Alaska News Nightly: May 5, 2008

CORRECTION: When originally published, we titled this post as May 6 rather than May 5, 2008. Sorry for the confusion.

Conservation organizations turned to the courts today to try and stop seismic testing this summer in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas. Plus, a biologist shares some striking observations from this year’s polar bear study — taking place right now in the Beaufort Sea. Those stories and more on tonight’s Alaska News Nightly, broadcast statewide on APRN stations.

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Planned seismic testing in Arctic waters under new legal challenge
Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage
Conservation organizations and Native groups filed a lawsuit today in federal district court in Anchorage against the federal government for issuing permits for seismic testing this summer in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas. The suit asks for an injunction to stop seismic testing from being conducted until the Minerals Management Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service complete an Environmental Impact Statement about the possible affects of the testing on marine life.

Click the image above for a larger copy and three more from USGS researcher Steven Amstrup.

Polar bear research in progress while Endangered Species status under review
Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage
The Bush Administration has until May 15 to decide whether or not to list the polar bear as “threatened” under the Endangered Species Act. And while government officials work out the details on that decision, polar bear scientists are camped out in western and northern Alaska. They’re studying the only two U.S. populations of the bears: in the Beaufort and Chukchi seas.

Alaska teachers union endorses Begich in run for U.S. Senate
David Shurtleff, APRN – Anchorage
The state’s largest union announced this afternoon they will endorse U.S. Senate candidate Mark Begich.

Yakutat spring troll fishery closed. Again.
Melissa Marconi-Wentzel, KCAW – Sitka
The Alaska Department of Fish and Game has canceled the Yakutat Bay spring troll fishery for the third year running.

Wrangell timber operations may be revived
Lisa Phu, KSTK – Wrangell
Wrangell’s timber industry may get another chance at life with the help of Polaris Management. Since last year representatives of Polaris have been in discussions about buying the Wrangell sawmill. And they approached the city council at a special meeting last Thursday with a request for financial assistance.

Sitka prizes pedal pushers — and wins bicycling honors
Robert Woolsey, KCAW – Sitka
One year after launching a community-wide effort to raise awareness and improve safety, Sitka is officially a bike-friendly community.

Ketchikan remembers iconic local publisher Lew Williams
Deanna Garrison, KRBD – Ketchikan
Retired Ketchikan Daily News publisher Lew Williams junior passed away in Arizona on Saturday at the age of 83. Williams and his wife Dorothy owned and operated four newspapers in southeast Alaska over the span of 43 years.