Spay and neuter clinics to travel the Yukon River

first_imgWesternSpay and neuter clinics to travel the Yukon RiverJune 23, 2015 by Ben Matheson, KYUK Share:(Creative Commons photo by Klearchos Kapoutsis)Veterinarians will be on the Yukon River next week to vaccinate, spay and neuter dogs.Angie Fitch is director for Alaska Native Rural Veterinary, one of the groups teaming up to give the free clinics.“It reduces the number of unwanted litters of puppies, there will be fewer strays. It’s a public health issue,” Fitch says.Most Alaska villages don’t have regular vet visits. A trip to the vet in urban Alaska can cost several hundred dollars and require multiple flights.Two veterinarians from the Lower 48 and another will join Environmental Health Officer Brian Berube from the Yukon Kuskokwim Health Corporation. He says rabies, which is found in the YK Delta fox population, presents one of the most serious risks with dog bites.“Especially this time of year when people are out running around and there’s new batches of puppies, we see a pretty big increase in dog bites that we can’t track. Rabies is a disease that, once humans get it, they’re dead. There’s no treating it once the symptoms have started,” Berube says.Up to 200 dog bites are reported each year in the region and many more go unreported. The majority bitten are kids under the age of 10.“Another reason you don’t want stray dogs is because they’re filthy. They get into trash, sewage and dead animals. And as you can imagine, kids like to play with the animals, they get germs and all sorts of illnesses from handling stray dogs,” Berube says.The team will visit Mountain Village beginning June 21st and move on to St. Mary’s, Pitka’s Point, Pilot Station and Marshall. Share this story:last_img read more

Can B.C. stop Tulsequah Chief Mine pollution?

first_imgEnergy & Mining | Environment | Southeast | SyndicatedCan B.C. stop Tulsequah Chief Mine pollution?September 14, 2015 by Ed Schoenfeld, CoastAlaska News Share:The Tulsequah Chief Mine is on the banks of its namesake river, which flows into the Taku River, which enters an ocean inlet about 25 miles northeast of Juneau. The brownish pools contain acidic water draining from the mine. (Photo by Joe Hitselberger/ADF&G)Can British Columbia stop polluted water from leaking out of a long-closed mine upstream from Juneau? The issue came up last month when the Canadian province’s top mining official traveled to the Capital City.Audio Player Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.The Tulsequah Chief hasn’t been open for more than 50 years. But, like many old mines, it’s leaking pollution.For decades, rusty, acidic water has drained from an old tunnel into a nearby river.“I was there. I took pictures of it and you can see it,” says British Columbia Minister of Mines Bill Bennett, who saw the Tulsequah Chief during his August visit to Southeast Alaska.It’s on the Tulsequah River, a tributary of the Taku River. That salmon-rich waterway empties into an ocean inlet about 25 miles northeast of Juneau.B.C. Minister of Mines Bill Bennett, left, discusses the Tulsequah Chief Mine as Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott listens, Aug. 24 in Juneau. (Photo by Ed Schoenfeld/CoastAlaska News)“It’s something that B.C. is responsible for and I think if … I was from here I’d be asking all kinds of questions about the Tulsequah Chief Mine situation as well,” he says.Bennett promised to do something about it, but didn’t offer specifics.Toronto-based Chieftain Metals, which owns and plans to develop the mine, did not respond to an interview request. But the company’s been in touch with the mines ministry.Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott accompanied Bennett during much of his Alaska tour.“While he was here, he informed me that he had contacted the CEO of the company and had talked to him about the continuing discharge and the need for water treatment or some mitigation,” he says.Mallott says he hasn’t yet heard any details, and will follow up. British Columbia’s Mines Ministry offered no further information.While Bennett promised to do something about the mine drainage, he downplayed its threat to the environment.The Tulsequah Chief Mine is northeast of Juneau, just across the border in British Columbia. (Map by Chieftain Metals.)“You’ve got a tremendous amount of data that shows that there isn’t any impact on water from what’s happening at Tulsequah Chief. There isn’t any impact on the Tulsequah River and certainly no impact that has been noted in all the testing that’s done in the Taku River,” he says.“To say this is not harmful, you cannot say that,” says Chris Zimmer, Alaska campaign director for Rivers without Borders, which is highly critical of transboundary mine development.He says the studies Bennett cites were not at all comprehensive.“It didn’t look at juvenile salmon. It didn’t look at the sediment. It didn’t answer the question, where is the material that’s coming out of the mine ending up?” he says.That rusty, acidic outflow is caused when water runs past tunnel walls and floors and waste rock leftover from mining. The Tulsequah Chief has no tailings dam.Chieftain Metals addressed the problem in a promotional video it posted on YouTube in May of 2013.“We’re building a water-treatment plant that will treat that acidic water and turn it into very clean water that will be released into the river,” Chief Operating Officer Keith Boyle says.The plant went into operation, but only for awhile.Chieftain said it cost too much to run without revenue from full-scale mining. But the company doesn’t have all the permits and investments needed to do that.“So relying on the mining company to operate the mine and the clean it up seems like a nonstarter,” says Rivers without Borders’ Chris Zimmer.He says the province could step in and fill the mine tunnels generating most of the polluted water.“So the question comes down to, are you going to run that plant forever at $4 million a year? Or are you going to spend a lot of money right now and go shut down and reclaim the site?” he says.Reclamation is not a step British Columbia is likely to take.Chieftain has an environmental permit needed to build the mine. Bennett says recent plans to barge ore, rather than ship it via a new British Columbia road, mean the permit needs to be amended.That will require consultation with the Taku River Tlingit First Nation. The mine is in their traditional territory and they’ve filed a lawsuit to block development.Share this story:last_img read more

Oil and gas tax credit debate rages ahead of legislative session end

first_imgShare this story: Business | Energy & Mining | North Slope | Southcentral | State GovernmentOil and gas tax credit debate rages ahead of legislative session endApril 13, 2016 by Andrew Kitchenman, KTOO and Alaska Public Media Share:The House spent six hours debating oil and gas tax credits Tuesday night. And they’re not done yet – lawmakers will pick up the bill again Wednesday.The debate reveals a deep divide among lawmakers over how to respond to low oil prices – and the resulting state budget gap.The debate on the floor came down to this: Should the state expect oil companies to pay taxes, even when prices are so low they might be losing money? And how quickly can the state scale back its cash support for smaller oil and gas companies?For six hours, members of the Democratic minority offered amendment after amendment – but the divide wasn’t solely along party lines.Rep. Paul Seaton, R-Homer, addresses the Alaska House of Representatives last year. (Photo by Skip Gray/360 North)Homer Republican Rep. Paul Seaton broke with most of his caucus to propose more aggressively scaling back tax credits for oil production.“I think we need to look at what we’re doing and the hole we’re digging in the budget with these tax credits, for not yielding any production, especially when there is basically zero production tax coming back,” Seaton said. “It’s hard to have production tax credits when there’s no production tax to offset it or ever retrieve that money back from.”Other Republican House members say the bill as it’s currently drafted may go too far in taxing in the oil industry.Big Lake Republican Mark Neuman says imposing a hard tax floor of 2 percent violates the trust of an industry that the state relies upon for long-term investment.“We made commitments to industry,” Neuman said. “We should stand by those commitments. Because if we can’t, we’re saying that we can’t be trusted.”Lawmakers pointed out that the state is scheduled to pay out $775 million in tax credits this year – which is about the same size as proposed cuts to the Permanent Fund dividend.Juneau Democrat Sam Kito says it’s unfair to ask education and social services to take cuts while oil and gas producers are spared.“At a time when we’re telling municipalities that we can’t maintain the revenue sharing program because we don’t have enough money, at a time we’re telling seniors we can’t maintain the senior benefits program because we don’t have enough money, we’re saying, ‘But we can’t change things for the oil companies,’” Kito said.But Republican members note the industry has been laying off workers and has supported the state government for decades. And even if they pay no production taxes, oil companies continue to pay more than a billion dollars to the state, mostly in royalties.North Pole Republican Tammie Wilson says it’s shortsighted for the state to raise taxes on an industry she described as its “bread and butter” when it’s already losing money.“Maybe we need to change our attitudes, and be glad that they did invest here, and we are getting oil down the pipeline. Because I’m telling you guys, (if) that line goes down, we’re going to have real problems,” she said.The bill’s fate remained unclear heading into the second round of debate Wednesday.last_img read more

What compels salmon to return home? Scientists say it may be social

first_imgFisheries | Science & Tech | Southwest | WildlifeWhat compels salmon to return home? Scientists say it may be socialMay 12, 2016 by Molly Dischner, KDLG – Dillingham Share:Chinook salmon, Yukon Delta NWR. (Public domain photo by Craig Springer/U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service)Each summer, millions of fish return to Bristol Bay, and then swim on to the stream where they were born to spawn, and die. Exactly what compels them to return to the right spot is unknown. But scientists think that some hatchery-raised steelhead in Oregon might hold a clue.Are salmon social creatures? That’s the question a pair of researchers are trying to figure out.“Fifty-some million fish last season migrated into Bristol Bay in the course of just a couple of weeks, and that’s a classic thing is that the fish all come at the same time, and it’s kind of curious to think, is there a potential social role in that?” said University of Alaska Fairbanks Fisheries Professor Peter Westley. “They all come as a major wave, and is it because they are in these groups and they are sort of following the leader and using social dynamics to aid their migrations?”By digging fake streams at an Oregon lab, Westley and colleague Andrew Berdahl are trying to figure out why salmon choose the streams they do.“So we actually tested this idea by giving steelhead that had migrated home to a hatchery, we brought them to the Oregon Hatchery Research Center and gave them a choice between water that smelled more like home, or all of the foreign water that came from the stream where the hatchery research center was based,” Westley said. “One of the things we showed with this steelhead system that indeed, fish that are moving upstream and are moving around are very social. They don’t move independently. They’re in groups moving around.”Westley said there are plenty of details still to work out, and so far, they just have a tantalizing teaser of some possible results. But it’s a little step closer to figuring out what compels salmon to come home each year.Westley and Berdahl have been interested in this social side of fish behavior for some time, and their collaboration started with a paper that just looked at existing literature and data.“It poses this idea of a collective social role of salmon as they are migrating home, such that salmon or other migratory fish can school together,” said Westley. “And by being in groups, they can share information and pool their abilities to navigate and orient and by doing so, the group is much more likely to get home than if the group was smaller or the individual is traveling by itself, and the onus of getting to the right spot would all be on the individual.”Westley said smell, or pheromones, play a role in salmon communication. But that’s part of what he’d like to test. Westley said steelhead are a good proxy for salmon because they’re pretty similar fish in terms of life history and a predictable return to their birthplace.“They are a good model for these migratory sea-going fish that come back home,” Westley said. “They have subtle differences in life history but in terms of the social aspects and the migration and the orientation, I think they are a good model.”Not everything about the study is a direct translation to the natural world, and there are plenty of changes and questions to address in the future. Westley said they hope to do the experiment again, with a stronger scent of home streams. And they might change the timing of the study, to tie in more closely to when salmon are actually on the move. Somewhere on the list, he said, he’d also like to look at how wild fish fare, rather than just using hatchery steelhead – a choice made, so far, to keep things simple.“The challenge is always trying to scale from what you’re doing at sort of an experimental level up into the complexity of nature, and trying to assess what you’ve done at this small controlled scale, does it relate to nature as a whole,” said Westley. “It’s always a challenge.”Share this story:last_img read more

Sockeye records set at the Chilkoot weir

first_imgBusiness | Economy | Fisheries | Food | SoutheastSockeye records set at the Chilkoot weirAugust 9, 2016 by Jillian Rogers, KHNS-Haines Share:Commercial boats set nets at the mouth of the Chilkoot River on Monday. (Jillian Rogers, KHNS)Commercial fishermen in the Upper Lynn Canal are working overtime after a flood of sockeye salmon showed up last week.So far, this season is shaping up to be a good one, with decent returns, healthy harvests and larger fish.Last week saw a couple of escapement records set for the number of reds through the weir on the Chilkoot River.“It’s a phenomenal push of fish all at once,” said Mark Sogge, Haines’ area management biologist with the Alaska Department of Fish and Game. The cumulative total of sockeye through the weir was around 30,000 a week and half ago, he said.“Now we’re at 76,000. We’ve more than doubled. We’ve had both a record week and a record daily escapement over 13,000 in one day, and 40,000 for last week.”He said there were clues that the big run was coming, but the count at the weir had fallen off the week before. So, he was a little conservative with the openers.“Not this opening, but the week before, I did just a 24-hour opening and we harvested about 20,000 sockeye in that week,” Sogge said. “That was more conservative than people have done in the past, probably. But at that point we were sitting at 31,000 escapement and our goal range is 38,000 – 86,000.”Sogge hit the water on Monday to scope out the numbers, and where the fleet was fishing. There were about 60 to 70 boats, which is a little low, he said.“A lot of the boats were attracted to what was happening further south in Taku and the Snettisham Hatchery, which has a chance to produce a huge number of sockeye, so I think that drew a lot of boats.”This week’s fishing period in section 15-A was extended by emergency order until Thursday because of the sudden flux.The extension may be prolonged until the weekend, though nothing has been decided yet.The size of the sockeye on the Chilkoot side, which were scrawny last year, are a little more plump this season.As for Chilkat, the department isn’t expecting a big year.Some fishermen are reporting smaller fisher, though that might just be the early run, Sogge said.At the fish wheels on the Chilkat River, about 3,000 fish have been counted, with a steady 50 to a 100 fish per day.The numbers at Chilkat Lake, are OK at about 20,000 so far, Sogge said. That’s just above the minimum number that the department likes to see by now.“Our expectation is not for a strong Chilkat run, but you never know,” Sogge says.Harvest numbers for sockeye aren’t tabulated yet, but the strong chum run earlier this season saw at least 800,000 netted.The return of pink salmon was low across Northern Southeast.The commercial season in Northern Southeast lasts through September with Klehini and Chilkat chums and Chilkat sockeye. But Sogge says, until he knows more about those numbers, he’ll err on the side of caution when it comes to opener lengths in the near future.Sogge said as far as he knows, the price for sockeye and chum have stayed pretty consistent throughout the season at around $1.50 per pound for reds and $0.60 for chum.Last season saw prices drop after two previous banner years.The average for sockeye last year, according to Fish and Game, was just over a dollar and a half, while chum averaged $0.44.Next week, the fishing period doesn’t open until Monday at noon, instead of the usual Sunday. That’s to coincide with the Juneau salmon derby. And, Sogge says, it’ll give subsistence fishermen in Chilkoot Inlet more time to get their share on the weekend without the conflict of commercial boats.The commercial salmon season started on June 19 in the Upper Lynn Canal and runs until about the second week of October. Of course, that all depends on the fish.Share this story:last_img read more

Murkowski says repeal and replacement of Affordable Care Act should coincide

first_imgFederal Government | Health | Nation & WorldMurkowski says repeal and replacement of Affordable Care Act should coincideJanuary 11, 2017 by Liz Ruskin, Alaska Public Media Share:U.S. Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, wants to slow the repeal of the Affordable Care Act. (Photo by Liz Ruskin/APRN)President-elect Donald Trump leaned on Congress on Tuesday to quickly get rid of President Barack Obama’s signature heath care law, which he called a catastrophe.Lisa Murkowski, though, is among five Republicans in the U.S. Senate sponsoring an amendment that would slow the law’s repeal.Audio Player Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.“Trying to rush things through to a conclusion, in my mind, doesn’t make sense,” Murkowski said. “And I know everyone has said: ‘Repeal. Repeal. Repeal.’ We’re going to repeal it. We’re going to repeal it.”Murkowski said Congress needs time to craft a replacement for the Affordable Care Act, and she said the repeal and replacement should coincide.She said the new Trump administration will need time, too.“What they’re doing and what we’re doing ultimately has to work together in order to knit something that’s going to be good for the Alaskan constituency and the American public,” Murkowski said in an interview in her office on Capitol Hill.Murkowski doesn’t have a specific replacement plan in hand.She wants to preserve some elements of the Affordable Care Act, like retaining coverage for people with pre-exisiting conditions and allowing children to stay on their parents’ policy until age 26.Murkowski said the ACA’s subsidized insurance is important to a small but significant number of Alaskans, and she spoke favorably of the coverage extended to low-income households, although she did not directly say whether she’s committed to keeping the law’s federal support for expanded Medicaid.“It is absolutely a key part of this discussion, especially as it relates to states like Alaska that have moved forward with Medicaid expansion,” Murkowski said.Murkowski wants to drop the individual mandate.Defenders of the Affordable Care Act insist the mandate is key because it ensures enough healthy people buy insurance to spread the costs around.The amendment Murkowski sponsored would extend until March a legislative deadline for the budget process.She said that would allow enough time to draft a new plan, which she said will require Democratic votes to pass.Share this story:last_img read more

Haines mayor breaks tie vote to hire interim borough manager

first_imgLocal Government | SoutheastHaines mayor breaks tie vote to hire interim borough managerJanuary 11, 2017 by Emily Files, KHNS-Haines Share:Haines Public Facilities Director Brad Ryan is the new interim borough manager.It wasn’t an easy decision for the Borough Assembly Tuesday night. The assembly was split between Ryan and a retired Juneau city manager.Ultimately, the mayor broke a tie vote in favor of Ryan.Audio Player Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.Interim Manager Brad Ryan. (Photo by Emily Files/KHNS)Haines’ top municipal job was left in limbo about a month ago, when the Assembly fired manager Bill Seward in a 4-2 vote.Since then, borough clerk Julie Cozzi has served as acting manager.Facilities Director Ryan has experience with the interim manager job.In late 2015 he took on the role after manager Dave Sosa resigned.The Assembly gave Ryan a favorable review during his six months as interim. Assemblywoman Margaret Friedenauer said Ryan’s Haines experience and his support from other borough staff make him the best candidate.“That’s what we need right now is consistency, I believe,” Friedenauer said. “From somebody who has proven themselves in this position, that has the high confidence of the staff and the assembly.”Ryan also is interested in the permanent manager job.Other assembly members found an offer from former Juneau city manager Dave Palmer too tempting to refuse.Palmer has a long record of municipal management experience in Southeast Alaska.He is retired now, but he offered to serve as interim to help Haines through its leadership transition.Assembly member Heather Lende said they would be “foolish” to pass up Palmer’s offer.“All of us know that if you mention Haines and government to anybody anywhere, we’ve got a problem.,” Lende said. “We can’t keep managers.”Lende said one reason for the high manager turnover might be that the Assembly doesn’t hire managers based on professional qualifications.The last two managers had no municipal experience.“I’m voting to try to do something about this systemic problem we have with governing ourselves,” Lende said. “And I think the root of it is in not hiring professionals.”Assemblyman Tom Morphet also favored Palmer based on his professional experience.“Brad has great judgment, I think Brad has shown diligence,” Morphet said. “The one area where I don’t think Brad is completely strong in is experience. And I have to agree with Heather. I think we need a manager who can model an example of how a professional manager operates.”Assemblyman Tresham Gregg agreed with Morphet and Lende.He said it might be more disruptive to remove Ryan from his public facilities role, considering the number of major projects the borough is juggling.Mayor Jan Hill spoke up before the vote.She praised Ryan and admonished the assembly for not listening to borough staff members who spoke at previous meetings in his favor.“Brad is committed to this community,” Hill said. “He is invested in this community.”When it came to a vote, the assembly was split. Friedenauer, Ron Jackson and Mike Case voted to hire Ryan. Lende, Morphet and Gregg were opposed.Mayor Hill broke the tie vote in favor of Ryan.At the end of the meeting, resident Mike Denker approached the microphone. He said the Assembly did not follow the borough charter, which states “the manager is selected solely on the basis of professional qualifications.”“The charter says ‘solely on the basis of professional qualifications.’ Plain English,” Denker said. “The charter, the guiding document. Really?”The borough’s executive assistant to the manager, Krista Kielsmeier spoke next. She said “professional qualifications” are not always clear-cut.“What is the value of on-the-ground, Haines experience?” Keilsmeier said. “What is the value of doing the job before? What is the impact of being retired for seven years?”Ryan already has started as interim manager.His contract includes a 20 percent pay increase. That boosts Ryan’s hourly pay to $48, which is equivalent to about a $100,000 annual salary.Speaking by phone Wednesday, Ryan said he was pleased with the Assembly’s decision.“It’s unfortunate there’s a division over it, but I hope we can win everybody’s confidence and move forward,” he said.Ryan said his plan is for Harbormaster Shawn Bell to serve as acting public facilities director in his absence.Assistant Harbormaster Gabe Thomas will step up to acting harbormaster.The Assembly still needs to decide how to move forward with the search for a permanent manager.Ryan is interested, but he’s not the only candidate so far.Haines Chamber of Commerce Director Debra Schnabel also expressed interest.The assembly plans to discuss whether to cast a wider net for the manager job at its Jan. 24 meeting.Share this story:last_img read more

Trial date set in lawsuit challenging Alaska town’s new name

first_imgAlaska Native Government & Policy | Local Government | North SlopeTrial date set in lawsuit challenging Alaska town’s new nameApril 12, 2017 by Associated Press Share:Utqiagvik, the city formally know as Barrow, in 2014. ( Creative Commons photo)ANCHORAGE — Critics of the new Inupiat Eskimo name of the nation’s northernmost town are taking their opposition to trial, despite losing a key legal fight last month.Alaska Superior Court Judge Paul Roetman on Wednesday set a Jan. 22 trial date in Utqiagvik, the city formerly known as Barrow.The new name is being challenged by a local Alaska Native corporation that argues the city broke its own laws by failing to publish a public notice before the renaming question was put before local voters last October.In March, Roetman denied the plaintiff’s request to halt implementation of the new name until the lawsuit is resolved.Roetman said opponents failed to show that continuing the transition process would harm them or that they would probably succeed in making their case.Share this story:last_img read more

Gardentalk – Young fruit tree care and feeding

first_imgFertilize your fruit tree with compost, seaweed, fertilizer or fruit tree spikes placed around base of tree along the drip line.Water your fruit tree well.Place landscaping fabric, mulch, wood chips or cardboard around the base of the tree to keep the weeds down.Four-foot high wire fencing placed in a circle around the tree will make it difficult for hungry porcupines and deer.In Southeast Alaska, Buyarski said cherries should be ripe in late July through early August. Apples should be ripe at the end of August through October.Share this story: Food | Gardentalk | OutdoorsGardentalk – Young fruit tree care and feedingJune 16, 2017 by Matt Miller, KTOO Share:Extreme close-up of new cherries growing from a young Telephone Hill cherry tree planted at the KTOO Agricultural Test Station and Garden of Science. (Photo by Matt Miller/KTOO)Extreme close-up of a new cherry growing from a young Telephone Hill cherry tree planted at the KTOO Agricultural Test Station and Garden of Science. (Photo by Matt Miller/KTOO)12 read more

Juneau’s Housing First ribbon cutting postponed

first_imgCommunity | Housing | JuneauJuneau’s Housing First ribbon cutting postponedSeptember 11, 2017 by Jacob Resneck, KTOO Share:The Housing First Project under construction on November 17, 2016. (Photo by David Purdy/KTOO)Juneau’s Housing First grand opening – slated for this week – has been delayed again.Audio Player Up/Down Arrow keys to increase or decrease volume.The housing complex designed for Juneau’s most vulnerable residents was originally scheduled to open in May.Project officials didn’t immediately offer an explanation for the delay, though it was confirmed that this week’s ribbon cutting had been pushed back for at least a week.Building code officials are continuing on-site inspections at the Lemon Creek complex, according to City Housing Officer Scott Ciambor.“The Housing First collaborative is still working on final details as far as we know which includes applying and getting the certificate-of-occupancy through the Community Development Department,” Ciambor said Monday. “I’m pretty sure they’re working on that as we speak.”The City and Borough of Juneau has contributed about $2.7 million toward the 32-unit apartment complex. It will also include a community clinic operated by Juneau Alliance for Mental Health Inc. or JAMHI.It’s at least the third time the opening has been postponed for the $8.2 million project.Editor’s note: Scott Ciambor’s spouse is a CoastAlaska employee. Share this story:last_img read more