Alaska News Nightly: April 9, 2008

State lawmakers took a step forward today to make Alaska a more desirable filming site for Hollywood. Plus, Sitka police have a new way to confront the problem of nuisance bears. Those stories and more on tonight’s Alaska News Nightly, broadcast statewide on APRN stations.

Individual news stories are posted in the Alaska News category and you can subscribe to APRN’s news feeds via e-mail, podcast and RSS.

Tagged walrus teaching scientists about Bering Sea
Annie Feidt, APRN – Anchorage
Biologists are getting a rare glimpse into the winter habits of Pacific Walrus. A new tagging study is offering insight into how the animals affect the Bering Sea environment.

USGS wildlife biologist Tony Fischbach shared this video (above) and several photos with us as part of this story. Fischbach works for the Walrus Research Program in the USGS’ Alaska Science Center, based in Anchorage.

New animal math in Sitka: Brown Bears + Your Trash = Fine
Robert Woolsey, KCAW – Sitka
Sitka residents will have to take better care of their garbage beginning at the end of the month — or risk getting a ticket and a fine.

House votes to allow state takeover of local schools when needed
Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau
The Alaska House today gave permission for the state’s Department of Education to intervene in the operations of local school districts if a given district is not meeting established state standards.

Cruise ship fees headed to tourism projects, barring lawsuits
Ed Schoenfeld, CoastAlaska – Juneau
Alaska lawmakers want to use cruise ship passenger fees to improve docks, visitor centers and airports in coastal Alaska communities. They’ve put about $25 million for projects in the capital budget. And more could be added before the legislature adjourns.

Lights! Camera! Tax Incentives!
Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau
The House voted today to get back into the movie business, re-establishing the state Film Office to promote making movies in the state and creating a program to offer tax incentives to movie producers who will make movies in Alaska.

Mental Health land swap plan headed to Forest Service for review
Matt Lichtenstein, KFSK – Petersburg
Alaska Mental Health Trust officials say they will soon submit a formal proposal for a land swap with the Forest Service in Southeast Alaska. The organization wants to exchange 20,000 acres of its property in communities around the region for mainly second-growth timber lands of similar value on Prince of Wales Island.

More Alaska businesses seeking ‘Best Workplace’ designation
Len Anderson, KSKA – Anchorage
In 2007 five businesses achieved recognition in The Alaska Journal of Commerce as “best places to work in Alaska.” This year, even more state companies are signing up to see how well they meet national standards for employee satisfaction.

UAF powering up alternative energy tech office
Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks
The University of Alaska Fairbanks has opened a new energy technology office. Local Engineer Gwen Holdman, who helped pioneer Alaska’s first geothermal power plant at Chena Hot Springs, will head the Alaska Center for Energy and Power.