Alaska News Nightly: December 23, 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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Jewell Rejects Road Through Izembek

Annie Feidt, APRN – Anchorage

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell won’t allow a road through the Izembek National Wildlife Refuge. The Interior Department delivered the news today, about four months after the secretary visited the community and the refuge.

State Suggests New KABATA Finance Strategy

Ellen Lockyer, KSKA – Anchorage

The state is suggesting another tactic in financing the Knik Arm Crossing.  Plans for a bridge linking Anchorage and the Matanuska Susitna Borough hit a snag earlier this year, when the state legislature reacted negatively to an audit indicating that toll projections for the first years after the bridge’s completion are too “optimistic.” State lawmakers had also failed to approve the creation of a state reserve to cover shortfalls in the toll revenues that project supporters say will pay for bridge construction.

Rio Tinto Considers Pulling Out Of Pebble Mine

Liz Ruskin, APRN – Washington DC

Another investor in the proposed Pebble Mine says it may back out. Rio Tinto announced today that it will perform a strategic review of its investment in the controversial gold and copper mine in the Bristol Bay region and that the review will consider divestment.

1 Dead In Talkeetna Spur Road Crash

Phillip Manning, KTNA – Phillip

A vehicle crash on Monday morning has claimed the life of 61-year-old Richard Leo of Trapper Creek.

Reindeer Herders Ask For Help As Herds Dwindle

Liz Ruskin, APRN – Washington DC

Here’s a story about reindeer that has nothing to do with Santa. The reindeer herders of the Seward Peninsula have endured years of declining stocks. Once they had more than 100,000 animals. Now, it’s down to about 20,000 and the industry teeters on the edge of viability.  Kawerek Reindeer Herders Association sent a delegation to Washington, D.C. earlier this month to see if the federal government can help.

Experts Caution Against Breed-Specific Dog Laws

Casey Kelly, KTOO – Juneau

Juneau Animal Control only labels dogs as “dangerous” or “potentially dangerous” as a last resort.

Two recent attacks have put the agency in the spotlight. Last week, an Animal Control official urged the Juneau Assembly not to adopt breed specific legislation in response to the attacks. An animal behavior expert says that’s the right idea.

WWAMI Program Prepares To Undergo Changes

Josh Edge, APRN – Anchorage

The WWAMI program is the only option for Alaskans who want to stay in the state for part of medical school. And it’s about to undergo changes that will reshape when and where students can attend classes.

An Alternative Take On The Christmas Tree

Stephanie Joyce, APRN Contributor

Cutting down a Christmas tree is a venerated tradition in many parts of the country, and decorating the tree is many people’s favorite holiday activity. But in Alaska, there are places where there simply aren’t trees to cut down.

At Unalaska’s Methodist Church, Telling A Special Christmas Story

Annie Ropeik, KUCB – Unalaska

Kids at Unalaska’s United Methodist Church got to tell the story of Christmas during their annual living nativity last week. Fifteen elementary school kids from the congregation dressed up as wise men, shepherds and angels. Pastor Dan Wilcox helped lead the show.