Alaska News Nightly: March 4, 2009

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Rural Alaska seeks long term solutions to economic challenges
Annie Feidt, APRN – Anchorage
Groceries and fuel dollars are pouring into rural Alaska from as far away as New York and New Zealand.  Village residents say the aid will make a big difference this winter. And they want the new awareness of the crisis to spur a state- and even worldwide discussion on long term economic solutions for the region.

Alaskans weigh in on state operating budget

Rosemarie Alexander, KTOO – Juneau
Alaskans asked lawmakers to remember children in the state as they debate a nearly $10 billion spending bill for next year. The House Finance Committee just wrapped up two days of public testimony on the operating budget.

President Obama halts Bush changes to the Endangered Species Act

Libby Casey, APRN – Washington, DC
President Obama has temporarily halted a Bush Administration change to the Endangered Species Act.  The president issued a memo yesterday saying federal agencies working on projects that may affect an endangered species will again have to consult with federal scientists before moving forward.

Alaska Natives weigh in on offshore drilling with the Obama Administration

Libby Casey, APRN – Washington, DC
A group of Alaskans carried a message of “no offshore drilling” to Washington, DC this week.  About 20 Inupiat, Yupik, and Gwich’in people traveled from Alaska and Canada’s northwest to tell Congress and the Obama administration they don’t want drilling in their back yards.  The group found more doors
open to them this week than they have in recent years.

Board of Game discusses predator control
Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage
The Alaska Board of Game meetings continued today in Anchorage. The morning session dealt with proposals for Southcentral Alaska. Board members grappled with how to control what appears to be a growing brown and black bear population in the Anchorage/Eagle River area.

Sexual abuse claims against Jesuits have broad repercussions
Doug Nadvornik, Northwest News Network – Spokane
Abuse claims from Alaskans who say they were victimized by Jesuit priests might affect the future of colleges in Washington State. Attorneys have begun the long process of adding up the assets and debts of the Oregon Province of the Society of Jesus. The Portland-based Jesuit order declared bankruptcy last month in the face of hundreds of suits stemming from the abuse claims, including many from Alaska.

Environmental groups sue to block logging near Ketchikan
Ed Schoenfeld, CoastAlaska – Juneau
Six environmental organizations are suing to block logging in an area east of Ketchikan. They say it would waste money and damage wildlife habitat.  The timber industry says the Orion North timber sale would help keep struggling Southeast mills in business.