any champion who ever crossed a finish line, though she was last.March 31, 2014

‘This is not a balanced process’: family

Mon, 2014-03-31 13:53
The family of Teresa Ann Scheunert says the Yukon’s inquest process is unfair.

Photos: A visit to William H. Seward's home

Mon, 2014-03-31 13:53
Photos: A visit to William H. Seward's home

The upstate New York home of William H. Seward, the secretary of state responsible for purchasing Alaska, is an outpost of Alaskana in the Northeast.

March 31, 2014

In honor of Seward's Day, a visit to the home of the man who bought Alaska

Mon, 2014-03-31 13:53
In honor of Seward's Day, a visit to the home of the man who bought Alaska Almost 150 years ago, Secretary of State William H. Seward made a deal that linked the futures of Alaska and the United States. But at a New York museum dedicated to Seward, the artifacts tying the man to the transaction provide little insight into the monumental purchase.March 31, 2014

Studer sets new Percy DeWolfe race record

Mon, 2014-03-31 13:50
With a time of 18 hours and 18 minutes, Crispin Studer racked up his third first-place finish in the Percy DeWolfe Memorial Mail Race early Friday afternoon.

Albertan says he was assaulted

Mon, 2014-03-31 13:49
Whitehorse RCMP are asking for the public’s help as they continue to investigate a reported Sunday evening assault.