Alaska News Nightly: June 7, 2011

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Copies of Palin’s Emails Will Be Available to Public

Casey Kelly, KTOO – Juneau

When the state releases more than 24,000 pages of former Governor Sarah Palin’s emails Friday, some legislators plan to make copies available to the public.

British Ambassador Takes First Trip to Alaska

Steve Heimel, APRN – Anchorage

British Ambassador Sir Nigel Sheinwald is visiting Alaska for the first time, and he has a lot on his plate.  A remarkable number of Alaska issues involve British corporations – BP and Anglo American, for instance. The veteran diplomat says there was no one particular issue that drew him to the state — he just wanted to see things for himself.

DOD releases IDs of soldiers killed in Afghanistan

Associated Press – Anchorage

The Department of Defense has released the names of the four Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson soldiers kill by a roadside bomb Saturday in Afghanistan. Sergeant Joshua David Powell was a 28 year old from Texas. He joined the army in 2004.  Corporal Christopher Roger Bell was a 21 year old from Mississippi.  Specialist Devin Arielle Snyder was a 20 year old from New York. And Private First Class Robert Lee Voakes, Jr. was 21 years old and from Michigan.

Officials say the four military policemen were killed while on mounted patrol in Laghman Province.

Mountain Sickness Keeps Ranger Patrol Busy

Sue Deyoe, KTNA – Talkeetna

The Denali rescue helicopter was busy last night taking care of patients high on Mt. McKinley.  In three separate incidents, one climbing patrol had to deal with mountaineers suffering from severe acute mountain sickness.

Tucker Chenoweth and four other patrol volunteers were descending from the summit of Denali when they encountered a solo climber suffering from altitude issues. A 27-year-old Serbian climber staggered in front of them and collapsed. After doing an exam, the five rescuers decided that there wasn’t any way the climber could descend without further help. The rescue helicopter just happened to be at base camp and was able to fly up to 19,300 feet and safely get him lower on the mountain.

Maureen McLaughlin, park spokesperson, says they suddenly came upon another climber:

The rescue helicopter returned and short-hauled the second patient to the 14-2  Camp.

Chenoweth and his volunteers continued their descent only to come across yet another climber.

The Serbian climber refused treatment after feeling much better at lower elevation. The other two were transported to an area hospital via LifeMed air ambulance.

Mclaughlin says the ranger patrol finally made it safely to the high camp at 17,200 feet without further incident and have the day off today.

Eagles Attack Two Women in Dutch Harbor

Jacob Resneck, KUCB – Unalaska

Two women reported being attacked by bald eagles Monday morning in separate attacks less than two hours apart at the Dutch Harbor post office.

Biologist Finds Breeding Differences Between Kittiwakes in Alaska and North Atlantic

Annie Feidt, APRN – Anchorage

Picture a giant chicken coop in the middle of a treeless island in the Gulf of Alaska. But the coop is really an old concrete Air Force radar tower. And instead of chickens, it holds Black-Legged Kittiwakes. With a few tweaks, this dilapidated building has become one of the best outdoor bird observation platforms in the world. Federal biologist Scott Hatch has spent the last 15 years taking advantage of it. And he’s uncovered a fascinating puzzle that could offer clues into the aging process.

Officials Add Proactive Restrictions on King Salmon

Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks

The Alaska Department of Fish and Game is being proactive in anticipation of another weak king salmon return to the Yukon River. No angling will be allowed for king salmon on the main stem of the Yukon.  On Yukon tributaries, except the Tanana, the bag limit for kings is dropping from three fish to one.  Yukon River sport fish biologist John Burr says the measures are precautionary.

Burr says sport fishing only accounts for very small portion of salmon harvest. Other harvest reductions include elimination of commercial fishing and closure of one of the early subsistence openings.  Burr says the tactics are part of a new package of measures aimed at allowing more kings upriver.

King salmon normally begin entering the Yukon River at the beginning of June, with the bulk of the early part of the run headed for Canada.

Redistricting Board Takes House Seat from Southeast, Gives One to Mat-Su

Ellen Lockyer, KSKA – Anchorage

The Alaska Redistricting Board has approved new political boundaries that significantly change some state Senate districts. Executive Director Taylor Bickford, says there’s still a few minor details to iron out.

But under the plan, the Mat-Su will gain a House seat and southeast Alaska will lose a House seat and half a Senate seat.

Bickford says the plan gives the Mat Su five House seats, based on an ideal population number for each House district.

Bickford says bits and pieces of alternative plans submitted to the Board were woven into the final draft.

The Board will meet again next week before finalizing the draft on June 14.

Lawmakers Square Off Over Redistricting Boundaries

Ed Schoenfeld, CoastAlaska

Alaska’s Redistricting Board continues working toward its June 14 deadline for a new set of legislative boundaries. It’s made major changes in a controversial, earlier plan for Southeast Alaska to answer community concerns. But the result pits two pairs of sitting lawmakers against each other.

Fairbanks City Council Votes to Stop Fluoridation of Water System

Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks

The Fairbanks City Council has voted to stop adding fluoride to the municipal water system.  The move follows a lengthy investigation by a council-appointed task force of experts.  Their report released this spring recommended no additional fluoride be added because local ground water already contains some natural fluoride.  It also cites studies which show ingestion of higher levels of fluoride to be unsafe for non-nursing infants.  Fluoride has also been linked to health problems, including weakening of bones, but it’s credited with reducing tooth decay over several decades.  Mayor Jerry Cleworth says the council’s decision is in line with many other governments.