Alaska News Nightly: April 8, 2010

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Parnell and Legislature Dueling Over Budget
Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau
The capital in Juneau on Thursday was trying to get a handle around the capital projects budget released by the Senate Finance Committee Wednesday night.  Drawing special attention was the section of the bill that outlines special projects in local communities.   Calculations of its financial impact are ranging between $900 million and $1.1 billion. That figure does not include money the Senate might add later before it finally passes – or that House members will want to add at their own discretion. Governor Sean Parnell says lawmakers are on track to creating a $3 billion budget. He calls that “bloated” by his standards and he says he directly asked the senate majority to take another approach to the plan.

Fish and Wildlife Service Begins Review of ANWR
Annie Feidt, APRN – Anchorage
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is starting to review the conservation plan for the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. The process is stirring debate because it could eventually lead to setting aside more wilderness area in the refuge, shutting the door on oil and gas development.

Conservation Groups Say Game Board Member Should Skipped a Vote
Casey Kelly, KTOO – Juneau
With confirmation votes looming Friday one of Governor Sean Parnell’s appointees to the Alaska Board of Game came under fire this week from lawmakers and the public. Al Barrette, who owns a commercial tannery and wolf trap business in Fairbanks, was appointed to the board in February. He participated in his first meeting later that month, where he ended up casting the deciding vote in a controversial decision to allow wolf trapping near Denali National Park. Conservation groups have cried foul, saying he should have recused himself.

Murkowski to Run Again
Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
Senator Lisa Murkowski used an address in Fairbanks yesterday to announce her intention to run for re-election.  Speaking at an annual women’s luncheon event, Murkowski said she’s motivated to keep working for Alaska, and made filing at the Division of Elections her first priority after arriving in Fairbanks.  Murkowski was appointed to the Senate by her predecessor and father Frank Murkowski when he became governor in 2002.  She went on to defeat Tony Knowles in 2004 to win her first full 6 year term. Murkowski spent most her speech in Fairbanks yesterday railing against President Barrack Obama and Democrats in Congress. She was highly critical of the recently passed health care overhaul, saying Democrats pushed the legislation to secure Obama’s legacy.

Aleutian Bird Research Revealing New Ideas
Anne Hillman, KUCB – Unalaska
Aleutian bird research is revealing new ideas about evolutionary biology. Birds such as crested and whiskered auklets may not have developed elaborate head feathers just to attract their mates. The feathers might also help the birds avoid hitting their heads when nesting in sharp, jagged rocks.

First Arctic Spring Festival Gets Underway in Kotzebue
Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage
In Kotzebue today, the start of the 1st Annual Arctic Spring Festival got underway, although a few events had to be postponed because…well it’s the arctic. Maija Lukin is the regional communications manager for the NANA regional corporation. Lukin says a few days ago Kotzebue residents were walking around in t shirts and now its snow pants and goggles again. But she says that’s ok. There’s a festive mood in the community as the Kobuk 440 gets underway.

Homer Spit Awakens to Spring
Aaron Selbig, KBBI – Homer
In a sure sign of spring, businesses on the Homer Spit – at least a handful of them – are opening up for the 2010 summer tourist season.