Alaska News Nightly: September 23, 2010

Individual news stories are posted in the Alaska News category and you can subscribe to APRN’s news feeds via email, podcast and RSS.

Download Audio (MP3)

Fishermen, Alaska Native Leaders Urge EPA to Protect Bristol Bay
Libby Casey, APRN – Washington DC
Fishermen and Alaska Native leaders opposed to the Pebble Mine project are in Washington, D.C. meeting with officials at the Environmental Protection Agency.  They want the EPA to protect Bristol Bay – which could block the mining project.

UA Board of Regents to Vote on Tuition Hike on Friday
Casey Kelly, KTOO – Juneau
Thursday, students, professors and parents asked the UA Board of Regents to keep higher education affordable in Alaska.

The Alaska university system has one of the lowest tuition rates in the United States. According to the Washington Higher Education Coordinating Board, resident undergraduate students in Alaska pay an average of $5,133 a year for tuition and fees. That’s more than just six other states, and $2,830 less than the national average.

The Regents are scheduled to vote Friday on a 5 percent increase to lower division undergraduate tuition beginning in fall 2011; then a 10 to 12 percent increase on top of that for all undergrad credits starting in the fall of 2012. As KTOO’s Casey Kelly reports, many fear the proposal will price students out of a college education.

Last night APRN incorrectly reported the tuition increase would mean a $3,000 hike by 2013. If regents chose the highest increase of 12 percent, the increase would be around $1,000 dollars per school year.

Patent Office Now Located at UAF
Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
The University of Alaska Fairbanks is the new home of the state’s only U.S. patent office.  The office formerly run out of the Anchorage Library is moving to the Keith B. Mather Library at the UAF  Geophysical Institute.  Librarian Judie Triplehorn says the office will help inventors and entrepreneurs navigate the DVD formatted federal data base.

Triplehorn says if someone has an idea, the office can help search the data base of existing patents or trademarks.  She says the office will also have paperwork needed to file applications with the federal patent office.  Anchorage’s Loussac Library long housed the Alaska’s patent office, but a librarian there, Doug McCallister says tight staffing and declining use led them to seek a new home for the facility.  He says UAF is a good fit.

McCallister says the patent office was first offered to the University of Alaska Anchorage, but when UAA declined, UAF was contacted.

McAdams Campaign Stressing Jobs, Resource Development
Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Scott McAdams spent the last two days campaigning and fundraising in Fairbanks.  Yesterday, the Sitka Mayor, flanked by union representatives, laid out his positions on the economy and jobs, saying America must return to fundamental policies that support the middle class.

McAdams said he’ll work to eliminate corporate tax loopholes that reward companies that outsource jobs overseas.  He says Alaskan resource development, including opening the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge to oil drilling, is an environmentally responsible choice.  He says United States National Environmental and worker protections make this country the best place to develop resources. Referring to the minerals in his cell phone, McAdams said they should be coming from Alaska.

McAdams also stressed the importance of funding education and job training, and the need for a comprehensive energy plan that begins with responsible fossil fuel development and transitions to renewables.

Chickaloon School Struggles to Remain Open
Joaqlin Estus, KNBA – Anchorage
A tribal school in Alaska that was honored for its excellence by the Harvard Kennedy School of Government is struggling to keep its doors open.

Entrepreneur Plans to Put Large Wind in Farm Near Delta Junction
Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
A Fairbanks contractor and entrepreneur plan to put up a large wind farm outside Delta Junction.  Mike Craft, managing partner of Alaska Environmental Power, says the company is permitted to install 16 turbines.  Craft says the 200 foot tall turbines will be shipped north this winter.

Craft’s company already has turbines at Delta and on another site in Healy.  Both supply power to the Golden Valley Electric grid.  Craft says the 320 acre Delta site, which currently puts out one megawatt, will be upped to 25 megawatts with the expansion. Craft says the idea is to displace diesel fuel currently used to power GVEA generators.

Craft says the wind power is projected to displace about 8 million gallons of diesel annually.

Marmots May be Gone from Barren Islands
Jay Barrett, KMXT – Kodiak
The marmots of the Barren Islands may be no more. Hunters and trappers hired by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service were on Sud Island in the Barrens this year trying to do away with the introduced species. There were similar efforts on an island east of Akutan and another west of Adak trying to do away with other invasive critters.

Steve Delahanty is the manager of the Alaska Maritime National Wildlife Refuge in Homer.

It’s important to follow up next year, because rabbits breed like, well, rabbits, and could quickly repopulate the small island.

Steve Ebbert is the wildlife biologist for the refuge.

Hunting and trapping on Poa had to stop because the seabirds, whose habitat the refuge was trying to maintain, returned. That’s also why the effort didn’t get off the ground on nearby Tangik Island. Both are just east of Akutan.

An even larger effort to eradicate foxes from Kanaga Island, just west of Adak, was also undertaken this year. The foxes were stocked there by the Russians when they owned Alaska. Delahanty says even though they’ve been there for a long time, they are still considered an invasive species.

The refuge contracted with the United States Department of Agriculture – Wildlife Services Division, to conduct the eradication efforts. Some of the hunters and trappers employed were from Alaska, and others from out of state.

Unalakleet Boy to Receive Service Dog
Laureli Kinneen, KNOM – Nome
Last March, a slurry of organizations gathered in support to give the opportunity for a boy in Unalakleet to have a dog—and not just any dog—a service dog. Logan Erickson is 10 years old and is autistic.