Alaska News Nightly: July 12, 2007

Below is the complete story list and audio from today’s Alaska News Nightly, as broadcast on APRN stations statewide. Individual stories are available in the Alaska News category and you can subscribe to our news feeds via e-mail, podcast and RSS anytime.

Photo provided by Tony Fischbach, a Wildlife Biologist at the Walrus Research Program / Alaska Science Center / U.S. Geological Survey in Anchorage, AlaskaRetreating Arctic sea ice shifting polar bear denning behaviors
Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage
A new study shows polar bears in northern Alaska are denning on land a lot more than they used to. Male polar bears don’t hibernate, but pregnant females hole up in the winter to give birth to cubs in a protected environment. The report points to rapid sea ice retreat in the Arctic as the likely cause of the shift in their choice of den sites. We spoke with one of the report authors, Tony Fischbach.

Photo provided by Tony Fischbach, a Wildlife Biologist at the Walrus Research Program / Alaska Science Center / U.S. Geological Survey in Anchorage, AlaskaPhoto provided by Tony Fischbach, a Wildlife Biologist at the Walrus Research Program / Alaska Science Center / U.S. Geological Survey in Anchorage, AlaskaPhoto provided by Tony Fischbach, a Wildlife Biologist at the Walrus Research Program / Alaska Science Center / U.S. Geological Survey in Anchorage, AlaskaPhoto provided by Tony Fischbach, a Wildlife Biologist at the Walrus Research Program / Alaska Science Center / U.S. Geological Survey in Anchorage, Alaska
Photos provided by Tony Fischbach, Wildlife Biologist at the USGS Alaska Science Center

Fish farming policy for federal waters proposed, debated
Joel Southern, APRN – Washington, D.C. (read by Lori Townsend, APRN)
Congress held its first hearing today on the latest version of a Bush Administration proposal to allow aquaculture in federal ocean waters. Conrad Lautenbacher, head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), appeared before a U.S. House Natural Resources subcommittee. He said the administration feels it has a plan for boosting domestic seafood production to meet growing demand while doing it in an environmentally-sensitive way. Critics point to risks of comingling farmed and wild fish.

Arctic Economic Development Summit wraps up in Kotzebue
Len Anderson, KSKA – Anchorage (on assignment in Kotzebue)
The fifth Arctic Economic Development Summit in Kotzebue wrapped up yesterday. Approximately 200 North Slope Borough and Northwest Arctic Borough participants left the three-day gathering more confident they could preserve their traditional lifestyle while sharing more of the benefits of any resource development that takes place in the region.

Preserving Native culture via traditional language a key focus for ICYC
Amy Flaherty, KNOM – Nome
The Inuit Circumpolar Youth Council has made native language revitalization one of its top priorities. A special weekend meeting in Kotzebue focused on instilling the urgency of learning traditional languages.

Bitney moves from Governor’s office to House Speaker’s office
Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau (read by Lori Townsend, APRN)
The Governor’s former Legislative Liaison has changed uniforms. John Bitney began work yesterday on the staff of House Speaker John Harris. The move came just before new ethics rules took effect in Alaska, barring such quick moves between government branches. (Prior coverage here.)

Innovative hazardous waste treatment service proposed for Anchorage
Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage
The Pacific Environment Corporation (PENCO) is in the preliminary stages of seeking permits to build the first hazardous waste storage, treatment and disposal facility in Anchorage. The facility would use super-heated fluids to break down toxic chemicals to component elements, eliminating the toxicity in the process. Currently hazardous waste is stored in Anchorage and then shipped to Washington state periodically. An initial public presentation was made last night and drew mixed comment. Additional comments are sought at Alaska’s Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) web site.

charleyg.jpgThe “finest kind” of seafood leads to marketing success
Johanna Eurich, KDLG – Dillingham
Direct marketing is nothing new for fishermen Outside who live closer to markets, but in Bristol Bay it poses major challenges. We profile of one fishing captain making it work: Charley Gordon.