Alaska News Nightly: March 18, 2008

Senator Murkowski addresses Alaska Legislaturer. Plus, despite a good winter for ice in the Bering Sea, the overall retreat of sea ice is expected to continue.  Also, the lucrative Sitka Sound sac roe fishery gets ready to open. Those stories and more on tonight’s Alaska News Nightly, broadcast statewide on APRN stations.

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Senator Murkowski addresses Alaska Legislature
Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau
US Senator Lisa Murkowski today called on legislators to remember the state’s early years. And in her annual Address to a Joint Session of the state House and Senate, she asked them to look for common ground to resolve some of the problems in Alaska’s future.

Bristol Bay fisherman angered by Anchorage workshop

David Shurtleff, APRN – Anchorage
Bristol Bay fishermen and conservationists are protesting a 2-day workshop being held in Anchorage to discuss the logistics of drilling for oil in the eastern Bering Sea.  It’s 23-member panel was gathered by the University of Alaska, Fairbanks and the Alaska Sea Grant Program. But protestors say conservation and subsistence groups have been purposely excluded from the sessions.  And they claim it’s because a major oil company is helping the University system fund the panel.

Arctic Ice remains a concern despite good winter
Joel Southern, APRN – Washington, DC
Satellite data released today shows Arctic sea ice has rebounded some over the winter after hitting a record low last summer. The Bering Sea is one of the areas that has had a significant increase. But federal government scientists say while there’s growth in the thinner seasonal ice, the amount of older and thicker perennial ice continues to decline.

Legislature done with supplemental budget

Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau
The House and Senate have finished dealing with the controversial supplemental budget containing $70,000,000 in projects the governor vetoed last year. The bill is now on its way to the governor’s office where members are prepared for those projects to be vetoed again. The bill today in the House carried the support of 38 members – the senate passed it on a 15-5 vote.

Ketchikan Gateway Borough expansion forges ahead
Alec Dickinson, KRBD – Ketchikan
The Ketchikan Gateway Borough has tripled in size after two bills in the legislature failed to block the borough’s expansion. A court appeal to overturn the LBC’s decision is still pending.

Aniak backs off demand to remove all troopers
Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
The Aniak Traditional Council is stepping back from a request that the State pull Troopers out of the mostly native village.  Last month the tribe accused Troopers of harassing locals, and demanded them removed from the Kuskokwim River community of 500.  Council Chief Wayne Morgan says the tribe will tolerate the four Troopers posted in their village, but is looking at other law enforcement options, including hiring its own safety officers.

Sitka Sound sac roe fishery gets ready to open

Robert Woolsey, KCAW – Sitka
One of the state’s most lucrative herring fisheries is poised to begin this month. The Alaska Department of Fish & Game will begin aerial surveys for the Sitka Sound sac roe fishery this week. The fifty-six permit holders will be competing this year for a record quota of 14-thousand 723 tons. Based on last year’s average price  that’s about $7-million dollar’s worth of herring harvested in as few as two days.

Historic totem pole to be refurbished in Sitka

Melissa Marconi-Wentzel, KCAW – Sitka
A popular totem pole in downtown Sitka’s Totem Square is headed for a makeover.  Known as a “shame” pole, it depicts a naked Alexander Baranof, a man who carries a lot of emotional weight in Sitka.  Chief Manager of the Russian American Company in the early 19th century and the first Colonial Governor of Russian America, Baranof also presided over a pivotal battle  between the Russians and the Sitka Tlingit.