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Pat Forgey

JUNEAU -- A federal court Friday took away a big victory it had earlier handed to Southeast Alaska's logging and other industries active in Tongass National Forest.

The battle is over the "roadless rule" barring new roads into the remaining big chunks of the Tongass that don't already have roads.

"It's great news for residents of Southeast Alaska," said Tom Waldo of the environmental law firm Earthjustice. "This case is about the wild, undeveloped parts of the Tongass, which are really important for hunting, fishing, tourism, recreation -- those are the driving forces in our local economy."

Earthjustice sued to overturn an exemption to the rule, representing numerous other. mostly environmental, groups...

Pat Forgey

JUNEAU -- State labor negotiators and a union representing ferry captains have agreed to keep talking, allaying fears of an imminent ferry strike.

"We've reached a letter of agreement with the state that both sides have signed and are going forward with negotiations, and possibly binding arbitration," said Ron Bressette, representative of the International Association of Masters, Mates and Pilots, which represents the Alaska Marine Highway System's deck officers, including captains.

"There won't be any job action this weekend; that's off the table," he said...

Pat Forgey

JUNEAU -- Alaska Libertarians say their party's U.S. Senate nominee, Thom Walker, has pulled out of the race, and they've selected a nominee to take his place as soon as state elections officials allow.

Walker made his decision known on a post to the Libertarian Party's Facebook page Wednesday, and the party's executive board met quickly to select Libertarian stalwart Mark Fish to replace him as the party's nominee. Fish had been endorsed by the party before the election as well.

Fish said Wednesday that his candidacy will give Alaskans a chance to vote for a candidate who will stand up against government intrusions on Alaskans' property rights...

Pat Forgey

JUNEAU -- State ferry unions are working without contracts as the Parnell administration tries to push down what it says are some generous wages in the Alaska Marine Highway System.

Tuesday, one ferry union's members approved a tentative contract, another was talking strike and a third was still in negotiations.

The focus currently is on the union that represents ferry captains and other top officers, the International Organization of Masters, Mates and Pilots. Its members voted down a tentative contract this month...

Pat Forgey

JUNEAU -- After being dormant for years, the Tongass timber wars that once wracked Southeast Alaska may be reigniting.

The U.S. Forest Service is now proposing its biggest timber sale in decades.

The multiyear Big Thorne sale on Southeast's Prince of Wales island would harvest tens of millions of board feet of timber, much of it controversial and essentially irreplaceable old growth...

Pat Forgey

JUNEAU -- The Parnell administration is saying more information is needed about the threat posed to Alaska by a huge Canadian mine, but officials didn’t ask the Canadian government outright to review approvals by the pro-mining province of British Columbia.

Alaska fishing, tribal and conservation groups have been outspoken in seeking a more thorough inquiry into approval of the KSM mine by the province, calling for a Canadian federal "panel" review. They've won support from Sens. Mark Begich and Lisa Murkowski, who have asked for the U.S. State Department to get involved in protecting Alaska interests, and from Southeast legislators...

Pat Forgey

Update: Here are the latest -- and in most cases, final -- results for the races below.

JUNEAU -- At least one Alaska legislator is losing their seat in Tuesday's primary election, but others may be in danger as well.

And two sitting members of the state House of Representatives have taken their first steps to becoming senators.

Two-term Rep. Tammie Wilson, R-North Pole, is holding a lead over first-term Rep. Doug Isaacson, also of North Pole, for the House District 3 seat...

Pat Forgey

JUNEAU -- In hindsight, maybe it wasn't such a good idea to drill holes in the Skagway public dock's watertight compartments. Still, it did work for 36 years.

Last spring though, the dock, where Alaska state ferries and other vessels moor, mysteriously sank.

One morning, the dock -- which was supposed to be floating -- was sitting on the ocean floor. No one new why.

Borough manager Scott Hahn had been on the job about a week when Skagway lost one of its links to the rest of Alaska.

"I was just basically getting my feet wet at the time," he said...

Pat Forgey

JUNEAU -- A toll bridge the Parnell administration wants to build across Knik Arm will likely be financially successful, state transportation officials say, based on the success of the bridge that connects Juneau's Douglas Island neighborhoods with the rest of the capital city.

But why are state transportation officials reaching all the way to Juneau for an unlikely comparison to a toll-free bridge when they already have an actual toll road, through the Whittier tunnel, they could have used as an example?

Perhaps it’s because the Whittier toll road shows the potential pitfalls of relying on drivers to directly fund roads...

Pat Forgey

JUNEAU -- After a massive mine waste spill in Canada, Alaska state and Canadian federal officials are being asked to do more to protect parts of Alaska downstream of several Canadian mines.

"That water belongs to us, too," said Rob Sanderson, a Central Council of Tlingit and Haida Indians of Alaska vice-president and co-chair of the United Tribal Transboundary Mining Workshop...

Pat Forgey

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