Alaska News Nightly: August 5, 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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Plane Crashes Near Katmai, No Injuries Reported

Ellen Lockyer, KSKA – Anchorage

A small plane crashed on takeoff from a remote beach in Katmai National Park and Preserve on Sunday evening.

Federal accident investigators say the Cessna 206 with six aboard was operated by Homer-based K-Bay Air. No injuries were reported in the accident.

The plane went down in the surf, according to National Transportation Safety Board.  No word yet on how the pilot and passengers got out of the plane.

Rebecca Talbot, a public affairs officer with the National Park Service in Anchorage, says the plane’s operator is a permittee of the Park Service. She says right now, there is some confusion about where the crash occurred.

“We have not had an official report of the accident from K-Bay Air; we have only heard informal reports and it has not yet been determined if it was at Cape Douglas or Kamishak Bay,” she said.

Talbot says weather in the park is deteriorating, and no Park Service personnel are near the crash site.

The head of the NTSB’s Anchorage office, Clint Johnson, says investigators have not yet interviewed the pilot and don’t know details such as the extent of damage to the plane. The cause of the crash also is unknown.

Alaska Permanent Fund Ends Year With $44.9B Value

The Associated Press

The Alaska Permanent Fund has posted its highest year-ending balance, with a value of $44.9 billion.

The fund reported an average return of 10.5 percent for the year ending June 30.

Michael Burns, CEO of the Alaska Permanent Fund Corp., says it was a very good year for stocks, which comprise the biggest segment of the fund’s assets.

The fund expects to transfer $604 million to the dividend division for checks this year. That would be the lowest transfer since fiscal year 2005.

The amount of investment earnings allocated to dividends is based on a five-year rolling average of Permanent Fund performance. That average includes 2009, when the fund posted its first net loss.

Historic Gold Dredge Burns Near Fairbanks

Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks

Fairbanks is mourning the loss of a piece of mining history.

Gold Dredge #3, off the Steese Highway in Chatanika, burned Saturday.

Warm, windy weather fueled wildfire activity around the interior over the weekend, including a new human caused fire off the Steese Highway, north of Fairbanks .

Long Creek Fire Halted At 84 Acres

Dan Bross, KUAC – Fairbanks

The Long Creek Fire near mile 47 started Saturday afternoon.  Alaska Division of Forestry spokesman Jim Schwarber says air tankers spotted the smoke while en route to the Gold Dredge fire.

Crews Fight Copper River Valley Wildfires

Tony Gorman, KCHU – Valdez

Crews are fighting wildfires in the Copper River Valley that were started by lightning strikes last week.

Fires near Excelsior Creek and Talbert Lake were started on July 31. The Excelsior Creek fire is still burning, but there hasn’t been any significant growth while the Talbert Fire near Lake Louise has grown to 20 acres.

Fires near Clearwater and Moose Creeks have grown since they started on August 1; both fires are around 1 acre currently. No fire bans have been issued but those in the area are advised to be careful when starting other fires such as campfires.

Wrangell Sawmill Destroyed In Fire

Shady Grove Oliver, KSTK – Wrangell

A fire last week destroyed one of the last two large milling operations in Wrangell.

Su Dam Opponents Ask For Documents Explaining FERC Decision

Phillip Manning, KTNA – Talkeetna

Opponents of the Susitna Dam have asked the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission to release documents explaining their decision not to require in-depth climate change studies.

Seldovia Family Completes Cook Inlet Trek

Aaron Selbig, KBBI – Homer

A family of outdoor adventurers from Seldovia has completed its latest epic adventure. Erin McKittrick and Bretwood Higman – joined by four-year-old Katmai and two-year-old Lituya – hiked and packrafted more than 800 miles around the entirety of Cook Inlet.

Youth Crew Builds Memories At Spencer Glacier

Sara Bernard, APRN – Anchorage

Those of us who’ve never built trails in the woods might take them for granted. But for a handful of youth from the Anchorage area, that’s no longer the case. Five agencies came together to create a 10-week outdoor career program that took students from city parks to the Chugach National Forest, clearing trees, building bridges, and cutting trails. Their last project was at the Spencer Glacier Whistle Stop, where they spent a month building a new trail and learning about the environment – and the employment options – in their own backyards.

Kodiak Coats Closing; May Remake Itself

Rosemarie Alexander, KTOO – Juneau

The designer and creator of the popular line Kodiak Coats is moving on to leather and silks, and leaving Juneau.

After making her trademark coats in Juneau for more than a decade, Bridget Milligan is moving to Washington state.