Alex DeMarban

The Alaska Native corporation for the Nome region will analyze the idea of enrolling descendants while sister corporations keep such efforts alive on a back burner, suggesting that the Calista Corporation in Southwest Alaska won’t be the last to expand its shareholder rolls.

Yet it may be some time before another regional Native corporation takes a similar step.

The 12 land-based entities, created by federal law in 1971, have become financial powerhouses in the 49th state, earning $8.5 billion and distributing $205 million in dividends in 2013.

Those earnings have helped benefits such as scholarships, internships, and hiring preferences flow to thousands of descendants born after the law passed...

Alex DeMarban

Shell Oil’s two drilling rigs have left Unalaska on their way to the U.S. Arctic Ocean, where company officials hope to punch into hydrocarbon-bearing zones that haven’t been touched in roughly a quarter-century.

The 500-foot Noble Discoverer left Thursday evening. The 400-foot Transocean Polar Pioneer left port at 1 p.m. Friday.

The company is awaiting two federal permits before exploratory drilling can be allowed in the Chukchi Sea about 70 miles off Alaska’s northwest coast...

Alex DeMarban

The Alaska Supreme Court on Friday supported a lower court’s decision to nullify the Save Our Salmon initiative that sought to stop the controversial Pebble mining prospect by limiting large-mine permitting in the Lake and Peninsula Borough.

The 2011 initiative, which gave the borough the ability to unilaterally veto a project approved by the state Department of Natural Resources, is unlawful, the Supreme Court said.

The SOS initiative was designed to prevent large-scale extraction that would degrade salmon habitat. It required the borough to deny development permits that would do so, without considering whether that impact can be mitigated, the Supreme Court said...

Alex DeMarban

The former director of the $54 billion Alaska Permanent Fund Corp., Mike Burns, has died after retiring last month due to health concerns, according to a statement from the governor's office. He was 68.

“It is with a heavy heart that I deliver my most sincere condolences to the family of Mike Burns,” said Gov. Bill Walker.

“Mike led the Corporation to achieve unprecedented growth during a time of great economic difficultly,” Walker said. “I can say without a doubt that every Alaskan owes him a debt of gratitude, and that his leadership will be missed by many.”

Burns died Thursday morning in Juneau. Burns had asked that his health issues be kept private, and staff would not say what led to his recent resignation...

Alex DeMarban,Tegan Hanlon

Conspiracy theorists, be warned.

The HAARP research facility that has been linked to such things as mind control, earthquakes and hurricanes will survive, but soon-to-be owner University of Alaska Fairbanks will expand efforts to dispel rumors about the research there.

The Air Force will transfer the facility near Gakona to the university early next month, said Othana Zuch, an Air Force spokesperson, on Tuesday.

The transfer of the facility and equipment, which researchers use to probe the atmosphere, will come at no cost to the university, said Marmian Grimes, UAF spokesperson...

Alex DeMarban

A cultural shift is underway in the rivers and streams flowing into Bristol Bay, where a unique fly-fishing academy is breaking down barriers between sport and subsistence fishermen while also giving Alaskans a shot at jobs that have traditionally gone to Outsiders.

Held at a different lodge each summer in the Southwest Alaska region -- where rates of poverty are high -- the weeklong Bristol Bay Fly Fishing and Guide Academy involves more than learning to tie flies and cast lines.

The dozen or so students who attend for free and receive fly rods to keep for themselves also get an education in everything from proper fish handling to good customer service, skills they might eventually use to open a tourism business...

Alex DeMarban

Federal hydrographic surveyors announced Monday that a preliminary review of the area where a Shell icebreaker was reportedly gouged found multiple, relatively shallow areas that were not reported during the last survey of the area in 1935.

One newly reported rocky section southeast of Hog Island is as shallow as 22.5 feet. Others are shallower than 30 feet, according to a statement issued by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration...

Alex DeMarban

Shareholders with the Alaska Native corporation representing the Bethel region voted to triple membership by including thousands of children and grandchildren of shareholders, according to preliminary results from an annual shareholders meeting Saturday in the Southwest Alaska village of Kasigluk.

The move to add the new members will dilute shares and increase overhead costs for the corporation representing Alaska Natives with roots in the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta. But it will also give younger generations a voice in the Anchorage-headquartered company...

Alex DeMarban
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Oil companies hire gun-toting bear guards to protect crews from attack, but a new wildlife problem arose a few years ago -- animals were snatching seismic nodes used in the search for oil and gas...

Alex DeMarban

NINILCHIK -- Oil companies hire gun-toting bear guards to protect crews from attack, but a new wildlife problem arose a few years ago -- animals were snatching seismic nodes used in the search for oil and gas.

That’s when now-retired bear guard Mark Chihuly -- who never went anywhere without his four-legged friend, Zipper -- decided to put the golden Lab on the case.

Chihuly had the idea a few years ago because Zipper could find pretty much anything after a few minutes of training, even long-lost items buried deep in snow.

At 8 years old, the pooch also has an excellent grasp of English.

That comes in handy when, say, Chihuly is working on a project on his 50-acre spread on the Kenai Peninsula and can’t reach tools...

Alex DeMarban