Alaska News Nightly: August 17, 2010

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Public Pays Last Respects to Alaskan Legend
Libby Casey, APRN – Anchorage
At 9:30 this morning, the body of Senator Ted Stevens arrived at All Saints Episcopal Church for a public visitation that will continue until 8:00 this evening. As APRN’s Libby Casey reports, hundreds of people are paying their respects to Stevens today, a mix of those who knew him well, and those who respected him as Senator.

Anchorage Baptist Temple Prepares for Stevens’ Memorial
Annie Feidt, APRN – Anchorage
The Anchorage Baptist Temple is busy preparing to host Senator Stevens’ memorial service Wednesday. The event is expected to draw thousands of people, filling up the church’s auditorium, gyms and classrooms.

Endangered Species Act Recovery Plans Lacks Strategy for Coping with Global Warming
Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage
A recent review of Endangered Species Act recovery plans finds a lack of a national strategy for incorporating global warming as an extinction threat. The review was undertaken by biologist Anthony Povilitis, the director of Arizona based Life, Net, Nature and the Center for Biological Diversity. Povilitis says only about 5 percent of the plans written before 2005 indicate climate change as a threat, even though global warming is the greatest over arching threat for endangered species. He says there was an uptick in numbers between 2005 and 2008, saying that now 60 percent of the plans include climate change factors indicating a growing recognition of global warming in recovery planning, but he says many endangered species still don’t have recovery plans in place.

Povilitis says the federal government is reluctant to implement plans that may affect national policy on greenhouse gas emissions. He says the preliminary documents that will eventually lead to a recovery plan for the polar bear do not mention climate change.

But U.S Fish and Wildlife spokesman Bruce Woods says recovery plans are dynamic and can be amended and often are. He says a good example is the plan for stellar and spectacled eiders which included a captive breeding program.

And Rosa Mehan, head of the marine mammals division says addressing the broader issue of climate change in a recovery plan would be a miss, because it’s global and you can’t get there through a species plan. But she says although the problem is large, it doesn’t have to be overwhelming.

The study – Addressing Climate Change Threats to Endangered Species in U.S. Recovery Plans -was published in Conservation Biology.

Officials Seek Way to Improve Health Care in Rural Alaska
Joaqlin Estus, KNBA – Anchorage
Officials from the military, Indian Health Service, Veterans Affairs and the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services have been traveling Alaska to find ways to improve federal delivery of health care services, particularly in rural Alaska. Last week, they visited Anchorage, Fairbanks, Kotzebue, the Kenai Peninsula and Nome, and villages in northwest and southwest Alaska.

Angoon Home Tests Energy Efficiency Technology
Ed Schoenfeld, CoastAlaska – Juneau
A home in Angoon is getting a $100,000 retrofit to test energy-efficient technology. Southeast tribal and environmental groups hope the house will show that solar, wind and other upgrades are practical for Southeast villages.

Slain Humanitarian Worker Remembered
Ellen Lockyer, KSKA – Anchorage
Dr. Thomas Grams was one of 10 humanitarian workers massacred in an ambush in Afghanistan earlier this month.  Thomas Grams was a Durango, Colorado dentist who traveled with the ill fated medical team.  Grams worked with Global Dental Relief, an organization that sent dental teams around the world.  His twin brother lives in Anchorage.