Alaska News

Alaska News Nightly: July 1, 2014

APRN Alaska News - Tue, 2014-07-01 16:48

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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Gubernatorial Challenger Would Prefer To Face Parnell On His Own

Alexandra Gutierrez, APRN – Juneau
In the three-way race for governor, Sean Parnell’s two challengers have developed bit of a chummy relationship. But now, one of those candidates says he doesn’t want to have to compete with the other at all. Walker would rather face the governor alone.

Treadwell Urges US to Check Putin in Arctic; Sullivan Spotlights ‘Pro-Putin Rally’

Liz Ruskin, APRN – Washington DC

In a recent speech in Washington, D.C., Lt. Gov. Mead Treadwell spoke of the need to stay on neighborly terms with Russia. It’s caused a bit of a ruckus. Dan Sullivan, Treadwell’s rival in the GOP primary for U.S Senate, issued an email Monday saying Treadwell attended a “pro-Putin rally.”

State Seeks to Join Izembek Lawsuit

Lauren Rosenthal, KUCB – Unalaska

The State of Alaska has tried to back up the village of King Cove on their quest to build a road through protected wilderness. Now, the state’s prepared to follow them into court.

UAF Releases Plan For Budget Cuts

Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks

The University of Alaska Fairbanks has released a list of budget cuts to be implemented during the new fiscal year. The reductions affect a wide range of programs and services.

Possible Growth at Ted Stevens Airport Has Some Concerned

Joaquin Palomino, APRN Intern

Every five to seven years, the Ted Stevens International Airport releases a new master plan, which details upcoming changes at Alaska’s busiest air hub.  The document allows the airport to qualify for federal funding, and was released earlier this week. While there are a lot of hypothetical’s in it, the plan makes one thing fairly clear: As Alaska grows and as more visitors come to the state, the airport will have to adapt, which concerns some residents.

Southeast Summer King Fishing Opens With Record Hopes

Rachel Waldholz, KCAW – Sitka

While much of the state is experiencing low king salmon runs, it’s an entirely different story in Southeast, where fishermen are looking at a record high target harvest.

Fairbanks Weathers Wettest June On Record

Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks

It’s official.  Last month was Fairbanks wettest June on record. National Weather Service meteorologist Benjamin Bartus credits precipitation that began late Monday with taking the total just past the previous record.

Predator Run-Ins Threaten Hikers in the Chugach

Monica Gokey, KSKA – Anchorage

A Fish and Game biologist says three wolves appear to have killed a hiker’s dog before stalking the dog’s owner on a popular trail just outside Anchorage last month. Another hiker’s account of a similar incident on a nearby trail may leave some wondering if canine predators are a growing threat on local trails.

New Dock at Jewel Lake Makes Area Accessible to Everyone

Anne Hillman, KSKA – Anchorage

Anchorage’s Parks and Recreation Department opened a new dock on Jewel Lake yesterday. Unlike the previous, weather-damaged facility that loomed 15 feet over the water, this one makes the lake accessible – to everyone.

Categories: Alaska News

Southeast Summer King Fishing Opens With Record Hopes

APRN Alaska News - Tue, 2014-07-01 16:47

While much of the state is experiencing low king salmon runs, it’s an entirely different story in Southeast, where fishermen are looking at a record high target harvest.

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“This is just an extraordinary year,” says Fish & Game biologist Pattie Skannes.

Trollers will be going after more than 171,300 kings in this first opening. Skannes says it’s the largest target ever for the July opener.

And it’s significantly higher than last year, when the July target was just 62,864 kings.

To put those numbers in perspective, there will be about the same number of fish available to trollers in the next two to three weeks as were available to all gear groups — trollers, seiners, gillnetters and sport fishermen — for the entire year last year.

Skannes says a number of things are contributing to the high target, including big expectations for Chinook returns in the Pacific Northwest.

“The Columbia River is expecting an enormous return this year, a record-breaking return,” she says. “So some of those stocks are what we call driver stocks for the Southeast fishery. That means that they contribute significantly to what we are harvesting up here, so we benefit from their abundance.”

Skannes says it’s always hard to know what causes big returns, but it might be a matter of what’s happening way off shore.

“The leading hypothesis is that productivity is driven mostly by ocean conditions,” she says. “So years in which we have a good abundance, that is in part explained by ideal or favorable ocean conditions.”

Fish & Game hasn’t set the length of the July opening yet. That will depend on how fast the fleet approaches its target. But Skannes estimates it will last between 14 and 21 days. And she expects there will be a second opening in mid-August, following the closure of the Coho troll fishery. Last year, there was no second opening, because the fleet caught the entire summer quota in six days in July.

Skannes says she expects more boats to participate in the fishery this year, attracted by the large quota and long opening. Last year, 714 permit-holders fished. That was lower than in the past, perhaps because of the low quota and short season. This year, Skannes says she’s expecting about 800 boats.

And last year, fishermen got an average price of $4.61 per pound for king salmon, according to number compiled by Fish & Game. Skannes says that so far, during spring trolling, fishermen have seen an average price of $5.52 per pound. She expects that summer prices will probably be somewhat lower than that, because of the higher volume of fish coming in.

Meanwhile, trolling for chum salmon has gotten off to a slow start. In recent years, Fish & Game has seen a fairly significant fishery in June in Icy Strait. This year, Skannes says, it was almost nonexistent — although numbers have picked up in the past week.

Categories: Alaska News

Fairbanks Weathers Wettest June On Record

APRN Alaska News - Tue, 2014-07-01 16:46

It’s official. Last month was Fairbanks wettest June on record. National Weather Service meteorologist Benjamin Bartus credits precipitation that began late Monday with taking the total just past the previous record.

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Categories: Alaska News

New dock at Jewel Lake makes area accessible to everyone

APRN Alaska News - Tue, 2014-07-01 16:45

Anchorage’s Parks and Recreation Department opened a new dock on Jewel Lake yesterday. Unlike the previous, weather-damaged facility that loomed 15 feet over the water, this one makes the lake accessible — to everyone.

Jewel lake dock

Project proponents speak as Ira Edwards tests out the new accessible dock on Jewel Lake.

Traffic on Diamond roars by as Ira Edwards tosses a kayak into the water then raises himself out of his wheelchair. He’s testing out the new accessible dock at Jewel Lake in south Anchorage. The kayak sits in a metal cage affixed to the edge of the low wooden dock.

“As a paralyzed person, I don’t have quite the torso control that you might,” Edwards explains.  ”And it allows me to have a more stable platform to get into the boat. So once I’m in the water the boats are naturally stable enough to try to avoid tipping over, unless I do something really dumb.”

Edwards was paralyzed when a tree landed on him in 2010. He was clearing trails in a state park after a massive wind storm. But he says he hasn’t let his injury slow him down; he still skis, hunts, fishes, and paddles.

“You have to make the choice to get out and do things. You can sit at home and mope about things, but if you want to do it, you have to go for it.”

Edwards says projects like the new dock help make that possible.

Maeve Nevins managed the $60,000 project for the municipality. She says some features that make the dock accessible are simple.

“As you come down, you notice the wood four by four bumpers?” she says she she walks down the low grade ramp. “That’s so that a wheelchair or a person who is blind or whatnot can navigate. They can find their way, and their not going to fall off.”

The bumpers line the entire custom-built dock, which is low enough on the water for anyone to fish from it. It also sports a two-tiered bench to help someone move from a wheelchair into a boat. It’s the first accessible public dock in Anchorage. Nevins says the municipality is also installing accessible playgrounds all over the city. They have $100,000 to upgrade Jewel Lake Park.

Beth Edmands Merritt is the CEO of Challenge Alaska, an organization that’s been working with people with disabilities for 30 years. She says projects like this help people overcome both mental and physical barriers to being active. She says they help the community, too.

“The more people see people with disabilities out and about, they realize what can be achieved.”

Down on the water, Edwards paddles about a bit then pulls up to the dock to a handful of people.

“Wa-la! I floated, I launched. I loaded it back up.”

“Perfect!” his friend says, as he helps Edwards load up the kayak and the dock is now available for the next person seeking an adventure.

Categories: Alaska News
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