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Alaska and Yukon Headlines
An initiative to set up a legal market for marijuana has cleared a hurdle for getting on the ballot.
Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell certified that the initiative language conformed with Alaska statute this afternoon, just one day short of his deadline. That means initiative sponsors can start circulating petitions to show that a sufficient number of Alaskans want to vote on the issue. The sponsors need more than 30,000 signatures to do that.
Tim Hinterberger is a professor at the University of Alaska Anchorage, an occasional user of marijuana, and a sponsor of the initiative. He says that wins in states like Washington and Colorado show that public opinion is shifting toward legalization.
“I would love for people in Alaska, you know like me, who have no reason to hide it, to come out of the closet and say, ‘Yeah, this is ridiculous. Let’s make this legal.’”
This isn’t Alaska’s first pro-marijuana initiative. In 2000, a similar proposition appeared on the ballot, but barely cleared 40 percent of the vote. Sponsors tried again in 2004, and closed the gap by a few percentage points. Hinterberger thinks this initiative has some advantages over past efforts. It doesn’t give amnesty to people who have violated drug laws, and it also provides a roadmap for establishing a legal marijuana market.
“The language has been carefully crafted to provide a lot of guidance to the state on how cannabis should be regulated, and taxed, and made available. So, it’s just really a better thought-out approach than in the past.”
Just like with drinking, you would have to be over 21 to consume marijuana. It would be sold in stores, and subject to a lot of the same rules that govern alcohol. The initiative would also allow communities to ban marijuana establishments through their own city laws.
Right now, Alaskans are allowed to possess small amounts of marijuana in their own homes, but the sale of marijuana is still a crime.
Anchorage’s Rabbit Creek flooded this morning. Water flowed over a bridge and downed logs caused excess water to spill onto lawns and yards. The water caused major damage to a road and a bridge in the area. KSKA’s Daysha Eaton has more.
Georgia Tulbert stands at a debris-covered bridge in South Anchorage, near her house watching the water flow over it.
“It looks like a little Niagara falls right there where the road is supposed to be. There’s no road there anymore. It’s just a crevice with water pouring into into it. I haven’t seen anything like this. It looks like a war zone or something.”
Around noon Friday water was flowing over the banks of Rabbit Creek and down her neighbor Melita Buchanan’s driveway.
“That’s one of our driveways and luckily it’s going back into the creek. See right there. Now we’re gonna go to the house and I’ll show you the damage in the back.”
She and her husband, Garner, first noticed the flooding around 9:30 Friday morning. They heard boulders and trees crashing down the creek which runs past their house. 30 minutes later, a transformer blew and they lost power. They’ve lived along rabbit creek for more than 50 years. They’ve never seen such destructive flooding, which took out a footbridge near their house.
“This is the biggest, the biggest yeah. And we had a bridge across there that was taken out.”
By noon water was rushing over a bridge near their house and authorities had closed the road. The asphalt was breaking off in chunks and the creek was forming new channels. George Vikalis, the city manager for Anchorage, says warmer than usual temperatures may have triggered an earthen dam to break at Rabbit Lake, sending more debris and water rushing down the creek. Vikalis says the municipality and the state are monitoring the situation.
“This is probably the most severe of the bridges right now that has the water going over it. So we’re watching this bridge pretty carefully. We’re gonna have to go in and inspect this particular bridge just to make sure it’s safe for travel. It probably has been compromised as a result. But we won’t know until we get in there.”
Edward Bosco is Chairman of the Birch Tree Elmore limited Road Service Area, which maintains roadways in the area. He says the culverts plugged up and it happened quick.
“The police called me out here at 9:15 this morning. And I came right down here and I talked with people who were down her at 8:30 and there was nothing crossing the road at that time. Evidently something cut loose and all the sudden it came down and plugged everything up quickly.”
Bosco says he’s already asked both the municipality and the state for help repairing the road. He estimates fixing the bridge will drain the Road Service Area bank account, and they’ll need help to get it back in shape.
Georgia Tulbert who lives across the bridge and uses it to get to and from town says, she anticipates taking the long way around for awhile.
“It’s gonna take a week or more to fix this. Even after they redirect the — They’re gonna have to redirect the creek and repair the road. So it’s quite a mess.”
Neighbors say three homes were evacuated, but so far there’s no word of any serious damage and no injuries reported.
Photos taken by Daysha Eaton near 140th Ave and Buffalo Road in Anchorage on June 14, 2013.
A forecast heat wave has wildfire officials on alert. State fire information officer Sarah Sarloos says the conditions coming together could spell trouble.
Pebble Partnership CEO John Shively is in Washington, D.C. this week lobbying Congress – which has no authority over whether the mine proceeds. The EPA could veto the mine outright if it deems the project too damaging to the region’s watersheds.
Shively said he understands the concerns of the senators, but their fears would be allayed by the environmental review process.
He said the commercial salmon industry in Alaska is losing its importance.
“You have to understand that the reason five senators from the West Coast can write a letter about the salmon industry, is because so many salmon fisherman don’t live in Alaska,” he said on Capitol Hill. “They take our resource, and they go somewhere else to spend their money.”
The five senators represent California, Oregon and Washington State. They’re all Democrats, and the only person missing from those delegations is Oregon’s Ron Wyden. He chairs the Senate Energy Committee.
They fired off a letter to the EPA referencing a study from the University of Alaska Institute of Economic and Social Research that showed Bristol Bay salmon contribute hundreds of millions of dollars to their states.
Oregon Senator Jeff Merkely said he hasn’t heard from the EPA yet; the letter went out Monday.
“Oregon has a very large salmon fishery,” he said. ”And of course, once the salmon are in the ocean, they can travel all over. Keeping our salmon runs healthy in Oregon benefit other fishermen in other states.”
But Shively said the benefits aren’t necessarily in state. He said Thursday that many people in rural Southwest Alaska can’t afford the costs associated with commercial fishing.
“The commercial fishing industry might be an answer for California, Washington, and Oregon, but it’s not an answer for people who live out in Southwest Alaska, which is why more and more people are willing to look at whether Pebble can solve some of those economic problems,” he said.
Not according to commercial fisherman Lindsey Bloom. She’s a long-time critic of the proposed mine, and has run her fishing boat in Bristol Bay for 15 years.
“I have only increased my profitability since I got in,” she said.
She added that high prices make up for low-catch years. By and large, the price of salmon has steadily risen, and she expects the same this season.
Bloom is the incoming chair of the environment committee for United Fisherman of Alaska and said commercial fishing accounts for 14,000 jobs in Bristol Bay.
“The seafood industry in Alaska is the number one private sector in employer,” she said in a Thursday phone interview.
The Pebble Partnership has not submitted its application. Shively sais that could happen this year. But he conceded, he’s said that for many years. And if approved, the permitting process would take several years.
The National Transportation Safety Board has released its preliminary report on last week’s fatal crash of a floatplane near Petersburg. The report summarizes the circumstances in the June 4th accident but does not yet include a probable cause for that fatal crash.
According to the report, the Pacific Wings deHavilland Beaver with a pilot and six cruise ship passengers left the floatplane dock in Petersburg at 3:19 on the afternoon on Tuesday June 4th headed to LeConte Bay for a flightseeing trip.
The pilot told an NTSB investigator that the flight was his fourth that day and his third tour flight. He reported weather conditions had deteriorated throughout that day with a ceiling of two thousand feet, light rain and fog along the mountain ridges. The pilot told the NTSB that he tried to fly through a mountain pass on the way to the glacier and initiated a left-hand turn to avoid rising terrain right before crashing into the forested mountainside. The plane went down at 3:40 that afternoon on the steep mountainside, 912 feet above sea level.
Brice Banning, an air safety investigator with the NTSB, says it’s still early in his investigation. Banning said this week he’s looked at the crash site and has interviewed the pilot and passengers and considered other facts from the accident. “We looked at some information provided by the company, that they used to track the aircraft as its flying. We interviewed the pilot, visited with him about weather conditions, the flight itself and what transpired,” Banning said.
66-year-old Thomas L. Rising of Santa Fe, New Mexico was killed in the crash. He and five others, Frank and Amy Allen, along with their sons Will, Rob and Ben were passengers on the cruise ship Sea Bird, on an Alaska cruise offered by Lindblad Expeditions and National Geographic. Those five, along with the pilot, survived the crash and were rescued from the site.
The pilot reported no mechanical problems before the accident happened. An emergency locator transmitter on the plane signaled the U.S. Coast Guard about seven minutes after the impact and a coast guard search began about a half hour later. The company’s tracking system also let Pacific Wings employees know the floatplane was no longer transmitting along the planned route. The crash site and survivors were discovered by a Coast Guard helicopter at 6:16 that evening. The plane went down near Jap Creek, on the mainland about 14 miles east of Petersburg.
The NTSB’s Banning described the crash site as a treacherous location and said there’s work left to do. “It takes time and we’re still really in the fact gathering stage. The insurance, representatives of the insurance company are looking, or working towards recovering the aircraft where the NTSB will have a chance, an opportunity again to go through the wreckage in a controlled environment.”
The NTSB does not identify a probable cause until it issues a final report, which can take up to a year to complete.
Huge storms in the fall. A winter that was slow to start and then wouldn’t quit. A late, frigid spring that turned into a scorching June. On the next Hometown Alaska, we’ll talk about just how unusual the weather has been, and how that relates to climate–or doesn’t. Tune in with your questions for our weather and climate experts.
John Walsh, President’s Professor of Global Change & Chief Scientist, International Arctic Research Center, UAF
- Eugene Petrescu, Regional Scientist, National Weather Service, Alaska Region
- National Weather Service, Alaska Region
- Alaska Climate Summaries
- NOAA background information on climate change
- EPA student’s guide to climate change
- Alaska climate change impacts and adaptation — EPA
- Call 550-8433 (Anchorage) or 1-888-353-5752 (statewide) during the live broadcast (2:00 – 3:00pm)
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HOST: Charles Wohlforth
LIVE BROADCAST: Wednesday, June 19, 2013. 2:00 – 3:00 pm (Alaska time)
REPEAT BROADCAST: Wednesday, June 19, 2013. 7:00 – 8:00 pm (Alaska time)
The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services confirms that a woman from an unnamed Southwest Alaska village has been hospitalized with symptoms of botulism. KDLG’s Mike Mason has the story.
An annual gathering of Alaska Native people focused on healing, sobriety and other health objectives wrapped up in Fairbanks this morning with a traditional staking ceremony.
A huge proportion of Alaska is covered with ice. A lot more than has towns and cities or anything man made on it. That’s a lot of country to explore, and its truly beautiful, like another world. On the next Outdoor Explorer the topic is glacier travel. We’ll be talking with a guide who takes newbies on glacier treks, a photographer who specializes in glacier journeys, and a glaciologist who goes to work on glaciers, and knows how they’re made.
- All About Glaciers, by the National Snow and Ice Data Center
- Root Glacier guided hikes
- Godwin Glacier dogsled tours
- Glacier flightseeing
HOST: Charles Wohlforth
BROADCAST: Thursday June 20, 2013. 2:00 pm – 3:00 pm, repeating 7:00 – 8:00 pm AKT
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Audio will be posted following radio broadcast
“Knowledge is not a matter of getting reality right. But rather a matter of acquiring habits of action for coping with reality,” says Michael Lissack, executive director of the Institute for the Study of Coherence and Emergence. This week on Addressing Alaskans listen to his talk on “Better Thinking About Thinking – Coherence, Complexity and Context” hosted by Alaska Pacific University.
BROADCAST ON KSKA: Tuesday, June 18, 2013 at 2:00 p.m. (Alaska time)
REPEAT BROADCAST: Tuesday, June 18, 2013 at 7:00 p.m. (Alaska time)
SPEAKER: Michael Lissack, executive director, Institute for the Study of Coherence and Emergence
RECORDED: May 2, 2013 at Grant Hall
HOST: Alaska Pacific UniversityAbout
Addressing Alaskans features local lectures and forums recorded at public events taking place in Southcentral, Alaska. A variety of local organizations host speakers addressing topics that matter to Alaskans. To let us know about an upcoming community event that you would like to hear onAddressing Alaskans, please Contact Us with details.
Audio will be posted following radio broadcast
A group of Anchorage residents is ready to build Alaska’s first co-housing project. A form of condominium, co-housing is not really accounted for in current zoning codes, but may be a housing option preferable to those who seek a sustainable future in an urban environment. It reduces costs and is without the privacy concerns that room-mate situations have. In order to do it, you have to put your money on the line.
HOST: Steve Heimel
- Raven’s Roost Cohousing
- Callers Statewide
- Post your comment before, during or after the live broadcast (comments may be read on air).
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LIVE Broadcast: Tuesday, June 11, 2013 at 10:00 a.m. on APRN stations statewide.
Audio will be posted following radio broadcast