Alaska News Nightly: April 13, 2010

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Interior Department to Gather Info On Offshore Drilling Plans
Libby Casey, APRN – Washington
The Interior Department plans to spend the next six months gathering information about offshore drilling’s impacts in Alaska’s arctic waters.  Secretary Ken Salazar announced the plan on Tuesday to compile existing research – and find the gaps in knowledge – about the effects of oil and gas development.  It comes in the wake of the Obama Administration decision two weeks ago to designate some parts of Alaska’s coastline as off-limits to development, like Bristol Bay. Salazar says the Interior Department will pull together information on development in the Arctic Seas, in what he called an “orderly and scientific approach.”

Senate Approves its Capital Budget
Dave Donaldson, APRN – Juneau
The Senate on Tuesday passed its version of next year’s capital projects budget.  The measure spends $1.4-Billion dollars in state money, another Billion in federal money and sets up a spending plan for another $400-million in income from a bond proposition that voters will first need to approve.

House Adds Items to Senate’s Capital Budget
Dave Donalson, APRN – Juneau
The House added the items to the portion of the Capital Budget that will require voter approval for bonds.  They passed legislation needed to put a $397 million question to voters in this year’s November election. If approved at the polls, the measure would issue Bonds for education projects across the state.  Finance Co-chair Bill Stoltze (R-Chugiak-Mat-Su) said the bonds would come through a low-interest federal program called Build America Bonds.

Old Growth Logging May Be Finished in Tongass
Deanna Garrison, KRBD – Ketchikan
The days of large-scale old growth logging in the Tongass are finished. That’s according to top U.S. Forest Service officials in Alaska, who say future Tongass timber sales will include “very low” amounts of old growth trees. The policy shift is seen by some municipal officials as the final nail in the coffin of a dying industry. Others hope Southeast’s timber companies can play a key role in new forest restoration efforts.

Forest Service Seeking Input on Planning Rule
Rosemarie Alexander, KTOO – Juneau
The U.S. Forest Service is asking the public for input before it rewrites the national forest planning rule.  The agency is holding nine regional “roundtables” across the nation, including Alaska. It’s the very beginning of a process to address restoring forests, protecting watersheds, and climate change, as well as sustaining local economies and improving collaboration among forest users.  Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack says it will result in a modern planning rule.

Bethel Loses Traditional Chief
Shane Iverson, KYUK – Bethel
Bethel’s Traditional Chief died on Monday morning.  Peter Jacobs Sr. was known throughout the Yukon Kuskokwim Delta for many things, but his activity as an elder, may be his final legacy.

Search Continues for Missing Bethel Man
Shane Iverson, KYUK – Bethel
In the Bethel region, the search continues for a missing traveler. Now that weather conditions have cleared up an aerial search will begin. Volunteer Search and Rescue teams have been on the ground, looking for Fred Abraham of Bethel. The 44-year old is believed to be somewhere between the tundra village of Kasigluk, and the Coastal Village of Hooper Bay.

Kluane National Park Avalanche Claims Skier
Brian Boyle, Canadian Broadcasting Corporation
A 29-year old man is dead following an avalanche in Kluane National Park on Sunday.  The man’s name isn’t being released and his body hasn’t been recovered as yet. He was skiing with three others on the North Face of Observation Mountain off the Slims River Trail when he was swept away by the snowslide. His companions couldn’t revive him.   They skied out and notified police after arriving back in Haines Junction yesterday. Efforts to retrieve the man’s body are being hampered by extremely windy conditions in the area. The incident is the first avalanche fatality in the Yukon this year.

Bottom Trawl Gear Kills Crabs
Anne Hillman, KUCB – Unalaska
New research shows that bottom trawl gear does kill some of the crabs it comes into contact with, but simple gear modifications can reduce the mortality rates.