Alaska News Nightly: June 18, 2008

A cell phone call from one of the missing backpackers in Denali National Park confirms they are alive and well, but searchers still haven’t located the pair. Plus, Governor Sarah Palin is backing away from her plan to offer Alaskans energy debit cards in favor of direct payments to help with high fuel costs. Those stories and more on tonight’s Alaska News Nightly, broadcast statewide on APRN stations.

Individual news stories are posted in the Alaska News category and you can subscribe to APRN’s news feeds via e-mail, podcast and RSS.

Denali search continues after missing hikers make cell contact
The Associated Press
The missing backpackers in Denali National Park are alive and well. Erica Nelson called her mother this morning to report she and Abby Flantz are safe. But searchers still haven’t located the pair.

Palin drops idea for energy debit cards, still pursuing consumer cost deflection
Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau
Governor Sarah Palin is expected to release her final plan to help Alaskans deal with the high costs of energy at the end of the week.

Hickel recommends legislators turn down TransCanada gas plan
Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau
Former Governor Wally Hickel this morning asked legislators to reject Governor Palin’s proposal to license TransCanada as developer of a North Slope gas pipeline to North American markets.

Wrangell grappling with surprise loss of 7 cruise ship visits
Lisa Phu, KSTK – Wrangell
The Empress of the North has recently announced the cancellation of their last 7 sailings in southeast Alaska due to weak advanced booking rates. While this news will undoubtedly impact all the southeast towns it visits, Wrangell will be among the hardest hit. ‘The Empress of the North’ is Wrangell’s only consistently visiting cruise ship.

Ocean acidity accelerating, Congress pushing for fast research
Steve Heimel, APRN – Anchorage
A bill to step up research on the impacts of growing acidity in the world’s oceans was passed by a subcommittee in the U.S. House today. Sponsored by Representative Tom Allen (D-Maine), the bill puts a framework in place to oversee research on acidity, which increases as the ocean absorbs carbon dioxide.

Juneau looking at option send its garbage through ‘plasma recycling’
John Ryan, KTOO – Juneau
A startup company from Alabama wants Juneau to start vaporizing its garbage.

Glacier-released ancient remains linked to living relatives in Juneau
Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage
Juneau resident Marilyn Doyle is learning she has a long lost relative. His name is “Long Ago Person Found.” He was discovered by sheep hunters in a melting glacier in British Columbia 8 years ago wearing a spruce root hat and a squirrel skin robe.

Kenai bears and tourists keeping Fish & Game staff busy
Mike Mason, KBBI – Homer
Wildlife officers with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game have been busy on the Kenai Peninsula over the past few weeks responding to incidents involving bears.

Kayakers, canoers take to the water in annual Sitka competition
Andi McDaniel, KCAW – Sitka
Devoted paddlers from Sitka and beyond donned their spray skirts Saturday to compete in the Sitka Sound Ocean Adventure Race.

Kayaking: Sitka Sound Ocean Adventure RaceMore free videos are here