Dave Bendinger, KDLG - Dillingham
Just a day after two federal lawsuits involving the Pebble mine were in the news, mine opponents Friday are hailing the Alaska Supreme Court’s decisions on two state cases. The justices unanimously overturned a 2011 ruling in a case that challenged whether the DNR permits issued for exploratory work at the Pebble site should’ve included some public notice.
Staff from Katmai National Park and Preserve were on the scene of the wrecked fishing vessel Northern Pride Monday.
Bristol Bay elder Bobby Andrew, who has been a leading voice in the fight against Pebble Mine, passed away Tuesday in Aleknagik at the age of 73. State troopers say Andrew died of natural causes, and was found at his cabin on Lake Aleknagik Tuesday afternoon.
In an email Monday, the Department of Law told staff it is cutting 15 positions across the state to close a 6% budget gap.
A group of ten of Alaska salmon producers, which represent nearly three quarters of the Alaska’s salmon harvest, are attempting to rejoin the Marine Stewardship Council label.
Round Island, the centerpiece of Alaska’s Walrus Islands State Game Sanctuary will remain staffed this summer and perhaps next, thanks to private funding. Last year, citing state budget cuts, Fish and Game’s Division of Wildlife Conservation removed funding for the program, which costs around $100,000 annually.
As of noon Sunday, Dillingham Police had not labeled the death of Ella S. George, 55, a homicide. She was found deceased by a family friend around 5 p.m. Saturday evening at her daughter April Olson’s home on Cessna Drive, across from the Dillingham Bible Fellowship church.
Dillingham will try again on the fish tax. The City Council voted last week to send an annexation petition forward to the Alaska Local Boundary Commission to annex the Nushagak River Commercial Fishing District. The annexation was adopted by a local vote in 2012 but overturned by a court ruling.
Health officials are warning of a botulism outbreak from a batch of seal oil produced recently in the Bristol Bay village of Twin Hills, near Togiak. A state investigation into the outbreak says more than 25 people may have consumed the seal oil, and they’re working quickly to track them down.
The Togiak Health Clinic was damaged in an apparent burglary earlier this week, and two young men have been identified as the suspects. The only health clinic for the village of 900 residents remains shut down on account of the damages.
A few weeks ago, police were called to the Kanakanak Hospital in Dillingham when a woman six months pregnant and a mother who had just given birth that day were caught smoking an oxycodone pill in the bathroom of the maternity room. The disturbing incident highlighted just how severe the use of opioids like heroin and oxycodone has become in Bristol Bay. Now the hospital has made the testing for opioids routine for all pregnancies.
The murder trial of Leroy B. Dick Jr., 44, concluded Tuesday evening when the jury delivered the verdict.
After a lengthy four days to select a jury, opening statements were made this morning in the murder trial of Leroy Dick Jr. at the courthouse in Dillingham.
Leroy Blair Dick, Jr., now 44, is expected to be tried on a first degree murder charge before a jury of peers at the Dillingham courthouse next week. Pending further delay, jury selection will begin Monday, November 3.
In October, the Pebble Limited Partnership filed its third lawsuit against the Environmental Protection Agency, this time seeking documents Pebble alleges were not turned over through prior Freedom of Information Act requests. The EPA is moving forward to establish restrictions against water use in Bristol Bay which will likely prevent development of the Pebble deposit.
Mining Giant Rio Tinto announced Monday it will divest its holdings with Northern Dynasty, the sole owner of the Pebble mine prospect in Bristol Bay. Rio Tinto held 19 percent of Northern Dynasty’s publicly traded shares. But the company is not selling those shares. Instead, it will split them evenly between two charitable organizations.
Back in 1960, seven uninhabited Bristol Bay islands south of Togiak were incorporated into the Walrus Islands State Game Sanctuary. As the name suggests, the sanctuary protects one of the largest terrestrial haulout sites of Pacific walruses in North America. The Department of Fish and Game’s Wildlife Division decided last week that it will terminate its Round Island Program, which staffs the sanctuary to monitor the marine mammals and host visitors.
Despite all the fuss over the Save Our Salmon Initiative that passed by a narrow vote of Lake and Peninsula Boro Voters in 2011, that law is now officially null and void. That’s on account of a ruling from Superior Court Judge John Suddock on Wednesday, following a three-year long lawsuit brought by Pebble and the State of Alaska.