The Valdez Star - Serving Prince William Sound and Copper River Basin

News Briefs


September 13, 2017

Photo courtesy Linda Guthrie

Fourth grade students from Ms. Guthrie's class participated in an annual ritual - learning how to harvest fish eggs and milt from chum salmon.

Meeting canceled

The board of education canceled its regularly scheduled second meeting in September.

The move came during Monday night's meeting at the suggestion of board president Joe Prax.

A lack of agenda prompted the move according the Prax.

"For the public, no meeting on Sept 25 and the next meeting is October 9," he said.

Egg take

Fourth graders in Ms. Linda Guthrie's class at Hermon Hutchens Elementary School participated in what has become an annual rite at the beginning of the school year: harvesting chum salmon eggs.

Fritz Kraus, "Fishman", retired Fish and Game Biologist, traveled to Valdez to help with the project.

"We harvested chum salmon eggs at Crooked Creek and brought them back to the classroom where we will incubate them in an aquarium with a flow through chiller," Guthrie said in an email. " They will hatch about Christmas time and the students will feed them and maintain the tank."

The class will then raise the fry until spring.

"We will release them back into Crooked Creek in May," Guthrie said. "This project is funded by donations made to me by the citizens of Valdez. I set up a little table at the Post Office and people were very generous in making donations to fund this project for my 4th grade students. We appreciate their help in making this project possible."

Rain statistics

Yes, it was really wet in Valdez last week.

The rainfall recorded September 4- 10 measured 2.65 inches. That brings to total recorded between Jan. 1 - September 10 up to 38.92 inches according to Eric Cooper of the Valdez Avalanche Center, which collects rain, snow and other weather data for the National Weather Service.

Small earthquake

(AP) A small earthquake has struck the peninsula region of Alaska.

The Alaska Earthquake Center says the magnitude 4.3 earthquake hit at 11:22 a.m. Saturday about 93 miles (148 kilometers) southeast of the town of Chignik, a village of about 80 on the Alaskan peninsula. The earthquake had a depth of about 23 miles (37 kilometers).

There are no reports of damage from the earthquake.

2018 election update

(AP) Another Republican state senator has announced plans to run for lieutenant governor in Alaska.

Anchorage Sen. Kevin Meyer made his intentions known Thursday, calling it imperative for the state to elect a Republican governor and lieutenant governor next year.

So far, the lieutenant governor's race on the Republican side also includes Kodiak Sen. Gary Stevens and former state Rep. Lynn Gattis of Wasilla, who previously announced plans to run.

Lt. Gov. Byron Mallott, a Democrat, plans to seek re-election.

He and Gov. Bill Walker said they intend to run outside the party structure and gather signatures to qualify for the 2018 general election ballot.

Walker changed his political affiliation from Republican to undeclared in joining forces with Mallott in 2014.

New roads north

(AP) Alaska has budgeted $7.3 million to plan the construction of a road network that would extend hundreds of miles (kilometers) across the Arctic.

The Arctic Strategic Transportation and Resource Project has been promoted as a plan to connect isolated communities in the northern part of the state, some only accessible by plane, and to develop oil fields, Alaska's Energy Desk reported on Thursday.

The first phase of the project is focused on construction of a transportation corridor connecting the North Slope Borough cities of Utqiagvik and Nuiqsut. Additional routes would be added to connect other communities and oil development operations.

Gov. Bill Walker, an independent, said the road network would make finding and developing oil fields in the Arctic easier because the network would cross the National Petroleum Reserve-Alaska.

Building the project's first phase and planning could cost more than $300 million, the state estimated.

While the full cost of the entire project has not been calculated, it would require major funding that the state hopes the U.S. government would finance.

State Rep. Dean Westlake, a Democrat whose district includes the North Slope Borough, said connecting the communities with roads would provide better access to goods and services for residents of the remote area.

Project opponents cited studies on recently canceled megaprojects as wasting money. They also cited the potential adverse effects of oil developments on the region.

The state plans to begin consulting with the communities that would be affected this winter.

New revenue chief

(AP) Gov. Bill Walker has appointed Sheldon Fisher to serve as commissioner of the Alaska Department of Revenue.

Fisher will make the move from the Department of Administration, where he has served as commissioner throughout Walker's tenure.

Fisher will replace Randall Hoffbeck, who retired last month. His appointment is subject to legislative approval.

Walker, in a release, called Fisher a natural fit for the job, saying Fisher has led efforts to streamline government services and reduce costs.

According to Fisher's resume, he previously worked in the telecommunications industry and as a chief operating officer for McKinley Capital Management.

He unsuccessfully challenged U.S. Rep. Don Young in the 2010 Republican primary for U.S. House.

Leslie Ridle will serve as interim commissioner of the Department of Administration until a new appointment is named.

Count your geese

Photo courtesy Linda Guthrie

Fritz Kraus, "Fishman", retired Fish and Game Biologist, teaches fourth graders how to strip roe for fertilization from a female chum salmon.

(AP) An international team of scientists is measuring the impact of climate change on arctic wildlife by tracking vulnerable plant and animal species like Alaska's migratory geese.

KYUK-AM reports the Arctic Council Working Group on Conservation of Arctic Flora and Fauna wrapped up its meeting on the topic last week in Bethel. The organization is made up of representatives from six indigenous groups and eight arctic countries.

The organization is studying several species like the geese that are found in Alaska's Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta.

Arctic Management Bird Initiative Chairman Evgeny Syroechkovskiy says geese that migrate to this area are declining by more than 80 percent in Siberia and East Asia. The Russian scientist is part of a program that's conducting a global survey of the endangered geese populations.


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