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

News briefs


Tony Gorman photo

Chuck Volanti, the flight dispatcher for the fateful flight, spoke Saturday at the dedication ceremony honoring the Alaska Air National Guardsmen who died after their plane crashed during a humanitarian mission to aid Valdez in the aftermath of 1964's Great Earthquake.

Food bank

The Valdez Food Bank has changed the day it distributes free food.

The food bank will be open from 10 a.m. until noon to distribute groceries on Saturdays only according to board member Katie Carr.

For several years, the charity opened its pantry on Thursday evenings.

Be bear aware

Bears are roaming Valdez again this summer, and three were killed at a 10-Mile subdivision last week after the bruin family was deemed a nuisance.

Valdez police fielded numerous calls last week regarding bears damaging personal property and getting into garbage.

Officials warn residents and visitors alike to keep residential and business areas free of trash, pet food, bird feeders and barbeques. The same holds true for campsites and RVs.

While there have been no known bear maulings in Valdez in recent memory, a brown bear killed a hiker in Eagle River last week and it later injured a member of the search party looking for the missing man.

Valdez is home to both black and brown bears; both species can be seen just about anywhere in the city limits.

Glacier Stream flood

The ice dam that holds back the waters of the lake high up on the Valdez Glacier let go a week ago Tuesday, sending millions of gallons of water down the stream.

The lake has typically flooded the area at least twice a year during the summer months, causing flooding on Dump Road, the bike path along the Richardson Highway and threatening areas in its pathway.

Last week's flooding was larger and swifter than in years' past and contained a significantly larger amount of water in a large release.

A press release issued by Allie Ferko, the city's public information officer, said: The ice dammed lake, formed by run-off water pooling behind glacial formations, is located in the mountains above Valdez Glacier. When enough water pools behind the ice dam, the pressure causes the ice to rise, allowing the lake to drain down the mountain into the Valdez Glacier Lake and Valdez Glacier Stream. This is called an "outburst event" and may cause flooding and an increase of ice in the lake and stream.

Tour the hatchery

The Solomon Gulch Hatchery on Dayville Road is open to tourists and locals alike, thanks to some new high-tech enhancements that were unveiled last week in the "fish walk" around the perimeter of the facility.

The new enhancements include large displays with high quality video and audio, allowing visitors to self-guide around the facility, which is open during daylight hours through the summer.

VFDA (Valdez Fisheries Development Association) officials, who oversee operations at the hatchery, said they hope to expand the tour to include live video feed from inside the hatchery during egg-take time and other operations not typically visible to visitors.

The hatchery can harvest and incubate up to 250 million pink salmon eggs and 2 million coho salmon yearly, which are later released to the wild. The salmon mature at sea and return to the hatchery at adulthood, to complete the life cycle.

VFDA itself was formed by the Valdez community in the late 1970s with a mission to rejuvenate wild salmon runs in the area that were devastated due to unnaturally cold conditions earlier in the decade.

The hatchery was started at the Salmon Turnaround in the early 1980s before moving to the large facility on Dayville Road.

Chief Justice Joel Bolger

(AP)The Alaska Supreme Court will have a new chief justice, starting July 1.

The state court system says Justice Joel Bolger was unanimously selected by members of the high court to serve as chief justice for a three-year term. The current chief justice is Craig Stowers.

Bolger served as a Superior Court Judge in Valdez before moving up the judicial chain, including a stint on the Alaska Court of Appeals.

The chief justice is the administrative leader of the state's judicial branch, presiding over Supreme Court arguments and appointing presiding judges for state judicial districts.

The court system, in a release, says a justice may serve more than one three-year term as chief justice but cannot serve consecutive terms in that position.

Bolger was appointed to the Alaska Supreme Court in 2013.

Reds still low

(AP) Low sockeye salmon returns have prompted Alaska wildlife officials to restrict Copper River subsistence fishing in the Glennallen district.

Glennallen radio station KCAM reports the unprecedented move will affect holders of 700 subsistence permits issued this season and 100 fishwheels.

The Glennallen subsistence fishery closed Monday.

The fishery will reopen for 48 hours beginning at noon June 29 and will reopen for other 48-hour periods.

Sonar counts at Miles Lake are 28 percent lower than the preseason projections. Officials said escapement goals will not be met without the restrictions.

Low salmon counts already closed sport fishing in the Copper River, including the popular Chitina dipnetting fishery.

The subsistence fishery will reopen Sept. 1 for silver salmon fishing.


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