Spending Bill Includes $75 Million For Fisheries Disaster Assistance

Alaska’s congressional delegation has been churning out press releases to trumpet Alaska-bound funds in the trillion-dollar spending bill President Obama is expected to sign Saturday.

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Among them is $75 million in fisheries disaster assistance. That could bring help to Alaskans who lost out in the failed 2012 commercial king salmon fisheries on the Yukon, Kuskokwim and Cook Inlet. But Ciaran Clayton, a spokeswoman for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, says fishing communities in New England, the mid-Atlantic, the Gulf Coast and Samoa are also eligible.

“NOAA and our parent agency, the Department of Commerce, will be working with each individual state’s governor’s offices and industry folks on next step for allocation of that funding,” Clayton said.

The money could ultimately go out as direct aid to fishermen but also on retraining, infrastructure or projects to prevent a future fish disaster.

Alaska’s congressional delegation had been pressing for $150 million in fish disaster funds. Among the other projects they’re highlighting in the spending bill: More than $100 million for construction of aviation buildings at Fort Wainwright and $82 million for a building at Fort Greely. The bill includes $10 million for the Denali Commission.

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Liz Ruskin covers Alaska’s congressional delegation, federal agency decisions that shape life in the 49th state, money in politics and elections. She has deep roots in Alaska and this is her third stint in Washington, a city she has grown to love.

She was born in Anchorage and is a West High graduate. She studied political science at the University of Washington and has an M.A. in journalism from the University of Missouri in Columbia. During graduate school, she moved to Washington to intern as a D.C. correspondent. But for her first real journalism job, she moved back to Alaska to work at the Homer News. She was there for three years before taking a job at the Anchorage Daily News. Over the course of nine years in Anchorage, she covered City Hall, courts, state politics, and Native and rural affairs.

Then, in April 2001, she moved back to Washington to work in McClatchy Newspaper’s D.C. bureau as a correspondent for the Anchorage paper. She stayed in the position for five years.

She took a year off for a journalism fellowship at the University of Colorado in Boulder, then freelanced for several years from the U.K. and Japan, in print and radio.

When a vacancy occurred in APRN’s one-person Washington bureau, she jumped at the opportunity. Liz has been APRN’s Washington, D.C. correspondent since October 2013.

lruskin (at) alaskapublic (dot) org  | About Liz