Matt Lichtenstein, KFSK - Petersburg
Matt Lichtenstein is a reporter at KFSK in Petersburg.
A meeting about the federal government’s fishery observer program drew a large crowd of vessel owners to the Petersburg Firehall last week. Federal officials addressed dozens of questions and concerns from local fishermen, most of whom will be included in the program for the first time starting in January.
The U.S. Forest Service has awarded the contract for a major logging project on Kupreanof Island near Petersburg. The agency made the announcement last week during its latest “collaborative stewardship” workshop. That series of public meetings is aimed at bringing forest stakeholders together to come up with local uses for revenue from the sale. The discussions have been tense at times.
A Petersburg man is in custody and facing multiple felony assault charges after an armed standoff with local police late last week. Police received a call on Thursday evening about a possibly suicidal person with a gun. After contacting 30-year old Jace Cunningham by phone, the Petersburg police eventually set up a road block to try to stop him from returning with his weapon to residential areas of town.
What comes to mind when you think of a school lunch menu? Tater tots? Sloppy Joes? Chocolate Milk? Instead, imagine quinoa or brown rice, locally-grown salad or roasted brussel sprouts and baked fish or homemade pizza with whole grain crust. That’s the direction some U.S. schools are headed as they try to serve healthier meals and teach kids more about nutrition and exercise. Two Alaska districts are getting some national recognition for their efforts on that front.
State and Federal officials say they are making progress on a proposed land exchange between the Alaska Mental Health Trust and the US Forest Service. The plan is aimed at conserving thousands of acres that are important in several Southeast Alaska communities while providing the trust with more remote Tongass National Forest lands it can log. The plan was recently endorsed by a group of Tongass Stakeholders and the Forest service expects to start the environmental review process in the coming year.
U.S. officials have once more ruled against a private company that wants to develop a controversial hydro-electric plant near Petersburg. The Federal Energy Regulatory Commission last week re-affirmed its decision not to give Cascade Creek LLC another exclusive permit for the site.
Commercial fishing boats, tenders and floating processors that operate more than three miles off shore will soon have to get safety exams every two years. Until now, those dockside exams were voluntary. Under the Coast Guard Authorization Act of 2010, they will be mandatory after October 16th according to Ken Lawrenson, the Fishing Vessel Safety Coordinator for the Coast Guard in Alaska.
As the 2012 visitor season nears an end, cruise lines large and small have been making their last trips of the year through Southeast Alaska. Lindblad Expedition’s National Geographic Sea Lion recently made one more stop in Petersburg, where KFSK’s Matt Lichtenstein chatted with passengers on the dock about their trips.
Overall catch and effort was down again this summer for Southeast’s Dungeness crab fishery, which closed in mid-August. That’s according to the Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s preliminary totals, which were made available last week.
Despite the failure of Ballot Measure Two, Alaska could still reestablish its Coastal Management Program. Lawmakers on both sides of the vote expect to work on the issue again next legislative session.
The state has finalized its approval of a Petersburg Borough plan. In a teleconferenced meeting Wednesday morning, Alaska’s Local Boundary Commission or LBC passed its written decision on the matter.
Insurance companies will have to help pay for autism treatments in Alaska under legislation that’s now slated to become law. Governor Sean Parnell gave tacit approval to the measure this month by sending it back to the legislature without his signature. The new requirement only covers a portion of the insurance market for now. However, supporters see it as an important step in providing relief for parents who struggle with the high cost of autism therapy and counseling.
Petersburg will ask the Alaska Supreme Court to reconsider its decision on redistricting. The City Council made that decision after consulting with its attorney in a special meeting yesterday afternoon.
The Alaska Redistricting Board will start redrawing Southeast Alaska’s legislative districts on Monday.
The U.S. Coast Guard says Monday’s ferry accident in Petersburg was not caused by a mechanical problem.
Ocean Beauty Seafood’s still plans to run its Petersburg plant this summer despite this week’s ferry accident. According to Vice president of Marketing Tom Sunderland, the company hopes to make repairs in time for the summer or find a way to work around the damage.
Searchers found a missing teenage girl on Prince of Wales Island Tuesday. 13-year-old Makayla McRoberts was apparently uninjured. Alaska State Troopers spokesperson Megan Peters got word shortly after noon.
The State Ferry Matanuska collided with a seafood processing dock in Petersburg early Monday afternoon. There were no reported injuries, but there was substantial damage to the Ocean Beauty Seafood facility. There were also some dents in the bow of the ferry above the waterline, though she tied up safely at the terminal shortly after the incident.
Federal observers are preparing to work the gillnet grounds around Petersburg and Wrangell this summer. Starting in June, National Marine Fisheries Service contractors in small boats will shadow individual gillnetters and monitor any interactions marine mammals or birds. They’ll also be interviewing fishermen about their gear and fishing practices. Federal officials say the information will be kept confidential and the contractors will be as unobtrusive as possible. But fishermen still have concerns as the season approaches.
There will soon be fewer seiners allowed to fish Salmon in Southeast Alaska. A majority of the fleet has voted to pay for an industry-funded buyback program. Supporters say it will mean less competition on the fishing grounds while opponents say it isn’t worth the cost to remaining permit holders.