Alaska News Nightly: August 7, 2007

A 2003 murder trial wraps up as the Sitka plane crash investigation begins and the search continues for a missing man on Zaremba Island. We also take a look at the continuing threat of Hubbard Glacier’s advance and observe a Yukon Territory lake that’s literally draining away. Plus, brown bears draw the long arm of the law in Fairbanks as well as tourists in Sitka. Those stories and more on tonight’s Alaska News Nightly, broadcast statewide on APRN stations.

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Talkeetna murder trial concludes
Lori Townsend, APRN and Julia O’Malley, Anchorage Daily News
Closing arguments were heard today in the murder trial of Michael Lawson, a 49-year old Anchorage man accused of killing a young Talkeetna woman in 2003.

Investigation and recovery underway following Sitka small plane crash
Melissa Marconi-Wentzel, KCAW – Sitka
Investigators have confirmed, but are not releasing, the names of the four people on board the small aircraft that went down in a residential area of downtown Sitka yesterday. One day later, the emergency response effort has become a recovery operation.

Army releases identities of soldiers killed July 31
The Associated Press
Army officials today released the identities of two Fort Richardson artillerymen killed last week in Iraq. Sergeant Bradley W. Marshall of Little Rock, Arkansas, and Specialist Daniel F. Reyes of San Diego died July 31st from wounds suffered from an indirect fire attack on Forward Operating Base Kalsu, Iraq. The Army delayed releasing their identities due to difficulty in reaching some next-of-kin. Eleven other paratroopers were injured in the incident, one seriously. The other 10 were treated and returned to duty.

Hubbard Glacier threatening salmon spawning in Situk River

Ed Schoenfeld, CoastAlaska – Juneau
One of Southeast Alaska’s few advancing glaciers continues to threaten the river that produces most of Yakutat’s salmon. The Hubbard Glacier came within a few hundred feet of closing off nearby Russell Fjord this summer. That could have created a giant lake that would have overflowed into the Situk River. The ice has since retreated, but the threat remains. Engineers have considered tunnels, dams and diversion channels to protect the river, but they say none of the projects are feasible.

Images provided by George Kalli, USACE; Ed Schoenfeld, CoastAlaska; US Geological Survey

Search continues for missing man on Zarembo Island
Steve Brown, KSTK – Wrangell
A search for a man missing near Wrangell / Petersburg continues today. The Coast Guard says the search began over the weekend for Miguel Rodriguez, a 40-year-old man working for Triple T Tree Thinning in Sitka. He was on Zarembo Island with a crew contracted by the U.S. Forest Service. Lieutenant Heather Neely with the Juneau command center says her office got a call late Saturday night after some of Rodriguez’s co-workers found his fishing pole and wallet in Zarembo’s Roosevelt Harbor.

Yukon’s Zelma Lake drains half away in just a month
Cheryl Kawaja, CBC – Whitehorse, YT
In Canada, water is draining away in Old Crow at a catastrophic rate. A group of scientists is monitoring Zelma Lake on Old Crow flats. The lake has lost more than half its water in less than a month. Global warming effects are strongly suspected.

Two troublesome Fairbanks bears killed
Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
Two young grizzlies that showed up on Chena Hot Springs Road last week were shot Sunday. Department of Fish and Game spokeswoman Cathie Harms says Alaska State Troopers were called after the yearling bears killed two goats at a family farm near Mile 4. The grizzlies were the 9th and 10th killed this summer in the Fairbanks area. Harms says that’s unusually high, and encourages people to take extra precautions with anything that can attract bears, from garbage to barbeques and livestock.

Sitka’s ‘Fortress of the Bear’ welcomes its first furry resident
Robert Woolsey, KCAW – Sitka
A nonprofit bear habitat in Sitka has its first resident. The Alaska Department of Fish & Game recently sent a 60-pound orphaned brown bear cub to Fortress of the Bear, a week – to the day – after issuing the organization an educational permit.