Alaska News

Healy Frees Sailboat Trapped in Arctic Ice

APRN Alaska News - Tue, 2014-07-15 17:26

The Coast Guard cutter Healy made a detour from its science mission in the Arctic last Saturday to rescue a sailboat trapped in ice near Barrow.

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The Healy broke through Arctic ice to reach the S/V Altan Girl near Barrow on Saturday. /Credit: USCGC Healy

The Altan Girl is a 36-foot steel boat, trying to sail the Northwest Passage from Vancouver to eastern Canada.

The vessel is Turkish-Canadian, according to The Nome Nugget. The newspaper says the boat’s skipper, Erkan Gursoy, plans to sail across Canada all the way to Turkey.

But the boat got stuck in sea ice Saturday, 40 miles northeast of Barrow. Weather conditions meant search and rescue couldn’t fly in from the North Slope — so the Coast Guard diverted the Healy to help out.

The Healy towed the Altan Girl through 12 miles of Arctic ice before they reached open water. The cutter’s crew did a safety check. Then they sent the sailboat back to Barrow to resupply and wait for better conditions.

The Healy is now back on track with its Arctic research mission, funded by the National Science Foundation.

Categories: Alaska News

Commercial Fishing Season Ramping Up In Cook Inlet

APRN Alaska News - Tue, 2014-07-15 17:25

In the Southern District, the Port Graham Subdistrict opened July 14 to commercial set gillnetting for the first time this season. Returns haven’t been especially high, so that fishery has been closed so far, says Glenn Hollowell, Fish and Game Finfish Area Management Biologist for the Lower Cook Inlet.

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“We’ve been tracking the sockeye return to English Bay Lakes,” says Hollowell. “It’s been what I’ve called modest this year. We’ve just barely made our escapement goals with a subsistence fishery but no commercial fishery. Had we had a commercial fishery, I think it would have depressed escapement to the lakes below the level that we want to see. So, we’ve kept the commercial fishery closed and the subsistence fishery open.”

The sustainable escapement goal is 6,000 to 13,500 sockeye. As of July 11, about 6,700 fish had returned. Beginning at 6 a.m. July 14, it is open for regular 48-hour Monday and Thursday commercial fishing periods. The subsistence fishery will remain open.

Set gillnetting opened in portions of the Barabara Creek, Tutka Bay, Halibut Cove, and Seldovia Bay Subdistricts in early June. Those areas will remain open for two 48-hour fishing periods per week. Hollowell says it’s still early in the season to tell, but this harvest doesn’t seem to  match up to last year’s.

“It seems like we’ve been running slightly ahead of the 10-year average,” says Hollowell. “But last year was just an amazing year. We were way ahead of the 10-year average last year and we seem to be trailing that a little bit this year.”

The 10-year average for sockeyes is about 21,000 fish. The 2013 harvest was more than 29,000. So far this season, 22,000 reds have been caught by set gillnetters in the Southern District.

The purse seine fisheries in the Tutka Bay, Halibut Cove and Humpy Creek Subdistricts and the China Poot and Neptune Bay Sections are also open.

“Typically, those are very, very slow fisheries until about now and then they start to pick up as pink salmon come back through and as we start seeing coho and sockeye salmon,” says Hollowell. “And the sockeye salmon harvest has picked up quite a bit in the purse seine fishery in the last week and a half I would say.”

As of July 3, only 373 sockeye had been caught. By July 7, that number had jumped to more than 1,300.

In the Kamishak Bay District, the Chenik Subdistrict had its first purse seine opening July 12 through 14.

“Usually they go into Chenik Lake during high tide cycles,” says Hollowell. “But, apparently, they got in during a moderate tide cycle. So, we’ve got about 6,000 fish in the lake, which is within the sustainable escapement goal of 3,500 to 14,000. So, we’re doing okay there.”

Finally, in the Outer District, there are openings in Port Dick, and the Windy Bay, Rocky Bay, and Nuka Island Subdistricts.

Hollowell says as it is still early in the season, it will still take some time to identify this year’s trends in the commercial salmon harvest throughout Lower Cook Inlet.

Categories: Alaska News

Alaska News Nightly: July 14, 2014

APRN Alaska News - Mon, 2014-07-14 18:04

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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 Scientists Use Satellites to Track Polar Bears

Joaquin Palomino, APRN – Anchorage

With sea ice in the Arctic melting, the region’s most iconic animal—the polar bear—is in peril.  Researchers have monitored the threatened predator for decades, but tracking bears in remote and harsh climates can be costly and dangerous.  Which is why federal scientists have started using a new tool to study polar bears: satellites.

At Democratic Lt. Gov. Debate, Differences In Style Over Substance

Alexandra Gutirrez, APRN – Juneau

When voters go to the polls in August, there will be just two statewide primary contests on the ballot. There’s the Republican Senate primary, which is attracting national attention and millions of dollars to match. And then there’s the Democratic lieutenant governor’s race. The two candidates for the Democratic nomination debated Monday at a lightly attended Anchorage Chamber of Commerce event. The pair differed more in style than substance.

Flooding Cleanup Starts in Juneau

Matt Miller, KTOO – Juneau

A handful of homes in Juneau are cleaning up after a river flooded over the weekend. The unusual event has become a regular, almost expected occurrence in the Capital City.

Entrepreneurs Get Second Chance for Awards

Ed Schoenfeld, CoastAlaska – Juneau

Southeast Alaska entrepreneurs are getting a second chance to win $40,000 to develop regional businesses. It’s part of a partnership involving a Native corporation and a conservation group that made its first awards last year.

Calista Looking to Expand

Ben Matheson, KYUK – Bethel

Facing federal budget slashing and continued pressure on 8(a) contracting, the Calista Regional Native Corporation is continuing to look beyond federal contracts. The company acquired STG, a major construction company last year and is hoping to grow across the economy.

Memorial Dedicated to WWII Internees

Jeremy Hsieh, KTOO – Juneau

After Pearl Harbor was attacked, Juneau’s Japanese population was forced from their homes and sent to internment camps in the Lower 48. Teenager John Tanaka was among those shipped out. He was the valedictorian of Juneau High School in 1942, but didn’t get to graduate with everyone else. An empty wooden chair was put on stage in his place. Now, a bronze replica of that chair will remain at the Capitol School Park permanently. The sculpture was dedicated at a memorial to the interned on Saturday.

“Key Ingredients” Highlights Local Foods

Ellen Lockyer, KSKA – Anchorage

Eating is, by nature, a social activity. But these days, with the frenetic pace of American living and a disturbing reliance on fast food, it’s hard to get the whole family together for a meal. Now a traveling Smithsonian exhibit at the Palmer Museum attempts to get people connected to their local foods. A sampling of old time Palmer colonists’ recipes is helping to highlight the use of native grown produce.

 

 

 

Categories: Alaska News

At Democratic Lieutenant Governor Debate, Differences In Style Over Substance

APRN Alaska News - Mon, 2014-07-14 16:08

From the very beginning, it was clear that there weren’t going to be fireworks at the lieutenant governor’s debate.

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The event had a capacity of 150, but just over 40 people showed up and a couple of tables were entirely empty. And then, Anchorage Chamber of Commerce President and debate moderator Andrew Halcro introduced the office of lieutenant governor like this:

“The lieutenant governor’s position is commonly referred to as simply watching over the state seal, or waiting for the governor to die,” said Halcro.

After State Sen. Hollis French and Wasilla teacher and political newcomer Bob Williams established that, yes, serving as lieutenant governor is a worthwhile job, they laid out their positions on everything from energy to education. And over and over again, their answers echoed each other.

They both expressed concern that the state wasn’t spending its money on the right things, both calling out the expensive and controversial renovation of the Anchorage Legislative Information Office. And one place where they would like to put more money? Well here’s French.

FRENCH: One area where we’re failing to make the adequate amount of investments is in education.

And here’s Williams.

WILLIAMS: We need to think about what is an adequate and reasonable amount for education.

They both support increasing the minimum wage. But they have reservations about allowing the sale of marijuana in the state, even if neither of them think possession of the drug should land someone in jail. Again, here’s French.

FRENCH: The ballot initiative I think goes too far. It legalizes not only marijuana but the derivatives and the condensed products, and you end up with storefronts. And I don’t think Alaska’s quite ready for that.

And Williams.

WILLIAMS: That idea of criminalizing and spending a lot of money to put people in prison for recreational drug use I think is wrong. But I will be voting no.

And as far as the new tax ceiling on oil production goes, both French and Williams want to go back to a higher profits tax. If anything, they ended up debating moderator Andrew Halcro more than each other on the oil tax question, given that the Chamber’s taken a position against the referendum. Halcro repeatedly pressed them on their arguments before the business-friendly audience.

When it came time to ask each other questions, neither one focused on substantive differences. Williams asked French how he planned to try to work across the aisle and why he wanted to be the running mate of Democratic gubernatorial candidate Byron Mallott, given that French has for governor before. French didn’t even ask Williams a combative question, instead asking him to talk about his experience teaching during years of flat funding.

The primary election is August 19. The Republican Party already has its nominee, as Anchorage Mayor Dan Sullivan is in an uncontested race to be Gov. Sean Parnell’s running mate. Independent candidate Craig Fleener, who is running alongside Bill Walker, will not appear on the primary ballot and will instead be submitting signatures to get his name on the general ballot.

Categories: Alaska News

Scientists Use Satellites to Track Polar Bears

APRN Alaska News - Mon, 2014-07-14 16:08

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Studying polar bears in the Arctic can be difficult. Scientists rely on boats, helicopters, and low flying planes, which can’t access many remote regions where polar bears live.

An adult female polar bear and her two cubs travel across the sea ice of the Arctic Ocean north of the Alaska coast (photo courtesy of US Geological Survey).

The U.S. Geological Survey, though, recently started tracking polar bears from space, using high resolution satellites. “The advantage that we see for the satellite imagery is we don’t have to put people in helicopters and fly them over the sea ice,” says Todd Atwood, research leader for the USGS Polar Bear Research Program. “It’s [also] completely non-invasive to polar bears.”

Atwood is currently analyzing satellite images from Rowley Island in Nunavut, Canada, where polar bears amass in large numbers during the summer. Researchers have used the images to complete a bear count on the island, which seems to be accurate. As an end goal, Atwood hopes to better understand how the threatened animal is responding to climate change.

The new tracking method could also produce information about a predator that’s not very well understood. “We lack sufficient data, we lack sufficient information for nearly half of the polar bears range,” says Geoff York, director of conservation for polar bears international. “I think one thing we need to do straight away is fill in those blank spots on the map.”

York and other researchers are particularly eager to use satellites to study the predator in the arctic sea ice: an environment that’s rapidly changing.  But spotting white bears in a sea of snow has its challenges. “It’s a great target to shoot for, but I don’t think the technology is there yet,” York explains. “You’re looking for white on white, and that’s next to impossible.”

More immediately, USGS researchers plan to use polar-bear spotting satellites in coastal Alaska, and other parts of the Arctic.

 

Categories: Alaska News

Flooding Cleanup Starts in Juneau

APRN Alaska News - Mon, 2014-07-14 16:06

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A handful of homes in Juneau are cleaning up after a river flooded over the weekend. The unusual event has become a regular, almost expected occurrence in the Capital City.

Categories: Alaska News

Entrepreneurs Get Second Chance for Awards

APRN Alaska News - Mon, 2014-07-14 16:05

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Southeast Alaska entrepreneurs are getting a second chance to win $40,000 to develop regional businesses. It’s part of a partnership involving a Native corporation and a conservation group that made its first awards last year.

Categories: Alaska News

Calista Looking to Expand

APRN Alaska News - Mon, 2014-07-14 16:03

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Facing federal budget slashing and continued pressure on 8(a) contracting, the Calista Regional Native Corporation is continuing to look beyond federal contracts. The company acquired STG, a major construction company last year and is hoping to grow across the economy.

Categories: Alaska News

Memorial to WWII Internees Dedicated

APRN Alaska News - Mon, 2014-07-14 16:02

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After Pearl Harbor was attacked, Juneau’s Japanese population was forced from their homes and sent to internment camps in the Lower 48. Teenager John Tanaka was among those shipped out. He was the valedictorian of Juneau High School in 1942, but didn’t get to graduate with everyone else. An empty wooden chair was put on stage in his place. Now, a bronze replica of that chair will remain at the Capitol School Park permanently. The sculpture was dedicated at a memorial to the interned on Saturday.

Categories: Alaska News

“Key Ingredients ” Highlights Local Foods

APRN Alaska News - Mon, 2014-07-14 16:01

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“What we’d better do is fortify you with a glass of our lovely vintage punch.”

 Janet Kincaid presides over a punch bowl on white cloth – trimmed table spread with sweets made from 1930s recipes. Kincaid owns the Old Colony Inn in Palmer, a vintage building where she’s hosting a recipe sampling.. most made from local produce.

“This building was built in 1935 as a dormitory for single teachers and nurses for the Colony. They found they could not get teachers and nurses to come up here an live in a tent. “

 Barb Thomas with the Palmer Historical Society and Kincaid came up with the recipe swap idea, featured at last weekend’s Palmer Midsummer Garden and Art Fair

“I love nutmeg with rhubarb. Anything rhubarb”…”And the swap means I get to take one of those recipes.”… “You can taste”..”Can I taste? Theses are your cookies?.. Yummy!”

 Kincaid directs me to a long table with elaborate place settings for six, and explains the proper etiquette in preparing a table for dinner. Even the doughty first colonists in Palmer brought along their sets of china, colorful “depression glass” plates and silverware.

“This china is Bavarian china, and it was my mother’s who got married in 1930. And in those days, they had silverware that matched. What I think is interesting, is how many of the glasses were goblets. You had goblets instead of solid glasses. And many pieces. They used a lot of dishes.”

Elegant stemware and a special dessert fork are rarely seen nowadays. But at one time, supper was the glue that drew the family back together at day’s end. And a traveling exhibit from the Smithsonian traces how American eating habits influenced our society through the years. Selina Ortega-Chiolero is the director of the Palmer Museum.

“Every country has a very clear distinction of what their food is.. their native food. But when you think of America, where such a combination of different cultures, it’s really hard to define what American food is. So the Smithsonian did a lot of research, they compiled this wonderful exhibit, and it explores that question.. what is American food culture in the United States. ” ..”So, let’s step in.”.. “Sure”

Inside the tiny log structure that houses the museum, the Key Ingredients exhibit literally stretches floor to ceiling. The panels trace American food festivals — think Thanksgiving — from their earliest start in pre-Revolutionary times, through corn huskings, lobster bakes, and the advent of the frankfurter right up to our current eating habits. One thing food trends of the past had in common.. they brought people together.

“And it explores that idea of sharing food in a more social gathering. So, food festivals, like state fairs. When they started to commercialize and had restaurants. The whole idea of eating out is considered a special thing, a special occasion event. The exhibit explores that idea as well. One of my favorites is actually this one over here, the Art of Hospitality.. especially the younger generation that comes in here.. they don’t know what a table setting is. “

 We walk through the exhibit, which is eclectic, to say the least. Two little girls in sun bonnets are marveling at a model of a Wisconsin cheese head hat. One panel shows the evolution of the roadside diner. There are photos of the Washington Apple Queen and of New Mexico Indian women grinding corn. Selina says Key Ingredients has special resonance for Palmer, because it is a farming community

“It really did start with the fact that we were a fertile land. And the fact that we can have a lot of things produced here, locally. We’re very self-sustaining that way.”

 She says when mass food production and marketing entered the scene in the 1950s, people were influenced to buy a certain way.. leading to eating packaged and frozen foods.

“Even though that’s what took off, because it was convenient and fast. At least here in Alaska, we are starting to see a return back to eating fresh, eating local.”

 And that’s something Janet Kincaid says the original colonists took for granted. They made their own fun, and food was central to their social networking.

“The entertainment was social. And we are just kind of reproducing that, and letting people know how important is is to connect. “

 The Key Ingredients exhibit has traveled state to state, with Alaska it’s last stop. It’ll be at the Palmer museum until July 20, then it moves to Talkeetna for it’s final run.

Categories: Alaska News
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