Alaska News Nightly: May 16, 2013

Individual news stories are posted on the APRN news page. You can subscribe to APRN’s newsfeeds via emailpodcast and RSS. Follow us on Facebook at and on Twitter @aprn.

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Arctic Council Adds Six Observer Seats

Peter Granitz, APRN – Washington DC

The Arctic Council – the association of the world’s polar countries – has agreed to grant observer status to six non-Arctic nations.

ConocoPhillips Reviewing Spending In Alaska

Ellen Lockyer, KSKA – Anchorage

ConocoPhillips says it’s reviewing spending in Alaska, a month after the legislature passed Governor Sean Parnell’s oil tax reform. The tax cut is worth billions of dollars to oil companies in Alaska. ConocoPhillips executives talked about the state’s new tax regime during their annual meeting and an analyst presentation earlier this week.

Agency To Consider Alaska Lake Seals As Threatened

The Associated Press

A federal agency says it will consider a petition seeking to list a population of harbor seals living in a freshwater Alaska lake as a threatened or endangered species.

The National Marine Fisheries Service says it has accepted a Center for Biological Diversity petition to list seals that live in Iliamna Lake 200 miles southwest of Anchorage.

The agency has a Nov. 19 deadline to perform a status review of the seals, estimated to number 250 to 350 adults.  The agency can propose a listing or reject it.

A listing would present a potential environmental hurdle to the Pebble Mine.

The proposed open-pit copper and gold mine would require a 140-mile road to Cook Inlet.  About 50 miles would pass along the lake shore, where seals hunt for salmon.

Report Shows Mineral Values Tripling Since 2001

Joaqlin Estus, KNBA – Anchorage

A state report shows the value of minerals produced in Alaska more than tripled between 2001 and 2011. Mining industry wages have also surged as employers seek skilled workers.

Tanana River On Track For Record Late Break Up

Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks

Tanana River ice is on track for a record late break up at Nenana.  Later than normal break ups are expected at many interior river communities, due to this year’s cold spring, but there’s special significance for the Tanana at Nenana, where an over 318 thousand dollar jackpot is at stake in the annual Nenena Ice Classic guessing game. Classic manager Cheri Forness says most of the 261 thousand break up time guesses entered by ticket buyers this year, have gone by.

Late Season Snow Expected In Southcentral

Ellen Lockyer, KSKA – Anchorage

The National Weather Service is predicting an “extremely unusual late season snowfall” for the Southcentral Alaska area on Friday through Saturday morning.

Anchorage Farmers Markets Prepping To Open Despite Possible Snow

Daysha Eaton, KSKA – Anchorage

It may not feel like spring yet in Anchorage, but that’s not stopping the Farmer’s Markets from opening.

Yakutat To Celebrate Return Of The Terns

Ed Schoenfeld, CoastAlaska – Juneau

Yakutat is gearing up for an influx of birders. They’re coming to the northern Southeast Alaska community to celebrate the return of a somewhat rare seabird.

Stu Ramstad Relives Memorable Moments In The Air

Lori Townsend, APRN – Anchorage

Alaska is celebrating 100 years of aviation this year. And aviator Stu Ramstad is an important part of that history. He grew up in a gold mining family. And became a pilot at age 14 in 1954. He says he didn’t goof off in the air. He considered the plane a tool that you loaded up and used to deliver supplies. But he told APRN’s Lori Townsend, he did have scary times as a pilot and survived two in-flight fires.