Alaska News Nightly: January 4, 2010

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Pick, Glick, Give Program Hits Early Snag
Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage
Alaskans filing their Permanent Fund Dividend applications in the first day or so of the New Year were frustrated by technical problems with the Pick Click Give program. The Pick Click Give program allows Alaskans to choose an Alaskan non profit organization to donate all or part of their Permanent Fund dividend to. The idea is to make it easier for Alaskans to give, but right now, it’s not so easy. Permanent Fund Division director Deborah Bitney says initially there were problems on the site that did not allow people to choose the Pick, Click, Give program. Those, she says were fixed right away, but there is a lingering problem with the system timing out before it accesses the list of organizations to choose from.

Anchorage’s Randall Takes First in Championships
Annie Feidt, APRN – Anchorage
Kikkan Randall was on top of the podium again today at the US Cross Country Ski Championships in Anchorage. Randall won the 10 kilometer skate race. Another Anchorage skier, James Southam took third in the men’s 15 kilometer skate. Kris Freeman of New Hampshire won that race, capturing his 13th National title. There was a surprise on the podium too.

King Makes Personal Donation of Iditarod
The Associated Press
Four-time champion Jeff King has made a large donation to increase the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race purse. King, a 54-year-old musher from Denali Park, is donating $50,000 to the race. The move comes after a loss of about $1 million in sponsorship money forced a drastic reduction in this year’s purse. Lee Larsen, president of the Iditarod Trail Committee Board of Directors, says he hopes King’s example will encourage others to contribute what they can to restore the purse. Race organizers announced last month that the purse would be cut by $100,000 to about $525,000 – $400,000 less than it was just two years ago. Seventy-five mushers have signed up for the 1,100-mile race from Anchorage to Nome. The race begins the first weekend in March.

Board of Game Group Sparks Competition for Membership
Ellen Lockyer, KSKA – Anchorage
A dispute is brewing in Southcentral over state wildlife management, and an upcoming  Board of Game Anchorage advisory committee vote could tip the balance one way or another. Eight seats on the Anchorage Fish and Game Citizen Advisory Committee are up for re-election, and two groups are vying to gain a majority on the panel.  Hunters and professional hunting guides are facing off against advocates of non-consumptive uses of the state’s wildlife resources. Wade Willis is a former state and federal wildlife biologist now heading his own web based consulting company.  He says the composition of the advisory committee needs to be more diverse.

Census Counters Start with Trip to Noorvik
Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
2010 is a census year, and the national count will get an early start later this month in Alaska.  Ingrid Zaruba  with the State Department of Labor says Census Bureau Director Robert Groves  will lead a delegation of federal and state officials to the northwest Alaska village of Noorvik later this month.

2009 Was Quite the Year for the Marine Conservation Council
Jay Barrett, KMXT – Kodiak
It was quite a year just past for the Alaska Marine Conservation Council, a non-profit group that works for the health of the oceans, small boat fishermen and the communities they live in. In mid summer it was revealed that AMCC was the victim of embezzlement.

Whales in Seymour Canal Provide Researchers an Extended Look
Matt Lichtenstein, KFSK – Petersburg
Most of southeast Alaska’s Humpback whale population is headed south to Hawaii by this time of year. But each year, more than a hundred of the animals gather in northern Southeast’s Seymour Canal before they make their long journey to the breeding grounds. Throughout the fall and early winter, the large group of humpbacks can be found in that narrow body of water, feasting on a massive build-up of krill. The late-season interaction between these huge predators and tiny prey is the focus of on-going research.