Alaska News Nightly: July 4, 2012

Individual news stories are posted on the APRN news page. You can subscribe to APRN’s newsfeeds via email, podcast and RSS.

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Western Arctic Caribou Herd Continues  To Decline

Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks

The state’s largest caribou herd continues to decline. The latest population survey estimates the western Arctic herd at 325,000 animals. State Fish and Game biologist Jim Dau in Kotzebue says the latest number shows continuation of a decline which began in 2003, when the herd numbered 500,000.  Dau says given the size and massive range of western Arctic caribou, it’s hard to know what’s driving the reduction, but he has some ideas, including winter rain.

Dau says another likely factor is predation.  Meanwhile the stable harvest of between 14-16,000 caribou per year by people, represents an increasing percentage of the population.  New advisory recommendations from a working group include incremental hunting restrictions and increased monitoring if the caribou population decline persists. Dau says the herd’s future is uncertain in light of its history.  Back in the early 1970’s, he says it went from 242,000 animals down to 75,000.

Dau says federal surveys have shown a decline in overall coverage of lichen, and increases in grasses and shrubs on the caribou’s winter range. He says the extent and quality of summer range lichen remains good.

Soldotna Hold First Public Hearing On Coastal Zone Management Initiative

Shaylon Cochran, KDLL – Kenai

The first of 10 public hearings on the proposed Alaska Coastal Zone Management ballot Initiative took place Monday evening in Soldotna. After expiring in 2011, the state legislature failed to come to an agreement on terms to extend the previous management plan. The initiative will come before voters in August as Proposition Two.

Joint Venture Aims To Create Jobs in Kake

Margaret Friedenauer, KHNS – Haines

A two-year old venture between a Native Corporation and the community of Kake is making a play in the processing business. But it’s also focused on creating jobs.

Mask Carver Puts an Urban Twist on Alaska Native Tradition

Daysha Eaton, KSKA – Anchorage

Anchorage is sometimes called Alaska’s largest Native village because it’s home to so many Alaska Natives. Drew Michael is one of them. And he’s exploring his urban Native identity through his art. The mask carver is part of a generation of Alaska Native artists who are blurring the lines between traditional and contemporary art.

Group Learning Nearly-Traditional Kayak Making Techniques

Wendi Jonassen, APRN – Anchorage

The Aleut and Alutiiq people invented the kayak over 5,000 years ago. Since 90 percent of their diet came from the ocean, the kayaks were traditionally used for hunting sea life. At the Alaska Native Heritage Center in Anchorage, a group of adults are learning the traditional methods of building a kayak. Well, almost traditional.

Woman Using Changing Time To Reinvigorate Seward Journal

Ellen Lockyer, KSKA – Anchorage

Big city newspapers are struggling to compete with Internet news these days. But one Alaska woman is using the changing times to re-invigorate a small-town publication. Vanta Shafer moved from Tennessee to Alaska two decades ago, and now runs a bookstore in Seward. Shafer says she started the Seward Journal a year or so ago because she felt there was a lack of coverage of community events.

Unalaska Kids Reinvent The Lemonade Stand

Lauren Rosenthal, KUCB – Unalaska

With many kids spending as much of their summer days online as outside, there’s something a little quaint about the lemonade stand that just popped up in Unalaska. But, the operation can’t be described as old fashioned.