Ellen Lockyer, KSKA - Anchorage
elockyer (at) alaskapublic (dot) org | 907.550.8446 | About Ellen
Representative Bill Stoltze, a Republican from Chugiak, announced a new political path at the Mat Su Senior Center in downtown Palmer on Friday. Stoltze told the audience that his heart has always been in Palmer, and now he’d like to represent that city in a new state Senate district. He said he’d done “a lot of soul-searching” before making the announcement.
The state has taken steps to ban the importation and sale of some aquatic plants that are commonly found in aquariums. Elodea is a plant used in fishbowls that has become a big problem in Alaska, and is considered an invasive species. Last year, the state began working to eradicate the plant from areas in Fairbanks and in Anchorage.
The Alaska Zoo in Anchorage has been home to a long line of polar bears over the years, from the infamous sneaker stealing Binky to the fluffy cub Kalli which was shipped to a sister zoo back East last year. Right now, Ahpun a female, and Lyutik, a young male, are the only two residents in the zoo’s polar bear enclosure, but that is soon to change, as the Zoo plans a new program that is expected to help Alaska lead the country in polar bear captive breeding and research.
As the traditional strains of Pomp and Circumstance rang out of a boombox at Anchorage’s Wilda Marston Theater recently, thirty black- robed and square- hatted high school graduates paraded down the aisle. February is not the usual month for such a ceremony, but what makes this graduation really different — the grads are not teenagers, and they hail from as far away as the Congo.
The state’s fisheries board wrapped up two weeks of meetings on Upper Cook Inlet commercial and sports fisheries late last week. This session, management changes were approved for Kenai River early and late king runs, and for the central district sockeye management plan. Supporters of the changes say that the new regulations are expected to allow more salmon to pass through the inlet. But those opposed to the changes say that commercial driftnetters and setnetters will be hurt, and that they have suffered a disproportionate hit in fishing time and area.
State transportation officials have selected a preferred route for a mid-town Anchorage road connecting the University of Alaska and two city hospitals with major traffic arteries. The municipality and the state are partners in the project, along with landholders in what is called the U-Med district.
After spending Sunday listening to stakeholders’ committee comments on Northern District proposals, the state’s Board of Fisheries this (Monday) morning got down to deliberations on central Cook Inlet management changes. The Board unanimously approved a proposal to ensure escapement goals for the Northern District.
Schools stayed open in the Matanuska-Susitna Borough on Friday, despite high winds raking the area late Thursday night and were expected to continue through Friday afternoon. A low pressure center moving into the Northern Gulf of Alaska, in combination with a high pressure area over the Interior, caused the winds. Palmer, Wasilla, Chickaloon and Sutton were affected by the winds, which reached 60 mph with gusts of up to 80 mph.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture and the federal Environmental Protection Agency are joining in a new program that allows water polluters to gain clean water credits without reducing the amount of effluent they produce. The deal is not used in Alaska yet, but it allows a permitted facility to purchase pollutant reduction credits from other users within the same watershed. And clean water advocates in the state say the arrangement is missing the point of the Clean Water Act.
Alaska’s population growth is increasing faster than that of the rest of the country. Figures released Friday by the state labor department indicate that the state’s population increased 3.7 percent over the past three years, compared with a 2.4 growth rate in the US.
Alaska’s Railbelt electric companies are the sole users of the state’s main transmission lines that carry energy from the Bradley Lake hydropower project in Homer north to Fairbanks. But changes are coming. Managers of the state-owned portion of the line – called the Alaska Intertie – want to give independent power producers access to the system and some power company officials want to bring the entire grid under a single owner – operator model.
A federal lawsuit filed by a Cook Inlet fishermen’s group seeks to overturn state salmon management in some parts of Alaska. The suit targets the National Marine Fisheries Service, among other federal agencies, and, if successful, could bring federal oversight into some of the state’s salmon harvests.
What should have been a routine meeting of the Matanuska – Susitna Borough Assembly and the Borough’s Fish and Wildlife Commission took a political turn on Tuesday evening. It seems the Borough mayor and the Commission members have a distinct difference of opinion when it comes to devisive state legislation.
Ahtna Traditional First Chief Ben Neeley passed away Saturday at his home in Gulkana. He was 99.