BETHEL -- Up and down the Kuskokwim River, salmon dried or frozen from last summer’s shortened fishing season is running out after the lowest harvest of king salmon on record.

Now state and federal managers are turning to village residents to help plan what promises to be another summer of frustration, with restricted fishing in a region that depends on salmon as a main food source.

By next year, tribes are expected to be even more directly involved through a trial co-management program, something that Alaska Native leaders and fishermen say is sorely needed.

During three days of state-led meetings in Bethel that wrapped up Friday, a group that included biologists, fishermen, tribal representatives and managers explored strategies to allow residents to fill drying racks, smokehouses and freezers in the face of declining king salmon runs...

Lisa Demer

State regulators will consider whether tens of millions of dollars in potential profits from an unexpected discovery of natural gas should be used to help lower gas and electric bills in Southcentral Alaska.

The Regulatory Commission of Alaska said recently it will investigate how money from a sale should be used, following a surge of comments on the topic.

Cook Inlet Natural Gas Storage Alaska found the gas in 2012 as it was creating an underground gas storage reservoir beneath the city of Kenai. The facility warehouses gas for four utilities -- Anchorage Municipal Light and Power, Chugach Electric Association, Homer Electric Association and Enstar Natural Gas -- so they can weather seasonal spikes in demand for power and heat.

Ratepayers with those utilities could benefit from a sale, depending on what the RCA decides...

Alex DeMarban

With increased vessel traffic in the Arctic and the region attracting new attention from the tourist and industrial sectors, a new committee has formed to develop the best practices for managing Arctic waterways.

The Arctic Waterways Safety Committee held its first formal meeting this month in Juneau, electing its officers and meeting with the governor and Alaska's state committee on the Arctic.

"It is critical that we educate our state government on the importance of this effort to establish management principles for Alaska's Arctic waterways," said committee chairman Willie Goodwin. "Research, tourism and international commercial traffic increasingly are making use of the state's waters and we need to make sure all waterway users remain safe as this traffic grows."

For committee members from Arctic coastal communities, the committee's focus on protecting subsistence uses in the region is paramount...

Carey Restino

A shooting Saturday afternoon in Anchorage's Spenard neighborhood left one man injured, Anchorage police said .

According to police, the shooting happened around 1:04 p.m. at the 1300 block of West Northern Lights Boulevard. Witnesses said several shots were fired during an argument between two groups of people in a parking lot. One man was hit in the leg by the gunfire and taken to a hospital, police said.

The person or people responsible for the shooting fled in a vehicle, but no descriptions of the suspects or the vehicle were immediately available, police said.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

Alaska Dispatch News

If a lake drains on top of the world, will anyone hear it?

Ben Jones and Chris Arp did. The Anchorage- and Fairbanks-based scientists placed sensors in a bathtub-shaped lake on Alaska's northern coast a few years ago. From what they can tell, the lake topped its rim and eroded or thawed a channel to the Beaufort Sea on July 5, 2014. With a flow greater than some northern rivers, the lake's water spilled into the ocean.

Northern lakes have formed, filled and emptied for thousands of years, but this is the first time scientists have observed it with instruments. Jones, of the U.S. Geological Survey’s Science Center and Arp, of the University of Alaska Fairbanks, were intrigued by the lake on their first trip to the Arctic together in 2007. About 100 miles southeast of Barrow, part of the lake’s shore was a bluff over the Beaufort Sea. They guessed the lake would drain by 2020, and wouldn't it be interesting to see what happens?...

Ned Rozell

JUNEAU -- Three Democratic legislators last week reported trips to Washington, D.C., in December to the kickoff conference of the State Innovation Exchange, a new group billed as the liberal counterpart to the American Legislative Exchange Council, which supplies conservative lawmakers with bills pushed by business interests and lobbyists.

Officials at SiX, as it calls itself, say it ultimately aims to give progressive lawmakers some of the same tools as ALEC, from template legislation to talking points, polling and even opposition research.

But while Alaska Democrats can learn from the strategies of their political opponents, the December conference didn't exactly leave them poised to overthrow Republican control, according to Rep. David Guttenberg, D-Fairbanks.

The event, held at a luxury hotel near the National Zoo, featured speeches from liberal luminaries like U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders and President Barack Obama’s labor secretary, Thomas Perez. But it was short on specifics, Guttenberg said.

“I actually thought it was disappointing -- it’s like, ‘OK, what are we doing?’” Guttenberg said. “There wasn’t enough substance for me.”...

Nathaniel Herz

Climate change in Northwest Alaska is good for the birds -- at least for some of them -- but bad news for several small mammals.

As shrubs and trees spread north with rising temperatures, so will some bird species. Tree-dwellers like northern goshawks are among the projected climate change winners listed in a new study predicting long-term changes in boreal and Arctic habitats used by 162 bird species and 39 land mammal species in Northwest Alaska.

Rising temperatures and other trends will change habitats through the end of the 21st century in ways that will favor tree- and shrub-using species, the study concludes, but harm animal species that need lots of open space, that feed on low-growing plants like lichen or that use coastal or river habitats.

Spruce, birch and aspen forests and areas of tall willows will expand, the study says...

Yereth Rosen

Immigration officials in Alaska told radio reporter Catie Quinn her job didn’t fit visa requirements and she had to leave the country , but she breezed through a similar approval process at the U.S. consulate in Sydney, Australia.

Now she’s back on the Kenai Peninsula managing a newsroom and broadcasting current events in a distinctive Aussie accent.

“I was told by USCIS that I wasn’t close to qualified for the visa; I was wasting my time. I had the exact opposite response at the consulate,” Quinn said. “They kind of looked at me like I was stupid and said, ‘You’re approved. Get out of here.’”

For several months last year, Quinn tried to convince U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services to let her stay in Alaska. The agency declined to renew her E-3 work visa, which is specific to Australians.

The visa requires that its holders “perform services in a specialty occupation,” a job with a specific pool of knowledge and at minimum a bachelor’s degree...

Jerzy Shedlock

Charles Carney Jr. told police he left the scene of a fatal hit-and-run incident in Midtown Anchorage on Friday because “he did not know what to do,” according to the charges.

Carney, 51, appeared in the Anchorage jail courtroom Saturday on a single charge of leaving an accident without assisting an injured person.

The charge is a felony and carries a sentence of up to 10 years in prison.

Carney said during his initial court appearance that he is an Anchorage School District afternoon playground supervisor. He said he also works at Walmart.

The incident resulted in the death of 23-year-old Desiree Lamont, who was skateboarding near the entrance to the Barnes & Noble parking lot on A Street, the charges say.

Carney is in jail and being held on $30,000 bail. He requested a bail reduction at Saturday’s brief hearing, but the weekend judge said that while the request was reasonable, he would not change the amount.

When asked if he has any dependents, Carney said he has a 9-year-old and a 2-year-old before the judge interjected and appointed a public defender...

Jerzy Shedlock
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