Alaska News Nightly: December 11, 2009

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House Passes Spending Bill; Alaska Benefits
Libby Casey, APRN – Washington DC
The US House passed a massive spending package on Thursday that contains hundreds of millions of dollars for Alaska. The omnibus combines 6 spending bills including military construction, transportation, and education, and costs $447 billion.  Alaska’s Representative Don Young voted against it with all the House Republicans.  But Young says the package does send a lot of money to his home state.

Finance Reform Passes House; Young Skips Vote
Libby Casey, APRN – Washington DC
The House has also passed a sweeping overhaul of the nation’s financial regulatory system. Congressman Don Young was one of only two members of his party who did not cast a vote on Friday. The rest of the House Republicans voted against the bill, but it passed with Democratic support 223 to 202. Young’s office says he didn’t vote because he “had a previously scheduled obligation.”

Troopers Tracking Armed and Dangerous Man in NW Alaska
Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage
Alaska state troopers have been chasing a man between villages in northwest Alaska who is considered armed and dangerous and is accused of two separate attacks. Trooper spokeswoman Beth Epsen says 26-year old Kotzebue resident Jason Douglas Black has been eluding troopers on a snowmachine since the beginning of the week.

Fishery Managers Call for Additional Cuts to Commercial Harvests
Matt Lichtenstein, KFSK – Petersburg
Halibut stocks remain on the decline according to US and Canadian fishery managers, who are calling for another round of cuts to the commercial harvest in much of Alaska. Southeast would be hardest hit with a reduction of 26 percent for commercial longliners. The International Pacific Halibut Commission staff announced its 2010 catch limit recommendations this week.

Bristol Bay Completes Lands Transfer
Adam Kane, KDLG – Dillingham
After nearly 40 years, Bristol Bay’s regional village corporations have finally completed the transfers of all settlement claim lands to its local native residents. The lands were originally awarded to the regional corporations with the passing of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act of 1971.

Alaskans Headed to Climate Conference
Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage
More Alaskans are leaving Friday night for the United Nations Climate change talks in Copenhagen Denmark. Members of the Yukon River Intertribal Watershed Council will be attending both as observers and presenters. Brian Miracle is the Watershed Council’s lead scientist. He says the council operates the largest indigenous observation network in the world maintaining 30 fixed station sites that cover the Yukon basin and measure water quality. He plans to talk to other indigenous people at the climate talks about the Yukon observer system and he’ll also be on hand to be a translator of sorts for technical and scientific information for the Watershed council attendees.

Game Board Gets Proposals for Expanding Wolf Buffer
Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
The State Game Board has received several proposals for re-upping and expanding protective corridors for wolves on state land on the eastern edge of Denali National Park. Current buffers which protect wolves from hunting and trapping along portions of the Stampede Road and the Parks Highway are scheduled to sunset.  One of the expansion proposals is from the National Park Service.  The agency has long opposed environmentalist’s efforts to increase the buffer, but assistant superintendent for resources, Philip Hooge says the current situation justifies expansion.

Palin To Sign Bestseller at Elmendorf
Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage
Former governor Sarah Palin will be in Alaska this weekend for her first book signing in the state, but only military members or their families will be allowed to attend. Palin will sign copies of her book “Going Rogue” on Sunday afternoon at Elmendorf Air Force Base in Anchorage and in the early evening at Eielson Air Force Base in Fairbanks. The general public will not be allowed at the events. Elmendorf Public Affairs chief Captain Ashley Conner says the venue was set up through the Army and Air Force Exchange Service or AASES.

Mat-Su Wants GCI to Rethink Tower Location
Sue Deyoe, KTNA – Talkeetna
One of the most scenic subdivisions in Alaska has been the subject of a cell phone tower controversy over the past few months. The Talkeetna Community Council has unanimously voted to ask the Mat-Su Borough Planning Commission to reconsider a request from GCI for a tower near Denali State Park.

JAL Cutting Trips to Fairbanks
Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
Fairbanks winter tourism will take a major hit as a result of Japan Airline’s financial woes. Fairbanks Convention and Visitors Bureau Tourism Director Colin Lawrence say the struggling Japanese carrier is cutting back on winter flights to Fairbanks.